Today was meant to be a recovery day from the fatigue and exhaustion we suffered yesterday...
It was a sleep in day, and a 'not do too much', 'take it as it comes' sort of a day, except that someone forgot to tell Dylan... He was up as usual, at 6.30am making as much noise as possible, so we'd all be up too. He's a morning person, and figures we can fit more in the day if we're all awake that early, so we've agreed to pop into a chemist some time today and get some drugs to fix him... Anyway, once we were all up, and showered and breakfasted, we headed out to do something that I was particularly looking forward to. I've always been a fan of gardens, formal or informal, native or exotic, it doesn't matter. But I love tropical plants and I love the rambling jungle look. The sculptured, planned and organised tropical gardens are nice, and I appreciate them, but noone can do a tropical garden like mother nature. I wanted to see the Cairns Botanical Gardens, to see how they compared to what we saw in the Daintree, and after I was disappointed at the Cooktown Botanical Gardens, I wanted to know if Cairns would be to a higher standard.
That was our plan for the day. A slow start, followed by a pleasant meander through the gardens, with lunch thrown somewhere in there also. I couldn't find the gardens on the GPS, but Jo was fairly confident she knew where they were, cause she'd seen a sign when we drove to Tjapukai the other day. So, off we set, towards Tjapukai, and yes, you guessed it, she had us totally and completely lost. Drove aimlessly for about half an hour before she admitted she was lost, and then I took over. Couple of turns later, through sheer instinct and practiced logic, and I found the sign for the turn off to the gardens... (I knew all along, I just wanted her to appreciate me more).
WARNING!! These gardens are contagious. When you see them, you'll want the same!! I do!! They are simply, breath takingly, stunning. After seeing the beauty of the coral on the reef yesterday, I would never have thought that anything on land could compare. Well, today we saw it. Mother Nature's best and most beautiful tropical plants all together, all in one place. And I'm smitten. There's photos uploaded, of the best of what we saw, but keep in mind that you're looking at one photo of one plant on it's own, whereas we saw multitudes of flowers of all different plants, all massed together in a show that's just impossible to describe. We grow many of these plants in our gardens at home, but they don't look like this. Where ours have a slightly yellowish tinge, and dried, dead tips on the ends of the fronds, these plants are lush, glowing, and obviously loving where they're supposed to be. I know it's the climate, I understand the circumstances that create the difference, but it's an incredible sight to behold, and I just wish we could replicate it at home... Jo and I could easily, very easily have spent all day here, just wandering and looking. It's 71 acres of walkways, paths, boardwalks and bridges through jungle, forest, open lawn spaces, creek beds and greenhouses, and every turn in the path leads to something new. The gardens have been planted in zones, and they all connect and flow. There's interpretive signage for each zone, that tells you what area you're entering, and the significance of it during the evolutionary process, and the significance of those plants to the aboriginal people. Most of it we didn't read, we weren't there to learn anything, just to look and appreciate... They are awesome gardens...
Of course, every Botanic Garden has a mandatory cafe, and this one's a beauty. It's signature dish is waffles, and that's one of my all time favourites. It's been a long time since I've had a good serving of waffles, so we thought it only practical to try them out. (Supporting the gardens is in everyones best interests, you know that!) Jeremy and I decided to share the waffles with banana and hot caramel sauce, and it came with cream and ice-cream. AND IT WAS GOOD!! Jo and Dylan thought they would share the chocolate mud cake with hot chocolate sauce, but I don't think Jo got much in the end. Dylan's a bit of a demon with choc mud cake, and if you've ever tried to take a leg of lamb from a starving rotweiller, you'll get the general idea. He would assess each spoonful she took, and complain if he thought it was too big or too much, or too frequent, and in the end, she just stopped. It disappeared though... the garden fairies probably ate it?!?
We probably walked 5 or 6 km worth of pathways through those gardens, and although we back tracked and crossed the same path a couple of times, I don't think we saw the same area from the same location more than once. Each spot was a new view and a fresh outlook. From higher in the canopy, or down on the edge of the creek, it was spectacular. I'd go back tomorrow.
The boys though don't have the garden appreciation gene. To them, when we're in the bush or the jungle, we're in Modern Warfare 3, and the enemy are all around. They of course, have all the weapons, and are the only ones who can save us, but there's not too many people wandering through the botanic gardens, appreciating nature, who also appreciate two boys running around screaming out "Flash bang! Get down." and diving through the bush, making machine gun noises and repeatedly blowing themselves up. Consequently, we left...
We drove across town (this time the GPS lady gave the directions, and we didn't get lost, or have any arguments), to Crystal Cascades, which is another rainforest walk up the side of a river, through a gorge, with swimming holes along the way. Remember, above the rapids is safe from crocodiles, and there were no signs. The walk was 1.2km each way, but the cascades at the top were a real let down. After seeing the places we've seen, and being where we have, Crystal Cascades didn't cut it. We didn't take many photos, but on the way back, the boys had a swim in one of the waterholes, and that was nice. It was a hot day in the sun, and it was a good way for them to cool down. By this time, it was nearly 4 o'clock, and we decided we'd had enough, and came back to the park for a relax and a swim in the pool.
Interesting observation to share... Yesterday, out on the reef at the Reef Magic pontoon, Jeremy snorkelled for a couple of hours in the afternoon by himself. Except that he wasn't by himself, there was a young girl (similar age), in the water with him, and they were swimming and playing with Wally the fish. They weren't together, but they were in the same area, sharing the space and Wally. Her family were also staying dry on the pontoon, and she was in the water alone, but with Jeremy. Didn't mean anything, don't read anything into it... Today, we went to the splash park for an hour, and the same girl was there also. It turns out she's staying at Coconut too. Of course, they knew each other, but it didn't mean anything. Don't tease or make a fuss, she's only a girl... Right?... Really? Why then, between 5 and 5.30 did Jeremy suddenly decide he was 'just going for a walk around the park'? Huh? Riddle me that! He never just goes for a walk! Where was he walking to? Why? What's her name? I don't know, I don't have the answers. But when I want to know, I just ask Jo, and she'll find out... Stay tuned...