Mum and Dad visit Oz - a trip to North Queensland!
Trip Start Aug 08, 2011
50Trip End Jul 22, 2013
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It was up at the crack of sparrows for a 6.10 am flight to Cairns. The flight was uneventful and we hired a car in Cairns. That afternoon we spent wondering around Cairns and then ate out that night. Our hotel was great - very clean and modern. It made a nice change to be staying in a smart hotel rather than my usual backpacking/slumming it!
Our 1st day trip was to Kuranda Village. We arrived via sky rail (following a few stops to view waterfalls and rainforest.) Kuranda was fantastic and we could easily have spent longer there. Dad and I went to a butterfly sanctuary and got absorbed in our photography whilst mum got just as absorbed in the shops! We then met up to explore the quirky markets. There is a hippy flavour to the village - a little like Byron. We then went back to Cairns via a scenic railway which stopped at the impressive Barron falls. Perhaps it would be even more impressive in the wet season
Our 2nd day trip and probably the most special, was to the Great Barrier Reef. Mum was nervous about the snorkelling so we chose a trip to a platform where there were glass bottomed boats, semisubmersible boats, a viewing gallery etc so she would enjoy the trip regardless. We also stopped at a tropical island on the way where we took a walk and then mum and dad relaxed with an icecream by the pool whilst I took a dip in the ocean. We then had 3 hours on the platform although the time flew by and we all wished we had longer! Turns out Mum loved the snorkelling - as good as holding a koala apparently! (Which is what they did they day before I met them.) We saw lots of beautiful fish and even a reef shark! The photos do not do it justice at all! We then had a birthday surprise up our sleeves for Mum which somehow we had kept a secret all day - a hellicopter ride back to Cairns over the reef.!! She has always wanted to go up in a hellicopter and where better than the Barrier reef?! It was a struggle to keep the secret as our boat tickets were the same as our hellicopter ones so everytime we went to board the boat somebody would exclaim ‘ah so your flying back!’ fortunately Mum did not hear this or our cover would be blown! She was extremely surprised when we announced we were flying home and was very excited
Our last full day in Cairns was spent driving about the Tablelands. The scenery was fantastic despite the weather being overcast and occasionally rainy. We were lucky that it was our only bad weather day and we still enjoyed a drive out amongst spectacular scenery! We made a few stops along the way at Milla Milla waterfalls, a lake and a farm where platypuses are regularly spotted. Unfortunately Mum and I did not spot one although Dad got a quick sighting - not bad for the 2nd rarest animal to be sighted on the planet! That evening Mum and I explored the night markets where I had a $15 back massage which was lovely and relaxing!
The next day we transferred to Port Douglas via Tjapukai. Port Douglas is a sleepy fishing town which appears to be where the rich and famous seem to holiday. There were some very impressive hotels on our way! Ours although less grand was nice enough
Tjapukai is a cultural centre on the way to Port Douglas from Cairns. It involves a series of demonstrations, talks, performances and try-it-yourself sessions to learn about aboriginal life. It was really enlightening for me as we have a large aboriginal community living near Lismore and so getting a better understanding of the culture must benefit my patients. I hadn’t realised how brutal tribe life was or how it can still be! If a girl does not learn her cooking skills (eg detecting what fruits are poisonous etc) at the age of 12, her punishment might be to have a jagged dagger put through her leg by her grandparents and she may never walk again. The same punishment applies for ‘disrespecting your elders’. If this happens more than twice then the dagger will be through the chest! She explained this can still happen in some communities who practice traditional tribal rules in Outback Australia. we asked how this can happen with state law and she explained that mostly the authorities turn a blind eye in certain areas as long as it stays within the tribe. They will do less patrols etc. She explained that she lives a normal life as you or I with a house, car, computers etc. But every school holiday is spent in the forest with her children living more traditionally from the land
The next day was Mums actual birthday which we spent at Mossman Gorge. It was so beautiful there. The river was scattered with huge boulders which made for some impressive photos! The water was cold but crocodile free so we enjoyed a swim before doing a rainforest walk. Mum and Dad particularly enjoyed spotting the wildlife and unusual tree formations. We then had a beer whilst tapping into some free wifi before a quick trip to 4mile beach followed by a swim in the hotel pool in the evening and cooking a BBQ for dinner.
On our last day in Port Douglas, we headed off to the Daintree Rainforest. It was absolutely beautiful. We began by making the longish trip up to Cape Tribulation - one of the few places where 2 different types of national park meet - rainforest and reef. It was absolutely stunning. After exploring the area a little we found a cafe in the rainforest for lunch. Whilst we were eating, up popped a monitor lizard so I snapped a few piccies
Sadly that was our North Queensland adventure over and it was back to normality for me although it was really fun showing Mum and Dad around Byron
We had a few meals out in my favourite restaurants during the week and one night we had a BBQ at ours and had a few friends over so that my parents could put some faces to names and get to know our friends a little. Another night it was the annual Byron Bay salsa congress so I took Mum along. She really enjoyed watching all the performances. For me it was a great opportunity to have a few dances - I miss my dancing so much
I took my parents to the airport on thursday and they headed off to the Blue Mountains and Sydney for their final days in Australia. From what I’ve heard, they have really enjoyed it so far! It wont be too long before I see them again as with any luck, I should have interviews for GP trainee roles in the UK in early feb so I’ll be back for a few weeks. In fact its really not long until we are back for good! We leave Byron early April (to go backpacking for 4 months) but with a 3 week trip to New Zealand and 3 weeks in the UK for interviews planned between now and then, that only leaves 13 weeks actually in Byron which will fly by! Better make the most of it!!
Thats all for now. Next installment : New Zealand Nov 24th-Dec 17th! We are both very excited!!