We flew to Cairns via Brisbane ( 2 hrs plus stopover plus 2 hrs) with Virgin, who have definitely improved their service since we last flew with them back in 2005. The second leg in particular was quite comfortable and because of a short delay on the tarmac, Taine had time to visit the cockpit to get his travel book signed.
The next morning we picked up our rental and headed to the Esplanade and downtown. The highlight there is the swimming lagoon, a beautifully landscaped, FREE swimming pool right in the heart of the city. What a fabulous idea! Taine and Geoff checked out the water while I people watched and tried to find at least 10 who looked worse than me in bathers. It's not a nice thing to do but it's good for my self esteem.
|Waterpark at Coconut Holiday Resort|
For dinner we drove back into the city to the Night Markets. These consist of the usual junk that you find at markets and if you were an international tourist you'd be able to stock up here on kitschy, aussie things to take home. For us the highlight was the Chinese, stack-your- plate seafood buffet.
On Saturday I made the mistake of trying out the exercise bike in the gym and returned my damaged back to 'cannot move without intense pain' status'. This put a bit of a dampener on my day but after a morning of park activities we pressed on regardless and went for a drive to Kuranda to check out the rainforest. Having done our fair share of both in other locations we took neither the train nor the cable car and enjoyed the scenic drive from the comfort of the rental. Kuranda is full of rainbow clothing and 'mystic' gem stones designed to empty the pockets of the tourists arriving by the afore mentioned modes of transport. We bought a bit of both and enjoyed a couple of extremely over priced, locally made 'bliss balls'. Just to make sure my back was truly wrecked, we walked down to the Barron Falls lookout and back and then I had to recline the car seat so I could lay flat all the way back to the park :-(
We arrived in Port Douglas in time for quick squiz at the Sunday market. Taine enjoyed squeezing and drinking some sugar cane juice and we wandered through the gazebos of 'new agers' selling environmentally& ecologically sound, organic stuff full of antioxidants & other expensive goodnesses. I actually heard someone order a blackberry & spearmint green chai latte. I think the back pain may be making me a wee bit intolerant to such nonsense and Taine was getting sunburnt so we grabbed some codeine and an ice pack from the chemist and booked (the last available) tickets on a cruise out to the reef for tomorrow. July is a very popular time in Port Douglas. The place is full of other Victorians fleeing the cold and so by the time I got around to booking accommodation for this holiday there wasn't a resort room to be found and we had to settle for the Lazy Lizard Motel! It's ok and cheap by PD prices but I'm sure I would have been in less pain if I was soaking in a warm pool with a cocktail in my hand. We paid extra at the Lizard to have breakfast included. I had nostalgic visions of a La Quinta bagel buffet but they delivered our breakfast the night before - some bread, mini boxes of cereal & some long life milk. Ha ha ha. DIY breakfast!
|Crush your own sugar cane|
|Snorkeling on the reef|
The Low Isles
From Mossman we headed up to the Daintree Village, a completely non event town devoted to taking money from tourists for one of the many boat cruises down the river. At least Kuranda had interesting wares at it's market. The Daintree Village market was actually someone's second hand junk shop! Unwilling to be ripped off further we drove a few more kms to have a look at the ferry that crosses the river for travelers going on to Cooktown & beyond. The queue was very long and we were glad we'd already decided to turn back at that point. On the way back we made a visit to the fruit winery. These guys make wine out of tropical fruit because it's too hot for grapes up here. I tasted my way through the list from lychee to mango. I'm not sure whether I liked the wine much but the owners were lovely and my back felt heaps better by the time I got back in the car ;-)
Taine was very anxious to check out the cane toad races so we went to the Ironbar Pub for dinner. The food was very disappointing. I ordered the barramundi and it was the size of a large fish finger. Taine's pizza was more plentiful but so long in arriving that we had to leave half of it in order to see the cane toads. We each paid $5 for a ticket top watch the toads. Of course to actually get to race one you had to bid for them in an auction and there were enough people there with far more money than our brains so Taine had to settle for a ring side seat. As the poor toads were pulled out of the bucket there were lots of racial and homophobic and sexist jokes centred around the names of the toads (Gay Freddo, Camel Toad etc) and considering it was the early show of predominantly families with kids I found the whole racing spiel a bit offensive. I got to be the 'assistant', writing the winners on the whiteboard (teachers always get the whiteboard jobs!) and the reward for that was a free stubby. Mind you, the toad man wasn't too sure about giving the beer to me. Not sure if it was because I'm old or female but he said I could give it to my 'old man'.
|Cane toad assistant|