Miz Lizzie Adventures: reef to rural to rainforest, and back again

On Sunday, we were promised rain. It didn’t happen, or at least not till much, much later.

So, after pottering around inside a while, I got a bit stir crazy. We decided late in the morning to go for a drive and do a big, BIG loop. Consequently, we took off up the Captain Cook highway, and turned left up the mountain on the Kuranda Range road. The Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail both terminate at the top, but we blasted on past, having done both of these trips several times before, and on to Mareeba. This is a place best known to me as the start point for hot air ballooning on the Tablelands, an amazing experience I’ve done several times, but more importantly it’s a centre for the local farming community, both grazing and arable.

A living wall, planted up in old beer kegs

‘Big Red”, the red mahogany bar, 7m long by 40cm square, all one piece of timber

The tractor revs its engine and the lights come on as you walk past!

The Tablelands are famous for their potatoes, corn, sugarcane and fruit, and the beef and dairy industries up there both produce exceptional results.

The whole area is volcanic in origin, giving the sort of deep, rich, bright orange and slightly acid soil perfect for this kind of farming. We were about to enjoy the results…

By the time we got to Mareeba, we were both ready for lunch. The Husband has been to this town many times, but things have changed since he last looked for a good lunch there, so we browsed the main street a little first. There seemed to be a lot of people going in one particular set of doors…

Opportunity presented itself in the shape of the Gateway Hotel, which has enjoyed a seriously good makeover. In addition to the facelift, the menu is great.

I won’t bore you with IG style photos of our plates, but my pork belly, red cabbage and mustard mashed potato were luscious. I spent a lot of my lunchtime gazing around at the clever, imaginative décor. By far the most stunning piece was Big Red (yes, they named the bar!).

It’s one vast piece of solid red mahogany, brought in from Ravenshoe, an area that hadn’t seen any tree felling for over 25 years, and the tree it came from was over 70 years old.

The bar is over 7 metres (23 feet) long and 40cm (15 inches) square in cross section. There’s a whole photo montage hanging beside it to show how they got it there, and then got it into the building!

Lampshades made from local potato sacks

After lunch, it was on to Mt Molloy, which is where the highway splits. Half goes on to the Top End, Cooktown and Cape York, the most northerly point of this island continent. The other half heads down the Palmerston range towards the sea, hitting the coast between Mossman and Port Douglas (aka millionaire’s playground). This is National Highway 44, The Rex, and it has some of the best views in the tropics, as it runs directly alongside the Coral Sea coast, looking out to the islands and the Great Barrier Reef.

We had a great afternoon 🙂 Home again, a cup of tea and a couple of bickies, a snooze, and then lo and behold, here came the promised weather. Hallelujah, here’s the rain.


22 thoughts on “Miz Lizzie Adventures: reef to rural to rainforest, and back again

  1. dayphoto says:

    That was fun. A wee outing, fun something to see, and then RAIN!

  2. kathyreeves says:

    That was an entertaining drive and lunch!

    • katechiconi says:

      There was a moment at Mt Molloy, where the road splits off to go to the Top End, when I was tempted to say “Let’s go that way for a bit…” It’s sealed road *most* most of the way to the top, but it’s a challenging drive. Perhaps another time…

  3. Lynda says:

    I was thinking that bar looked solid and was going to ask… but you explained it anyway! WoW. What a lovely thing it is.
    I love a good coastal drive. We used to do that often in California on the 101 FWY. Much as I don’t like California these days I do miss the landmarks and all that lovely coastal beauty. Sounds like a wonderful day and you snuck it in before the deluge too. 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      It was a really good day! This morning was very humid after all that rain, but we’ve also had fun meeting a friend and sorting a technical problem with some of the equipment, hurray! Not much exciting to tell, though…

  4. Yay for a fun day, good food, and rain to boot! Can’t get much better. Even a snooze tossed in. My favorite part. 😉 We got a little pretend snow today and some really (finally) cold temperatures. A week of winter is better than none. Glad you had a wonderful time. Hugs. M

  5. tialys says:

    Just as well there’s a bit of rain now and again otherwise you’d never get any dishcloths made or hand sewing done – you’d just be out finding yet more lovely grub 😉

  6. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    I love the living wall with the plants !

    • katechiconi says:

      So do I! It makes me think of other things I can do and use. It must be quite heavy, though, with those chains and the kegs, which weigh a fair bit, and then the plants and soil inside.

  7. I wish you’d bored us with IG style photos of the food. Dining vicariously is a fine thing!

    • katechiconi says:

      We were pretty hungry, and fell on our food like a plague of locusts. By the time I thought about it, we’d done a fair bit of damage and it wouldn’t have looked *quite* so attractive…. Next time 🙂

  8. nanacathy2 says:

    My mouth waters at the thought of your lunch and I have literally just eaten breakfast. I love the bar and the photo montage, but the best were the lamp shades, how cool are they. A terrific outing. Can’t wait to see where you go next.

  9. Rain here too, going on and on. Ohio’s normal precipitation in February, our winter, would be snow. Your rain, and your lovely lunch, seem to restore the rightful order of things.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s raining as I write this, and the tops of the rainforest-clad hills around us are swathed in fluffy grey angora shawls. To a northern eye, it would look cold, but actually it’s 28°C/82°F…

  10. […] They’ve restored a fairly basic country pub/hotel and turned it into something lovely. I’ve posted about this place before, but I don’t think I’ve shown you the gardens […]

  11. […] then it was time for lunch. Our favourite is the Gateway Hotel in Mareeba; I’ve posted about it before, and despite being much less busy than usual (all the tables are much further spaced, there was no […]

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