Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Atherton Tablelands-great food and nudists

About an hour from Cairns is the agricultural region known as the Atherton Tablelands.  It's the plateau part of the mountains nearby, so they grow a lot of coffee, tea, sugarcane, and bananas to name a few things.  Katy found a brochure for a food tour, and while we had no intention of paying $150 a piece to go on it, we thought there was no reason we couldn't take the same route and do some sampling ourselves.  Here's a picture of an overview of the area:

Our first stop was Jacques coffee plantation.  It was interesting to say the least.  We weren't there long and the owner started in on Katy.  He's married, but this didn't seem to stop him, and he was even so bold to tell her he'd give her a free plane ride if she'd ride naked.  Once he heard she was a masseuse, he was trying hard to get her to come work at the plantation for while.  He just would not leave her alone, so she agreed to take a short ride and see the place where the workers lived.  She got to talk to a couple of the workers who informed her that he and his wife were naturalists, so if she didn't like to see nude people walking around, than should probably wouldn't enjoy it here.  Made you wonder why anyone worked there.  

For all of Mr. Jacques annoying habits, he did grow and roast very tasty coffee.  I bought some beans to take home, and finally decided to try an Australian iced coffee while I was there.  They aren't at all like an iced coffee from Starbucks.  They start with a scoop of icecream, then They start with a scoop of ice cream, then add a shot of hot espresso, chocolate syrup, milk, whipped cream, and then chocolate shavings.  It was gooooood.

The drive out of the plantation was interesting, with a line of giant termite mounds:

At Jacques we found a brochure that gave us a free wine tasting at Golden Drop winery, which specializes in  mango wines.  They were really tasty, but too expensive for me.  After the winery we went to the Mount Uncle distillery, which did tropical liqueurs like plum, mulberry, banana, and coffee.  They were awesome, but my favorite was actually their bright pink marshmellow liqueur.  Daniel took a nap in the car, but Katy and I did a tasting.  Sadly, they only currently ship within Australia, so I you couldn't get in in the US.  They even had some wild guinea fowl and a peacock on the grounds, and a wonderful tea room to boot, not to mention the banana plantation.  The peacock was fast, but I got a slightly blurry pic:

After that we decided to forgo further food delights and instead try to see the platypuses (platypi?) that were supposed to be at a nearby river.  These are very, very shy creatures, so you have to be really quiet, but we eventually saw more and more as we wandered along the river.  They are fast, too, and don't have to come up for air often, which made taking their picture difficult, but I got a couple.  

This whole day had pretty much bored poor Daniel to tears even though Katy and I were enjoying it immensely.  He started to get a bit mischievous, so he climbed way up in a tree, and made me go back and get Katy where she was still taking pictures of platypuses/platypi.  The plan was to bring her back and he'd yell, "The British are coming!" and scare her. Reminder:  Katy is from England, so we like to tease her about that sometimes.  So, I went back but she had managed to get really close to a platypus, so I didn't want to disturb her.  I started to go down the hill so I could get a picture, too, and ended up sliding all the way down the hill on my white shorts (yeah, I know I should have known better, but they were only $5).  After pictures and collecting myself, I thought sure Daniel would haven given up, but he had only climbed higher in the tree, so he was able to do his shouting at Katy.  I think she thought is was more funny than it scared her, and we made him stay there so we could take a picture:

He said several people had passed but no one had noticed him.  I guess most people aren't expecting a grown man in a tree.  We headed home after that. 

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