The Travels of Mouse: north to the sun #5

Hello again. Today, the report is about the day off I gave the Staff yesterday. I’ll let Mum do the talking…

Mum: We knew at the start of the holiday that there would be a few things where our lord and master would not be able to join us, sadly. Ahem. I have joined an organisation called Mad Paws, which brings together pet sitters and pet, er, owners. This enabled us to find a lovely lady called Vivien in Cairns, one of several people who offer doggy daycare. She has a large and exceptionally dog-friendly house, a big back yard and several doggos in residence, either her own or on long term visits. We booked a day for Mouse and brought along his medical records, his lead, quilt, snacks and some tightly crossed fingers. This is the first visit he’s made without us along, so we hoped he’d be OK. He was, of course. After demonstrating his running skills and seeing off another dog who wanted to boss him about, he settled right down, to the point where she was texting us photos showing him asleep, all through the day.

So, what did we do on our Staff Outing? We wanted to have coffee and cake, to buy cheese and chocolate, to have a good lunch, and to revisit the 900m/3,000ft high Atherton Tableland, one of our favourite areas when in Far North Queensland.

On our upward journey, we travelled south out of Cairns and turning inland at Walsh’s Pyramid, taking the Gillies Range road, 19km of 263 bends offering spectacular views of the valley below. It passes from sea level through dry to wet rainforest on the upward climb and it’s amazing how suddenly the type of vegetation changes. First stop was Lake Eacham, one of the Tablelands’ Crater Lakes. The area is volcanic, and there are several deep, deep lakes in the area. Local legends say they’re bottomless; of course, they aren’t, but being so high up and deep they’re always cold and refreshing for swimming, and blessedly free of crocodiles, unlike the sea-level waterways in the area.

Mungalli Creek biodynamic dairy has been a very enjoyable pitstop on previous journeys. They have a viewing area for the dairy at work, and serve coffee, cakes and light lunches. We had very fond recollections of memorable Devonshire Teas with clotted cream and a particularly squidgy chocolate torte. Sadly, we were disappointed, so much so that we won’t be going back, and I’m not bothering to provide a link. There was no torte, and despite the fact that they make a range of lactose free milk, yoghurt, etc, they didn’t offer lactose free cream so I could have the scones, jam and cream instead. It was perhaps just as well, as the Husband’s scones were dry and hard in the middle and the cream was a bit scanty and aerated to stretch it further. I had a soggy cheesecake of which the less said the better. The one I make myself is distinctly superior. Our coffees were terrible; his was bitter and far too strong, and mine was so weak it was like drinking hot milk. And there was no cheese for sale. We were offered Covid-19 as the reason, but couldn’t see why that would affect cheesemaking. Oh well….

Moving swiftly on, we headed for Gallo Dairyland, another cheese destination. We arrived to find it closed; at present it’s only open for half the week and of course I hadn’t checked, being used to seeing it open every day. I was beginning to feel rather despondent; I’d hoped to buy some of their hand made chocolates as well as cheese, to make up for the cake disappointment. The chocolates are reliably fabulous, and I’ll know to ring and check next time we’re up here.

And 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 crowd at the bar, etc), the staff are still warm, welcoming and attentive, and the food was, as always, magnificent pub grub.

The beef is locally produced and the steak in front of the Husband was tender and perfectly cooked. I wanted something a bit different, and had a salad of pearl couscous, roasted red capsicum and pumpkin, toasted macadamias and grilled halloumi, dressed with grilled garlicky prawns and a honey mustard dressing. I scoffed the lot, and it was a big plateful!

We took the scenic route home, descending the Kuranda Range, 11.5km of more wiggly road, coming into Cairns from the north this time. After laying in vital supplies (a hot roast chicken, chocolate, etc), we went to fetch His Majesty. He was pleased to see us, but slightly grumpy at having been left out of the fun. However, walkies, belly tickles and rather a lot of chicken scraps later he recovered his normally sunny disposition…

And that will be quite enough of that, thank you, Mum. A little respect if you don’t mind!

