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The Last Few Hours in Oz

Thursday 24th September 2015

sunny 27 °C

Sadly today we were having to leave the Daintree and drive back to Cairns in preparation for our flight to New Zealand tomorrow. We had time for breakfast at the lodge before checking out and getting on our way. The drive to Cairns was only about a two hour drive and 75 miles in distance. We had talked about visiting the Daintree Discovery Centre previously but had not had time, so we decided to spend a couple of hours there before lunch. It was another raised rainforest walkway, but despite having visited a couple of these further south, it was worth visiting as each one is different depending on the local flora and fauna. It is also on a cassowary corridor so there was the potential to see more of them. The centre gave out audio guides which gave lots of information about the plant life and animals and you could also select an indigenous commentary which told of how aboriginal people interact with nature, the use of plants for food and medicine and the like. The centre has a large tower that takes you high up into the rainforest canopy and it was fascinating seeing the different types of flora and fauna at each level.

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Once we had finished walking round the centre we had a light lunch before continuing towards the Daintree ferry. Whilst we were waiting to board a guy approached the car and said that there was a crocodile on the far bank, but much as I looked I wasn't able to see one. It was a reminder though of the potential presence of these dangerous animals. From the south bank of the river it was a straightforward journey towards Cairns. The scenery was beautiful and we were a little more able to appreciate it given that we were under less pressure for time than when we drove north a few days earlier.

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We stopped briefly at Rex Lookout a few miles short of Cairns, which gave beautiful views of the coastline.

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Once we arrived in Cairns we managed to find our hotel and checked in and got our bags up into our room. We needed to do some washing and fortunately there was a laundry room so we loaded up a couple of machines which did the job quickly, and whilst the stuff was drying we went to explore the seafront and the town. We were so surprised and disappointed to see that there was no real beach to speak of. Reading an information board it was apparent that the white sand that fringed this bit of coastline was destroyed by over dredging early in the 20th century. Now the beach is replaced with a boardwalk, a tiny town beach and an artificial beach/ lido.

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We were so pleased that we had decided to spend three days a few miles north a Kewarra Beach rather than in Cairns. As we walked along the sea front it was clear that the whole resort was a bit tacky, with soulless restaurants and bars and gift shops. We decided to go back to our hotel and eat there ordering from room service.

Once we got back to our hotel somebody had taken our laundry out of one the dryers, and another person was moaning because our clothes had dried quicker than the standard time and we hadn't taken it out of the machine. Nigel said the man looked even more disgruntled when I took each piece out and fold it before putting it away, he clearly thought I should have just pulled it all out a once and stuffed it in the bag. Just one of the minor irritations of doing your washing in a communal laundry. Dinner was pretty good though, and we got a few bits ready for our departure in the morning and had a reasonably early night.

Posted by Gill's Travels 01:06 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches trees australia cairns daintree Comments (0)

Kuranda and the Daintreee

Monday 21st September 2015

sunny 27 °C

We are on the move again but a days worth of activities on the Kuranda Railway and Skytrain have been booked before we need to think about making the two hour drive up to the Daintree Rain Forest. We planned to be away from the Kewarra Beach Resort by 8:30am to ensure that we arrived at Freshwater Station in plenty of time to board our 9:50am gold class carriage on the scenic train to Kuranda. When we arrived at the station we were given a complimentary 'mocktail' and then we were invited to board. As soon as we got on the train we could tell that it had been worth paying for the upgrade. The carriages were lovely with individual armchairs and there was plenty of space so we could move around the carriage if we wanted to, although all of the paired seats were on the scenic side of the line. We were given a leaflet showing the scenic highlights and there was also a commentary at key points on the journey.

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We slowly wound our way towards the town of Kuranda passing through numerous tunnels and over a couple of spectacular bridges. The train stopped for about ten minutes or more so that people could look at and photograph the Barron Falls.

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Shortly after this stop we arrived in the town. We found it incredibly touristy and were grateful we hadn't allowed more than a couple of hours there. The high street was full or tourist shops and cafes, ranging from the distinctly tacky to more tasteful galleries. We had decided to go to the Butterfly Sanctuary at the top of the high street. There was a large number of butterflies and it became a bit of a challenge trying to take photographs of them.

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The most stunning was the Ulysses which is a vibrant blue, but this seemed to be the most elusive to photograph because of the speed at which it flitted around.

Once we had finished there having began to tire of the heat, we made our way back towards the station in the hope of getting something to eat in the cafe, although they had little left when we got there. We were booked on the 1:30pm Skytrain, the cable car that would take us back down to near our start point. The times seemed quite flexible so we were able to leave a little early. The ride was a little scary with very high towers, way above the rainforest canopy and it seemed to approach the stations at quite a speed coming to a rather abrupt stop. There were two stopping points, one at the other side of the Barron Falls to the railway station and the other at a short Rainforest boardwalk. The views of the falls was spectacular and in some ways more impressive than before.

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When we got of at the second station we were able to join a guided tour with a ranger who explained a lot about the vegetation during the short walk.

