Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!
We narrowed down the foodstuffs remaining to items we could bring back with us, and managed fairly decent economy (very minimal food left over).
Jake woke late, so there was no opportunity to hang around and give him a morning sleep. Therefore we checked out at around 11am and were on the road back to Cairns.
We retraced many of the beaches and vantage points that we had visited on Sunday, so nothing new to report, aside from the terrible wind which was falling upon the normally placid bays and coves dotting the headland.
Approaching Smithfield, we stopped for fuel and continued south, bearing south east through Redlynch and out into the hills to an area called the ‘Crystal Cascades’. This really lovely part of Cairns gave us 2.4kms of paved track to stroll at our leisure, taking in the many rapids and swimming locations framed with an amazing looking rainforest setting.
After we returned to the car and gave Jake a nappy change, we took off for the centre of Cairns; predominantly to check out the Cairns museum.
When we got into town, we parked ($1.20/hr.. not bad) and found a place to eat a quick lunch. Well, quick was a poor choice of words. It took over 20 minutes to get two chicken Caesar plates and a bottle of water. We were essentially the only customers too. Very poor service.
This robbed us of about 15-20 minutes we would have preferred to have been using to explore the city centre.
Heading back into Cairns
We decided to skip the museum due to time constraints, and instead walked along to the Esplanade which is a really awesome area of the foreshore which amounts to a massive free public swimming pool.
We lingered until about 3pm, then returned to the car and headed off for the airport. We stopped once more to make sure the car was fully fuelled, then made our way back to the airport, where we returned the car and checked in. We didn’t have much of a wait, and before long we were buckled in and ready to go.
After take-off, and bidding farewell to Cairns, we were informed that due to traffic congestion at Brisbane airport, the flight would be delayed half an hour from landing. This almost caused us to miss our connecting flight to Canberra. Luckily, and with great assistance from the Virgin Blue staff who were awesome, we made the gate before boarding had even commenced.
A very quick turnaround saw us taking off yet again, about 25 minutes after we landed. The return flight was nothing special, made good time and landed with no fuss.
Jake was awake for most of the flight which made it difficult for us to relax. We were met at the baggage collection area by my Dad who came to pick us up (thanks Dad).
Thus endeth another trip. I’ll post some follow-up articles with additional photos and reflections on what we achieved in the coming weeks.
The excellent Cairns Esplanade
We would have liked to have visited the wildlife habitat further down the road, but at $32.00 per Adult ($64 total) it’s just out of our price range, even with the 10% discount voucher we have.
Unfortunately we spent that money on the unrewarding Tropical Rainforest Discovery Centre, which I wish I could take back.
Palm Tree lined road into Port Douglas
We spent the day mostly in the room, sleeping, cleaning or packing. We ventured out after lunch and spent some time in the resort’s pool before cleaning up and driving up to “downtown” Port Douglas to get some essentials from Coles.
Maximising the time, we briefly visited Four Mile Beach (just below the lookout) to discover just how much the weather system has changed this week. The wind has really picked up, and made the beach look more like a surf beach than we’ve seen all week.
Macrossan Street, Port Douglas
I snapped off a few quick photos to stitch into the panoramic (will post later) As I returned to the car, I spotted a footpath leading around the point, and decided to check it out.
As it turns out, the footpath runs underneath the lookout, so I managed another shot of the beach from a slightly elevated position. I’d hate to be around if that cyclone decides to make landfall near here.
Four Mile Beach with increased swell
We headed back to the Ramada for Owner’s drinks poolside at 5pm. Naturally, we were fashionably late!
As it turned out, we all congregated at the rear of the pool area (not in the restaurant) which was a good location.
Luckily there were a couple of nice folks we could relate to (hi to Paul and Nina) and we spent the majority of the time socialising with them.
Toni and Jake returned to the room when Jake started to get tired, and I joined them a little while later, snapping some night shots of the pool/restaurant/bar area on the way back.
A quick and dirty last meal.. some blog writing.. and we’re going to settle in for the night. Tomorrow we’re officially “In Transit” again… and returning to Canberra.
