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!
Ryne, Jenny and Cypress