The Road Ahead : April 2011
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD APR/MAY 2011 34 PHOTOS, ABOVE, FROM LEFT: YUNGABURRA WHISTLE STOP CAFE, VIEW ACROSS THE TABLELANDS, BRIDGET ADAMS AND DEAN MILLER WITH BRIDGET'S FB HOLDEN, CURTAIN FIG TREE. PASTURES SPRINKLED WITH dairy cows, picture- perfect waterfalls and peaceful country towns are trademarks of the Atherton Tablelands, providing the soothing backdrop to an easy drive on gently weaving roads. And while the natural beauty of the area is its big appeal, there are some historical attractions worth discovering. Malanda, about an hour's drive from Cairns, is a town renowned for its dairy industry but less well- known for its classic picture theatre. The Majestic is the oldest, continuously running country cinema in Australia, showing 'flicks' since 1928. The sack seating, traditional candy bar and collection of antique projectors hark back to the cinema's golden years of the early 1940s when American servicemen were stationed in their numbers in the far north. The story goes that a special airfield was built on the Tablelands so that the latest Hollywood movies could be flown directly to the town for the troops' viewing pleasure. Around the corner from The Majestic is another impressive Malanda landmark, a sprawling slab of a pub said to be the southern hemisphere's biggest timber hotel. The Malanda Hotel is owned by 92-year-old publican Tom English who confesses he prefers a glass of the local milk to a beer. Tom's dad, Paddy, built the town's picture theatre and ran the local sawmill which produced much of the magnificent timber featured in the hotel, including a grand staircase made entirely of silky oak. A living remnant of the rainforest can be found near Yungaburra, 10 minutes drive north of Malanda. The famous Curtain Fig Tree features a massive curtain-like span of roots dangling some 15 metres from the half-fallen host tree to the ground. A boardwalk leads to a viewing platform circling the base of the rainforest giant which is estimated to be more than 800-years-old. Even more ancient is nearby Lake Eacham, a volcanic crater-lake that formed some 10,000 years ago. The pretty freshwater lake is surrounded by highland rainforest and offers safe swimming and a day-use area with picnic shelters and barbecue facilities at the water's edge. STORY/PHOTOS CAROLE HORNE | TOURISM QUEENSLAND/CAROLE HORNE ESSENTIAL INFO: Join Queensland Weekender's Dean Miller and Bridget Adams on a road tour of the Atherton Tablelands in a classic FB Holden, Saturday April 30, 5.30pm on Channel 7. PLAN: Prepare a trip to this Queensland region by visiting RACQ's trip planner at www. racq.com.au drive down memory lane TRAVEL QUEENSLAND GREAT ESCAPE When the tropical coast gets a little too steamy, the green and pleasant high country behind Cairns offers a refreshing day trip alternative.