Sunday, 14 July 2013
Arriving in Cairns on June 14 - just in time to settle in, catch up with Bob & Carol Dixon from back home and head out to pre-dinner drinks at Cairns RSL Club (www.cairnsrsl.com.au) - in a fabulous position on The Esplanade; right across the road from the waterfront. The Club is currently undergoing refurbishment. What has been completed already - the front bar - has a really sumptuous feel with floor to (very high) ceiling windows which open all the way, giving a real open-air sensation. We then strolled along the Esplanade which is lit to show off the palms and other tropical plants to best advantage. About mid-way along there is a 'Night Market' with all the usual offerings and a 'cheap & cheerful' food court with a dozen or more bistro style eateries - mainly Asian cuisine - where we had a good meal and watched the passers-by, most of whom were tourists like ourselves.
The staff at Cairns Coconut Resort (cairns-coconut-caravan-resort.qld.big4.com.au) are very welcoming, very knowledgeable and very helpful. There was simply nothing too much trouble.
The view from under the awning, at Cairns Coconut Resort Caravan Park
Our second outing was to Barlow Park on Sunday to see our beloved
play Round 14 against the Titans. A game, of course, we won 30-24. As season Members, we would normally be able to attend all home games as part of our ticket package. This game however, although a home game, was to cost $68 EACH for a 'grandstand' seat. Seat, yes; grandstand, no. Well technically it was called the grandstand but the roof was at least 30 metres to our left and 20 metres behind. Oh well, never mind - we saw the Bunnies play & win and we were part of the atmosphere.
For most of our stay in Cairns we were chauffeured admirably by Bob (& sometimes Caroline) - mainly I think because their 4WD is much more comfortable than ours - especially for back-seat passengers.
Monday we popped in to the local shopping centre - Mount Sheridan - to catch up on the groceries. Whilst there we thought we should try to see a doctor to update some scripts, expecting to wait - as we would at home - anything up to a couple of weeks before we could see someone. Lo & behold we could have seen a doctor straight away but because we didn't have the paperwork from our own Doctor we made an appointment for early the next morning. At the same time we booked an appointment with the local Dentist - once again virtually immediately, something quite unheard of in our neck of the woods. Both medicos were very professional and easy to deal with, making Gordon feel comfortable straight away. The most uncomfortable part being that he had to have a tooth extracted which took Monday/Tuesday out of the loop for sightseeing, whilst he recovered.
Wednesday was another trip back in my memory - to Green Island. Unfortunately it did not live up to expectations in some ways. The Underwater Observatory, which had opened not long before my last (and only prior) visit in the late 1960s, had been condemned as a building but because it now had coral growing on it, it couldn't be 'interfered with' in any way because it was now part of the Great Barrier Reef itself and as such totally protected.
The 'Semi-Sub' which replaced the Underwater Observatory
Now, in order to see the inner reef and some of its fishes, most of the tour companies offer - as part of the Cairns to Green Island fare - snorkelling and/or 'semi-sub' trips. In hindsight, I should have made a more concerted effort to overcome my claustrophobia and given snorkelling a try. But I just can't see myself being comfortable with my nose covered, something shoved in my mouth, & trying to
(?)swim at the same time. I mean, the only water I'm truly comfortable in is in my bathtub! And to do all this in public! Honestly! But we did take the tour in the semi-sub, and although it was very close quarters, the fish swimming all around us and the 'ooh looks' coming from other passengers kept us enthralled & my mind off the confined space. The trip was not long and although the water wasn't as clear as it might have been, there were many photos taken and memories stored.
Underwater Fish & Reefs from Semi-Sub
Following that little jaunt, we ventured off to explore the island. Green Island is a very small (approx. 15 hectares) coral cay - in fact the only coral cay located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. And the only coral cay with a rainforest. There has been a boardwalk constructed which meanders through the rainforest, with glimpses of the crystal clear blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
White Sandy Beaches, Pristine Waters & Far Horizons
From the Boardwalk, looking to the Ocean
Walking around the island is possible at low tide, the circumference is only 1.5 kms. Along the beaches there is proof positive (if anyone needs it) that the island is, indeed, just coral. Those 'white sandy beaches' upon closer inspection is just coral finely ground over time.
Most tours of the island give you ample time to explore, swim, shop & dine. There is a resort for those who wish to stay longer. This resort is well hidden amongst the rainforest, so well that many day trippers aren't even aware of its existence. Resort guests and day trippers alike are also able to take tours to the 'Outer Reef'; here one can snorkel or scuba dive as well as just relax & absorb the beauty of the surroundings. A day or more on Green Island is time well spent.
On our trip over, we were joined by 110 school children up for the week from Brisbane. In the main they were relatively well-behaved but when we learnt that they were going to Kuranda on the train & returning on the cable cars on Friday - the same day we had planned - we quickly amended our plans & set out on Thursday. Two big days out in a row is normally out of the questions for this pair of grey nomad couples, but we decided circumstances warranted.
We opted for the 'self-drive' tour - parking our car at the base of the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and taking the courtesy shuttle bus to meet up with the Kuranda Scenic Railway at Freshwater Station. The train is beautifully decorated and very 'olde-worlde'. The carriages are most definitely from a by-gone era. The friendly staff are, like most of the hospitality folk we have encountered, helpful and knowledgeable. They even offered to take our group photo using our own cameras (which we duly accepted of course). The train makes a couple of stops on its journey up the mountain; the most spectacular of which is Barron Falls. Here anyone who so wishes can alight from the train, stretch your legs and take photos from a wonderful vantage point.
The train pulled in to Kuranda station & we all felt we had stepped back in time to a more simpler time, a more relaxed time. The township is basically a village; an open air market & some fabulous attractions such as a wildlife sanctuary. After strolling around the village for a couple of hours, we head over to the Skyrail Cable Terminal. Yes, even me - the super scaredy-cat where heights are concerned. Gordon keeps telling me it will be fine & as long as I keep looking straight ahead and DO NOT look down, all will be well. At take off, it's a little bumpy at first, but then it is smooth gliding, except at each and every pylon (and there are more than 30 of those!) there are minor hiccups with jars and shudders, but eventually Caroline & I become used to those.
There are two interim stations along the route, one at Barron Falls and the other a little further along. Both stops have board walks through the rainforest. The sights all along are truly breathtaking. Even for those wimps like me with no head for heights. To be floating across the tops of the trees is a feeling like no other. And the variety of trees, ferns, palms, orchids & epiphytes is amazing.
. . . until next time
Live the Life You Love . . .