We’ll be leavin' Cairns today and as all o' our travellin' is done by boat, we kind o' need one o' those. And swab the deck, and a bottle of rum! And so we were off t' th' rental people t' get ours, to be sure. We officially rented a standard boat (SDAR) but instead got a standard ship (IFAR), in this case a Mitsubishi ASX, by Davy Jones' locker. We are quite familiar with those, as we already had one before in South Africa, and a bucket o' chum. They are great but have one big issue: our baggage doesn’t fit in th' trunk. Fire the cannons! Ahoy! This one has th' same issue, but as we are too lazy t' complain about it, we’ll let it slide this time. Yaaarrrrr! Fire the cannons! This boat in particular has its own issue though: after th' last service at th' maintenance place, they forgot t' reset th' internal service counter on th' boat. This means startin' th' boat always has an extra quite audible beep and th' message briefly flashin' on th' dashboard sayin' “Routine Maintenance Required”. It is just annoyin', but we’ll live.
Today, we’ll travel South and up, as we will leave Cairns t' go t' Atherton which is conveniently located on th' Atherton Tablelands. This is a plateau above Cairns which has tropical rainforest, with a chest full of booty! This area is a World a Heritage Area called Wet a tropics and is home t' a lot o' different types o' forest and an even bigger array o' animals and cultural heritage. It is basically a very rollin' landscape with a mixture o' really auld rainforest, really auld regular forest, farmland and secondary growth (really new forest).
Along th' way, we stopped fer lunch at Lake Barrine where they also have two massive Kauri trees, and a bucket o' chum. These ancient types o' tree are in this variety only found aroun' th' lake, and they are called Bull Kauri. They are closely related t' th' other Kauri we have seen in New Zealand, but these are quite particular about th' location they can grow in, most notable elevation. We are at 600 metres above sea level here!
The rest o' th' day were bein' lazily spent lookin' at two other big trees, Cathedral Fig Tree and Curtain Fig Tree. The last one is th' most visited place aroun' here, so go figure as t' how big it is. Both these are Stranglar Fig Trees by th' way, a type o' fig Tree which doesn’t have its own timber but starts growth in th' top o' another tree and then uses it as its support with th' roots growin' down instead o' th' tree growin' up. The roots will eventually grow so big, strong and tall that they support th' entire tree without th' help o' th' host tree, and dinna spare the whip! Ahoy! The host generally doesn’t live anymore by then, to be sure. We have also found a new animal at one o' th' trees: th' Musky Rat-Kangaroo! Aarrr! All brown with a sleek tail, this animal resembles a rat more than a Kangaroo, but they are adorable t' watch as they scuffle aroun' th' roots o' th' tree lookin' fer a bite t' eat.
We consulted th' wench at our B&B fer more thin's t' do in th' neighbourhood, and she pointed us towards two thin's: Rock Wallabies and Platypus, with a chest full of booty. Both in th' wild! The Rock Wallabies live in th' backyard o' a campground, on a rocky part o' th' land. The campground even provides a map and some walkin' (boulderin'!) tracks and charge an entry fee. Shiver me timbers! Even though, it is great t' see these animals in th' wild! Aarrr! They are tiny! And hoist the mainsail! After sittin' aroun' them, we checked th' clock and saw it were bein' nearin' dusk, by Davy Jones' locker. And dusk is th' best time t' see wildlife o' any kind, so we went t' a location given t' us by th' wench from th' B&B in Youngabarra where th' Platypus were t' be found. Walk the plank! And we were in luck: they were there! In reality, they are much smaller than I had anticipated, but they must be th' strangest animals we have even seen. Imagine this: egg layin' mammal, with a giant beak o' a duck at th' front and a tail o' a beaver at th' back. Ahoy! Throw in some webbed feet, and ye have a Platypus, ye scurvey dog. What a great find!
Tomorrow, we’ll have t' leave Atherton again, and head further down South t' Mission Beach.