Cairns and Tropical Far North Queensland

Wednesday, Aug 01, 2012 at 21:37

Stephen L (Clare) SA

June 2012

Back in February when we were putting the final destinations for our holidays for the year together, we were looking at some old photos of some of our past Queensland trips. One lot of photos that we looked at a couple of times were the two times that we had driven up to Cairns, with our last visit back in 1988, when we spent three great months travelling through Queensland and as far north as Cairns. In 24 years we knew that the place would have changes greatly, so we decided that a special luxury holiday for us both was going to be in order of the day, which was going to be a real change from red sand and our swag on the ground out in the bush.

Now this time we did not have the luxury of extended time away for such a very long drive from home, and with two spare weeks in June, it would mean that we would have to take to the air to get there. Through my work, we were able to utilise a staff “Holiday Rewards” and Fiona soon found a perfect location right in the very heart of Cairns and walking distance to all town facilities. With dates decided on and flights organised, we would be able to still spend two weeks in that great location in Queensland and not have to worry about the long drive from South Australia to get there.

As with any holiday, we were taking great note of the weather for the three weeks leading up to the trip and true to “Langman’s” luck, the so called perfect weather was far from perfect, with daily rainfall ranging from 5 to 20 mm and no clear sky’s, but at least the daytime temperatures were a very balmy 26°- 27°, compared to the 10°- 12° daytime temperatures that we were now into in our home town of Clare, South Australia. With the alarm off at 1am and a very brisk 3° outside temperature, it was our last warm up by the fire before showers and heading off down to Adelaide for our 6am flight from the Adelaide Airport.

We arrived at the Security Airport Parking by 4.30am and with the car booked in; a shuttle bus drove us to the Airport at 5am. By the time we booked in our bags, collected our boarding passes, we did not have long to wait before we able to board the plane and we were both very excited for our holiday to commence. With an hour stop over in Sydney, again the time passed very quickly and we were soon away again heading north. The flight was very smooth, but the down side was that we could not see any land features due to the complete dense cloud cover the hole way to Cairns. Descending through the clouds as we approached Cairns Airport, we could see very large puddles of water everywhere, and the rain was soon falling on the side windows of the plane as we landed. With bags collected, we took a Taxi to the Mantra Trilogy, which would now be our home for the next two weeks.

Cairns was alive with people everywhere, as what we did not know at the time was that the Cairns Iron Man event was about to take place the next day. How fit are these true dedicated athletes, as on Sunday 3rd June 2012 at 7am they started off with a 3.8 kilometre swim, followed by a 180 kilometre bike ride and then finished off with a 42.2 marathon run, yes all of these in one event. Walking down to check out the atmosphere, we both got very wet in the steady rain that was falling, so the first place that we could buy a large umbrella, we spent our first tourist dollars on this this very useful piece of kit, as the predicted forecast was similar weather for most of the coming week, just what we wanted like a whole in the head.

Well what a difference twelve hours can bring. Even though we had a good sleep, I was awake early and when I looked out at the sky, I could not believe what I was seeing, a perfect blue sky with distant clouds way out to sea and a cloud and mist covered range to the west of Cairns. There was now no hesitation and we phoned and booked a Train and return Skyrail trip to Kuranda and the bus would pick us up at 7.30am from our accommodation and take us to the Freshwater Railway Station. As we headed along the Captain Cook Highway, it was no like peak hour traffic in any major capital city, with all traffic down to a stop and start motion, as the first of the bike riders from the Iron Man event were well underway and the Highway was now down to one lane a traffic, with dozens of Police manning the route and ever side road was now blocked to all traffic. Paul the bus driver then began a great commentary of the event and told us of his great feat, the first person to climb Mount Everest with only one arm. During his talk, he said that we should be at the Freshwater Railway Station in around 12 minutes, but an hour later, and with no possible side road detours, we pulled into the bus park at the Station. A quick coffee and the Train soon came into the station to collect its last lot of passengers for the most enjoyable train ride up to Kuranda. We have taken this trip a number of times in the past, but the ride up passing through fifteen hand carved tunnels and the unreal scenery is always an experience not to be missed.

