Next up on the itinerary is the area around Cairns (which is pronounced kanz). It’s the most northern stop on our Australia tour. Unfortunately I’ve decided to become sick. Nothing serious just much coughing and congestion. Probably related to going from 35 C to air conditioning and back while at Ayers Rock. The flight here wasn’t a ton of fun with plugged ears and such, but I’ll be fine in a day or two.

We’re staying at Pacific Hotel Cairns which is in the heart of Cairns, close to the harbour and the Cairns Esplanade which one can find dozens of restaurants and shops.

After checking in, we went for a walk to find something to eat and settled on Barnacle Bills for some bouillabaisse and risotto. Both excellent. Like many of our stops, it’s busy here. Lots of folks out and about enjoying the weather.

Daintree National Park

Up early for a 6:30 am pickup for a trip to the rainforest. Frank, our guide picked us up and we headed north with a stop in Port Douglas to pick up three other couples. It’s a little over an hour to Port Douglas along a very scenic (and somewhat curvy) coastal highway.

After collecting the other members of our group for the day, we headed towards the rainforest. We travelled beside sugar cane farms as we made our way to the town of Mossman to pick up supplies for morning tea.

The first stop was at Crocodile Express Lower Daintree Cruises for an hour cruise on the Daintree river. It’s not the perfect time of year, nor was the weather really cooperating for us to see the alligators that live in the river. It was overcast and a bit rainy and the water temperature was close to the air temperature so there isn’t much incentive for the alligators to be out of the water. We did see one swimming briefly before it submerged into the water. It was pleasant and we did see a few interesting birds but no real croc sightings.

Meeting the tour van on the other side of the river (it having taken the ferry), we made our way to Thornton Beach for a tea break. Tea included huge pieces of Lamington cake which is this very tasty, light cake with coconut on all sides of each piece.

Our first of two walks for the day was through a coastal rainforest at Cape Tribulation. Frank is very knowledgeable as he described the forest ecosystem a number of the plants and trees that we were seeing. The walk is an easy one along a boardwalk, but does cover a wide variety of interesting things to see and read about.

Lunch at Lync Haven included a chance to hang out with some wallabies that have been rescued.

Our second walk was preempted by a stop at FloraVilla ice cream that makes their own ice cream using local ingredients. Very tasty.

The second walk was at an inland portion of the rainforest. Only a short distance away from the coast, but quite different from the types of trees and plants we saw on the coastal one.

We drove back to Port Douglas, dropped the other members of the group off and headed back to the hotel. Frank mentioned in passing that he was doing a tour in India in January. I grabbed one of his cards to get his website. He’s an interesting fellow. Originally born in Switzerland, raised in South Africa, he travelled four four years in the late seventies before settling in Australia.

My cold did not improve throughout the day and by the end, I was quite tired and stuffed up. Sleep was non existent for me and I opted to stay at the hotel, missing out on the Barrier Reef day of our trip. Deanna headed out though so hopefully I can convince her to write a bit about her day as mine included much coughing, laundry and Netflix which really, nobody needs to hear about.

Great Barrier Reef

Today was pretty exciting for me. After the camel ride in Ayers Rock this was so cool. I have dreamed about coming to Australia for so long and two things I’ve dreamt about is the GBR and the ZOO! I mean how many people can say they’ve swam the Great Barrier Reef? Todd was up all night coughing with a cold he caught while in Ayers Rock cuz it was so hot we needed the A\C on. We aren’t used to A\C so this is what happens. Ugh!

I joined a group of 65 people on a large catamaran and went out about an hour plus to the Reef. It was rough going so good thing I took my gravol. Some people signed up for scuba diving but I’m happy with snorkelling. We had to wear wet suits to protect us from the “jellies”, I didn’t see any tho. Guides took us out to the reef in groups then you could go on your own if you wished. The water was pretty murky and rough so it was hard to see much. We had a buffet lunch while there on the boat then headed to another spot that was much better. There was lots to see. Coral and fish of all sizes and colours. Tiny bright blue fish, fish that looked like zebras but with a yellow back. The coral was green, yellow and orange\brown but I think I saw purple as well. There was one turtle we saw. It was really cool and did I mention they had prescription goggles!! WOW!! I could see without my glasses. While snorkeling I could see the divers about 6’ below me. Then it was an hour back over some rough water, we got soaked just sitting on the boat.

I got back to hotel at 445 and Todd was looking better. He took it easy and did some laundry in the hotel. I had a quick power nap then we headed out to eat. Italian tonight. When I travel and need comfort food after awhile and I either crave nachos or something tomato saucy. So I had lasagna and Todd had a huge plate of spaghetti with tons of fish. There was a street full of every type of restaurant you could think of and every place was packed. Since arriving in Australia everywhere we go there are tons of people. Not sure if they are locals or tourists.