The Lava Tubes were not as I had expected – I thought they would be smaller and very smooth inside, but they are huge, maybe 30 metres in diameter and rocky, with silt floors, accumulated over millennia. In places the ‘roofs’ have collapsed leaving arches, and rainforest growing in the bottom. They were formed when lava oozed out of the volcano (I had no idea they ever did ooze, I assumed they always blew lava high in the sky) and the lava flowed down existing river beds. As the lava cooled a crust formed on the surface, but the lava kept flowing inside. When the volcano eventually stopped the lava simply flowed out, leaving tubes. An impressive experience to walk inside.
Heading north again we stopped in the beautiful but wet – constant drizzle – of the Atherton tablelands before going into Jowalbinna, near Laura. The objective here was aboriginal rock art, specifically Quinkans. We were taken on a walk to several different sites, scrambling up and down. The art was worth it, with hand prints in initiation sites and emus, dingos, jabirus and best of all massive kangaroos all along a deep overhang. There were guardian figures and small figures marking death ceremonies in a mortuary site. Some would have been made up to 30,000 years ago, and the most recent in the 1880s, when the aboriginal people were displaced by a wave of gold miners pouring into the area to seek their fortune.
From there to Cooktown, then turning south we took the road towards Cairns. The countryside is very beautiful, steep wooded hills, rich green rainforest. We decided to take the coastal 4wd road, which was beautiful, going deep into the Daintree rainforest, crossing rivers and winding sharply up the hills. In parts it was very narrow, and meeting trucks coming the other way on hairpin bends was an interesting experience, but we got through!
Mossman Gorge (beautiful), Cairns (buzzy, energetic city) and now a day off in Mission Beach, lovely long, sandy beach, the sea a deep blue and a few interesting odds and ends for me to collect on the beach!
I will include a picture here of me trying to draw encased in a fly net when I was in Innamincka. Thankfully the flies are well behind us now, just a few mosquitos and the odd green ant to do battle with!
A little postscript – if you happened to see my post about my miniature book in a box (see here) I was delighted to find I had won a prize for it at the Australian Society of Miniature Art Awards, for Most Imaginative Drawing.