For the next five and a half hours, we did the tourist thing and took in the atmosphere of the Kuranda Sunday Markets, including a great and informative tour of the Butterfly Sanctuary. Our scheduled return trip back on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway was to leave at 3.30pm, so after a most enjoyable time in Kuranda, we made our way back to the terminal for another great experience. The return Cableway ride makes two stops along the way, the first at Barron Falls and the second stop at Red Peak where passengers are able to disembark and are able is they would like too, do the small but rewarding rainforest walks. Leaving Red Peak you climb the last of the large peaks and then it is down hill all the way, with unreal views out to the ocean and the distant ranges that border Cairns. Arriving at Skyrail’s Caravonica Terminal at 4.45pm, the bus was waiting there to take us back to the apartments, and again there were still many road closures with the still running Iron Man event. Back in our room, the view down to the Esplanade was just perfect, with hundreds of people cheering on each runner and they passed by. We then went down ourselves to be part of the atmosphere and how these men and women put themselves through such endurance is just unbelievable and they all deserved a medal. After tea, we again went down to the street and the crowds were now even bigger and then runners were now looking very tired and the look of pain of their faces was now very evident. It also seemed very strange to be outside at 10pm and still only in a T bleep s and shorts, a far cry from the very cold conditions that we would have expected back home. Back in our room we sat on the balcony for some time and with each passing runner, the crowds would scream out with claps and words of encouragement and cheers, to encourage the runners to keep going, knowing that 12 midnight was the cut out point for all those that started the event, some 17 hours previous. After a long a great day we went to bed, with the constant cheers and then it seemed to go very quite, yes it was then after midnight and the event was stopped until again next year when the second event will take place.

The next day dawned just as perfect as the previous day, so we again decided to make the most of the fine weather, just in case it turned again in the coming days. We did no have to rush this morning, so it was again breakfast on the balcony and when we were ready, we had a leisurely stroll down to the main wharf and booked our tickets for the Green Island Ferry. The last time we were on Green Island, we had a rough boat trip over, but todays trip was just perfect. In what seemed like no time at all, we were soon over on Green Island and conditions could not have been any better. Well before we were on the Island proper, we were greeted with three Green Turtles in the shallow waters not far from the shore. Most people were in a hurry to get onto the Island, and apart from only three other couples, we spent the good part of fifteen minutes watching these graceful sea creatures slowly swimming around before they come to the surface for more air, before again diving under the surface and feeing on the sea grass beds.

How the Island had changed in 24 years, with paving and timber boardwalks everywhere you were able to walk, complete now with a pool and lots of tourist shops and food outlets, and gone were the days when it was sandy paths around the Island. With Fiona’s caffeine intake toped up, it was time for our Glass Bottom Boat ride out over the reef. Back on the Island, we took it easy, having lunch by the pool and even had time to write a few postcards for family members back home. No visit to Green Island would be complete with a stroll around the Island, which we did again and here the boardwalk take nearly three quarters of the walk, before coming out on the beach on the top southeast part of the Island. Time went quickly again and it was soon time to slowly make our way back to the end of the jetty and wait for our return ferry trip at 3.30pm, before arriving back at the Cairns Marina just after 4.30pm. Slowly walking back along the Esplanade, we took in the atmosphere as hundreds of tourists, both local and from overseas, were either relaxing on the lawns or swimming in the pool area on the foreshore. Returning to our apartment, we had a coffee before venturing down to the shopping and market area.

