Discovering Australia's hidden gems

   

Wildlife Trifecta at Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands is a naturalist’s playground with a huge diversity of plants and animals. It’s home to around one third of Australia’s mammal species and has approximately 400 different bird species, 13 of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Being the nature lover that I am, I am in heaven, and today was exceptional.

Read all about it …

Delightful Platypus!

@ 10.30am

Just went down to the platypus viewing platform on our way out of town and up popped one of these gorgeous little creatures straight away. Pure magic! There is something very special about the platypus that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s more than their uniqueness and novelty, they just seem to exude personality and overwhelming cuteness!

This was the first time I’d gotten more than a glimpse of one. He stayed on the surface for around 10 seconds before re-submerging. We watched him do this for around 5 minutes before a couple of calves nosily made their way down the embankment to graze at the water’s edge, scaring him away.

Interesting platypus facts:

Platypus rely on their good eyesight when on shore, but in the water they close their ears and eyes and rely on sensors in their beek to detect movement and locate their food. They dive under the water to catch it and then bring it to the surface to eat it, which is why you can see them bobbing up and down. And they’re greedy little fellas, eating up to half their own body weight each day.

What an unexpected and delightful surprise to get such a good sighting at 10.30am, when they are generally said to be seen only around dawn or dusk.

Another wonderful wildlife experience. The animals are such a highlight of my trip. The next elusive critter I’m hoping to see is the tree kangaroo. We’re on our way a hunting now …

Beautiful Brolgas

@ 1pm

No sign of the tree kangaroo but we’ve stopped off at Bromfield swamp and are watching the graceful brolgas foraging around the wetlands. They have a very loud and distinctive call that we can hear from the viewing platform. We’d planned to come here in the early evening to see large flocks returning home to their swamp, and we still may, but it’s bitterly cold and windy at the moment. Getting here we travelled along a dirt road shrouded in mist, cut through the mountainside. The surrounding vista would have been spectacular on a clear sunny day, and was pretty impressive anyway, when you could see it through the cloud.

Trifecta – Tree kangaroo !!!

@ 2pm

We didn’t find it personally, but we saw it just the same – adorable!

The cold, grey, drizzly weather meant that we had to cancel our ‘picnic by the waterfall’ lunch plans, and instead called into the cosy looking Tree Kangaroo Café, and I’m so glad we did.

Travellers, if you’re up this way I would highly recommend stopping here. Apart from the food being delicious, with healthy options and varied and unique menu items (homemade kangaroo pie being just one of them), the owner was passionate about the nature here and happy to share his local knowledge. When ordering lunch I asked him for some tips on spotting the tree kangaroos and he promptly took me outside and showed me one sitting in the tree just down from the café. Marvellous! It was a lot larger than I’d imagined; a great big cuddly bundle of fur with a small head and pixie-cute face. His long kangaroo style tail (hence the name) dangled down from the fork in the tree and could easily have been mistaken for just another branch. His excellent camouflage a tribute to evolution, I doubt we would have been able to spot him by ourselves. I got a good look at his gorgeous little furry face through my binoculars.

Ah … mission “Tree Kangaroo” – Success!

Despite our eagerness to set off into the rainforest to track down more of these cute cuddly critters, we found it hard to drag ourselves away from the café, which had a cosy fire, a couple of lounge style chairs, and a DVD on loop showing a variety of local wildlife: platypus, exotic birds, cassowaries, and our friend the tree kangaroo, as well as local natural beauty spots and stunning waterfalls (of which there are many in this area).


Dinner Falls

We also got chatting to the owner who was a wealth of information on the best places to go and how to get there.

I’ve found a lot of the locals up here to be very soulful people who are passionate about where they live and fully appreciate the stunning beauty of nature, in all its forms. I often hear the story told of how they came here for a holiday or were just passing through and decided not to go home!

The Atherton Tablelands has a very different vibe and vista to suburban living. I’m liking it – a lot!

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