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Category Archives: tourism

DAINTREE RAINFOREST STILL A WORLD-BEATING ATTRACTION – BUT IS THE PRICE OF THE CAR FERRY PUTTING PEOPLE OFF?

DAINTREE - THE WORLD'S OLDEST RAINFOREST (pic courtesy Daintree Discovery Centre

DAINTREE – THE WORLD’S OLDEST RAINFOREST (pic courtesy Daintree Discovery Centre)

The world’s oldest rainforest is just a 90 minute drive north of Cairns. The Daintree continues to be one of the main reasons visitors come to far north Queensland. It runs right down to the sea between Mossman Gorge and the Bloomfield River – Australia’s largest area of continuous rainforest. But when you do the drive from Cairns, the first road sign you’ll see with the word “Daintree” on it is just before you get there – as you approach the Daintree River car ferry.

It’s a wonderful journey and the rainforest is breath-taking. But visitor numbers have dropped and some local businesses have closed since the global financial crisis. The people who run tourism related concerns in the Daintree are a determined lot, who have long lived with the waxing and waning visitor arrival numbers – perhaps that’s just a fact of life in the industry. But there are concerns the Daintree has lost some of its lustre, that it needs to be much better promoted as a destination than it currently is, and barriers to tourism should be reduced.

ron and pamOne of the pioneers of tourism in the region believes the price of the short ferry trip across the river is a significant barrier. It’s the only way in from the south by road – it will cost you $23 for a return trip, and while you might spend some time waiting to get aboard, the crossing lasts barely two minutes. Ron Birkett is the director of the Daintree Discovery Centre – and he’s offered to pay the ferry fare for visitors to his Centre during the usually quiet FNQ wet season. Ron has made the offer to drum up some business, but also to make a point about a fee he believes deters visitors and adds to the already significant cost of living and running a business in the Daintree, where people have to generate their own power and provide their own water and sewerage systems.

LISTEN to my interview with Ron Birkett here

Ron first came to the Daintree in the 1980s, having seen TV news coverage of the blockades staged there by people opposed to the Queensland Government push to build a road through the rainforest. More about the blockades here

And you can take an online audio-visual tour of the Daintree Discovery Centre here

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REMEMBERING THE LONG GONE TOWN THAT BUILT TINAROO FALLS DAM FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND

]PIC COURTESY OF THE CENTRE FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF QUEENSLAND http://queenslandplaces.com.au/atherton-shire-and-tableland

PIC COURTESY OF THE CENTRE FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF QUEENSLAND http://queenslandplaces.com.au/atherton-shire-and-tableland

In 1952, the Queensland Government approved construction of a dam on the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland. It was the first dam built in Queensland solely for irrigation, and to this day it remains one of the region’s biggest infrastructure projects. It took six years to complete at a price of 12 million dollars. The Tinaroo Falls Dam supplied much needed water to the region’s tobacco farmers – not all of whom could count on receiving some of the annual 1300mm average rainfall. Irrigation channels were built to carry water from the dam to what became known as the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation area.

These days, the dam area is generally known as Lake Tinaroo, a popular spot for fishing, boating, camping and outdoor recreation. It supplies about 200,000 megalitres of water to the irrigation scheme, supporting a great diversity of crops, except the one it was built for – the FNQ tobacco industry is no more.

The dam holds a volume of water roughly 75% of that contained in Sydney Harbour, behind a wall that stands 45 metres high. It was a massive construction project that required a lot of workers – and they lived in a purpose built town near the construction site. It was the first of its kind in Australia – a temporary township with barracks to house hundreds of men. There were social halls, shops, buildings for police and fire brigade. They even had a very active amateur theatre group. None of it is there anymore – when the dam was finished, the town was taken apart and moved away. Some of the buildings were relocated around the Tablelands, to be used as sheds on local farms. There was nothing left to give any hint the area had once been a vibrant community.

That’s about to change. Signs telling the story of this long-ago town and the people who lived there are about to be unveiled on the Lake Tinaroo foreshore.  Staff at the Tablelands Regional Council library used a community heritage grant to create the project – Tinaroo – Traces of the Past. Signs featuring the history and photos of the old town will be placed along the foreshore walkway.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear local historian Gwen Price tell the story of the old town and the construction of the dam

Gwen Price has compiled several books on far north Queensland history, including More Than Just A Dam – The Story of Tinaroo Falls, From there to here – The development of Atherton Shire, and A Diary of a Country Hospital – the story of the Atherton District Memorial Hospital.

The Tinaroo – Traces of the Past signage project will be officially launched at the Tinaroo foreshore on Saturday May 25 at 2pm.

