In fact, Atherton is pretty much the reason Cairns exists: Cairns was established at the mouth of the Trinity River to serve as a port for the area's fertile hinterland.
|That's Cairns in the distance below.|
The problem? The plateau rises a good 4000 feet straight up into the air to the west of the city. The only two roads up the hillside are at least thirty minutes of hairpin switchbacks. A bit hairy in the morning, downright harrowing at night.
If you clicked on that video, you'll have noticed that it was Nana behind the wheel. That's because, in my infinite wisdom, I left my US driver's license in Japan - and surprisingly the Australians are no better than I am at reading Japanese. Luckily for us, Nana handled the switchbacks with aplomb.
Our reward: an excellent day in Atherton.
|The eastern front of the tableland is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Site, which includes almost 10,000 sq km of tropical rainforest.|
|We stopped for a walk down the boardwalk that runs along Barron Gorge.|
|Barron Falls - a trickle in winter, but still a long way down.|
|Up into the tableland itself now.|
|Don't that look like cattle country?|
|A surprisingly noble post for the parking lot of Humpy Nut World.|
|Sunset. We paid the price with those switchbacks later!|
Of course, we did a lot more in the Atherton Tablelands than drive and eat - we also met some of the local wildlife. More on that to come!