A bit wet - don't you just love cyclones

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
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Trip End Sep 07, 2006


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Flag of Australia  ,
Friday, April 21, 2006

Stayed at Shooting Star Motel Cairns *** $90 20,21,25th
Port Douglas Retreat **** $95 22,23,24th

SHORT VERSION: CYCLONE. RAIN, RAIN AND MORE RAIN

Cairns and Port Douglas

Ah, the tropical North of Oz. One of the seven natural wonders of the world and where a pristine rainforest meets the coral sea with the whole area protected by the loving embrace of the Great Barrier Reef. Inland, there are waterfalls, gold-rush towns, crocodile filled rivers and lots and lots of untouched space. The coast means 4-mile long beaches, trips to the Reef and the most spectacular marine life in the world...

Hmmm. Not for us. For us, Cairns and Port Douglas meant rain, floods, Cyclone Monica, killer bugs and yet more rain. On the bus on the way up to Cairns from Airlie Beach we had stopped at Townsville for the night and been able to learn about Cyclone Monica, which was pounding the top of Cape York and down towards Cairns - this explained the crap weather in the Whitsundays

By the way, we didn't do anything in Townsville except renaming it 'Poshville'. I'd haggled over a hotel room - our first since L.A. and we were able to recover from the adventures of the Whitsundays with the unheard of delights of room service and cable T.V. Heaven. Watching the weather forecast confirmed that our activities might be a bit limited but it still didn't prepare us for the rest of the journey up or our time further north.

Cyclone Monica actually made landfall above Cairns the day before we arrived. It was categorised as a 3-4 strength cyclone (against a scale of 5) and caused huge flooding all over the pennisula, dumping an incredible amount of rain, equivalent to the combined may and April average in 24 hours over the whole area. Wow

So our bus drove very slowly, frequently in the middle of the highway as the rest of the road and all the land around was under at least a foot of water. Even in the Cyclone familiar North, Monica was proving to be a bit of a minx, arriving late (cyclones usually complete by the end of March) and staying in a bad mood. Australian cyclones, like everything else, are a bit extreme, and Monica was to reform when back out at sea as a category 5 storm (bigger than hurricane Katrina) before going off to shout loudly at everyone in Darwin.

All this meant we really needed to hire a 4x4 to get about. This was outside our budget and many of our intended places to visit were closed anyway e.g. the crocodile infested Daintree river was flooded out and we thought it probably not the best idea to sea who, or what, had been washed up unexpectedly! So we stayed in our room in Cairns and watched a lot of crap Aussie T.V - 'The Bill' is imported prime time viewing - enough said. We did this for two days to let the flood waters subside then got a bus further north to posh Port Douglas

We stayed in a quintessentially lovely 'Queenslander' hotel. It had a fantastic pool to enjoy the rain in and an easy going pace where the owners went home at five and left you to it. We were cheering up and hoped the weather was too so booked a Reef trip for our last day. On the day in-between we wandered around Port Douglas itself, stopping for great coffee at the Java Cafe, admiring the romatic church on the beach and then popping out to a nearby eco-sanctuary for viewings of Queensland wildlife. Here we saw everything from all the types of kangeroo (over 40) to crocs and koalas. What Helen didn't see were the tiny bugs that thought that the only deet-free parts of her...her arse...represented gourmet dining at its best. On arriving back in our room that night Helen started dancing like M.C. Hammer on account of 15 huge crater sized bites on her posterior maximus. Understandably the reef trip was off, kneeling with your bum in the air, covered in bite cream was in

Roll on Uluru (Ayers Rock) - it will probably snow...

(Phil)
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