Joe and Anne Cooper|
Diving and Sailing and the Rainforest - Oh My! (Q)
Cairns and the Rainsforest
Cains was hot, humid and wet. When we arrived, there was a tropical depression hitting the area bringing the hot humid and wet weather with it. We rented a car and drove up to the Cape Tribulation, Daintree Rainforest area for a couple of nights. To get the true rainforest experience, we went on a night walk (yes, walking around in a creepy rainforest at night - I think Anne might deserve some Spectacular Wife Award for indulging me in that) we saw a lot of spiders, 'dragons' (aka lizards) and a very large python up on a vine - yikes! The next day we completed a jungle surf on the rain forest canopy where we were strapped into harnesses and swung on a cable form tree to tree. It was a bit more tame than it sounds but quite fun none the less. We aslo treated ourselves to our Christmas present which was a massage at a great spa.
We made our way back to Cairns in time to go on our dive trip. We chose a 4 day / 3 night livaboard scuba dive trip on the Taka dive boat. The crew were great and the food too - the weather held out so we could dive but the visibility wasn't as awesome as it usually is. We managed to complete 12 dives on the trip which included two night dives. The best dive sight was called Steve's Bommie. We saw a baby white tipped reef shark in his little cave as well as a stone fish, clown fish tons of coral and other beautiful fish.
After the boat trip we had a couple of days to kill before we picked up our camper van. We did a day trip up to the tablelands area in Karunda. There was a Scenic Railway ride on an old fashioned train with great views of the sea, rainforrest and the Barron Falls. Karunda is a day trip tourist town with a few boardwalks and a cute strip of streets with kitschy shops and restaurants. We had a yummy sandwich at the Queen Bee and then took a cable car from the top of the rainforest (above the canopy) back down to the bottom of the tablelands and a bus back to Cairns.
Airlie Beach and the Whitsundy Islands
Life in the van starts now. We picked up our camper van (picture: larger than a VW, smaller than the A-Team van) and started to drive south in the pouring rain. We stopped in to Townsville and had a nice day over at Magnetic Island before heading on to Airlie Beach. Unfortunately the cyclone was following us and Queensland was having the wettest wet season in 10 years! So we strategically timed our Whitsundy sailing cruise to coincide with a break in the storm, which left us a couple of days to tour around before we took off sailing. We went up to Joe's old stomping grounds - Eungula National Park -for some platypus spotting. On the way out of Eungula we almost got stranded in a massive 'puddle' that stretched over 2km along the road. We held our breath and followed a car ahead of ours as we inched our way through it and emerged unharmed.
Good weather was worth the wait for our Whitsundy trip. We boarded the Anaconda III with 15 other passengers. The Whitsundy Islands, with turqouise water, white sand beaches and great snorkelling made for a lovely sail. We met some great friends that we saw several times more as we made our way down the coast - the Giant and the Irish Girls were a ton of fun. The weary Anaconda Crew and their salty dog captain, not so much.
Mon Repos - Tickling Turtles
On our way to Fraser Island we stopped in to Mon Repos for a little turtle view'in. Although there are many places we would have liked to stay longer on our trip, the campground at Mon Repos is the one that stands out the most. We arrived around 5pm in the evening and left a mere 13 hours later, yet managed to make several friends, watch a loggerhead turtle bury her eggs in the sand and help hundreds of hatchlings make their way to the sea by way of the light on our headlamps. Who knew it would tickle so much when tiny turtles scurry across your feet! The reason we had to make such a hasty exit was that we had to get to Fraser Island for our 4WD adventure.