Another perfect morning and it was now time to hire a car so we could get out to see more of the many special locations in the area. The first 2 car rental companies that I contact had no vehicles at all, while the thirds company we were in luck, but we were not able to collect it until 10am, due to the high demand and they had to get them cleaned and ready before they were hired out again immediately. The great part of where we were so centrally located meant it was only a ten minute walk to the car hire company. With all the paperwork out of the way, we were handed the keys and then we were on our way up to Kuranda via the Barron Gorge Power Station. Walking over the main access drive to the Power Station, the Surprise Creek Waterfalls still look an impressive sight, and then perched high above, you can just make out the railway line as in span’s the gap over the Waterfalls. I must be an unreal sight to see the Barron River in flood and the sound of the rushing water would be deafening.

Making our way through to Kuranda, we stopped for lunch before heading further west to Mareeba. Seeing it was now early afternoon, we decide to head towards Mount Molloy rather than down to Atherton, as we would leave this to another day when we had more time on our hand. The countryside looked great and the main agricultural crops grown along the way were both Sugar Cane and Bananas. The Sugar Cane was in various stages of growth, and we were to find out later why the variation in the age of the crops. Passing one large Banana plantation, there was a small sign on one of the farmer’s gates offering Banana and other local produce for sale. This was one temptation that we could not pass up, so a quick ‘U’ turn had us driving into the Banana Plantation farm. We were surprised by the size of the infrastructure and the size of their packing shed. All the good size bags of locally grown fruit were only $2 per bag, and only if Bananas had a long life. We purchased a couple of bags on Bananas and some Avocados. The Bananas were not real big, but they were the sweetest that I had ever tasted and to think that when the Cyclones destroyed all these crops around twelve months ago, we were paying over $17 per Kilogram in Clare.

Heading towards the coast and in the very hilly terrain, we came to a lot of road words and not long after we could see why. There was a very large landslip and thousands of tonnes and dirt, rocks and trees had stilled due to the very wet weather, and this was not the last time that we would encounter such events in our travels around the area. We headed into Port Douglas for a look around, and just like Cairns, the town had grown immensely since our last visit. The Marina was full of activity as passengers disembarked from their days adventure out on the Great Barrie Reef, and I would hate to guess how many dollars worth of boats were moored in the Marina. The drive back down along the Captain Cook Highway was as it always is, the most enjoyable drive the sea on one side and the Rainforest on one side, or passing through fields of Sugar Cane. Back in the apartment, we had an early night, as we had a very special day planned for the following day.

Even though I have the alarm set for 5am, I managed to beat it an we were up and out of bed by 4.50am and very eager for todays drive. We did not rush, but we were able to be on the road by just after 6.15am and had the highway to ourselves until just after Kuranda. Arriving in Mareeba, the early morning hot air balloon was drifting silently over the town and we were surprised that it was not higher in the sky. We headed north and just after Mount Molloy turned left onto the Peninsula Development Road. The were a few caravans on this section of road heading north and the road was a pleasure to drive, with not a cloud in the sky and the warm rays of the sun making it just perfect for travelling. As we started to get into the higher ranges, we could see in the distance the top of the high range covered in a dense cover of cloud and we were heading straight for it. A few kilometres before Bob’s Lookout, we were engulfed in the thickest of fogs and were now down to a very slow speed, as we could not see very far in front of us. It looked very strange passing the lookout, as there was a caravan parked there and the owners were standing outside, looking at a wall of thick white fog, and not the expected view that is usually obtained from this vantage point. Down the hill we went and then as quick as the fog came, we were again back into clear blue skies. It was now nearing a smoko break and the James Earl Lookout, south of Lakeland made the perfect location, complete with toilets and seats.

