Mike Blewitt is editor of the Australian Mountain Bike Magazine and founder of the MarathonMTB.com online portal and racing team. He regularly participates in stage races all over the world and has raced the Crocodile Trophy multiple times. In this blog we are sharing some of his recommondations in the 2015 article Explore Tropical North QLD with the Crocodile Trophy on MarathonMTB.com – click here for the full article
If you are planning on competing in the Crocodile Trophy, do yourself a favour and plan on staying on for a bit more time too. These are some of the places we think you should visit.
Resort Life in Port Douglas
Once the race finishes, you’re left in Port Douglas. Just like Transalp finishes in Riva del Garda, lets hope this becomes a tradition for the Crocodile Trophy. There is nowhere better to finish in my opinion. Port Douglas is a resort town, so why not take advantage of it. Go on a reef trip. Take a Daintree tour. Drink some cocktails. Eat out. Sleep, be pampered. There is some mountain biking in Port Douglas (you could even try to better your time on the Bump Track) but it seems like a better place to catch up on some relaxation, and sleep.
There are lots of small towns linked together, and plenty of larger towns that service them. Each town has a story, and each is worth some attention or an overnight stay. While the race will take you through Atherton, it’s worth a trip back for a look around, even just to ride some more of the trails at Atherton Forest MTB Park. The Crystal Caves are also worth a look. After 9 days of bike racing, it’s worth taking the time to adjust to a slower paced way of life.
Atherton is possibly the most central location for a lot that you could visit on the Tablelands, and the Atherton Big 4 is very mountain bike friendly with a bike wash area, lots of space, a pool, outdoor kitchen and free wifi.
Ravenshoe isn’t too far away, and is the highest town in Queensland. While in the past it’s been the home of the timber industry, it has also been the home for hundreds of thousands of troops who were training for jungle warfare. There are bakeries, pubs, community stores, and plenty of people who have a story to tell.
Herberton and Millaa Millaa are also worth visiting, although there’s more to do in the former. If you need to pedal, you could check out the Misty Mountain trails.
If getting back on the bike so soon isn’t that appealing, then head for the Lakes Loop – or even better head to Yungaburra, not even an hour away from Atherton. It’s a small town with a great pizzeria, and a few very friendly cafes for a late breakfast, brunch, lunch… or all three.
The main lakes are all a short drive away. You will have camped on Lake Tinaroo early in the Crocodile Trophy, but the nearby Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine are just sublime. They are both craters, excellent for swimming in, and a fantastic place to unwind. You can drive there and go for a short walk, or make it a casual road ride from Yungaburra. Just don’t forget your swimmers.
Don’t miss the Curtain Tree Fig while nearby, it’s absolutely huge, and could almost be an extra from Predator it’s so other worldly. Again, it’s just off the road, so you can drive there and walk in if you’re still having time off the bike.
Australia is known for beaches, and both north and south of Cairns they are just what you would expect to find. Between Cairns and Mission Beach there are other small townships dotted along the coast. The drive itself is an experience of Australia – stopping at road side stalls for bananas, ginger and other fresh produce.
Some of the beaches are just about empty. Pay attention to warning signs for crocodiles, or just do as the locals do. Mission Beach, like Four Mile Beach, is firm enough to ride on. Others seem purpose made for walking along and unwinding.
There are countless walking opportunities in the area, up tall peaks, along beaches, through gorges. But if you are still in a world of hurt after the Croc, the Skyrail in Smithfield might be better. Just north of Cairns, the cable car takes you inland above the rainforest. If you book a canopy glider, you’re in the open air with no limitations on what you can photograph.
It’s a great way to see the rainforest, and the views back to the ocean, plus learn more if you take a guided tour. The journey goes to Kuranda, and while you can take the cable car back, you can also come back down on the train.
Spoil yourself, enjoy a bit more of the slower pace after completing the Crocodile Trophy. But just make sure you don’t get right back on a plane. Experience Tropical North Queensland for a little longer.