We headed west out of Mareeba to avoid the main road as much as we could, and also to see Granite Gorge about 12km outside Mareeba. It's too bad re didn't know more about the place beforehand, as it would have been a nicer place to spend the night than the caravan park in Mareeba. We didn't want to spend the $15 they were asking just to go in for the day, so we were back on the road after a bite to eat. This is sugar cane-growing country, so there are lots of cute little railways for the cane trains - the rail spacing is only about 60cm or so. If Matthew W. lived here, he'd have cane railways in his back yard!
We started seeing lots of these black, parrot-like birds that we later discovered are palm cockatoos. They would fly away from us, hopping from tree to tree as we rode down the road below them. There were also lots of large crane-like birds out in a field next to the road. Ciel wishes we had a book about the birds of Australia, as we don't know what anything is here! The birds are all different, the trees are all different, and the mammals are definitely all different!
We started going by banana plantations with big plastic bags over all the bunches of bananas, which are to protect the bananas from flying foxes (we found out later, after much speculating). Flying foxes are really big bats compared to what I've seen in Canada. We watched some at night in the caravan park in Mareeba - they were roosting in a big tree (don't ask me what kind) over the camp kitchen building.
Back out to the main road to Atherton was a bit of a slog - a bit uphill and a bit of a headwind combined to make it pretty slow going. After stopping at the information center and then a bike shop in Atherton for information on the road south from Irvinebank, we headed out of town, only to stop at the caravan park just at the edge of town. This is where we saw our first live wallaby (we had already seen plenty of roadkill).
It's always nice to have a dip in the pool after a day on the bike!