Kookaburra, kangaroo, cockatoo, and fur-headed flying foxes on Atherton tablelands


Kookaburra, kangaroo, cockatoo, and fur-headed flying foxes in Atherton Tablelands

Mother kangaroo with joey in pouch

Mother kangaroo with joey in pouch

One of the main reasons we returned to Australia was to visit our friend, Heather, whom we first met in Scotland in 2011.  While we were in Cairns with Heather in 2012, we had an adventurous two weeks diving, snorkeling, and beach combing on Fitzroy Island.

Cairns

Cairns is a charming town with four lane downtown streets divided by center islands of palm trees and tropical plants.  We walked to the lagoons where the city has free public swimming pool on the bay. Every weekend in Cairns  a farmers market in the center of town, merchants sell fresh produce grown in the Atherton tablelands — monkey bananas, mangos, papaya, tomatoes, passion fruit, dragon fruit, grapes, and lettuce.

Heather is a delightful, adventurous woman who loves to travel.  She was in Berlin in August for her son, Warrick’s wedding.  Her daughter, Shea, also lives in Berlin and was in the wedding.

Atherton tablelands

Cockatoo in Heather's front yard

Cockatoo in Heather’s front yard

We only spent a day in Cairns so I could reserve a three-day diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef.  Then we took off for Heather’s ‘miners cottage ‘ in Herberton in the ‘wet tropics’ Atherton tablelands.  The tablelands is a lush tropical agricultural region with sugar cane, banana, mango and tea plantations.

Flora and fauna

Laughing kookaburra on Heather's clothes line

Laughing kookaburra on Heather’s clothes line

We love Heather’s tablelands retreat. Since our last visit, she had a new verandah built around the front and sides of her house with views of the mango, citrus, banana palms, and frangipani trees in her yard.  frangipani produce the delicate, fragrant flowers used in Hawaiian leis.

Fragrant frangipani blossoms

Fragrant frangipani blossoms

Rose-colored frangipani

Rose-colored frangipani

Lucy relaxing on Heather's new verandah

Lucy relaxing on Heather’s new verandah

One of the delights of the Atherton tablelands is  the diverse and colorful flora and fauna.  I spent three days photographing tropical trees, flowers, plants, birds, and even bats!

King parrots

King parrots

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On a morning walk into Herberton, I passed homes with beautiful flowering plants and trees in their yards.  Sorry, I don’t know the plants’ names, but I’ll do a little research.

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Fur-headed flying foxes

Roosting bats with pointed ears and beady yellow eyes

Roosting bats with pointed ears and beady yellow eyes

In November, a flock of fur-headed flying foxes, a species of bat, flew into Herberton settling on the Wild River riverbed on the edge of town.  Within weeks, thousands showed up, roosting in trees, feeding on a flowery plant blooming in the area.  The local newspaper reported that there are now hundreds of thousands of the nasty looking creatures screeching day and night, fouling the ground and river banks.  Residents are upset and have appealed to shire officials demanding something be done.  But the creatures are protected indigenous species.

Roosting bats

Roosting bats

Roosting bats in stripped gum trees along Wild River

Roosting bats in stripped gum trees along Wild River

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Menacing looking aren't they?

Menacing looking aren’t they?

After looking at those creatures, here’s are friendlier looking indigenous animals, a kangaroo and kookaburra we saw one afternoon visiting an old mining town, Irvinebank, near Herberton.

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Kookaburra in Irvinebank

Kookaburra in Irvinebank

Grove of fig trees in Irvinebank park

Grove of fig trees in Irvinebank park

Heather’s ‘miners cottage’

Much of our time in Herberton was spent walking around Heather’s yard and admiring her tropical trees, plants, and birds.

Banana palms

Banana palms

Mango trees in Heather's yard

Mango trees in Heather’s yard

Verandah in shade of blooming frangipani trees

Verandah in shade of blooming frangipani trees

Parrot 'diving' to feed on pink flowers

Parrot ‘diving’ to feed on pink flowers

* * * * *

Next: Cruising for ‘crocs’ on the Daintree River

In addition to writing this travel blog, I write international thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels.

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