The hidden piece of paradise in Far North Queensland. Liz and Mike Pulman are a fantastic Kiwi couple, living in one of Australia’s quiet jewels – the Atherton Tablelands. With the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns an hour away on the coast, this wonderful area is untouched by the tourist juggernaut and really is a place where you can enjoy riding one of their beloved Ducatis on quiet but stunning roads. You can meander on the plateau, head into the dry hinterlands or carve a gorge with literally hundreds of corners as you descend towards the coast.
For my wife, Jane, and I, we did head into town for a day but with relaxing high on our list, we also spent days on the narrow ribbons of seal that the locals use to wend their way around this lush piece of paradise – all done with the visor open and the sounds of classic Ducatis wafting through the countryside as the laid-back pace of life in this unspoilt corner revealed safe, pure swimming lakes, backroads through tunnels of rainforest and arty towns where partisans ply their trades.
It’s a food lover’s dream, as this area is the fruit bowl of the nation, growing tropical fruits, tea, berries of all sorts, coffee; if you want to eat or drink it, this region can grow it.
Back to Mike and Liz’ base in Malanda, there is either a cute and superbly set up cabin or you can stay in their wonderful and inviting home. Riding can, and should, include at least a ride or two with your hosts, as their enthusiasm for riding and just enjoying their surroundings, is one of the very special things these two ex-pat Kiwis bring to the Far North Queensland experience – and they’re always keen to go for a spin.
Rather than tick it off as a place seen and done, it quickly became an experience we will repeat on a regular basis and catch up with the core group of like-minded souls that are found in their tableland homes. And for the traveler who doesn’t like the cloying heat that often plagues the coastal tropics, it is a few degrees cooler up on the plateau as well, so you may need an extra layer if you go during winter.
With their engineering and mechanical service on hand, the bikes are always ready to roll so you needn’t worry about anything, so you can rent a classic Ducati without worry or jump on a more modern bike if you wish. A highlight for me was blasting the backroads to the Yungaburra markets on a GT860, the narrow roads and lack of traffic making it feel like I had just travelled back to a time less cluttered, a pace less hectic and the smile said it all as I rolled into the quaint, arty township. Best holiday ever!
Huge thanks to Liz and Mike – we most definitely will be back.