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Showing posts from August, 2013

Hidden dangers

We are about to pop out of the mangroves to the beach, but let me digress for a moment to talk about the hidden dangers of the tropical rainforest and sea. A crocodile might bite you. Jelly fish might sting you. A cassowary might kick you. (The Southern Cassowary is the second heaviest bird on earth) A snake might bite you (Coastal Taipan is the third most venomous land snake in the world) And if that is not enough even the plants bite. I say hidden because I saw none of these even though that plant is very common in other parts of Queensland.

Fans and mangroves

Well I reckon it was worth the trip to see these.  The brochures on the Daintree show fan palms and I didn't quite get their significance until I walked under a tall forest of them.  They were beautiful. And the boardwalk leads you from the palms through the mangroves to the sea.  Now mangroves are rather harder to love but have a weird grasping beauty of their own.

To Cape Tribulation

We're taking the narrow winding road to Cape Tribulation (that's where Captain Cook struck the reef and made a hole in the bottom of his boat).  Yes it's rainforest and the ferry ride to cross the river an interesting part of the trip.  We've set off early to avoid queuing at the ferry and following tourist buses along the winding road.

Will she float

We sat beside a nice lady chatting while we all wondered if the boat would float off that sandbar now the tide was coming back in. We were taking a drive to the World Heritage Daintree rainforest tomorrow.  Again we were not sure what to expect. A chap we talked to in Coolah at Eastertime said "I dunno what the fuss is about it's just a rainforest but don't miss Cooktown." The nice lady had been there that day and said "I think it is worth it."

St Mary's by the Sea

There isn't much to see of old Port Douglas, it has long been replaced by posh resort complexes, but this little old church was saved and repositioned picturesquely by the sea. I am sure it's a popular wedding destination and in fact the next day as we watched the sun set over the water we chatted to a lady on the bench beside us whose son had been married there that week.

Port Douglas

We moved on from Cairns to Port Douglas.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  It's well known as a tourist destination with that much photographed stretch of sand where the rainforest meets the reef. I found it to be modern, low rise, not overly busy and really quite pleasant in an up-market kind of way.

Reef trio

These were taken from the jetty at low tide. I found this much more successful for photographing the reef, though you do miss the swirling tentacles and pretty fish.

Green Island

The last time I was here 45 years ago the big thing to do in Cairns was to take a boat out to Green Island to view the reef.  I dislike boats and had low expectations of the trip but did it anyway for nostalgic reasons. We wandered around a little, ate a lot and took a short trip on the glass bottom boat. It was nigh on impossible to get decent shots of the reef or fish -- so sorry to disappoint you. I'll show you the best I could do tomorrow. By the way, this was a Sunday so should have been my day to follow the Road that Beckons but as this was a full day trip we ran out of time ... a shame, I had noticed a street called Toogood Street on the way into Cairns, it would have been a perfect choice.

Sky rail

We did the return journey via the Sky Rail which flies over the rainforest. Gives a nice view of Barren Gorge. I see the tropical rainforest has palms where the temperate rainforest of the Blue Mountains has tree ferns. And descends to impressive views over Cairns and the surrounding countryside. That was an exhilarating ride.

Karanda railway

Nearly every tourist does the railway trip up the mountains through the rainforest to Karanda.  We were no exception. It twists and turns its way up the mountain. Over steep gorges and past waterfalls. Barron falls have an impressive drop and an unimpressive amount of water flowing over them. I thought these ladies posing in front of the falls looked better. And eventually arrives at Karanda railway station, with its over-the-top display of greenery.


At last we reach Cairns where we found ourselves a park nestled near the rainforest.  Cairns is a tourist mecca - time to do some touristy things.

More crops

Isn't the sugar cane pretty.  And around here we begin to see bananas too.  Lots of Australia's bananas are grown around here.  When cyclones Larry and Yasi wiped out the banana plantations the price of bananas sky rocketed so we went without bananas for ages. That's one reason not to travel these parts in the summer, cyclones and buckets and buckets of rain.

Golden gumboot

This is the next 'big thing' of the trip. I saw a TV documentary on the controversy of its making.  What had me laughing is that I was looking for it and didn't even notice it when it was right under my nose.  If I hadn't been looking for a public toilet at the time I surely would have missed it. It rains a lot in Tully.  The height of that gumboot is 7.9 meters (311 inches), the Australian record rainfall (1950) in any one year.  And would you believe we've had sunshine all the way.

Bigger mountains

Okay I know I have already mentioned the mountains but I have to say they are getting even nicer.  Queensland's highest mountain Mount Bartel Frere is around here somewhere.

Royal Ingham

Royal Hotel, Ingham I found Ingham to be an awkward town but I discovered its one saving grace. And below is another contribution for the Royal Collection I received when I was away.  Sent in by Anne a friend of Diane.   Thank you Anne, sorry it has taken so long to post. Royal Hotel, Childers


Not being lovers of the city we pressed on past Townsville and settled into camp in time to watch the sunset over the water. I suspect that is a cane fire we can see in the distance. There seem to be a few places where cane is still burnt before harvesting or perhaps they are burning the chaff on the ground after harvesting, I noticed some of that happening.


Townsville is an elegant city overlooked at every turn by Castle Hill which you can see in the centre of this photo. My Mum was in the Army during the War and while she spent most of her time in Melbourne and Albury she was posted to Townsville towards the end and joined in the end of war celebrations here. Travelling up here I realise how much closer to home the war was in the north of Australia. I guess Castle Hill has watched over many changes since that time.

Sugar Mills

And all along the way the sugar mills are letting off steam.  

Burdikin River

The name of this river brought back memories of school days when we had to recall the names of all the key rivers in Queensland and know where to draw them on the map. There are lots of vans travelling north.  We've discovered it is not only Grey Nomad season it's school holidays so essential to book ahead.

How hot is it?

Remember a key objective of this trip is to find warmth.  While the mountains at home are shivering in days with 8C maximums, if you look carefully at the number at the top right of the car screen you will see here is it 28C. Given that we get just three or four days a year above 30C in the mountains, this is as hot a summer!

Sugar harvest

Oooo the cane harvest is starting.  Narrow gauge railway lines for cane trains criss-cross the county everywhere around here. I read that there is 4000 kilometres of them! Most cane is harvested green these days and chopped into short lengths by the harvesting machine.  Apparently cane has to get to the mill quite quickly after harvest and the trains facilitate quick delivery, though some is delivered by truck or the trucks carry the cane to the train and dump their load into the train carriages. What I am wondering -- if we travelled up here a few  months later would the landscape be bare?

Mango trees

Cultivated mango trees seem stunted.  I guess they keep them low for easier harvesting.


Many a country town paints their walls with murals in an attempt to make their drab surroundings tourist worthy, so I treated the idea of the murals a Bowen with scepticism.  However when I saw them I was very pleasantly surprised.  There were lots of them and all lovely.


Bowen is a lovely neat town with wide streets.  Down by the water where the jetty pokes into the sea we found a memorial to the Catalinas. My Dad flew up and down this coast for thousands of hours during the war.  I wonder if he had just a little time to enjoy the scenery like we did on our flight from Airlie Beach.

Big mango

We had to find a 'big thing' sometime.  We're at Bowen.  Bowen mangos are like Gayndah oranges, Stanthorpe apples and Kingaroy peanuts ... almost everyone in Queensland has heard of them.


Like these young German tourists we are jumping with joy, sad to say goodbye to this pretty spot.


At night we rest in the tropical warmth.

Last one

Looks like a pirate cove.


A respite from beauty overload.