We’ll leave the Pullman Cairns International Hotel around 7:15am (0715) by coach and head south to the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) South Johnstone Research Station. Conditions at this site present an extreme decay hazard with meters of rainfall each year and a lovely tropical climate. Fortunately, we will be there in “Winter”. This is the site where long-time IRG member Ms Lesley Francis does her work including DAF’s newly installed large scale above ground decay test. Keep an eye out and you may see the resident Cassowary. If you get a chance, check on the great variety of Aussie Pies at the Wangan Bakery near the research station!
From there we will head inland and climb ~700 m to the Atherton Tablelands (fortunately, the bus will do the climbing). As we drive you will see a dramatic change from lush tropical forests to the drier Eucalypt forests for which Australia is famed. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch by Lake Eacham (Yidyam or Wiinggina in the local language) which was created around 9000 years ago by a volcanic eruption. The caldera surrounding the lake is a remnant tropical rainforest, one of many dotting the Tablelands. There are well-marked trails around the lake so you can go for a short walkabout.
After lunch, we’ll head to the Mareeba area where we will see termite mounds and both Coptotermes and Mastotermes. Mastotermes darwiniensis or the Giant Northern Termite, is the only remaining species in the genus which is only found in north Australia (sadly now classified with the cockroaches).
If there is time, we will stop briefly for coffee/tea in Mareeba, which is becoming a major coffee growing area. We’ll then head back to Cairns via the spectacular Baron River Gorge to arrive back at the hotel by 5 pm leaving plenty of time to shower and dress casually for the opening reception. We hope to see you there.
Cost: $99 AUD including snacks, lunch, and, of course, the bus trip (around $64 USD or €64 Euros) - sign up and pay when you register for IRG54. In the IRG54 registration the cost per person is set at 700 SEK.
Dress: yes - you should wear clothes. Wear loose fitting clothes and closed-toed shoes as everything in Australia bites. Shorts are fine and a hat is essential as the UV index is extreme. Bring sunscreen....and use it!
Approximate travel times:
Cairns to South Johnstone 1.5 hours
South Johnstone to Lake Eacham 1 hour
Lake Eacham to Mareeba 45 minutes
Mareeba to Cairns 1 hour
* To convert Australian dollar costs to that of other currencies CLICK HERE then select your currency of interest.