All I Want for Christmas is…Fuel!

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We had a fantastic stay around Cairns! I think Cypress enjoyed it the most! The children amenities were outstanding. The 3km long waterfront park, called the Esplanade, had a large pool and a kiddie water park that Cy loved! He loved splashing around the water with the other kids! The water front is or was mangroves and at low tide there are mud flats which are peppered with shorebirds.
We booked a reef trip to Michaelamas Cay with Ocean Spirit. We chose this Cay because it is clad in nesting sea birds (common noddy, brown booby, crested tern, sooty terns). We had a fantastic time snorkeling, beach walking, bird watching and indulging in the delicious lunch buffet. A submarine ride was included in the tour, so Cy oohed and awed at the big colorful fish and corals this way. The sub went out twice, so one of us took Cy in the sub and the other went snorkeling. Fun had by all, but boy was it pricey! A perfect day!

We spent the last 3 days exploring the Atherton tablelands – very large, gently undulating region dominated by cattle ranches and agriculture (fertile soils loom here from volcanic history). And we are taking full advantage of the profuse of fresh local produce! Mangos, watermelon, lychee, bananas and tomatoes abound! I especially love the self serve fruit stands. They are based on the honesty method, just leave money In a box! Sadly, only about 10% of the rainforest was untouched here, thus we spent our time in these islands of green. We saw many endemic species like the golden bower bird who pops out like a ray of sunshine in the dimly lit sunshine-starved Forest understory. It was super cool to see him at his lovely lichen and yellow flower adorned bower, built especially for the female. One female must have liked his style indeed because she came in for a peek. In just a blink of an eye, the male seemly attacked her, but we assume they mated!!

A Christmas Story:

We should have fueled up before going up a remote mountain on Christmas Eve. We counted on filling up at Mt. Molloy, but the easy to miss fuel station was closed. There was a hand written sign that said “closed 24 Dec. until 12 January. Merry Christmas.” We had a moment of panic and then checked our maps and guide books. The nearest town was 40 km away and we’d be going that way in the morning and we figured we had enough gas to get there, but will they be open on Christmas Day? I guess we’d find out. We camped nearby at a free car park make shift campground. It was surprisingly nice with free showers. The next morning we drove slow mainly to car-bird. We saw some nice birds like pale headed rosellas, red wing parrot and Australian bustard. We made it to Mt. Carbine and must have blinked because all of sudden there was that huge green sign with towns and distances. The next town was 80 km away and we certainly couldn’t make it that far on empty! Yikes! Maybe we passed the gas station? We turned around and stopped at the only building on the side of the road. It was vacant and closed! Okay, now I’m panicking but only on the inside because I have a way of keeping my wits about me in these kinds of situations. The road we were on was not heavily trafficked but I flagged down all of the 3 cars that passed by while ryne started walking toward a car park we passed a couple of km back. No one had fuel and the town we were in wasn’t even really a town, there was one bar and a house as far as I could see. Ryne came back and said lets go to the car park, the man down the street said sometimes they have fuel there. We arrive at the car park/campground and it was more like an rv / trailer home community than a car park. Anyway, we found the office and yes the tall, lanky up-in-years owner had fuel! He just got it yesterday and had gotten extra just in case…Merry Christmas to us! Phew! And a critical lesson learned! Into the wilds we go! We had a lovely day exploring the montane rainforest on mount Lewis! I cooked up mashed potatoes and local fish for dinner plus kiwi and mango for desert.
Our time on the east coast and Atherton tablelands has come to a close. A bitter sweet end, but now we start the next leg of our trip – the vast and alluring outback!!

Merry Christmas family and friends! Moms and Dads-hope your enjoying sunny Florida!
Cheers,
Ryne, Jenny and Cypress

Rainforest and Platypuses

G’day! We are having a glorious time exploring Australia’s east coast!! We are also loving our spaceship, dubbed Crazy Keith! It’s so convenient having a home on wheels! Cy also enjoys it as he goes bananas whenever he gets the chance to romp around on our bed!

