Back to Western society

Trip Start Oct 14, 2007
Trip End Jul 25, 2008

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, January 14, 2008

So we made it to Cairns after a very brief stop over in Darwin.  The second half of the flight was not so smooth as we caught the edge of a storm.  This produced without a shadow of a doubt the worst turbulence we have ever been through.

So safely back on land we head out the airport to be hit by a wall of humidity and heat (so thats why they call it tropical Cairns) that we are certainly not used to.  Still its nice to be back in Western society.  Asia was fantastic and we had some amazing experiences and saw some incredible things but after three months you can only eat so much rice, say no to Tuk Tuk drivers and fight off the fake clothes makers so many times.  Also the hygiene isn't the greatest and the language barrier did prove problematic at times but still all in all a great adventure so far.

After finding our hostel and checking in we sit in front of the air-con for 20 mins to return our body temperatures to some kind of normal level.  As with all hostels they have tour booking desks, we sit down and quickly book onto a 2 day tour to the rain forest around the tablelands and onto a 3 day diving trip.

We then decided to go to the supermarket to buy some supplies.  Most hostels in Australia have kitchens unlike Asia so we thought we would cook up a feast of some homemade grub.  Our first home cooked meal in over 3 months consisted of super noodles and a tin of soup, mmmmmmmmmm, delicious! Not!  Still it did the job.

The next day we were up early to head to the tablelands with our guide Bob (who was a bit like Steve Irwin).  We took a fantastic drive over the dividing mountain range with some spectacular views of the surrounding area and the 150 million year old rainforests. 

We arrive at our first location and the thing that hits us as we get out the van (apart from the heat and bugs) is the sound the forest makes!  The noise of creatures, bugs, birds and god knows what is incredible.

We walk for a while through the forest fascinated by the sounds, the dense trees and plants with Bob pointing a few interesting things.  We come to an opening where we are greeted by an enormous fig tree (see pics).  This tree did not start as a fig tree but some other sort of tree hundreds of years ago.  A fig seed would have been dropped by bird all those years ago and so it was the beginning of the end for the tree.  Fig seeds can start to sprout anywhere and in this case all the roots headed to the ground engulfing the tree and any others around it.

After walking through more of the forest we head back to the van and off to a natural lake that was created by a volcanic explosion millions of years ago where we had a brief swim. 

Back in the van and off to our next stop where we stop at an amazing waterfall which we had a quick, very cold swim in.  The experience of sitting behind this powerful beautiful force of nature is quite incredible and the views as you look up are great, sadly no pictures of this though.  We were then allowed to swim under the waterfall if we wanted.  Bev decided against but I gave it a try.  You had to make sure you dived down far enough so avoid the flow of the water and to avoid any sticks or rocks down there.  This only meant diving 2m down and swimming for about 15ft before the waterfall chucks you out the other side, very cool but a bit scary!

Back in the van we head off for another forest walk.  This walk was through much denser areas where we were pushing through bushes and trees and seeing more waterfalls and lagoons.  Almost at the end of this walk a German girl screams and she finds a leach stuck her.  Upon further inspection we all discover that we have small leaches attached to our ankles and feet, Bev calmly pulled hers off while I'm running round the car park throwing salt everywhere.  Armed with a lighter and a pot of salt they soon come off.

We now head off to our hostel for the evening, on the way back we stop at a dam to do a brief spot of platypus spotting.  Back at the hostel and after a hearty Aussie BBQ dinner and a few beers we decide to go on a night walk.  This was off our own back and without a guide, we grab some torches, a map and head out into the rainforest with the Germans.

The rainforest is noisy by day but this pales into significance as to the noise it makes at night.  After about 30 mins we all start to feel that this wasn't the best idea especially as there was some screaming bird that seemed to follow us.  Its pitch pitch black, noises everywhere and every time you turn your torch on you are swamped by insects.  We were assured though that this was the best way to see some of the wildlife.  We did see some possums, tree kangaroos, birds, a giant bat, some cool worms that glow in the dark and thousands of insects!  It was quite spooky but still enjoyable.

The following day we are up early for Bevs favorite past time, bike riding!  We kit up and head off on a 20 km bike ride in the soaring heat through the rainforest.  Again we see amazing countryside, local wildlife, rainforest and a lot of sweaty people, not to mention more leaches.  Bev and I nearly came off our bikes at one point as two dogs ran out to see us.  The first being a very fat dirty Labrador and the second being a stupid boxer who tried to eat my bike before taking off after a car that drove by, very reminiscent our our old dogs Chelsea and Bruno.

Following our bike ride and a very refreshing swim in a lake we set off in our canoes in exploration of more wildlife.  After about 20 mins of going round in a circle Bev and I finally work out how to move our 2 man canoe.  We head quietly down the river where we see a python sleeping on some rocks, river dragons, a tree kangaroo and a platypus.

Pretty much exhausted now and back in the van we start to head back to Cairns longing for our beds and a nice hot shower.  Tomorrow we are up early again though as we begin to our 3 day diving trip of the Great Barrier Reef!
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