41 thoughts on “The Travels of Mouse: north to the sun #5

  1. Your world beyond Mouse reminds me of my world, much much smaller than it used to be…

    • katechiconi says:

      We are fortunate to have such a lovely backyard to play in, in Queensland. Lakes, rainforest, mountains, the Reef and the sea help make up for the fact that I can’t visit friends and family further south. And life with Mouse has opened up different vistas, watching his enjoyment of dedicated dog-spaces, and the admiration of fellow dog lovers in dog-friendly cafés and restaurants.

  2. cedar51 says:

    I too can’t understand certain businesses, using C/19 as an excuse not to provide a service of greatness. They lost a customer, and some others who might have seen your link if you had posted it…If they had import the food stuffs, then maybe an excuse but it felt as most of it was available right there…

    Here, (NZ), as soon as some could restart, especially the small entity, they were off and running – and whilst out in our lock-down (severe) they had come up with some new ideas including using f/b much more…regularly reminding us “what else”. I suspect some are still struggling but they don’t “use the pandemic excuse”

    I remember a friend from decades ago (now dec’d) living on the Atherton Tableland…nice reminder. Lovely trip for the Staff…

    • katechiconi says:

      It was a lovely trip…. and the Gateway just goes to show that restrictions need not result in a loss of service or offering. Such a pity, because Mungalli Creek is in a marvellous location and we had such fun in previous years.

  3. Marty K says:

    Glad The Staff got a chance to do a little sightseeing on their own. What a beautiful area. I’m sure that Mouse was exaggerating any nose-out-of-jointedness and all was forgiven and forgotten by breakfast. 😉

  4. Love the map route which I can always save for a later date when we are up in cairns again …. feeling ever so slightly despondent as it’s not the same as before where we could set a date and set off on a road trip 😓…. but things are looking ever so slightly better with not so many numbers here in Melbourne ( in saying that we are still over 200 !!!! )
    I’m glad Mouse had a lovely relaxed day at a new place & I’m sure the “act” of being upset was just for treats & tickles 🤗

  5. kymlucas says:

    Looks like a beautiful drive.

    • katechiconi says:

      It is, truly. And particularly on the Gillies Range, they have made sure to have plenty of places to pull over and take photos. One of the fun things about the drive is how much the scenery and vegetation changes from tropical to temperate and back to tropical. The Tablelands are high enough that the climate is quite different; a great escape to the cool if Cairns gets too hot and steamy.

  6. anne54 says:

    It is disappointing when things aren’t what you were expecting, but things change. However, using COVID-19 for the reason seems a bit lame. I am pleased you managed to find a good lunch spot. It looked delicious from the photos.

    • katechiconi says:

      C/19 really can’t excuse appalling coffee, can it? Or stale and overbaked scones? We might actually end up going back the The Vines where we had such a gorgeous brunch, so I can sample the cake selection there!

  7. Now Mouse, sometimes parents (sorry, The Staff) have to do things that we don’t always understand. They meant well and certainly didn’t abandon you to a bunch of hooligans. Is it possible that you secretly enjoyed your day with the other doggos and nice people?

    • katechiconi says:

      Hi Miss Jill! You know, I did enjoy myself, but I don’t want them getting into the habit of going off by themselves without Me, so I had to make them understand I didn’t like being left with a stranger. I suppose next time she won’t be a stranger, and I’ll know the other doggos… Anyway, I had them to myself all day today, and we’ll be going home soon, so that’s OK.

  8. tialys says:

    As much as I love dogs and have always had at least one, there are times when it is nice not to have to think about how long you can leave them alone for/where you can go where they’ll be welcome/etc. etc. Those are very rare times for me as I don’t really like putting them in kennels but, when I have, it feels really weird to be able to go out for a whole day and maybe even spend the evening out too without being on ‘the dog clock’.
    Sorry you were disappointed with your first two stops – had they changed ownership or baking staff? Your pub food looks as if it might have made up for it. I do miss English pubs but am worried that, when I get back there, they will have changed beyond recognition.

