Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Far North - Cairns

As well as being the 'gateway to the Great Barrier Reef', Cairns, in northern Australia, is a beautiful tropical paradise.

There are some beautiful beaches in the area but there's only one small problem - deadly stinging irukandji jellyfish which means that NO ONE goes anywhere near the water at this time of year! This particular type of jellyfish is very small (1 cubic cm) but very venomous and Cairns reported its first victim of the season a few days ago. Luckily she survived and was released from the hospital.
So, beautiful but abandoned beaches.

It's quite hot here (30+) but not as humid as Bali.  Fortunately we have a pool at our apartment and downtown Cairns has a beautiful large lagoon (pool). One other nice feature of Cairns is the Esplanade, a 2 km strip park all the way down the water's edge. It's a very clean, well maintained park, with a large children's play area, various exercising areas and many, many beautiful trees (lots of banyans) full of red and blue birds (rainbow lorakeets) or perhaps giant fruit bats; groups of pelicans by the marina. The downtown area is mostly restaurants, gelato bars and tour operators - a real holiday/party atmosphere. Ross managed to find both the Irish pubs!

There is a huge area of tropical rainforest just north of Cairns where there is a sky rail (gondola) and train ride through the rain forest. We opted to rent a car for the day and hiked down to the Barron Gorge just near the small town of Kuranda. The Barron Gorge is over 250 meters high and becomes quite a rushing torrent during the rainy season. The rainy season has technically started although we have seen very little rain during our time here. In fact, I'm considering ditching my rain coat that I brought as it's taking up precious suitcase space!

I continue to be amazed at the wide range of fruits and unusual birds and animals. It's obviously mango season - not only can you buy them for $2, if you manage to find a tree by the side of the road you can just pick them up off the ground, which Mike has done several times now.  It's like being in some kind of paradise! Also saw a herd (?) of wallabies on our drive back into Cairns. Smaller than a kangaroo but very similar looking.

We drove farther past Kuranda to the Daintree Rainforest and took a cruise along a mangrove lined river. It was pretty quiet in terms of wildlife since it was mid-day, but we did manage to spot one crocodile lurking by the water's edge.

And this elegant great egret.

Next up....Great Barrier Reef.

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