Read more about the history of Tinaroo Dam at https://tinarooeec.eq.edu.au/Pages/Kids%20Pages/History/Tinaroo-Dam.aspx

View images and postcards of the area from the 50s & 60s at http://queenslandplaces.com.au/atherton-shire-and-tableland

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Comments Off on REMEMBERING THE LONG GONE TOWN THAT BUILT TINAROO FALLS DAM FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in community, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, rd on the road, tourism, tropical weather & climate

 

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CROCODILE SPOTTING ON THE DAINTREE RIVER FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND

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Have you ever seen a crocodile up close? There are plenty of opportunities to do it here in far north Queensland either in captivity or in the wild. There are several crocodile spotting operations on the Daintree River, about an hour’s drive north of Cairns. You’ll find them close to the Daintree River ferry crossing, and that’s where our wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen took me to meet Dave White and go croc-spotting on board the Solar Whisper. http://www.solarwhisper.com/

Dave was a carpenter in Sydney who moved to FNQ about 20 years ago and began working on reef boats and river cruises. He discovered a talent for spotting creatures in the wild and started his Daintree crocodile cruise business. His boat, as the name implies, runs on solar power and so makes very little noise, allowing it to get very close to the crocs. He’s also got a video screen on board fed by a camera that can give you amazing close ups of the crocs and other creatures that live on the river.

Crocodiles have survived since the dinosaur age, relying on a potent blend of strength and stealth that makes them a real danger to humans who enter their habitat. Like all who work with crocodiles, Dave uses his extensive knowledge of the local crocs and an understanding of their behaviour to get you close and keep you safe. Dave has seen crocodiles fighting each other, and one of the combatants bit his boat! The tooth-marks are still visible in the hand-rail.

AUDIO Click on the red arrow to hear Martin and Dave take you on a Daintree River cruise. We meet Scooter, a teenage male crocodile, hear the story of the epic battle between Scarface and Fat Albert, and some thoughts on mangroves and how to manage crocodile populations.

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2 martMore about Dr Martin Cohen at http://www.wildaboutaustralia.com/

And a bursary has been established in memory of Martin’s life and business partner, the late Julia Cooper, who died of a rare auto-immune disease in 2011. The bursary will be available to post-graduate students at James Cook University. Read more at https://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-julia-cooper-memorial-wild-life-research-bursary/

or make a tax-deductible donation at http://alumni.jcu.edu.au/new-site-2012/donations/julia-cooper-memorial-wildlife-research-bursary-information

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, PODCASTS, tourism, tropical weather & climate, wildlife and animals, Wildlife Martin Cohen

 

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SOLAR ECLIPSE FNQ STYLE – NOW THAT WAS WORTH THE EARLY START

I’VE SEEN SOME THINGS IN MY TIME – BUT TODAY’S TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE HAS ECLIPSED THEM ALL. LAST NIGHT I WAS LISTENING TO ECLIPSE CHASERS WHO’VE BEEN TO DOZENS OF THEM AND I WAS THINKING – WELL, WHY? NOW I GET IT!

We watched it from the Palmer RIver Road House with a group of seasoned eclipse chasers. We were all blown away. Click on the red arrow to hear the magic moment when totality arrived over FNQ.

CRITTER CONFUSION

GEE THAT WAS A SHORT NIGHT.JUST TWO MINUTES LONG!

 

All over FNQ today, people have been keeping an eye on the wildlife, to see how an eclipse might change their routine.

The eclipse came early in the morning, when some creatures are just getting up, others are trying to get to sleep. So does a sudden, unexpected two minute “night” confuse animals? Birds, flying foxes, even fish, could have their sleep and activity patterns mixed up.

AUDIO Click on the red arrow to hear our wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen explain how the eclipse affected the critters of FNQ.

 

THROUGH INDIGENOUS EYES

The path of today’s solar eclipse passes over country that’s been home to indigenous people for tens of thousands of years.

QUINKAN FIGURE – HE’S THE ONE WITH THE POINTY ELBOWS

The area around Laura is Quinkan country, named for the powerful spirit beings of the region. They’re central to the indigenous stories of this country. While you might not encounter one yourself, you will see them depicted in Aboriginal rock art at hundreds of sites all over Quinkan country.

AUDIO Click on the red arrow to hear Matt Trezise at Jowalbinna Station give an indigenous perspective on the eclipse. Was Halley’s Comet a visit from the rainbow serpent?

Read more about Jowalbinna Station at http://www.jowalbinna.com.au/

And for info on Quinkan rock art go to https://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/watch-the-eclipse-from-quinkan-country-jowalbinna-station-fnq/

or https://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/quinkan-rock-art/

DANCE LIKE NO-ONE’S WATCHING – WELL ONLY 10 THOUSAND

FESTIVAL SITE PALMER RIVER FNQ

There’s a huge dance music festival underway just down the road from Palmer River, on the old Maitland Downs cattle station. There’s almost 10,000 people grooving their way through eclipse day, in what’s essentially a temporary town in the scrub. And there’s some great shopping opportunities, including Luke and Matt’s music stall. Some awesome musical instruments, but they’re more keen on teaching you to play than any hard sell. Click on the arrow to hear Phil Staley tuning up with Luke & Matt.

