You know it’s going to be a good day when your tour guide greets you with a bear hug first thing in the morning. If you were to combine a hippie with a mad scientist and a rockstar, you would get Brett, our oh so fabulous tour guide for the day. I was off to explore the Atherton Tablelands with Barefoot Tours. This was, hands down, one of the most fun tours I’ve been on, largely thanks to our extremely enthusiastic, upbeat guide.
Barefoot Tours goes by a rough schedule, but has no set in stone itinerary by any means. Brett let us set the pace and the vibe for the day. He played fantastic music all day, and gets major props from me for having Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, and U2 all in the same playlist! After our beautiful warped selfies (of which mine somehow came out normal), we went through introductions.
While we went through the typical “name, where are you from, what do you do,” schpiel, he also had us add our relationship status, and if we are a folder or a scruncher. You might ask, “Sarah, what’s a folder or a scrunched?” Well, Brett wanted to know our toilet paper habits…
This introduction broke the ice and very quickly contributed to the friendliness of our group. The chocolate Easter eggs and lollipops passed around were a nice addition too.
To get to our starting point, we drove 267 twists and turns up the Gillie’s Range, which was the original aboriginal walking track from the valley to the Atherton Tablelands. We began our day at Lake Eacham. This lake in a volcanic crater, reaching 75 meters, produced beautiful reflections and was a refreshing way to begin our day. While it was a bit too early for me to take a dip, the rest of the group enjoyed their morning swim.
While drying off, we had breakfast of fresh fruit (kiwis, watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe), muffins, and tim-tams (why not?!) with our choice of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
From Lake Eacham, we went to the Crater at Mt. Hypipamee and Dinner Falls. The Crater is 58 meters below the platform, and much farther down than we had imagined. It was great to put it in perspective of AJ Hackett’s Bungy Jump, which gave those with upcoming jumps a bit of a spook.
Walking down the path a bit, we reached Dinner Falls. I hadn’t intended to get in the water, but as Brett began taking photos of everyone jumping off a rock into the icy cold water, I just had to plunge in myself.
With a leap and a jolt of cold, I was in and made my way over to the waterfall for the best massage of the day. Having us pose for glamour shots on our way out, Brett proved a fantastically funny photographer.
En route to Millaa Millaa Falls, we stopped at the stunning McHugh Lookout. It was so green, and not what many consider Australia to look like!
Millaa Millaa falls, standing at an impressive 75 feet, was a great mid-way point for our day. Here, we learned how to do the world’s best hair flip. While Brett mastered the “bend and snap” far better than any of us, he managed to capture some pretty fantastic shots…
One of the things I admired about Brett as a tour guide was his ability to get the entire bus to interact. Between Millaa Millaa Falls and Josephine Falls, he had us “speed dating” and we changed seats every three songs to get to know everyone in our group. It was a lot of fun and a very interesting way to fast-forward through an hour long bus ride and to get to know one another.
We ended our day at Josephine Falls, a rock waterslide. It is quite slippery, and getting on the rock consisted of one person pushing my legs and one person pulling my arms, but eventually we were all able to inch our way up the rock like a seal. Be careful on the wet rock though, and keep your knees bent; if you don’t, you’re legs will slip out from under you and you’ll slam your tailbone, like me. The rock waterslide itself was an absolute blast, and the whole group went down multiple times. It’s far from the most flattering angle, but a lot of fun nonetheless!
We had our afternoon tea after our rock-sliding experience. With sponge cakes, lamingtons, and more tim-tams, we were all sugared-up and spent a bit of time sharing fun, intriguing facts that may not be very appropriate for this post, despite being accurate facts.
This Barefoot Tours experience to the Atherton Tablelands lasted a solid 12 hours, and yet it flew by! Wear your bathing suit (or go naked if that’s your thing), bring a towel and a sense of humor, and you’ll be good to go! In the meantime, if you feel like mooning the competition companies when you pass them on the road, go right ahead…