Atherton is a prosperous town of about 7,000 people, surrounded by rich farmland high on the Atherton Tableland. In the humid subtropical climate, rainforest flourishes. Sadly only 2% of the Mabi rainforest remains, since farmers were keen to clear it and use the mineral rich land for crops.
Red soil used for potatoes, peanuts, lucern hay, vegetables and other crops. We passed this way as we skirted the town to get to the Tinaroo Dam, where we went walking in some of the surviving forest. That is another story!
Hay rolls waiting to be taken to the giant hay store in Atherton …. I thought they looked wonderful, like a flock of strange beasts!
This gorgeous view is east towards Queensland's highest mountains, Mt Bartle Frere and Mt Bellenden Ker. We stayed overnight in a very good B&B called The Summit, situated on the side of Halloran's Hill, where another small piece of remnant rainforest is now preserved. Our host explained that the hillside adjacent to the forest was bare only five years ago, but already he has planted over 3 thousand trees, and other neighbours have obviously been busy planting too. Their efforts are extending the rainforest, habitat for rare and endangered species, such as the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo. In these photos you can see the farmland which surrounds the town.
View from Halloran's Hill, showing a little of the forest in the foreground.
Our B&B, lots of timber, spacious and comfortable, with a view west over the township, perfect for sunset and night lights,
and here is John who looked after us. He is a keen conservationist, and told us we should walk up the hill to enjoy the rainforest and the big council park and lookout. On our early morning walk we were thrilled to see a Regent Bowerbird, glinting blue-black and gold in the low branches, and numerous other birds singing, calling,and keeping out of sight! We met an elderly man, sunburned and scarred from removal of skin cancers, walking vigorously. He asked us what we had seen, and told us to look out for Tree Kangaroos … he said when you walk on the ridgeline you may see them in the upper branches of the forest on the slope below. We looked diligently, saw nothing, then descended into the forest. Immediately I saw a small marsupial on the ground, about the size of a wallaby, with a dark face, staring at me. Sadly the camera could not focus through the thick undergrowth. We watched each other for ten seconds, then he hopped rapidly out of sight, and we heard crashing sounds that seemed be ascending a tree! We could only think we had seen a Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo! Out host John was thrilled, since he lives there, knows they are there too, but has never seen one.