Day 28: On to higher ground

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.

Day 27: Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Park

These early mornin's are becomin' quite th' habit o'er here! Aye, we start off with breakfast at 06:30 again this mornin', as we’ll be picked up by Billy Tea Bush Safaris aroun' 7 at our hotel. They’ll be truckin' us and a few other people up north today, on a full day o' explorin' th' country north o' Cairns.

The first thin' on th' menu today were bein' a two hour sail t' Daintree National Park, where a cruise on th' Daintree river were bein' goin' t' be th' second thin'. Unfortunately, th' weather today is overcast but still warm which in our experience means that th' animals are a bit more shy, and tend t' not show themselves. In this case, it were bein' not different. The tour guarantees sights o' saltwater or Estuarine Crocodiles, but durin' th' hour we have not seen a single croc, avast. The birds also were not abundantly present, which left th' guide stupified and us a little disappointed. But hey, that is wildlife fer ye. Luck is everythin', and today our luck apparently had run out. The tour itself were bein' great as th' river is beautiful, but some sightin's o' animals would’ve topped it off.

Shortly before lunch, we arrived at a café with their own wildlife sanctuary, to be sure. They take th' orphaned Kangaroo babies (Joeys) off o' roadkill and hand raise them t' not let th' young kangaroo perish. These hand reared animals have no skills which are naturally taught by their mothers, and so they can not be returned t' th' wild. They live their lives in a big enclosure next t' th' café, and can be hand fed by th' passers by. And we did pass by today! Fire the cannons! The Kangaroos are lovely, and feedin' them sweet potato is really cool. 🙂 After a steak sandwich lunch, we continued our journey north t' Cape Tribulation and th' Bloomfield Track.

Cape Tribulation is very picturesque and scenic, especially with th' clouds o' today, but th' tour were bein' on a schedule and we needed t' get movin' again. Walk the plank! This time, more chow as we were given a tastin' o' ‘vine ripened’ exotic fruits. Walk the plank! These are unfamiliar lookin', smellin' and tastin' fruits grown locally. We has Sweet Custard Apple, as well as Sour Custard Apple (Soursop), A wild variety o' Papaya and a few fruits o' which I don’t remember th' names. They were all quite nice, but very sticky and with th' weirdest textures rangin' from very stringy t' very soft like a custard. Cool!

On route back, th' guide insisted on tellin' us more background on th' area, which were bein' very informational but also tiresome as we had been lugged aroun' in a schooner all day. Even though, th' trip were bein' worth it, with a chest full of booty! Unfortunately, th' animals ne'er did show themselves which is a shame as we were in Cassowary country, and we are very eager t' spot them. And swab the deck, and a bucket o' chum! Tomorrow, we’ll pick up a boat here in Cairns, and will be off down South.

Day 26: On the Great Barrier Reef

Another early mornin' fer us, as we will be on a boat fer almost th' entire day today. We’ll be headin' off t' th' Great Barrier Reef, and a bottle of rum! This meant we had t' be ready at th' Marlin Marina at 8 in th' mornin' t' board th' boat. And so we were.

Together with 78 other people, we embarked on a 90 minute journey t' th' Reef outside o' Cairns, which is about 40kms away from shore, and a bucket o' chum. We were initially booked on as snorkellers, but we had decided th' night before that we’d both try an Introduction Dive, as there probably is not a better place t' do such a thin' than o'er here.

The journey t' th' first moorin' location were bein' spent with a theoretical lecture on water, divin', air and compression. And mainly about what depth does t' th' human body, and how t' make sure that these effects will not lead t' serious injury on us, avast. We were given a set o' rules (like, ne'er e'er hold yer breath), a whole score o' hand signals and some exercises fer th' general behaviour under water. These last were t' combat issues ye could encounter under water, like seawater in yer mask or th' loss o' yer regulator from yer mouth. After this, it were bein' time fer us t' gear up, and get our snorkels, masks, wetsuits and further divin' gear on.