Waterfall, pool side
With word of a storm brewing to the south, which may turn into tropical cyclone Sandra by Friday, we took a journey (with trepidation) north through the Daintree rainforest as far as Cape Tribulation (and the extent of paved roads along the cost).
The day started out beautifully and although we didn’t get on the road as early as I’d hoped, we were on our way around 9:30am which had us at the Daintree river ferry crossing before peak hour (11pm-1pm).
We’d already covered the territory between the Daintree river and Port Douglas yesterday, so nothing new to report along that segment of the driving. Pleasant greenery with sugar cane and more sugar cane.
Our destination was Cape Tribulation and the surrounding region, which included a lot of driving along narrow twisting and turning roads. It all starts at the “gateway” to the Daintree – the river ferry, which operates off two steel cables which run along the river. It costs $23 for a return journey, although no-one checked our receipt on the return..
It doesn’t hold too many cars, so if there were a fair few (including buses) you could be waiting over half an hour for sure. Once you are clear of the river, it is time to start ascending those winding roads.
As a strategy goes, Toni’s strategy of getting to Cape Tribulation first, and then working back was pure gold.
We managed to avoid the majority of tour buses and hit the Cape at 11:30am. It was a smooth run from the ferry to the Cape as we flew by all the attractions we’d come back to in the afternoon.
One highlight – we crossed a really old looking wooden bridge which was undergoing reconstruction. Honestly, I haven’t been that worried about a bridge in quite a while until now!
The beach was very impressive, and you could make out the reef just off shore. After snapping a panorama, we made our way south and climbed to a lookout platform, which provided more views of the cove. Afterwards, we returned to the car as more people started popping up around the place.
On our way out, we stopped and took a trek around the Myall (Dubuji) Boardwalk which snakes through the edge of the tropical rainforest including the wetlands and mangroves. This proved to be great value (free) but rather longer than we had anticipated! Having seen our fill of Cape Trepidation, we started our return journey south.
Before our next stop, we briefly paused at Coconut Beach for a quick panorama, and then resumed to Thornton Beach. Here we had lunch at the Thornton Beach Kiosk, which is conveniently located on the beach. Lunch here didn’t break the bank, but wasn’t anything to rave about either. I had calamari and chips, and Toni had fish and chips – neither knocked our socks off.
After lunch we tried to track down a swimming hole near the insect museum, but had no luck locating it. Undeterred, we continued on to the Daintree Ice Cream Company which was a little further up the road in Cow Bay. They only serve a specific mix of flavours (no choice) so we both each had a serve of wattle seed with banana and raspberry & macadamia nut. It was a pretty nice mix, to be honest!
Our second to last stop was at the Rainforest Discovery Centre, which is situated at the foothills of the first big decent into Cow Bay. It’s really overpriced at $32 per adult ($64 for two adults), and if it were about half that price, would be worth visiting.
There’s an aerial walk which takes you through the mid levels of a working rainforest, plus the looming canopy tower, which takes you to the top of the forest for a sweeping view of the area. You also are given audio tour handsets and a booklet which allows you to refer to both a many areas around the place, but we didn’t make great use of either.
So to be honest, as nice as it was to walk the aerial walk, and to climb the canopy tower, I’d rather have saved my money.
Our last stop before returning to the ferry was the outstanding Alexandra Range lookout, which provided sweeping views to Snapper Island and south (possibly) to Port Douglas.
We found ourselves back on the other side of the range just before the afternoon peak hour (3pm-6pm) and only had to wait for the ferry to return from the southern side (about 10 minutes). The return journey looked like it was going to be a bit dicey as a low front came across the hills, providing some outstanding visuals.
Once back at the Ramada, we quickly changed into swim ware and took to the resort pool. At around 5pm it started raining lightly, so we returned to our room and started the process of preparing for dinner. I can safely say that I’ve seen enough rainforest for now
Tomorrow is our last full day in Far North Queensland, and we’re marking it as a rest day. I’m not sure what we’ll get up to (if anything), but check back anyway as I’ll likely post a photo retrospective towards the end of the day.