After a pleasant stop here, it was back on the road again and we were soon passing through Lakeland and our next stop was the unreal looking Black Mountain Lookout, in the Black Trevethan Range. The Mountain itself consists of large black granite rocks that make up the Mountain and there are countless stories over the years of people and stock wandering into the vicinity of Black Mountain and never to been seen again, including Police and Black Trackers sent to look for the missing people, only to disappear themselves. We now very close to our day’s destination and not long after leaving the lookout, we arrive in Cooktown and we went straight to the Cooktown Interpretive Centre. Loaded up with local information, we then went up to Grassy Hill Lookout for lunch; even if was still only early in the day. Arriving at the top of Grassy Hill and the views can be described as unreal, with complete 360-degree unobstructed views. What makes this spot so even more special is to think that Lieutenant James Cook stood upon this very hill back in June 1770 and peered out to sea in the hope of finding a safe passage out through the maze of what we now know as the Great Barrier Reef. Little did we know at the time, but in a couple of days I would engage in a debate about this very town at a lookout at Cape Tribulation.

After lunch, we had a great tour of the town, with our biggest regret was that we wanted to stay here for a few days, but we never had that luxury, well not this trip anyway. After spending around 5 hours looking at all the major points of interest, it was time to retrace our tracks and make our way back to Cairns. The drive back was just perfect, and even Bob’s Lookout had perfect viewing conditions. The only thing that had changed on the way back south was that there were now a number of fires along the side of the highway to clear the roadside verge of tall grass. Back in Cairns it was the usual nightly walk down to the Night Markets, more fresh fruit and an easy night for the next great days adventure.

We were in no hurray today, but still manage to be on the road before 8am. By now we were starting to get to know the main road up to Kuranda and on to Mareeba quite well and it was soon time to head out on the Burke Development Road. It was along this section of road that we saw the first sugar mills in full swing, as like other parts of Northern Queensland, the unseasonal wet weather had delayed the crushing season by around 3 weeks. It was just after Almaden that we had the first of four sections totalling around 15 kilometres of unsealed roads, but they were in very good condition. Arriving in Chillagoe, we went to Hub for the latest up to date tourist information and enquired about one of the Cave tours. The next scheduled tour was at 1.30pm, so we had just over 2 hours to see a few of the other major attractions that Chillagoe has on offer, including Balancing Rock and the old Mine site. We did the Royal Arch Cave tour and Luke our National Parks Ranger was a great guide. At the start of the tour, we were all given lights for the tour and these were a real bonus. As usual, the time went very quick and what seemed like no time, were back on the road at a leisurely pace on our way to Cairns. Once again Chillagoe was a great little tidy town and we have put it on our bucket list for a longer stay when we are travelling Queensland again, this time in our own vehicle. Back in Cairns, it was a trip to the Supermarket, a walk of less than 5 minutes from our apartment to top up on supplies and then another easy night in preparation for another great day tomorrow.

After a sleep-in and breakfast on the balcony, we headed out of Cairns just after 9am on the Captain Cook Highway and the drive up the coast road was just another perfect drive. With a number of stops along the way, we arrived at the ferry crossing of the Daintree River, our access point for our drive up to cape Tribulation. Unlike the ferry services that are supplied back in South Australia which are free, the return ferry trip was $22 and cash only, so if you are intending to use this facility, make sure that you have cash on you. The crossing time was very quick and once over the other side, we stopped to take a few more photos before heading north into the true tropical rainforest that this part of the world is renowned for. We were stopping continuously to take in this beautiful part of Queensland and we finally arrived at Cape Tribulation just before lunch. How the tourist impact has had on this great road up to Cape Tribulation, as the last time we were up here, it was a dirt road all the way and you had to cross nearly all the creeks, which was an experience in itself.

With a long and leisurely stroll along the beach, we went back through the dense rainforest foliage from the beach and found a nice little area for lunch. By this stage the car park was packed full of tourist vehicles, so we were lucky to have arrived when we did. After lunch and packing our day bag back into the car, we went for a few more walks, one to the small lookout that overlooks Cape Tribulation. We had the lookout to ourselves for around 5 minutes before more tourists, like ourselves, to take in the views of the beach, and back out to the ranges. Part of the group that arrived at the lookout was tourists from Italy and some big noise Australians from Brisbane. Fiona and I did the usual nod of the head to say G’day, and kept to ourselves, while the men from Brisbane were just to put it bluntly, wankers. One of the Italians was asking the 2 men from Brisbane various questions about this part of the world in general and some of the comments that they were given were not the type of answers that I would have given to people from overseas. Fiona and I looked at each other in disgust to what they were telling the overseas people, but we kept quite without getting into any debate until a point were the Italian then asked if it was worth the drive further north up to Cooktown.

