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Queensland - Tropical Australia

all seasons in one day 65 °F

16 May 2018

Cairns....aka "Cans"

The adventure continues....

Traveling in from Townsville we had a bit of rain but we found Dent and Bend in Cairns - the repair shop for the RV. We weren't really sure what was going to happen. Didn't know if they were going to have to keep the van but thankfully it wasn't such a big deal. I joked with JIm that if all else fails - duct tape.. well....that is pretty much what they did but they had to get some "special" duct tape. They told us that it should hold for the next week but we wouldn't be able to open it. Also, the owner let us know that it shouldn't cost more than $200AU to fix. Now that was really great news - we had no clue. It took about 20 minutes and we were off with directions to get to the Esplanade for some lunch.

The weather was grey with rain threatening but there were still a number of people in the lagoon - no swimming in the water here...again stingers (aka box jellyfish) which you definitely don't want to have a run in with.

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We found our caravan park - Lake Placid Tourist Park - with no problem. We usually try to get someplace close to town so that we can walk to shops etc., but since that wasn't an option in Cairns - we opted for this park. It had great reviews and it was close to the Skyrail (gondola that goes up and over to the small town of Kuranda).

17 May 2018

More rain....

At least the wifi was good. The park offered 100Mg free which we found out was almost nothing so for the first time I did pay for a few gig to work on the blog.

Museums are usually a good option during inclement weather. We made the fifteen minute ride into town and found the Cairns Art Gallery and Museum. The museum is housed in a restored 1936 government building. It's small but well done and "free". There were several small exhibitions which were good for me but also not too much for Jim (who generally indulges my love of museums).

Lunch next door at Perrotta's which was a bit pricey but very tasty.

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On the way back to the park we took a detour for a quick stop at the bridge overlooking the lower Barron Gorge. This is an area where there is rafting and also a bit of rock slide swimming. It seems one would get in the water, (not me) and head feet first towards the rapids and rocks and then, someone standing on the side throws you a rope so that you don't end up in the rocks further down the gorge...with the hope that you catch it. hmmmm

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18 May 2018

Port Douglas

It's our last week in OZ and we drove the quick one hour up to Port Douglas. We've decided it's a bit old Hawaii(ish) - especially the view of the beach - other than the fact that you really can't swim in the water. Yes, again - box jellyfish but they do have a small area cordoned off with nets to keep the stingers out during stinger season which is November to May. But truthfully, it's grey and chilly and the water isn't terribly inviting.

We did make a stop in Cairns before we headed north. Jim had read that there was a Farmer's Market on Friday, Saturday and Sunday's - Rusty's Market - on Grafton St. Not really sure what we were going to find but always up for an adventure - we went. Sure glad we did. I really wished we need more veggies. They all looked so delicious - I could have bought the lot. It reminded me of our favorite markets in Asia but add some food trucks (inside), clothing, baked goods, kombucha, massage booths and coffee...of course - always coffee.

We opted for Vietnamese -I love Pho Gai for breakfast (rice noodle chicken soup) and we found a little truck over in a corner...it was next to a crepe truck (now that was a hard decision to make)....and coffee. After our tummies were full, we grabbed a couple of limes and papayas. Can't wait for breakfast tomorrow - the fresh fruit here has been amazing.

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It was time to say goodbye to Cairns ...and yes, they do say Cans - just drop the "r". Our next stop is Port Douglas with a detour to Mossman and Daintree National Park which is one of the oldest rainforests in the world. The park offers a side tour with a local guide which we did decide to take the Kuri Kuri Dreamland Tour.

Still grey when we arrived but the rain held off as we did our tour. Tom (a local gentleman) was our guide and along with a group of girls from a local boarding school and other tourists, we were taken past the tourist area into the forest. First thing order of business was to be cleansed - by smoke. The tour site offers a really good explanation as to why..

Many tours of the region start with a traditional smoking ceremony, which gives you an insight into local life. The ceremony is conducted by the local people who have a specific cultural knowledge about the region that they will willingly share with you. The ceremony itself is a spiritual cleansing to help ward off any bad spirits and to make sure that, while you’re wandering through the ancient land of the local people, that you are welcomed and honoured.

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Having been cleansed we started our walk into the forest. Tom told stories, explained the different plants and trees and explained some of the beliefs of the local aboriginal people. We ended the tour with herbal tea and dampers (local biscuit).

Mossman to Port Douglas is a quick 30 minute ride and we were greeted at Tropical Breeze Caravan Park by Lynn. Tropical Breeze is small park within walking distance of shops, restaurants and the waterfront (both beach and wharf). Lynn's husband, Jack, guided us into our site as he does all incoming guests. TB is small but unlike some small parks that I would consider cramped...this seemed more "cozy". We booked two nights here with open plans for our last few days...although, we did book Lake Placid for our very last night with the van since it's only fifteen minutes from the Apollo drop off and the airport.

What to do..it's a Friday afternoon and with the name of few pubs in town we off to explore. We ended up at Paddy's - beers and an early dinner.

19 May 2018

If the weather was better, our thoughts were to taking a snorkeling trip out to the reef (Great Barrier Reef). It is somewhat sunny BUT really windy. I overheard a man talking this morning and he relayed that on his trip to the reef the day before, there had been a lot of "over the side head hanging". SInce we did actually snorkel on a portion of the reef in the Whitsundays we're not excited to spend that much money and not really see much,

We spent the day checking out Port Douglas. A lovely, tropical town, it's really not very big and seems to be a snowbird haven for people from the south of Australia. A number come up for 2-4 months (like our Florida in the winter). Out the back gate, it was a five minute walk to the beach where we found the path and walked to the top of Flagstaff Hill - beautiful view.

