Discovering Australia's hidden gems

Posts tagged ‘queensland’

Best Markets EVER at Yungaburra – Atherton Tablelands

Wow! The Yungaburra monthly market takes the prize for the best markets I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to a few). Today this quaint, sleepy little town burst into life as people flocked from near and far to visit the Tableland’s most famous market.  We changed our travel plans especially so we could be here for the markets after hearing good recommendations, and I’m so glad we did.

We arrived at 7.30am to beat the crowds and the heat, but were still there at 11.30am when it was of course very crowded and hot! These outdoor markets are large and offer a good variety of fresh produce, arts/crafts, clothes and the most wonderful home-baked goodies, priced to tempt the most avid health fanatic into buying at least three or four of these delicious looking sweet treats. Somebody should invent the mixed box so all of the tempting tasties can be trialed!

My market experiences over more recent years is that you don’t really get a bargain at the markets anymore. You’ll find things that are unique, handmade and mostly not mass produced, but you will also have to pay a good price for them. I found Yungaburra markets to be the exception. Certainly some of the stalls fell into that category, but overall the stalls had remarkably low prices on high quality, unique goods. The fresh produce was also amazing. Locally grown, usually by the stallholder, the fruit and veg was fresh and healthy, and also well priced.

Only at a country market!

I felt frustrated (and sort of thankful) that I wasn’t able to buy many of the things I desired because we are living on the road and in between homes today. No fridge and no room in the car for extra purchases. I saw many things that would make wonderful gifts, but again, travelling meant that I couldn’t cart them around with me for the next few months, and they would be too fragile/expensive to post back home. So the budget was saved today, only to cause future regret that I didn’t pick up ‘that perfect little something for such and such’ when I was at Yungaburra. And at approximately 3000 kilometres from home it’s a little too far to come back.

Or is it …?

I have truly loved this town. Surrounded by an amazingly diverse range of landscapes, it has an old-style charm with a European flavour, with lovely restaurants and cafes boasting Swiss, Italian, French, and Austrian/Hungarian cuisines.

And a fine Aussie roast dinner at the pub for $10 – delicious! The pub (Lake Eacham Hotel) was another wonderful old federation style building, with a big stately dining room and an open fire. Along with their normal bistro menu they had a different $10 special everyday (and $10 roast any day). The meals were large and a cut above the usual bistro standard. They also had free pool tables which sadly we ran out of time to use. Too many things to do in this perfect little pocket of Australia.

I have a strong feeling I’ll be returning to this charming little town one day. The friendly small town vibe (I dropped in on a casual yoga class and the group invited me to have lunch with them), the picturesque landscapes, the incredible wildlife (I spotted a platypus, tree-kangaroo, emus, rock wallabies and a multitude of lagoon birds all in their natural environment), the lovely locally sourced food, and the accessibility to some of the most amazing natural sights I’ve seen (Milla Milla waterfall, The Crater, the gigantic Curtain Fig tree to name just a few) make Yungaburra and The Atherton Tablelands region a must see if you love nature, food, and old charm hospitality.

Milla Milla Falls

© Copyright October 2012

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Croc Alert At Pristine Port Douglas Beach

Croc Alert

At Pristine Port Douglas Beach

So there I was, minding my own business …

on one of the most beautiful and famous beaches in Australia – Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas.

When deafening blasts of the beach siren break my seaside serenity, and I turn my head in unison with dozens of others towards the ocean.

“Everybody get out of the water – immediately!”

The urgent amplified announcement echoed down the beach as worried water dwellers hastily made their way back to shore, and curious beach dwellers made their way to the water’s edge to see what all the commotion was about.

The lifeguard raced down and quickly pulled the red and yellow safe swimming flags out of the sand and inserted a bright red danger flag. Crowds of people made their way towards the ocean like a brand new batch of baby turtles instinctively heading towards the sea, mostly to meet their fate as their short-lived lives are extinguished by predators. What lies in this ocean is one of the very few human predators and we all expect a shark sighting, but no, not up here in the tropics, it was the mighty croc!

I gather with the crowd and stand in awe as I see him, less than 10 metres off shore, bobbing up and down on the waves like a long brown log, but this was no ‘logadile’, this was the real deal!

The excitement on the beach was palpable as we followed the croc’s southerly progress en masse, feeling safe on our sandy shores.

Croc sighted in Daintree River

Now you don’t expect to see a crocodile in the middle of the ocean. Creeks, rivers, estuaries and anywhere with a nice muddy feel and a few mangroves is where the croc likes to hang out. But apparently they use the ocean like a highway to travel from river to river, so whilst he probably had a destination in mind rather than lunch, they are opportunistic creatures who wouldn’t say no to a  snack that happened to be swimming right in front of them.

After finally losing sight of the croc we spoke to the lifeguard who spotted him. He told us it was a 3.5 metre salt water crocodile and they only spotted him when he was on the edge of the flagged area. He said it’s unusual to see them this time of year, but in summertime it can be a common thing!

My partner and I had previously had many conversations about safe swimming in Far North Queensland, as you’re generally told that crocs only live in the rivers, but we never felt 100% comfortable in the water. We’d always said that the only beach we felt really comfortable at was Four Mile Beach because it is such a popular and crowded swimming beach. In fact this time last year we were in Port Douglas and swimming in that exact spot. Ignorance was bliss.

Sadly, my blissful ignorance has now been banished and there will be no more peaceful floating in these tropical waters.

But that won’t stop my enjoyment of these wonderful places. The vistas from Far North Queensland’s beaches are nothing less than spectacular. Fringed with swaying coconut palms and often surrounded by mountain ranges, tropical islands, or lush rainforest, it is a magical way to spend a day lazing on the sand with a book, a friend, or your thoughts.

Four Mile Port beach at Port Douglas is perfectly equipped with deluxe deck chairs and umbrellas for hire, so you can comfortably spend the entire day there. During holiday season you can also catch a morning yoga  class on the beach, the ideal way to start your day. This beach is extremely popular but because of its expansive width and length it never feels overcrowded.

Mission Beach

However, if you like your tropical beaches a little more secluded, there are many picture perfect spots to choose from.

So if you’re coming to Far North Queensland, enjoy all that this paradise has to offer but remember, we share this beautiful area with its local wildlife. Be croc aware – ‘cause they’re there!

© Copyright September 2012