The men started raving on not to waste their time in driving that way, claiming is was a whole, nothing to see and they could not wait to see the town in their rear view mirror. That was the final straw for me, and I then got into a debate in front of all these people on the history of the area, the Botanical Gardens, the unreal views from Grassy Hill and standing on a spot where Cook gazed out to sea some 242 years before and so on, and then commented that what one person does not like, others may have a great appeal, to which the Italian tourist gave me a very big smile in a way that this was the true information that he had wanted to hear. Fiona and I then left the lookout and spoke about the men and how could someone offer such false information when asked by someone from overseas who had a desire to see the town. Back at the car park and we could not believe that the park was now nearly empty of all vehicles that had made this spot their lunch stop. Even though the drive back to the Daintree ferry site is no longer that around 45 minutes to drive, we still managed to take over 2 ½ hours, stopping many time and doing many small walks, including the great Marrja Botanical walk which should be a must for any visitor to the Cape Tribulation area. We now had the road to ourselves and with even very few vehicles coming from the other direction. Being now late in the day and well after 4pm, we could not believe it when we came to the sign on the road advising that the ferry site was 200 metres and there were dozens of vehicles in front of us waiting to cross on the ferry. We then had to wait for over half an hour before we were back over the other side of the Daintree River and heading back south to Cairns, arriving back in Cairns just before 7pm and again it was a fun packed day.

This morning we had a bit of a sleep in after a few very busy on the go few previous days. Today we planned on doing the Tablelands drive, so we left Cairns and for something different, headed down to Gordonvale before taking the Gilles Highway up through the very slow and winding road to our first main stop, Lake Barrine. After a look around the lake and the small walk to see the two old and tall 45 metre Kauris, we were amazed to see two English tourists drive into the lake for a swim. Even though the day was mild, I would have thought that the water would have been quite cool. From here we took more back roads to our intended lunch stop, Lake Eacham. The down side of arriving at a pretty spot like this near lunch time showed just how popular this spot was for locals and tourist alike. We managed to find a small parking spot and lunch on the well-manicured lawns and gardens. After lunch we did the tourist thing of walking around the lake on the well constructed paths, with Parndana’s Trees offering full shade and forming a complete canopy over the pathway. We could have spent all day here, but this was not to be the case, as we still had a lot more to see before the days end. We now headed for Malanda and head straight for the Falls. Arriving at the car park and making our way down the steps towards the waterfall, it is hard to imagine the volume of water that would have been passing through this narrow section of the river when you see the height of the 1967 flood lever, high on the shelter well above the actual river floor below. Again there were a couple of young girls swimming and they must have been crazy, as when I asked them if the water was cool they replies that it was freezing. After a few photos, we then headed over more back roads to the Curtain Fig Tree.

Unlike our last visit to the area many years ago, large boardwalks have been constructed to minimize the impact of thousands of tourists that visit this special place each year. Even though it was not wet, the moist environment made the boardwalk a little slippery in places and we could imagine what it would be like on a wet day. From here it was on to Tinaroo Dam and then further north to Mareeba, before heading back to Kuranda and down to Cairns. Today was another great day and with the weather the way that it was, we could quite easy call Cairns home at this time of the year.