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Our caravan park has two different couple who are the managers. Initially we met Lynn and Jack. Today we met Mike and Eva. Mike (Canadian from Toronto who incidently got along "way" too well with Jim). We were asked to move our campervan over one spot because he a couple coming in for four months...sure no problem. We mentioned the beautiful beach and lack of high rise buildings to Mike and he explained that it was by design. Buildings can't be higher than the palm trees which gives the appearance of no buildings - really makes a difference when we think of the high rises along our beaches in the US.

A little travel planning was needed - we decided that our next stop would be Cape Tribulation (about an hour north) with hopes of horseback riding on the beach there. Originally, we'd hoped for a reef trip from there if Port Douglas didn't work out but it looks like the weather is just not going to cooperate. But we also decided that it would be only one night in CT and we'd stop back and stay in Tropical Breeze for two nights before heading back to Cairns. There have been a couple of areas of Australia that we've found really comfortable...and this is one of them.

With our van moved, we headed to Seabean for lunch, a tapas place that got really good reviews. Seabean was Jim's pick..and it as a good one. The food was excellent.

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When we arrived back at TB - our new neighbors were setting up their caravan for the four month stay. Introductions were made - Karl and Frances and the jokes started. This couple is going to be fun.

20 May 2018

With plans settled, we opted for a quiet, windy day in Port D with a sprinkle here and there. People keep apogizing for the "less than stellar" weather but...it is what it is.

A beer at Hemingway's Brewery (on the waterfront) and then stopped at the Hi Tide Cafe for an early light dinner. Our "oh so cute" waiter, Aaron, kept us smiling with his cheeky sense of humor.

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21 May 2018

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation is close (about an hour away) but still oh so far. About half way there, one must take a short five minute ferry ride to get to the cape (round trip $27). It's like going through a time warp - making your way into the jungle. The rainforest gets thicker and thicker and the road get more winding and much more narrow. Also, the population decreases significantly.

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We did decide to do the Raintree Discovery Center which is a series of different walks through and above the rainforest. It was a nice diversion.

Farther out on the cape we arrived at our campground - Cape Tribulation Camping. Nicely situatied just off the beach. It really is in the middle of nowhere. The grounds are quite big with grassy sites. I don't know if it's just off season or the weather but it was not very full.

After getting set up, we walked through the palm treed path to the wind swept sea and again found ...no one on the beach. The water was rough and churning which gave the whole area a mystical quality. I had a feeling that it might have been just like this when Captain James Cook's ship hit the reef in 1770 just off the coast. He named the area Cape Tribulation because "here begun all our troubles".

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The rain started in earnest shortly after our walk and continued through out the night. Fortunately for us, this campground has a woodfired pizza oven and this night was one of their "pizza nights". We joined, what seemed like, most of the other campers on the large porch for wine, beer and travel stories. The rain be damned....we still had a great time.

22 May 2018

Return to Port Douglas

Rain...and more rain. The rain and wind continued through the night and the next morning, with no sign of letting up. No horseback riding for us today.

We came, we saw and it was time to leave. By the time we got back to the ferry, the rain had subsided but we could see the rain clouds hover the northern coast.

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If you may have been asking yourself - do they ever cook in that van - well, yes we do. We almost always have breakfast and lunch "at home". Tonight was "clean out the frig night" and as we like to do in AZ - it was all the leftover veggies with garlic and anchovies mixed with pasta. Quite delicious!!

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23 May 2018

Another planning day and a laundry day. Tomorrow we would make our way down to Cairns for our last night before our flight to Sydney.

One of the nice things about Port Douglas is they sure do have some good restaurants with great views. We had depleted our food supply in the van so it was Hemingway's for lunch and then the Tin Shed for a light dinner,

Note: if your traveling in Australia you will find RSLs - which are "Returned and Service Leagues". The Tin Shed is one of these. Their website explains it much better than I can - but visitors are welcome and we've seen them all over Australia. Dinner was good here with a beautiful view from their deck.

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It was also time to start packing. Our plan is to pack away,in one bag, things we won't need in Sydney. We'll see how that works.

Recieved a couple of good emails today 1) Apollo confirmed the $200 price tag for our little mishap and 2) Heard from Jacinta and Mike (couple from Sydney that we met on the sail boat) - we've been invited to have dinner with them and Mike's parents in Manley on Saturday - looking forward to that,

In retrospect, we've really enjoyed this trip and we've found it's not about going, going, going...and sometimes just "being". It's been really nice!!!

24 May 2018

Off to Cairns....good byes to Karl and Frances. We've been invited to visit them in Ulladulla, if/when we get back to OZ. We just might do that!!

The Skyrail Cable Car (aka gondola) is just outside Cairns and kisses the treetops as it goes from Smithfield to Kuranda. This is our excursion for today and we had some beautiful views. After walking through the rainforest a few times on this trip, it was fun being up and over the treetops. Australia has some incredible trees.

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It was late afternoon when we got to our caravan park and we still needed to finish packing. Luckily (actually strangely), at the dead end of the road, next to our park is a restaurant - Alessandro's. Reviews said that they have great pizza (a recurring theme here in OZ)...well, they did. It was nice way to end our trip in Queensland.

Off to Sydney tomorrow...keep and eye out for our final installment of our 2018 Australia Adventure.

Posted by pjburke 15:52 Archived in Australia

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