A Travellerspoint blog

Cairns

sunny 31 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

16th December 2008

Oh how nice to be able to sleep in! Made it through until 11am - bliss!

I'm doing very little today except getting my underwater pictures produced and reading my book! All very boring.

This evening, Gayle, myself and Gayle's friend Maren decide on a trip to a good Aussie restaurant, Ochre, as it is all our last night on the East Coast with Gayle heading off to Singapore and myself and Maren heading off to Alice Springs.

Ochre is very plush and I'm feeling very much thrown back into work mode! Before I left work, myself and other female colleagues had a "Ladies Who Lunch" event going whereby every so often we'd head off out to a really good restaurant for an afternoon of eating, drinking and general merriment. Christmas times were always the best as we'd head off for cocktails and vodka shots... all very messy! So, I am disappointed to be missing out this year but to Ros, Deborah and Nicky, I have toasted you this evening with a very fine glass of Aussie Sauv Blanc and a great plate of scallops! You'd have been proud :) Maybe I haven't missed out after all!

Posted by KerryMc 21:25 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Great Barrier Reef

sunny 34 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

15th December 2008

On the basis that I was heading out onto the ocean, I wasn't at all pleased to be awoken by the sound of a thunderstorm... I had better get the 'travelcalm' out!

Got down to the wharf and checked onto my boat - Reef Magic - nice and early and had time to get a nice hot coffee and croissant and put a call into the folks. It seems the prospect of going out on the ocean on a storm is disturbing them more than me so I really must be chilling out!

As part of the package deal that I have booked which takes me out to spend a day on a pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef, I am eligible for an introductory dive - something that I am really looking forward to! Plus, I'm told that I can book to do a helicopter ride when I reach the pontoon out on the reef! Another definite must after my disappointment in the Whitsundays. There is also other activities on board like a sundeck, snorkelling, semi-submersible...

I fill out a questionnaire for my dive, including medical details and go and get my run through on how all the gear works... I'm raring to go having built myself up all morning to go through with it!!

So I'm thinking all is good when catastrophe strikes! The fact that I take a certain type of medication rules me out of the dive. There is no way they'll let me go, even if I sign a disclaimer. Gutted.

Oh well, all is not lost, I can do the helicopter ride instead.... Actually no I can't because in actual fact, you needed to book the helicopter on the boat, not the pontoon so its all fully booked. I miss out on that too.

I get myself one of the free cups of coffee and a piece of cake to console myself and I go and sit out of the way for a while, my bottom lip trembling from the disappointment and frustration over this and the Whitsundays. But, there is nothing I can do about it and so I can do one of two things. Sit and mope (which I probably would have done 12 months ago)... OR, get up, go and get some snorkelling gear and go find nemo. He's waiting for me!

And so I did - after a short interlude on a semi-submersible which took us around and about showing us underwater. I see a few reef tip sharks and plenty of characters from Finding Nemo (I'm sure they've all got special names but to me they are just all colourful!).

The reef itself has obviously seen better days. The pontoon here has been here a while and I suspect gets damaged from time to time so its not looking its best. However, that doesn't stop the fish being about and indeed the colours of the coral still being as vivid. Its such a peaceful world down there and I spend about an hour on and off just wandering around on the surface marvelling at the sights around me.

I'm adopted for the day by a family from England with two young boys who spend the day heading round and saying "hi kerry, bye kerry"... I'm reminded of Sean and Brendan back in Ireland! But its company and they look after me after having such a bad morning!

Having returned to Cairns, I head to look around the shops and can ignore the temptation of being opals no longer! I am now the proud owner of a new opal pendant but I'm not allowed to open it until I leave Australia - how rude!! I'm very pleased with it and I guess its only the money I would have spent on flights in the Whitsundays, a helicopter ride today and I'm sure I can think of other things I've saved money on... Thats how I justify it anyway!

I've got another day free tomorrow and after having a few busy days, I'm looking forward to a lie in!

Posted by KerryMc 20:50 Archived in Australia Tagged cruises Comments (0)

Kuranda

semi-overcast 34 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

14th December

Part of my booking in Cairns is that I get to head off out into the rainforest, well sort of! I had to do the tourist thing and joined a Vietnamese family and New Zealand man on a trip out to Kuranda and various other parts in the surrounding area.

Kuranda is situated up in the Tablelands behind Cairns and is accessible either via a scenic railway or cable car. I was going to be using both modes of transport (get me!) but that was about as much as I knew about my impending trip.

We collected at the station and was pushed out of the way when the train arrived and so didn't get a great seat which would allow for great scenery. Nevermind, I'm sure I'll get my own back at some point. Thankfully, I was sat by an English couple who were quite happy to let me steal a spot when there were some exceptional viewpoints.

Arriving in Kuranda I'm told I only have an hour to take a look at the shops - how rude! So rush round to look at all the craft market stalls and see if there is anything that takes my fancy... not really (am I sickening for something?).

We head back to meet our tour guide who then whisks us off to a coffee plantation (what exactly have I booked myself on??). Whilst the vietnamese are intent on learning the process from start to finish of making coffee, I'm happy to sit and relax in the heat (its much hotter inland!!) with an iced coffee thank you very much and marvel at the beauty of its cooling abilities rather than tasting mouldy coffee beans... what I did find amusing is that they export to Sainsburys!! Bless them!

From there we head on to the Granite Gorge - one of the highlights of my day! Despite the gorge itself being quite amazing - imagine huge boulders stuck out in the middle of nowhere with streams running through... its the gorge's inhabitants - the tame rock wallabies - who steal the charm! We're given food and I sit feeding a couple of wallabies for a while - as you do! One even has a little joey in its pouch who pops out every now and then to say hello! How cute!!