The screech of the fruit bats from the trees out on the main road woke me this morning, letting us know that it was time to get out of bed and contemplate on what we would do today. Browsing the maps over breakfast out on the balcony, we decided that we would again head south and see the changes down at Mission Beach. Heading south down the Bruce Highway, our first stop for the morning was at the Boulders, west of the small town of Babinda. Being early in the day, there was only one other car in the carpark, so we had the place to ourselves before a small mini bus pulled up with overseas tourists. Again the water was so clear and today no one was going to try their luck with a swim, as it would have been quite cool. The large still pond in the car park area soon changes to a raging torrent as you walk along the path towards the lookouts. It would be another great experience to see this area in the wet season and the force of the flow of water would be deafening. Walking back to the carpark, the mini bus people were now cooking a late breakfast of bacon and eggs and the smell of the cooking was very mouth watering. We now headed for Josephine Fall further south from Babinda and passed changing fields of sugar cane and then into Banana Plantations before arriving at the carpark and another enjoyable rainforest walk. After viewing the waterfalls, we then headed further south down the Bruce Highway and decided that we would have lunch at the Golden Gumboot in Tully. Before heading to Mission Beach, I now had another mission to accomplish, a Degree Confluence less than 10 kilometres away and being so close, there was no way that I could let this one slip by.

Heading out on the Tully Heads Road, we soon arrived at the spot and went to ask permission from the property owners, but no one was home. We tried to do the right thing anyway and then drove down a small track between large crops of sugar cane. I tried to squeeze me way through the dense cane, but there was no way that I could get through to the exact point with cutting myself or even worse, coming in contact with a snake, so this was to be my first Confluence visit that I could only get as close as 14 metres and not get those perfect all zeros on the GPS, bugger. Retracing our track, we were soon back out on the main highway and heading towards Mission Beach and all of a sudden, a Cassowary emerged from the dense roadside vegetation. Bringing the cart to a very sudden stop, we then sat on the side of the road for around five minutes observing this usually very shy and endangered bird. It was not long before other vehicles came along and most did the same as us, stopping, taking photos and then heading off again. Like all parts of northern Queensland, Mission Beach has not escaped the intrusion of people looking for a good life style and it was not the place that we once knew and long gone was the dense rainforest drive and canopy as we headed for Bingil Bay. It was still early in the day, so instead of heading straight back up the main Bruce Highway to Cairns, we detoured just out of Innisfail an headed out on the Palmerston Highway, rechecking road conditions for our intended drive the next day.

No drive along this section of road would be complete without doing the Waterfall Circuit, which took us to Ellinjaa, Zillie and Millaa Millaa Falls, a must do drive when in this area. From here it was back on roads that we had travelled a number of time over in the last few day, through Malanda, Atherton, before turning off again at Mareeba and down to Cairns. We went to bed early that night, as we had a very early start the next morning for our 10.30am pre booked tour.

The alarm went of at 3.30am and this was one morning that I could have easily turned it off and gone back to sleep. We seemed to drag our feet that morning and we were on the road by 5.20am. The only other traffic on the road at that time of the morning in Cairns was either Taxis, or security night watch vehicles and we were soon leaving the last of the traffic lights and out on the main road heading south. It was quite eerie at time driving down the highway, as the road would be engulfed in thick fog and then clear again in the lower sections of the highway. We were soon travelling along the very same Palmerstone Highway that we were on just 14 hours previous, but this time not making any tourist stops. It looked very quaint as we passed through Innot Hot Springs, with mist coming from the creek in the cool morning air. We stopped for an early morning smoko and wee stop in a parking bay within the Forty Mile Scrub and were back on the road again and arrived at our intended destination of the Undara Lodge by just after 9.15am. The smell of early morning campfires from the camping area was a very welcome smell and we walked around the area with ample time to check the place out before the 10.30am tour that we had pre booked a number of days before.

Being on private property and then National Parks, the only way that anyone can visit these caves is by a guided tour that leaves from the Undara Lodge reception area. The main disappointment was the main larger cave was underwater, so we could only view it from the opening. The tour went very quick and the camping area was very inviting and we could have easily spent more time here, but we had a long drive back to Cairns. After lunch in the carpark, we slowly made our way back to Cairns, stopping a number of times along the way to investigates attractions that we never had time to see on the drive out, including the Millstream Falls, which are claimed to be Australians widest single drop falls. When we arrived at Ravenshoe, we turned off and came back again via Atherton and Mareeba. What a day we had and more great scenery and more perfect weather.

