Amazing how attached you can become to a tin box,

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Where I stayed

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Friday, June 14, 2013

 

 Even a leaky one. Nearly time to say 'farewell' to Campervan and I will be sorry to leave it behind.




Apologies for the random picture distribution in the last blog. Time was running short in the library and I pressed the 'send' button with 1 minute left on the clock. Beating the clock was exhausting – I hardly had the energy to walk out of the library! However I missed out pictures of the Cassowaries so am putting them in this one.




This is going to be a very short blog as after visiting Cape Tribulation, Daintree, where we went on a river trip at dawn, and then Port Douglas, we have spent the last couple of weeks retracing our steps to Mareeba Wetlands, Malanda Falls and Peterson Creek to see more platypuses and to try and catch sight of a Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo. The lowland rainforest is beautiful, especially the Licuala palms, but I find the upland rainforest more accessible. It is not as dense at ground level so it is easier to spot movement of birds and wildlife and we don't seem to be bitten quite as much there. 




In fact we did manage to spot a Tree Kangaroo. It is not easy. That day the kangaroo was at least 50 feet high in the tree and it was pouring with rain. Plus she did not want to be photographed as she insisted on looking the other way all the time. I am calling it she as in one picture, although blurred and difficult to see, it looks as though there is a joey in her pouch. I was surprised to learn that there are more tree kangaroos in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea than in Australia.




Port Douglas is marketed as the luxury resort where the 'A' list celebrities stay but like the rest of Queensland it seems to be suffering from the post cyclone downturn. They have cheaper, more basic accommodation too, but it is still more expensive than other areas. We stayed long enough to wait for a day of very good weather and calm sea to take another trip to the reef. Eight passengers went out on the 18 metre catamaran Synergy to Tongue Reef about 22 nautical miles offshore where the snorkelling was good, again with beautifully coloured hard corals.




Unfortunately apart from that day the weather was still mixed, warm but lots of showers. A design fault on the HiAce van is that there are 2 long sliding windows high in the side of the roof. They have mesh on them so that they can be opened at night without allowing insects in and because of the heat we do need them open. Unfortunately they allow the rain in. The first night of rain I awoke to find my legs under the window experiencing a weird tingling sensation: Not unpleasant but very strange. I was beginning to wonder if I had been bitten by something toxic when I awoke enough to realise what I could feel was very fine spray coming through the mesh. It was so fine that it was impossible to see or feel as moisture but eventually everything became damp. Jim did not notice as his legs were covered. Now we know – if it rains close the windows quickly. Some very showery nights we are up and down like yo-yos as once it stops raining it becomes very humid and we need them open. I hope with newer models they have resolved this problem.




We decided to go to Granite Gorge for a couple of nights before driving down to Cairns but the timing was a big mistake. That weekend was the equivalent of our Bank Holiday Weekend ( holiday for the Queen's Birthday here!) and the campsite was full. The facilities are limited and as the site was overcrowded they were not adequate so we were pleased to move on. A shame really as the Gorge is interesting geologically, having very large smooth volcanic rocks, some as large as buildings, and they are covered with very small rock wallabies who leave the rocks at night to come and see what is cooking in the vans. In fact it was difficult to walk in the dark for fear of treading on them there were so many. The creek washes over the rocks and provides inviting swimming holes when the weather is good.




Eventually we arrived in Cairns and chose a good site with free wifi. For some reason our netbook cannot 'see' the wifi signal so we can't use it but despite that the site is very pleasant, in a pretty area near the Crystal Cascades. Tomorrow night is a free 'sausage sizzle' get together!




As today was our last free day (tomorrow is washing,packing and cleaning van) before leaving the area we decided to drive up to Kuranda. It is a small tourist town at the top of the hills above Cairns with lots of cafes, gift and clothes shops etc. There is a Skyrail (gondolas) lift up to Kuranda as well as a train. The train is very long but only goes up a couple of times in the morning and then returns at 2pm and 3.30pm back down the hill. The station is beautiful, full of tropical plants and decoratively painted.




So we set off happily and reached the town and parked at 3.20pm, planning to sit outside a cafe enjoying a drink and watch the world go by. Disappointingly, we found the world had gone – down the hill on the 3.30 train. And once that train goes the town closes up, immediately. As we walked along what had been a busy shopping thoroughfare 5 minutes earlier we had the traumatic 'domino' experience of each shop dropping it's shutter as we approached it until Kuranda resembled a ghost town. Deciding not to take it too personally, we returned to the van and drove back to camp, consoling ourselves with a stop at a delicious cheesecake shop in Smithfield en route home.




I hope to post this blog tomorrow as we then fly to Darwin and on to Broome to start our 4x4 camping adventure across the Kimberleys and then on to Kakadu. Not sure when we can next email as there are no signals of any sort out there. We are approaching the experience with a touch of trepidation as both companies say their clients are usually under 45 because the trips require a certain level of physical fitness.




We will let you know how it goes next time and whether or not we had to be retired to the support vehicle rather than completing the hikes.




Ps Trying to post this in the airport but must add that we had a last drink on the Esplanade in Cairns overlooking the sea and mud flats when a Black Necked Stork (Jabiru) flew in.

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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