Well, we do quite a bit during the day therefore it would be a fair question to ask what we do at night. To be honest, usually the answer is “nothing special” – after all, we are travelling with a little boy who only just passed his first birthday.
Having said that, up until 9pm at night (varies day-to-day) anything goes! To keep costs down, we cook our own food so the normal daily routine is pretty much unchanged from what it is back home. At night though, depending on the day’s activities, we sometimes need to get Jake to burn off some energy – especially when he has had a late sleep.
Tonight we hung out around the reception area, and Jake practiced climbing up and down the small set of stairs located there. As you can see, the area comes up looking quite interesting even at night.
Today was essentially a rest day for us all, after the big day out yesterday. We slept or stayed in the apartment at the resort for the entire morning, venturing out for a swim in the resort pool after lunch, at around 2pm.
Unfortunately for us, we happened to have the best weather thus far, beautiful blue skies and stellar weather. Not to miss an opportunity, we decided to jump into the Passat and drive north. We will ultimately retrace this route tomorrow on our way to Cape Tribulation, today we just headed north to the Daintree river and the Daintree village.
Our trip took us to Cooya beach, which is an unassuming beach littered with driftwood, nothing particularly remarkable was present. We re-joined the highway and whipped past Mossman and north towards Wonga.
It was a pleasant drive, taking in the copious cane fields framed beautifully by the foothills of the Daintree rainforest looming in the background. This land is very lush and green, quite a contrast compared against much of the New South Wales countryside, particularly surrounding Canberra.
As we passed Rocky Point, we started to hone in on the turnoff we’ll need to make tomorrow. As we dug deeper to the north, the lush vegetation seemed to get closer and closer to the curb, until we were virtually surrounded by it. As we neared our destination, we started to become more aware of the alternative farming – cattle in particular – surround the green pastures either side of the Daintree river.
At the boat ramp at the Daintree Village there were plenty of signs warning of crocodiles, although in my short time on the riverbank, I didn’t see any. It was now 4pm and Jake was starting to get a bit tired. We beat a retreat back towards Port Douglas stopping twice along the way.
The first stop was Rocky Point, which juts out from the coast north of Mossman. From here I snapped off a succession of photos to form a nice panoramic looking north to Cape Tribulation and the mountains beyond. Our second stop was brief, just south of Mossman where I’d spotted an unattended sugar cane train with the town’s name proudly emblazoned on the side.
We returned to the Ramada at just after 5pm, Jake is down for a sleep and dinner preparations have begun. Tomorrow we have another very full day, including around 3 hours of driving.
Monday dawned, and we set out to visit yet another UNESCO world heritage site. We woke around 7:30am and made a filling breakfast. Jake was chomping at the bit to go outside, he even collected his shoes and started hovering around the door.
At 9am we drove up to the Port Douglas marina where we exchanged our travel voucher (bought at the Ramada reception the night before) for our tickets for the journey to the outer reef. The tour was with a company called Quicksilver, and they have established a permanent platform at the Agincourt Reef, which is about an hour and a half by high speed catamaran.
As we set off, the weather was promising, however as we neared the reef, the weather turned decidedly for the worst. Luckily for our intrepid tour group, it didn’t signal an increase in wind, only some light rain. This does not reduce visibility, so we were generally quite happy.
On the way out to the reef, I signed up for a “Helmet Walk” ($150) which involves walking down to a platform underneath the main platform at a depth of 5 meters, with a helmet attached which has air pumped into it, rather like those ages old diving helmets used at the turn of the 19th century (but suitably more advanced).
I also hired a digital camera in a waterproof enclosure ($68) so that I could shoot photos of the reef underwater. This proved to be way less expensive than buying a waterproof enclosure for my dSLR, which would have cost in the order of $1,000.
Once we arrived at the platform lunch was served. I decided to skip lunch initially, and instead obtained flippers, special goggles (on account of my vision) and also hired a lycra suit ($8) to prevent against possible attacks from stingers, known in this area at this time of the year.