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We spent quite a while at each stop and arrived at the bottom station with about 20 Minutes spare before our scheduled bus would take us back to Freshwater Station. One there we needed to get straight into the car and on our way to Daintree. The drive took about two hours through some very green and attractive countryside, past a lot of sugar cane plantations and up to the Daintree Ferry. We just missed a crossing so had to wait a while for it to return. Once across it was quite a short but slow and winding drive to our accommodation at Daintree Wilderness Lodge. It seemed like we had struck gold again as our accommodation is lovely, really in the depths of the rain forest with raised boardwalks between the lodges and reception/ restaurant. We had preordered dinner for 7pm so had over an hour to settle in before we ate. The food was very tasty and was like good quality home cooked food. We couldn't receive television programmes or connect to the internet from our room which was nice for a few nights, but we borrowed a DVD and half watched/ half snoozed for the rest of the evening.

Posted by Gill's Travels 05:38 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls australia cairns kuranda Comments (0)

Water, Water Everywhere

Saturday 19th September 2015

sunny 28 °C

We decided to have a relaxing day in the resort, a chance to just chill out and go swimming. Rather than rushing off to breakfast we went a little later than usual and then made our way to the smaller heated swimming pool. The temperature was lovely and we just swam and laid on the sun beds for a couple of hours.

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We then went back to our bungalow and relaxed some more, I read my book for a while and updated my blog. We didn't want much lunch as we had eaten quite a big breakfast and so we had a light snack. By about 3pm when we knew it would be a little cooler, we went down to the beach and had a swim.

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Being a weekend it was quite busy with lots of local families swimming in the sea and people walking their dogs. Despite it being used quite a bit, the sand seemed clean and free from litter. We probably stayed down there for an hour or so, before returning to have a quick swim in the second larger unheated pool (that should read 'I' as Nigel chickened out as it was quite cold).

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After showering and getting dressed for dinner we went up to the bar and had a cocktail and then watched the fruit bats coming home to roost. We had seen them the previous evening and it is quite a spectacle. They start just after sunset but before it gets completely dark and there must be tens if not hundreds of thousands of them.

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They make quite a noise as they start to fly over but this quietens down as the numbers build up. We weren't sure where they go as we didn't really see any of them in the tree tops although information about the hotel suggests they do settle down for the night nearby. Having watched them for a while we then returned to the restaurant for a delicious dinner of prawns, lamb (me) and beef (Nigel) followed by desert. I restored my faith in the hotel's food after the previous night's efforts.

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After all that food despite being quite hungry before dinner, I was feeling pretty full. We went back to our room and had a glass of wine from our dwindling stock and chilled out (some more) for what was left of the evening.

Posted by Gill's Travels 15:43 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches ocean australia cairns Comments (0)

Flying North

Friday 18th September 2015

sunny 27 °C

We woke up to a lovely sunny morning but could not hang around as we had to be up and out early this morning in order to catch our 9:40am flight to Cairns. Fortunately the fact that it was a domestic flight meant we didn't need to be there quite so early. Flying rather than travelling in a hire car meant rationalising the packing a bit, and making sure our hand luggage was airline compliant. We had decided to go by taxi to the airport, but yet again he wasn't the friendliest of people giving out a hefty sigh every time we got held up in a bit of traffic. Fortunately despite the hour and volume of traffic we got to the airport in plenty of time. We got chatting to a woman whilst we were waiting for boarding who was flying to Cairns to scatter her husbands ashes. I didn't like to ask if he was travelling with her or in with her checked in luggage!

Window seats meant some great views of the city, coast, the Whitsunday's and the Great Barrier Reef.

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The flight was just over two hours but time passed pretty quickly and it wasn't long before we were approaching Cairns.

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A slightly bumpy landing was only a minor issue on what had been a comfortable flight. Picking the car up at the airport was pretty straightforward, but having been spoilt with an upgrade last time this vehicle seemed a bit basic, but as we won't be doing a massive amount of miles it is no big deal. We were pleasantly surprised however when we arrived at our accommodation at the Kewarra Beach Resort. The staff seem really friendly and helpful and our room is lovely. It's not luxurious but comfortable and stylish and has everything we need and the setting in the rainforest but beside the ocean is perfect. After checking in and getting all of our stuff into the room we went and had some lunch and then a little explore around the bungalows, lagoons and had a look at the two small natural looking swimming pools. We then went down to the beach for a couple of hours.

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The sea was really calm and we had been advised that it was pretty safe (although no absolute guarantees) and so we were able to have our first proper swim in the sea since we had been away. It was lovely and warm although not has clear as some of the beaches we had seen further south. We also had time to relax soaking up the sun on the beach before going back to our bungalow to get freshened up for dinner.

We had booked to go to a beach party, popular with both locals and guests. It was great to listen to the music and watch everyone, especially the children, enjoying themselves. The food was pretty basic though, and compared with what we had eaten at lunch, pretty disappointing. I had ribs in sauce which were cold and the sauce just wet and drippy rather than nice and sticky, and Nigel's pizza had no sign of any ham and pineapple and was just strips cut up and put on a plate. There was also no evidence of any eating implements so I had to try to eat the nice Asian style coleslaw with a rib bone! Despite the gripes about the food it had been a really great day and a lovely evening and so we went to bed happy.

Posted by Gill's Travels 02:43 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches planes sea ocean australia cairns Comments (0)

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