So much for frequent easy internet access and sunny tropical weather….
Well we made it to Cairns or “Caans” as they say. We arrived about 8pm on Monday, May 21st to 24 degrees and 98% humidity, big change from Alice Springs! The host of the place we were staying at was nice enough to pick us up from the airport, its nice to arrive in a new city and have a ride waiting for you with a comfy bed at the end of it. We caught the bus to Cairns city center the next morning to pick up our rental car which happened to be the exact same kind of car we had in the outback, a white corolla hatchback, just no roof tent or crazy quotes on the side and a stick shift instead of an automatic. Changing gears with the wrong hand takes some getting used to for sure but with gas still over $1.50/litre here on the east coast we appreciate the better fuel efficiency. This car will be our home for the next month until we drop it off in Sydney!
After looking around in Cairns for the afternoon we took a drive up a winding road to Morris lake in the mountains above the city for some nice jungle scenery and a good view over the surrounding area on the way up. It turns out this was our only decent day for the next while with no rain and a bit of sunshine. On Wednesday we drove through the rain around the Atherton Tablelands with some fantastic roads through the jungle and mountains just inland from Cairns. Highlights included a stop at a mango winery, a least six different waterfall stops with hikes through the jungle and a hike to a volcanic crater. Unfortunately it was rainy and misty the whole day which limited the photo opportunities, not really enough for a blog post even though we had free internet.
On Thursday we headed up north on the coast towards Cape Tribulation. This meant more fun driving through winding coastal roads (fun for me at least!) but also more rain. Highlights included some misty rainy lookouts, some rainy boardwalks through the jungle and a great walk along the beach at Cow Bay during a brief period of minimal rain. Isaac got to dip his feet in the waves while we kept a close watch out for saltwater crocodiles in the nearby creek! We didn’t see any crocs but the white sand beach with the jungle coming right to the edge made for some great scenery. We stayed at a jungle hostel complete with several hand sized spiders in Cape Tribulation and then headed back down the coast Friday morning for a croc spotting tour down the Daintree river. Due to all the rain the river was in flood which made for poor spotting of any big crocs but we still saw three baby crocodiles, a tree snake and a tree frog. From there we headed to the Mossman gorge where we had an awesome hike through the Daintree rainforest (the world’s oldest) around several different creeks. After our hike we got an early supper in Port Douglas and hit the hi-way south for a few hours to get down to Mission Beach for the night.
After a few busy days we took it pretty easy Saturday with a grocery trip, a couple short hikes to some local viewpoints, lunch at a local cafe, some laundry and a relaxed supper at our very cool hostel in the jungle just out of town. Highlights of the Tree House YHA hostel included having the place to ourselves, awesome rainforest and ocean views off the deck where we ate supper and spotting a Cassowary off the balcony!
On Sunday morning it finally stopped raining. We packed up and then hit up the local farmers market for some fresh papaya, the stuff you find in the grocery store at home just doesn’t compare. After a walk along the beach and another stop at the farmers market for some lunch and another papaya we headed south again. We took a detour to visit Girringun national park which is home to the rather spectacular Wallaman Falls, the highest single drop waterfall in Australia at 268 m! There is a hike that goes down to the base of the falls as well as a great looking campsite, so we’ve got this place marked down for a return visit for our next trip. The sun finally came out while we were on our drive and after a stop for mango ice cream we made it to Townsville where we checked into a guest house with a full kitchen suite and free internet, hence the update! So that brings us up to date, we’ll explore the area over the next couple days and then its on to Airlie beach and the Whitsunday islands. Hopefully this sunshine sticks around!