We have visited a plethora of awesome places! The diverse habitat and unique fauna we have experienced in just two short weeks have been mind blowing and so enjoyable! We recently visited Eungella National Park near Mackay, Queensland and were treated with exceptional views of a platypus, a unique egg-laying mammal! This was on mine and Rynes most wanted to see list! Such an odd little creature, it was thrilling to glimpse him surface in the river! For just a few seconds, I could see his brown plump furry body, webbed duck like feet, white eye and that strange rubbery bill! Interestingly, they are teetless even though they are mammals! They still produce milk, but it drips out from their abdomen!!

Currently, we are in Townsville, Queensland, officially in the tropics! We crossed north of the Tropic of Capricorn on Monday. Thus, at 20 degrees latitude south, in mid December, we are receiving more solar radiation than anywhere on the planet! (in other words, it dangerously HOT here!!).

We visited the Whitsunday region today. This was a gorgeous place where jungle clad mountains met the ocean with mangroves and some white sandy beaches. It was a spontaneous stop so we only stayed a few hours. It was far too hot to do anything at the beach so we took a walk at Conway National Park.

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Cypress looking for corals at Whitsunday.

We are headed towards Cairns to explore the Great Barrier Reef next!!

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Sweet Sydney

Dec. 2, Day 1
G’day!
We arrived in Sydney at 8:38 AM, tired, excited and emotional. As we flew in over Sydney we had an incredible view, tears started welling up in my eyes as well as Rynes! I was in disbelieve that we were at what seemed to be an intangible place. Now it’s reality, our life for the next 4 months. Glorious Australia!

The plane ride was hellish, but we made it without a hitch! I went the whole night without sleep because it’s impossible to get comfortable in a dinky seat that reclines 2 inches, plus I had to make sure Cypress didn’t roll off my lap! He did great despite waking up every few hours perplexed that he wasn’t in his usual comfy bed. The Taxi ride from the airport to spaceship rental was 20 minutes and $60 Aus, thankfully the rental place paid. My head was foggy and I had an extreme headache plus nausea. I tried to pay attention as the Aussie explained details of our new house on wheels. Much smaller than I envisioned, but clean and recently serviced. We loaded our mountain of belongings in, closed the doors…oh no… The sliding door just fell off! And if this wasn’t bad enough, the van wouldn’t start! The Aussie got a battery and jumped us and told us to drive to the auto shop, which was literally next door. The mechanic fixed the door and changed the battery in less than 2 minutes and we we’re out of there! Thank goodness because I was roasting! Yay, AC works exceptionally well! Although I planned on driving, I couldn’t due to my ailing condition. Ryne took the wheel and he did very well! I laughed every time he tried to signal his right or left turns, he turned on his wipers instead (They drive on the left side of the road and everything in the van is opposite). We got a few groceries like bread, jam, fruit, carrots and eggs and headed to Royal National Park just an hours drive south of Sydney.
My first impression of Sydney was a cross between Florida and coastal Southern California. Several palms and low shrubby trees with small foliage covered the landscape. The air was thick, humid and stifling hot!
At our campsite, we were greeted by sulphur crested cockatoos, raucous parrots and other small birds. There was also 20 plus 5th graders camping near us and I found their accent to be quite hilarious! “Do you reckon the tide will come in soon?” Another little girl says ” no, I don’t reckon the tide will come in.” Cypress was soon playing happily with a 15 month old Aussie girl named Daisy near a water spigot!
Day 2. Today we woke at dawn, 5:20 after going to bed at 8 PM. We all went into comas and felt refreshed when we woke! I haven’t slept that deep in years! It felt wonderful! We started day 2 taking a walk and birdwatching. We saw a beautiful crimson Rosella, a big parrot and I spotted our first snake on the trail after Ryne stepped over it. We assumed it was venomous and let it be after taking a picture.
Then we hiked through beautiful eucalyptus forest with HUGE trees! We watched superb lyrebirds, a lace monitor lizard and more.
We happened to stumble upon a gem of a place called Watamolla and went for a swim. It felt so good to put our toes in the sand!
We are on top of the Blue Mountains now and are on our way to the outback, so it might be a while before our next post.
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