    • katechiconi says:

      After a year of dog parenthood, it was so strange to just walk into a shop or pub and not have the mental clock of needing to get back… The dog sitter website is really good and we loved the sitter and her household of woolly boys. As for the two disappointing stops; it was really only the first, and as the owners are the same I suspect the café staff were not the same as before. Gallo’s would have been good if I’d been sensible enough to check in advance!

  9. Hi Mouse, Staff do seem to need a day of sometimes and honestly some of the things they do when they get one we would much rather not have to be involved in. We are lucky because there is often someone living in the cabin who males sure we get food and walks on time. Roo says I would really enjoy going somewhere to play with lots of other dogs. Orchid says she would hate it and you were very brave and deserved all the fuss and treats.

  10. nanacathy2 says:

    Now Mouse don’t be a bad employer, your staff deserve a break even if covid caused upset. Glad the meal was good.

    • katechiconi says:

      Hi Miss Cathy! I think I was pretty good about it. I didn’t reject them, I didn’t refuse to eat or sulk (much) when we got back… Now I know what it’s like, I won’t mind so much if it happens again, I suppose. And they did give me lots of treats, so that helped.

  11. We were just discussing our wishlist for visiting FNQ one day, and your list of foodie things was on it. Too bad it didn’t quite work out but your pub lunch looked spectacular. I would’ve napped all the one home though… Mouse, it’s great your mum found a dogsitter, and you were a brave boy to spend the day with her and her other pups.

    • katechiconi says:

      Well, if you and Uncle Wayne make it to Cairns, you really should stay here, it’s very beautiful. And you should *definitely* have brunch or morning tea at Vines, and I bet Diesel would love the 3 fenced dog parks and the 5 dog-friendly beaches. I think Mum’s more or less forgotten the soggy cheesecake, especially after the passionfruit, pineapple and coconut cake she had at Vines yesterday! The dogsitter was OK, I suppose (I prefer my own Staff), particularly after I told that pushy Draco-dog what was what. Anyway, I had the Staff all to myself the past two days, and that’s been good.

  12. that sounds like a shocking travesty of a cream tea. And a massive amount o distance and driving for one day. (I know, such a Pom!)

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s a favourite trip, up the Gillies, the foodie trail, and then back down the Kuranda range. The initial disappointment was compensated by the splendour (and volume!) of the lunch. As for the distance, think of it as driving to Newquay and back… That doesn’t seem very far to me, but then we think of Cairns as quite local (500 miles)!

  13. Sounds like the trip is going well. Sorry parts didn’t live up to it’s historical reputation. We are having so many of our favorite places go out of business because of lockdown. Too many not doing what needs to be done so it just keeps getting worse. The possibility of going on holiday is so out of the question but I’d sure like one. Hope the rest of the trip goes well.

    • katechiconi says:

      Hello again! We are very lucky that Queensland is pretty much virus-free, and our premier plans to keep it that way. Mum is going to make a load more masks for her nephew who lives in Melbourne, where it’s really bad, and also some more for her and Dad for when they have to mingle with other people. I hope you stay very safe and look after yourself as much as possible, as Mum really enjoys hearing from you. Love, Mouse xxx

  14. Steph says:

    Thanks for the tip for Mad Paws! I’ve often thought there should be something like this, but haven’t actually had to look for it.
    My in-laws are in Cairns, and Shines has been left at their place while we all do this day-trip. It is fantastic! Wish we were there now, instead of rainy cold Brisbane!

    • katechiconi says:

      They do all sorts of dog-sitting, from daycare to long term. Mum says Miss Vivien in Cairns is awesome. I liked it there, I wouldn’t mind going back next time we go on holiday to Cairns. Mum and Dad say the price was very reasonable, too. Mum says next time I’m in daycare, she’s going to go to Innot Hot Springs and bake her bones in the hottest water she can stand!

  15. Joanne S says:

    Glad the Gateway pulled through for all of you! 🙂 I understand supply/demand chain, but not poor service. I always check reviews before trying something new. Few or poor reviews make it or break it for me.

    • katechiconi says:

      They didn’t have the supply chain excuse either, it was all produced on the premises. So sad that the offering had deteriorated so much since our earlier very enjoyable visit.

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