Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mount Emerald, Smith's and Douglas Track, Double Island

On Sunday, Doug and I went up to the Atherton Tableland as part of a big group to walk to the top of Mount Emerald. We have actually walked up this little peak before when we were staying at Lake Tinaroo. It's a pleasant easy walk of perhaps 3 hours return with a nice view of the Atherton Tableland at the end. Given that driving up and back from the track head takes about three hours, this trip doesn't really fit very well with my walk:drive ratio rule where you should be walking at least 1.5 times the amount of time you spent driving. But, it is always good to be sociable, particularly when you are as generally anti-social as I am. 

Atherton Tableland view from Mount Emerald

Wednesday was forecast to be hot and calm, a perfect day for a paddle. After musing over the map/chart for a while and looking for some where new to paddle, we ended up launching at Palm Cove on the north side of Cairns, paddling out to Double Island and Scouts Hat, and wandering up the coast as far as Simpson Point before paddling back. I think we probably paddled somewhere between 28 and 30 kilometres, which made me feel better given I was getting a bit sore in the shoulders by the end – not much paddling lately but a lot of pull-ups. Double Island is only about a kilometre off-shore but has a lot of bird-life and a lot of turtles. I think we saw about 20 green turtles paddling around the two islands. I hope to convince my mother to come out in the kayak with me when she is visiting next week as it really is quite amazing to paddle with all these turtles. There's some nice coral off the islands too.

Glacier Rock from Smith's track

Today I went off for a walk in the woods, as I like to do, even though the temperature was again forecast to hit 32 Celsius. I rode my borrowed bicycle up to Stoney Creek track-head and then walked a kilometre back down the road to Smith's track-head. The trail climbs steadily for the first 3 km up a burnt spur ridge to about 500 metres ASL where you meet a trail junction at Toby's Lookout. There are actually better views from the track on the way up than at the lookout which is rapidly growing in. I stayed on Smith's track as it descends to cross Stoney Creek then climbs back up again.

Diamond python on the track

At the next track junction I took the Gandal Wandun track north to the Douglas track. A big diamond python was lying right across the track and did not move despite me lobbing sticks at it. I eventually gave up getting the snake to move on and bashed around it in the bush. Following the Douglas track back to Stoney Creek I detoured to Glacier Rock, at a sausage (good paleo snack), drank, admired the view, and then descended down to the track head and my waiting bike. I was liberally drenched in sweat by this time so I lay down in Stoney Creek to cool off before riding home and collecting a supply of mangos. Just another few days around Cairns.

View from Glacier Rock

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