THERE’S MORE PICS AT THE EARLIER PALMER RIVER POST ON THIS BLOG. https://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/solar-eclipse-2012-were-at-palmer-river-fnq/

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Comments Off on SOLAR ECLIPSE FNQ STYLE – NOW THAT WAS WORTH THE EARLY START

Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Cairns Queensland, Cape York Peninsula, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, indigenous, tourism, tropical weather & climate, wildlife and animals

 

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SOLAR ECLIPSE 2012 – WE’RE AT PALMER RIVER FNQ

SIGN OF THE TIMES MULLIGAN HWY FNQ

YOUR ABC FAR NORTH CREW HAS MADE IT TO PALMER RIVER FNQ FOR WEDNESDAY’S SOLAR ECLIPSE. WE’RE AT THE ROAD HOUSE, AND ACROSS THE ROAD WE HAVE ABOUT TEN THOUSAND NEIGHBOURS AT A DANCE MUSIC FESTIVAL. THEY’VE COME FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD AND WE’LL BE INTRODUCING THEM TO YOU ON THE RADIO OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.

WEATHER FORECASTS AREN’T GREAT FOR ECLIPSE WATCHING DOWN ON THE COAST, SO WE’RE PROBABLY IN THE BEST PLACE AND RIGHT UNDER THE CENTRE LINE OF THE TOTAL ECLIPSE.

CHECK BACK OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS FOR AUDIO AND MORE PICS FROM PALMER RIVER FNQ.

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SEE 2012 SOLAR ECLIPSE FROM QUINKAN COUNTRY – JOWALBINNA STATION FNQ

QUINKAN COUNTRY. JOWALBINNA STATION FNQ

The solar eclipse is now under a week away, and competition for viewing spots is heating up. Far north Queensland is expecting thousands of visitors, many of them hoping to see the eclipse from the coast. The more adventurous are heading inland, into the scrub, to places like Palmer River, where an eclipse dance music festival is expecting 10 thousand visitors. http://www.eclipse2012.com/

If you’d like to see the eclipse far from the crowds, and see some very special country while you’re at it, consider Jowalbinna Station. It’s about four and half hours drive north of Cairns, on sealed roads until the final 40 kilometres. Jowalbinna was a cattle property, but these days it’s an eco-tourism destination renowned for its many Aboriginal rock art sites.  http://www.jowalbinna.com.au/

The Jowalbinna Station bush camp sits on the banks of the Little Laura River in the heart of Quinkan country. Quinkans are powerful spirit beings that are at the heart of the indigenous stories of this region. Quinkans are depicted in a lot of the rock art, along with other ancestor beings and stories of this country going back tens of thousands of years. 

AUDIO Click on the red arrow to take a tour of Jowalbinna Station with Matt Treszize.

MORE AUDIO Click on the red arrow to hear Matt Trezise tell the story of how his father Percy devoted his life to the understanding and exploration of Quinkan country rock art.

You can read more about the rock art of Quinkan country at https://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/quinkan-rock-art/

More on Percy Tresize at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Trezisestrong>

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MEET FREDDY CHRISTIANSEN – WATSON RIVER STATION CAPE YORK PENINSULA

CHARLIE MCKILLOP YARNING WITH FREDDY CHRISTIANSEN BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD TO WATSON RIVER STATION

There are plenty of cattle stations on Cape York Peninsula – most of them welcome visitors, some offer the chance to stay a while and do some work. It’s a seven day working week in tough conditions – very hot in the dry season and the wet will challenge even the hardiest of souls.

But if you do get the chance to spend some time on a station, grab it with both hands. You’ll get a real feel for what it’s like to live on the Cape – it’s a very different experience from even the most adventurous Cape York holiday. When cattle station folk start telling you about the daily challenges they face, you will begin to wonder why they stay here. But despite the hardships, they stay because they love the place and the way of life they’ve created for themselves. You’ll often hear the phrase “the Cape is in my blood”.

That’s certainly the case for Freddy Christiansen at Watson River Station, 140 kilometres south-east of Weipa. Freddy and his family have an association with far north Queensland and the Cape going back to the 1930s. Freddy has done it all, including his fair share of old-fashioned cattle droving from Kings Plains station, further south near Cooktown.

These days, Freddy starts before dawn, seven days a week working  for friends at Watson River. He does it because he can – not because he he has to. Freddy is 74 this year, and has no intention of retiring. He tried it once but didn’t much care for it.

FREDDY & BRAD RYAN ON THE ROAD TO WATSON RIVER STATION

In the days before our visit, the Watson River folk had done a few all-night shifts fighting scrub-fires, a common hazard this time of year and just part of life on a remote FNQ cattle station. Click on the red arrow to hear Freddy Christiansen talking to the ABC’s Charlie McKillop.

More about Watson River Station at http://www.watsonriverstation.com.au/

FREDDY DOING THE “LICK RUN”

 
Comments Off on MEET FREDDY CHRISTIANSEN – WATSON RIVER STATION CAPE YORK PENINSULA

Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Cape York Peninsula, community, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, People, tourism, tropical weather & climate

 

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