We head on back to Kuranda via a fruit shop (the Vietnamese go mad for the fresh lychees and tell me of all the places in Australia where I need to buy good fresh produce from....) and then jump on the skyrail cable car back towards Cairns. This is definitely a better way to travel - high over the rainforest (although not for those with vertigo problems!!). I'm relieved that we reach our destination before the storm that has been threatening most of the afternoon rolls in - they stop running it in electrical storms so you get stuck! - time to go back to the hostel.

They don't make storms like this at home!

Posted by KerryMc 02:03 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Cairns - Day 2

sunny 34 °C

13th December 2008

Oh lordy - a free day! I mean like a day where I can do anything - I can lie in, I can do nothing, I can read a book, I can go to the beach... oh the choices!!

I start by having a lie in - a definite must after my night out and given the long days of travelling for the past few weeks! Oh poor me!!

When booking my accommodation, I was completely unaware of the fact that it was positioned across the road from the major shopping mall - what a drama to have to deal with - so thought it would be rude not to take a trip over. Being Christmas in 12 days, there are hoards of local people intent on buying a bargain which I can quite happily sit and watch on the basis that I have no gifts to be buying this time around.. (that sounds quite sad doesn't it? I'm not worried though!!).

Wondering around I find a little store where I can get my UK phone fixed - saves me buying a new one at about 200 pounds! Yay! Decide to have a pitstop and choose to have a 'Sumo Salad' - what a phenomenon, why do we not have them in the UK?? They are the best!

Having conquered such delights, I feel that I can cope with an afternoon of James Bond. Daniel Craig is calling and having put him off until now, I'm getting irritated frankly at his incessant nagging that I have to go and watch his new movie... I'm most distressed that he totals the car in the first 5 minutes of the movie... I nearly walk out in disgust!

I get a text later on to say that Gayle has just arrived in town and is staying at my hostel too so we organise to meet for dinner and a night in the Cairns Night Markets. Lucinda joins us too and we have kangaroo steak - got to be done! The night markets are a little haven for souvenirs and what i'd call 'tat' presents. But with a large Far Eastern tourist population, it was inevitable to bump into my old pals... "you want massage" rings out through my ears again. Its time to escape quick! Even the shop assistants are persistent. I look at some black opals and the guy seems insistent on showing me every single piece, despite my protests that I can't afford the 3000 pound pricetag... I have grown averse to shopping it would seem! A fate worse than death!

Posted by KerryMc 01:40 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Cairns

semi-overcast 33 °C

12th December

All a bit of a faff really this morning - check out of the hostel by 8am to jump on the bus, to jump on the ferry to jump on the bus again... getting used to lugging these bags around but am sure I'll pay for it in another life! Note to self - find good chiropractor when I get home!!

This is my last day on the Oz Experience bus! Its gone so quickly! Squirtle is our chauffeur again and takes us on through to Cairns - another 500km (I'm really racking up those miles now!) or so.

We stop off to take pictures as we enter cassowary country (big birds that are ready to do damage...) - there are some pretty funny road signs to take advantage of! Heading onto Cairns via Mission Beach - a stop I'm not going to make but previously would have done had it not been for my need to get a break from being on the road!

In actual fact, I'm not too disappointed to not be stopping in Mission Beach as it seems there isn't a great deal to do other than sky dive from 14,000 ft... not today!

The lands have changed drastically on our journey further north from fields of sugar cane to mass rainforest which drops from high hills down to the ocean's edge. The weather has changed to a sticky heat with a fair amount of cloud cover... just as well I got my afternoon of sunbathing in!

Our last stop on the bus is another OzE organised tour - a croc farm! Being sat right at the front of the bus was always a good plan until the owner of the bus comes aboard with 'Fluffy', a baby crocodile - the name is pretty deceptive right? I've realised I'm not bothered by this fact which is probably just as well because with me sat down and the lady owner standing up, Fluffy is being held about 10cm from my face... It could have gone so horribly wrong! I even got a "well done you, you're brave" from the woman as I got up to encounter the bigger crocs! I feel quite proud...

The croc farm was crazy! They are reared here for commercial purposes - i.e. for their meat and skin to be sold on but they are also sent here when they are classed as 'problem crocs', i.e. when they attack or eat people... Oh joy!

There are also plenty of other Aussie animals to encounter like wallabies which we can hand feed, emus, cassowaries and dingoes. I was in my element when I got to hold a baby dingo... who said they were fierce?? I want to take one home!! Oh and a baby roo - they have an orphanage for the kangaroos / wallabies when they are rejected or found in the wild alone... how cute!

The guys on the farm show us 'feeding time' for the crocs... just like watching Steve Irwin - his legend lives on. Those crocs really do pack a punch and I wouldn't want to mess with one - certainly not of the size that we encountered!

Time to get back on the bus for our final stretch. I arrive in Cairns and stay in the nicest hostel yet. Its like a mini motel with a pool, spa... I'm glad I've chosen to stay extra nights here!!!

Tonight, Squirtle has organised an end of tour bash at one of the bars in town so I force myself (!!) to go and join them! I get chatting to likeminded travellers Kate, Shaun and Lucinda and feel like I'm in some Club 18-30 timewarp where the bar are asking people to play 'games'... I watched on with smug maturity... oh how I wish that sometimes I wasn't so sensible! I have a good laugh with the crowd but can't help feeling for poor Kate and Shaun who need to be up at 5am for a flight to Alice Springs... and its 2am as I'm returning to my hostel!

Posted by KerryMc 00:58 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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