The Atherton Tablelands is dotted with many small towns, and the place we’re housesitting is basically surrounded. When we first got here, the owners were telling us how everything is about 20 km apart, or basically, a day’s journey by horse, back in the day. Well, now it’s much faster to get around, so we took the opportunity to do some exploring.
Malanda is south of us, and is usually what people here would refer to as “in town”. Before heading off on vacation, our hosts took us for a tour, and I was surprised at how small it was! It’s a really nice little place though, with basically two streets and a bunch of local businesses. In what seems to be the style around here, the corner of the two main streets is dominated by a massive wooden hotel/restaurant/pub. I would guess these are relics of the old frontier days, and that most of any town’s business was done in that one building. The one in Malanda is pretty impressive, and we found out later that it’s actually the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere.
Malanda is also home to an old style movie theater, built in 1928, and still in operation in the old style. The foyer is filled with old movie posters and photos, and what is probably one of the original projectors.
You can buy the usual popcorn and hotdogs, and then head inside to the theater itself. It really reminds me a lot of the smaller concert venues I’ve been to in some cities; The big open space surrounded by a second floor balcony supported on columns, with a stage/screen at the front. Kind of a dual function theater / meeting hall. The seats were fold up canvas chairs, and there was a big pile of pillows you could grab to make yourself comfortable. We had a great time there, experiencing a bit of the old charm.
We saw The Impossible which was based on a true story about a family that was in Thailand during the tsunami in 2004. It was a very powerful movie, especially since we had just been to many of the places that were effected.
On the other side, the town of Yungaburra is just northeast of our place. I’d describe this as a bit “boutique touristy”, with more upscale restaurants and quaint hotels. It also seems to be the backpackers center of the Tablelands, with a few hostels.
Just on the edge of town is Peterson Creek, which is home to a colony of Platypus. They have a viewing station where you can sit at dawn or dusk to try to catch a glimpse of the little guys feeding. We tried twice, but alas, they didn’t want to come out to play. Instead, we took the dog out for a nice walk along the creek, getting her and us thoroughly muddy, and having a great time viewing the surrounding fields and riverbanks.