No alarm today, but as usual in holiday mode, we were still up early to make the most of our most enjoyable stay in Tropical Queensland. With our scheduled cruise on the Daintree River at 11.30am, we still managed to be on the road by 9am and had a very leisurely drive up the Captain Cook Highway, stopping many times along the way. Arriving up in Daintree by 11am and paying for the Cruise, the lady said that id we did not see any Crocodiles, we could do the next cruise for free, with a big smile on her face, as if she knew something that we did not know. Our tour guide was very informative and not to be disappointed, there were quite a few crocodiles on the banks of the Daintree River, ranging in size from new hatchlings of around 30cm in size, right up to the very big ‘Scare Face’, well over 4metres in length. He was the dominant male in this section of the River, while the younger and smaller ‘Agro’ was keeping his distance from the larger and powerful Scare Face. The guide said that one day they expect to see either Agro either gone or dead, as Scare Face does not tolerate any other male Crocodiles in his territory and once killed a larger and older male crocodile to claim this as his section of river as his territory.

With the cruise complete and very happy that we had taken the time to drive back up to Daintree, we heading back towards Mossman, again making a number of detour stops along the way. No visit to Mossman would be complete without a visit to the attractive Mossman Gorge. It was now very early afternoon and cars were lined up either side of the road within 200 metre of the main Gorge Carpark. There were lots of people along the walk and there were even a few people that were brave enough to have a swim in the main swimming section of the river. Driving back along the coast road we had very mixed feeling, as this was the second to last day that we had the hire car that had to be returned by 10am the day after. It did not matter how many times that we had driven this section of iconic Australian coastline, we never tired of the vivid aqua blue of the Coral Sea, flanked by the towering ranges of the Great Divide Range.

The following morning we had a sleep in, as to be fair, Fiona wanted to do lots of shopping at the Cairns DFO. The day went very quick and when we returned to the apartment, we decided to take the car back that night, as we could not really do a lot before 10am. After tea that night, we took the car back at 7 am and then had an enjoyable walk back to our accommodation. We made the most of a sleep in on our last free day, knowing that we had a very early start the following day. Seeing that the apartment was very close to all the main features right in the heart of Cairns, we spent a few hours walking around the town and as we were walking along the Marina, were noticed a sign for the Crocodile Farm tour and cruise, which would leave in half an hours time. Without any hesitation, we went straight into the booking terminal and booked two tickets. The Bus trip out to the crocodile farm was great, with the driver very knowledgeable on the area and any question the we asked, he would give us a very in depth response. The only way that anyone can view the crocodile farm is by this tour and the main gates were locked to keep the general public out. It was not long before we could see the giants sunning themselves in the shallow water and on the banks of the creek that passes through the farm. After a very informative tour of this breeding farm, we then boarded the cruise boat that took us back to the Cairns Marina. During the cruise back, we detoured up a few small creeks and to top the tours off, we were again rewarded again with more wild crocodiles, all within a few kilometres from the heart of Cairns. After the cruise, we had a nice walk back along the main Cairns waterfront and we knew that within 24 hours, we would be back home, over 3500 kilometres away and more that 15 degrees cooler. Next morning the alarm was off at 3am and by 5am, we were inside the Cairns Airport and ready to board our plane and to be flown home back to Adelaide Airport via a short stop over in Sydney. I have to admit it myself, but even if it was not our usual bush camping four wheel drive holiday, it will be one type of holiday that we hope to do again soon and it will not be another 24 years before we again return to Cairns and Tropical Far North Queensland.

Did I mention some of the special plants and flowers that we were able to see, without going out of our way? Not being real familiar with tropical plants, I have given it my best to identify as many of the plants as possible. If you know any of the ones that I was not able to put names to, please offer your help.

Smile like a Crocodile
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