Tropical Far North Queensland by BlossomFlowerGirl

Queensland Time

Floriade of Flowers

Tropical Far North Queensland

This is about my holiday from Cairns to
Laura, on the lower Cape York Peninsula from
September 2008 to October 2008. Going from Melbourne to Cairns to Port Douglas, to Cooktown and Laura, Cape Tribulation and all the bits in between, and finally back to Cairns for my flight home.

Drive The Daintree

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18. Atherton Tablelands - Gillies Highway and Strangler Figs

Tuesday 23 September

Today I'm off to the Atherton Tablelands, and I'm going via the Gillies Highway. There are easier roads, but as soon as I heard of this twisting, winding road, I just knew I had to take it - I love winding roads. The Gillies HIghway is famous for its 200+ corners in 20 kms of road!
Below is a map showing the route I took.

Atherton Tablelands map

I drove down to Gordonvale then turned on to the Gillies Highway, from there I started the gradual climb through the luscious rainforest. The Gillies Highway ascends the mountain ranges starting at the small town of Gordonvale (30km south of Cairns). Over the next 30 kilometres you climb some 600-1000 metres to the Atherton Tablelands encountering spectacular lookouts along the way which enable you to take in the view of the valleys deep in the Great Dividing Range.

View from the Gillies Highway

The temperature drops and the air becomes fresher. This route offers spectracular views, especially from Heales Lookout.

Morning Tea Stop

This is one of the places I pulled over the side of the road where I had morning tea - I always bring along my Thermos flask.

Atherton Tablelands Hills

When you reach the top of the range, the rolling green hills of the Atherton Tablelands stretch out before you. After driving through Gadgarra, you take the right turn off through the Danbulla State Forest to get to the Cathedral Strangler Fig.

Cathedral Strangler Fig

The Cathedral Fig is a massive strangler fig tree - one of the most impressive sights in the rainforest along the Danbulla Forest Drive which runs around Lake Tinaroo, and is about 5 kms from the Gillies Highway. It is the same species of tree as the Curtain Fig Tree (Ficus virens), but through different growing pressure has evolved to display a different habit of the commonly called strangler fig.

Its massive system of buttress roots is surrounded by a boardwalk, and it is over 500 years old. It has the reputation of being the best place to hear an early morning bird 'singing' in the Atherton Tablelands.

Cathedral close-up

Many species of animal can be seen seeking shelter in and around the Cathedral Fig Tree including: Papuan Frog Mouth, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Emerald Fruit Dove, Pale-yellow and Grey-headed Robin, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, many species of reptile, Possums and Tree Kangaroo.

Click on the blue marker for a photo. You can also enlarge the map.

View Cathedral Strangler Fig in a larger map


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