Granite Gorge Nature Park is a bit of a hidden gem. Its only 16 minutes outside of Mareeba or 70 minutes from Cairns in Northern Queensland. The landscape and vegetation around here is much drier than the lush wet tropics of Cairns. The caravan park is lovely but the highlights of this park are the gorge walk, the tiny, cute Mareeba Rock Wallabies and the huge number of animals at the park.
Visitors at this park are allowed to feed the wallabies with pellets purchased from reception. We didn’t feed them but as they are so used to being fed, they are quite tame and will approach closely to any humans with expectant looks on their little faces. We therefore managed to get many good photos.
There are huge number of animals around the park. It would be great for kids but also fascinating for us adults! There are noisy geese and fluffy, fancy chickens wandering about loose, a pig, ponies, lizards, water dragons, guinea pigs, snakes and lots of colourful birds. The lady at reception offered us several times the opportunity to hold these animals if we wanted. We also chanced upon the feeding of the snakes with mice and chicks. These were dead before feeding the snake but warmed to tempt the snakes to eat!
The walking tracks that go from behind the reception building are a little tricky in places but worth doing for the spectacular and unusual boulder filled scenery. The shorter, yellow marked walk is easier and takes you to a pretty water body for swimming. The much harder, red marked walk involves a fair amount of clambering over rocks but you can see dinosaur footprints and a pretty gorge lookout!
If you are in the vicinity of Mareeba, Skybury Coffee is worth a visit. It has a cafe on a high balcony overlooking the pretty vista and free tastings of coffee, papayas and papaya jam at the shop. The most fascinating part of this operation is how they double crop papaya trees and coffee trees. There is a small movie theater and signage with information about this method of farming.
The papaya trees are planted and these produce fruit for sale between 8 months and 2.5 years. When the tree gets to a certain height, young coffee trees are planted under the papaya trees. The papaya trees protect and shade the young coffee trees while they mature to a productive age. Coffee trees planted under papaya trees mature to productivity much faster than those planted alone. Once the coffee trees are ready for harvest, the papaya trees will have passed their useful age and have been removed. This method increases the yield from the same bit of land with only a marginal increase in water and fertilizers. Fascinating stuff!!