Here are some photos from my three snorkelling expeditions around the reef:
After my second snorkelling session, I caught up with Jake and Toni as they had just come off the submersible which tours the reef. We jumped on all together and went for a second spin. My Olympus lens fogged up far too much for meaningful photos, but towards the end of the 25 minute trip, I did mange to get some photos of the inside and of the dock:
Which brings me to the “helmet walk”:
At 1:30pm I had my “Helmet Walk” which involved having 30kgs of weights strapped to my torso, and then a heavy helmet was lowered onto my shoulders. Myself and two other folks then descended a series of steps to a platform at least five meters below the main platform.
Here, a scuba-equipped employee guided us and took photos before introducing us to some marine life. This involved releasing fish food, evoking a storm of massive fish to come down on us. We were also introduced to coral, a sea cucumber and a large shell.
After we returned to the surface (about 20-25 minutes later), I jumped back into the water and went for my final snorkelling session on the Great Barrier Reef for the day.
Below you can see a photo of the permanent platform, this is roughly how far away from the platform I ventured – right to the outer beacon/buoy. At 2:45pm the ship’s horn sounded, and we all beat a hasty return, lest we are left behind! I returned the equipment and showered down before re-joining Jake and Toni on board.
As we tore away from the reef, I took a few parting shots at the catamaran’s wake. The storm was well and truly onshore by the time we returned back to Port Douglas.
The only criticism I’d have of the entire tour is that the catamaran’s cabin area was far too chilled compared to the outside ambient temperature which played absolute havoc on my camera lens. It also made for rather uncomfortable transitions from the outside to inside (and vice-versa).
Tomorrow is a rest day – Wednesday we will venture north through the Daintree (hopefully) to Cape Tribulation.
We started off the day with breakfast, then got under way at 9:30am. We drove up to Port Douglas proper, about a 5 minute drive north of the Ramada.
The Sunday markets are a “maker’s market” where the store holders create all their wares by hand. It is held at the Anzac Park which faces north west towards the Daintree, and is framed by large banyan trees. I bought some coffee (had it ground for me) and then we ventured along Macrossan avenue into the heart of Port Douglas shopping.
We made a quick stop at Coles before heading back to the car park. From here we drove the short distance to the Port Douglas lookout, with uninterrupted views south across Four Mile Beach. From here we returned to the resort for lunch and sleep time for Jake.
After lunch we took a drive south down the Captain Cook highway towards Wangetti, Elis Beach right up to Buchan Point. The trip south was a tad shorter than expected as Jake started getting unsettled and restless, so after about an hour we started to head back to the Ramada.
There were a few stops on the way, but the majority of photos as we headed north were taken from the passenger’s seat of our reliable Volkswagen Passat, with Toni at the wheel. We passed small communities, cane fields and that irresistible coastline which weaved between tropical rainforest and beachside.
Upon our return to the Ramada, we changed clothes and hit the resort’s rainforest themed pool. Jake had a great time and even started to kick and improve his water skills. He’ll be head of the swim class when we get back to cold Canberra.
Back at the Ramada
Today we kept things relatively local, as we got a little more familiar with the area. We started the day after breakfast with a swim in the resort pool which was very refreshing and relaxing. Following lunch and a bit of a midday rest, we walked down to four mile beach where Jake went in for the first time.
We were scared out by some locals who claimed that some crocodiles had taken two dogs, however the resort reception said there had only been one incident in three years. Not sure what to make of all that.
Later, after we had returned from the beach, we cleaned up and drove around to Mossman, which is at the foot of the Daintree rainforest. Toni bought some insect repellent from the Woolworths there, and we proceeded towards Mossman Gorge. We bought two return shuttle tickets from the visitor’s centre and the mini bus took us up into the Daintree.
We navigated (with stroller) some nice walkways built somewhat into the canopy of the lower rain forest, before arriving at the gorge which also proves to be something of a place for people to go swimming. We then headed up to the Rex Suspension bridge for more photos as it started to gently rain.
Back to the visitor’s centre and we didn’t hang around too long as Jake was getting restless. Flying past sugar cane and the sugar cane railroad, we hurtled back to the Ramada for a bath, a bite to eat and an early night. Tomorrow we explore Port Douglas markets.
The day in photos…….