Julatten and Palmer River
Mareeba we have access to one of the most historical mining areas
in Far North Queensland. This is the area around Chillagoe. It was
once famous for copper but now has a gold mine nearby. Along the
way are four interesting places.
Dimbulah. The Mareeba/Dimbulah district was the largest tobacco
growing area in Australia. However, with the decline in smoking,
this area is looking for alternate crops. Petford, Lappa and Almaden
are also along the way and a worth a brief stop. The ruins of the
old hotel at Lappa are eerie and there is a railway station at Lappa
that still has a genuine bush dunny on the platform for those who
wish to indulge in the experience of sitting on a wooden seat.
is also famous for its limestone caves. The Chillagoe - Mungana
Caves National Park protects a number of limestone caves. Guided
tours to three caves leave at times listed at the National Park
Office daily (usually 9am and 1.30pm). Torches (bring your own)
add to the excitement of exploration as do unexpected shafts of
light. Your own torches are essential for unguided tours of Pompeii
and Bauhinia caves but not The Archways which is an open daylight
cave. Further information can be obtained from the Ranger at Chillagoe
when you get to Cairns. The distance from Cairns to Chillagoe is
232 km so it can be easily done in one day. However if you wish
to overnight there is a caravan park plus two hotels etc. Bookings
would be advisable.
Mareeba, the Peninsula Development Road starts. This road is a well
formed two-lane bitumen road which now goes right through to about
25 kilometres short of Lakeland Downs. The first town you will encounter
after Mareeba is Mount Molloy. Late last century and early this
century this area was thriving. The sea port for this area was Port
Douglas. A track ran from there through Craiglee and up through
Julatten to Mount Molloy. Cobb & Co ran coaches through this area
to Atherton and the southern part of the tableland. The climb from
Craiglee to Julatten was very steep and was known locally as the
Bump. I have ridden this track on a trail bike and I had enough
trouble with modern day brakes etc so it must have been hair raising
in a stagecoach. An extra team of horses was added at Craiglee to
the front of the existing team for the ascent and a team at the
rear was added at Julatten for the descent.
road did not go through to Palmer River and Cooktown originally
as it does now. The Palmer River area was opened by a gold rush.
Hopeful diggers, merchants etc. landed in Cooktown and made their
way to the Palmer gold fields by any means available, mostly by
foot. Two of the towns established during the gold rush were Palmerville
and Maytown. None of the towns exist in the area any more and to
visit the ruins you would be advised to use a dirt bike or a four-wheel
drive. There is a roadhouse on the main road about 100 kms north
of Mount Molloy and a small museum is attached. It is well worth
the visit and it is a good day ride. By way of warning, there are
unfenced parts of the road north of Mount Molloy and riders should
be careful of cattle on the road.
total distance from Cairns to Palmer Road house is approximately
230 kms. Fuel is available at Mount Molloy and Palmer roadhouse.
It is an easy trip to do in a day.
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