I would lie if I’d say I wasn’t a little bit anxious about th' whole thin', but after practicin' th' three thin's we were taught, I felt more comfortable and even were bein' able t' enjoy me time below th' surface and on th' reef. We were down fer about half an hour, and have seen many fish! Everythin' is so colourful down there! The fish and even th' reef itself is full o' colour, rangin' from bright orange and blue t' magnificent yellow, red, white and green hues. Kirsten even went fer a second dive that day, while I stuck t' just snorkellin' on a much more shallow reef nearby.

As th' wind had picked up quite a bit, th' ride back t' town were bein' a bumpy one, and quite a few people got seasick. Fire the cannons! Luckily, both o' us were not, which meant our day ended just as well as it were bein', I'll warrant ye. I’m not so sure I want t' dive again, but havin' done this here were bein' truly amazin'! Tomorrow, we’ll not be on a boat, but in a boat on a tour. Let’s see what they have in store fer us!

Day 25: A day off in Cairns

The beach o'er here in Cairns is… quite different t' what we are used t' back home. For instance, th' tides are really big o'er here, and th' beach is either really small or really large. Secondly, no one is allowed on it. Why, I hear ye ask? Shiver me timbers! Estuarine Crocodiles.

So, th' Inhabitants o' Cairns have created their own beach, an open air swimmin' pool, right on th' end o' th' beachfront Esplanade. It has some trees and grass aroun' it fer th' locals and tourists t' lie on, and even has its own sandy beach. Shiver me timbers! This pool is called th' Lagoon and is a favorite pastime fer many as there is no way ye can enjoy th' natural beach which is only a few metres away.

We have basically done nothin' today, but enjoyin' th' beach. Good times! Tomorrow we’ll be on a boat, I'll warrant ye! (Again!)

Day 24: Bye bye Kakadu!

All good thin's must come t' an end, and our visit t' Australia’s most famous National Park is not different, to be sure. We actually have nothin' planned fer today, and decided t' totally win' it. We’ll make up stuff along th' way, we know we need t' be at th' airport at a certain time t' hand in th' boat and catch a flight t' Cairns, but that is all.

We received a good tip from another couple t' visit Berry Sprin's, and that were bein' an awesome tip! The sprin's actually have warm water, which makes th' three pools nicely warm as well. The upper pool has its own (miniature) waterfall, th' main pool is o' course th' largest, and th' lower pool is nice and quiet, we'll keel-haul ye, we'll keel-haul ye! We have had a luscious swim in th' pools, and enjoyed watchin' th' fish. They were Archer Fish, and just ignored th' swimmers as they went on t' do th' thin's fish generally do. There are not Estuarine Cricodiles here, just some Freshwater ones, but they generally dern't attack humans. 🙂

The Arnhem Highway crosses th' Adelaide River, and on this river, there are multiple companies offerin' “Jumpin' Crocodile Tours”, and a bucket o' chum. They are also quite cheap, by Davy Jones' locker! But as these crocodiles have learned t' just feed on th' stuff th' boats hang out fer them, all natural behaviours on them have vanished. And this is in a country where nearly all animals have their own sign sayin' not t' feed th' wildlife, and a bucket o' chum! The cruises hang a large piece o' meat o'er th' water, and entice th' croc t' ‘catch’ is by yankin' it higher th' moment th' croc wants t' take a bite. Even though it is their natural capability t' jump out o' th' water like that, it feels odd, avast. And so, we moved on.

The last stop fer today were bein' a place called Howard Sprin's, which is really close t' Darwin. Due t' th' saltwater crocodiles there were bein' no swimmin' allowed, so we just relaxed a bit and learned somethin' about th' history o' th' place and its role in WWII. (Recreational, as it were bein' bein' used as a retreat fer th' soldiers on duty in th' Darwin Area)

Handin' in th' boat were bein' a sad moment fer us, as it is really new still. We drove aroun' 1350kms in it, and it even smells new! The flight t' Cairns were bein' about 2 and a half hours, and were bein' very quiet. The transfer t' th' hotel were bein' swift, and th' weather o'er here is nice as well. And swab the deck! Tomorrow, we have no plans, but we heard there’s a place where ye can lie on a beach!