We awoke to a wet and grey morning for leaving Atherton. Packing up and connecting van and Pathfinder was done in intermittent drizzle with some heavier rain but was completed in good time. By the time we drove out of Atherton along the Kennedy Highway the rain had cleared but the day was still dull; at least there wasn't much wind. Our immediate destination for the day was Ravenshoe where we intended to visit the bakery to buy lunch to take to Archer Creek where we would stay the night.
The Kennedy Highway between Atherton and Ravenshoe is extremely variable. Road surface varies from narrow and poor to generously wide and good quality. There are some twisty sections and some straight sections. Above all there are hills; twice the road climbs steeply to 1100 metres elevation, a third climb to 1100 metres near the wind farm is more gentle (Atherton is at about 800 metres elevation). We maintained about 73 kph on the bends and hills; traffic was very light and we had only two vehicles behind us over the hills. The weather slowly improved as we moved south with more sun and less cloud although outside temperature varied between 16 and 17°C.
We turned off the highway into Ravenshoe and parked in the bus and caravan parking area in the main street near the bakery. Ravenshoe prides itself as being the highest town in Australia and we recorded elevation of 916 metres. Caravans had been common on the highway approaching Ravenshoe and there were more in the town.
Returning to the Kennedy Highway we turned inland towards the Archer Creek rest area we had previously identified as a good place for the night. The terrain, vegetation and highway changed drastically after Ravenshoe. The land was gently undulating, it appeared flat but was sloping down away from Ravenshoe. The road now ran in long, straight, nearly flat, sections with a very pleasant, two-lane surface. The steady, but gentle, downward slope of the road helped to make driving very pleasant. Traffic was light although the number of heavy transports in both directions had increased. We had marked the Archer Creek rest area on our moving map display in the Pathfinder and watched the cursor approaching the rest area icon.
Turning into the rest area, already holding about twenty caravans and motor homes, we reverse parked the van in one of the many vacant spaces. The rest area is immediately beside the highway and traffic noise is obvious but traffic is fairly light. A lower section of the rest area, immediately adjacent to Archer Creek, has been closed to vehicles but remains an ideal spot for walkers and wanderers. There are some very large river she-oaks, several large gum trees and one very big fig tree in the lower area. Eucalyptus woodland surrounds the rest area with a band of tall grass (more than two metres high with tangles stems) around the open area; walking through the grass is difficult.
By sunset there were more than 40 caravans and motor-homes in the rest area. The weather was a contrast to the rain and grey sky we had experienced this morning; now we had a blue sky with not a cloud in sight and a gentle breeze.