After the weekend in Sydney we all flew up to Cairns, Queensland, a lovely little city along the Captain Cook Highway. From there we drove up to Port Douglas, a quiet beach town along the Reef. Although it was winter in most of Australia, northern Queensland has a climate similar to southern Florida, so we had perfect weather.
Our first full day there was spent exploring the Daintree Rainforest area, driving along the Captain Cook Highway up to Cape Tribulation.
Beautiful ocean views on our right, rainforested mountains on our left, you can imagine how we loved the drive. ( a found photo...)
Daintree area is filled with parks and walks, so we took advantage.
We were told to be on the lookout for the Cassowary, a endangered flightless bird that lives here. No sightings, but I found a photo for you. This creature grows about 5 feet tall and has a nasty temper...
And did you ever hear that the area known for beautiful fish and coral (Great Barrier Reef) is also a haven for crocodiles?? Warning signs everywhere...DO NOT SWIM next to a beautiful beach...
So when you walk along the beach, don't go near the underbrush...
We stopped for famous Daintree Ice Cream, that grows all its fruit right there and has a different fresh flavor every day (blueberry, soursop, wattleseed, black sapote, pineapple, for example)
to give ourselves energy for the Mossman Gorge.
After a wonderful anniversary dinner and a good sleep, we took off early in the morning for the Reef. You have to take an hourlong boat ride out to the reef to get to the places to snorkel and dive (and get away from those crocodiles...) I am NOT a water person, so this was quite an ordeal for me...but we got out there, put on our gear and jumped in. It seemed like we stopped at a random spot in the ocean, but as soon as we put our faces in the water, wha-la!! The biggest aquarium ever!
(I did not have an underwater camera, so I found these photos of the things I saw)
My daughter and I snorkeled while the boys dived deeper with tanks. It was thrilling! We went to 3 different spots over the course of the day, seeking out different species. It was all wonderful. Besides the infinite kinds and colors of coral and hundreds of kinds of fish that I can't name, we saw a few giant clams, lots of parrot and clown fish and 2 sea turtles.
Getting warm back in Port Douglas after the trip - so happy!!
The next day we took a drive back to Cairns to take Ann Marie to the airport and found a hike up to a mountain village, Kuranda. It has a national park and even a sky train (cable car) if you don't want to hike... see the cable wires?
This park (as are so many other places we visited) is sacred to the Aboriginal people. This stream at the start of our hike had these interesting rock formations, that must be either art or sacred symbols:
This forest (like all the others) was filled with Strangler Figs, this one being monstrous. The fig seeds germinate in the branches of a tree, send down roots that become a new trunk, strangling the host tree. This fig also strangled a boulder...
My hiking companions:
We have lovely dinners and libations in Port Douglas, found a sweet church for Mass on Sunday and walked the 4-mile Beach.
One of the funnest things we did was attend a Footie game, which is Australian Rules Football. It is a combination of American football (the folks here call that "gridiron") rugby and soccer. Just get the ball down the field and through the goal posts, anyway you can. Anything is legal. And no protective helmets or gear at all, just short-shorts! My photos don't capture the action, but it captures the small-town crowd, cheering on their boys, of course named "The Crocs!"
One more day...no croc sightings (except the footie guys) so the boys wanted to go looking for them. We could have paid to take a professional guide, but not my men...they found a place to rent a boat to go out by ourselves. It was low tide (the better to see the creatures) which means you have to be careful to not go aground...and have to get into the water...where the crocs are hiding... I was a nervous wreck. But we were successful....
The pilot: The lookout:
Warnings on our boat instructions:
And the prize:
And one in the water:
Back to the marina, safe and sound, with John dreaming about boats:
We left early in the morning by the light of the Super Moon. Farewell Australia, for now!