Australian Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets
: www.iinet.net.au/~bikefish/| *
Cairns & Atherton Tableland,
By Grace Newhaven
DISCLAIMER : this fact sheet was first compiled in 1997. Some information and contacts may have changed since then! However, looking at some of the other (largely anecdotal) information available on the www, I reckon itís still well above average!
fact sheet is intended to provide background information for bicycle camping in
Sunmap Tourist† Map - Cardwell to Pt Douglas 1:250 000 ( Qld Dept of Lands) †Readily available in the region. About A$7.00. NB that the RACQ has no useful regional map of the area.
Cairns Bicycle User Group . ( http://cairnsbug.org/ ) includes some cycle touring information on its web page.
The weather in July/August was very mild during the day, with some hot days. Nights were cool to cold on the Tableland, mild on the coast. Warm clothes and rainwear are essential for the Tableland. Rain in the "dry season" was infrequent but unpredictable. Sunlight was about 12 hours from 0600 to 1800. Gradients are sometimes steep.
are lots of bikes in
There is a network of bike paths and on-road bike lanes across the city, extending as far as Palm Cove, but with very poor signage and little continuity for the out of town traveller. Coming in to the city from the North was particularly unpleasant around the airport perimeter. The city has a "roundabout" traffic system, with the usual problems for cyclists particularly when left turning traffic sweeps very fast down the freeway style exits, menacing the cyclist in the left lane. Peak hour traffic was awful.
the steep scenic road behind
steep Kuranda road was hard but far from impossible, though you could take the
scenic train (student concession available) with your bike (
$7.00 more). We came down the
pleasant roads were the scenic route from Ravenshoe to Millaa
Millaa, and the back road from Millaa
shops seemed to be open 6 days. EFTPOS is almost universal, sometimes with† a small fee for
"cash out" (beware of damage to your card from the old style
"slider" machines ! ) In
†There was another good wholefood shop in Ravenshoe (tel 070 976 260), with a helpful, cyclist aware owner.The "Big Peanut" store just N of† Tolga had a useful selection of dried fruits and nuts - the dried tomatoes were both delicious and better value than the fresh ones.
Markets with locally grown fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, and some prepared foods, are held in the region on the following roster :
Saturdays : 1 Atherton/ 2 Mareeba/ 3 Malanda/ 4 Yungaburra
Sundays :†† 1Tolga/ 2 Archer's Creek & Kairi / 3 Herberton/ 4 Ravenshoe† . †††††
If you're travelling to the deep interior, you might consider a food parcel from Cairns to a post restante address - prices are reasonable at the Post Office, and the cost of supplies escalates when you leave the city as fast as the choice and quality declines.
the interior, most towns have at least one campsite with tent site prices
around A$8.00 to A$10.00 dble.
Many sites have permanent residents. All are overrun with† 4 WD's full
of lazy tourists -† who'll patronise you
endlessly if you're a cyclist.† The
are several quality camping shops in
"Freecamping" in the dense rainforest seemed as if it would be uncomfortable, and there are† risks† of† leeches, ticks and snakes
The TOWNS :
Atherton : large s/market, several pubs, good bakery. Two campsites, one up-market, one bleak. "Atherton Backpackers" was clean, good kitchen, no camping. Gem caves in Main Street are artificial† ( A$8.00). Restored steam railway.
Freshwater : N of
Herberton : extensive but jumbled collection of old buildings and† museum items, A$10.00. Pub, store etc. .
Kairi : tiny town, pub, small shop.
Kuranda: s/market, pubs, YHA (pleasant but no camping ), un-signposted camping ground 1 Km. Market overrated.
Malanda : Dairy town. All services. Gigantic pub, unsympathetically renovated.
Excessive use of commercial signs in† main street. The milk factory supplies
the longest dairy delivery in the world - to
Millaa Millaa : attractive camping
ground. Pub, s/market etc. Name means " Rain Rain". Busy, narrow† road to
Malanda, try the unsealed route via the
Palm Cove : cheap, friendly , crowded municipal camp site, which doesn't advertise itself† anywhere ! Fast foods, cafes, but no real food stores. Too many cars !† Beach nearby not too crowded. 2km walk to "free" Ellis Beach on the Highway.
Ravenshoe : two caravan/tent† parks of differing quality. Good whole food
shop. Interesting local interpretive / visitor centre. Two
supermarkets. Highest town in
Redlynch : just N of Cairns.
Pleasantly quiet, clean and friendly campsite ( despite
appearances !)† at
Yungaburra : Heritage village, groceries, pub etc. " On The Wallaby " ( tel 070 510 889 ??? ) is an excellent, purpose built, backpackers† with dorm beds, or ( better !) camping in the yard for $8.00 pp. Clean, friendly. A good base camp. Good idea to phone ahead .NB this building was built with the intention that it never lock up - interesting design feature !
Further information :
The Traveller's Guide to
Bicycle Touring In
"Freewheeling " Magazine ( refer your bicycle advocacy group's library )
# 01, p 22 - cycle touring† the Atherton region. A little dated, but still very useful . (1978)
25, p 25 -† N of
# 38, p 44 -† sagged tour of the Tableland (1986)
# 39, p 40† -† Daintree region† (1987)
# 45, p 43† - unsealed route from Mt Garnet to Cardwell (1987)
Australian Cyclist† Magazine
(1994) is a modest backgrounder to
describes the journey through
Cycle Touring & Campaigning
Magazine (August 1996) -