I remember back in the UK, when we first decided to sell almost everything and go travelling. Well, having lived in Surfers Paradise for just over 3 months now, we decided to continue in that spirit....only this time we didn't have to sell everything. So we jumped onto the internet, booked a couple of one-way tickets to Cairns and organised a hire car for 5 and a half weeks! We spent a full day cleaning the flat we were living in - to avoid paying the $200 cleaning fee - I thought that was us being clever until we saw the list of things to do!
Anyway, we stayed the Friday night (28th Sept) in a hostel in Brisbane....(Palace Backpackers is really ok, but do not stay there if you want any sleep. It was one party after the next, and we left at 5.30am to catch the first flight and most people were only going to bed then! - Boy do I sound old there!)
Our flight was just under 3 hours, and we got there about 10am. You really can tell the difference between Gold Coast heat and Tropical North Queensland Heat! As soon as you walk out the building you are covered in sweat!
We picked up our hire car and had been upgraded to a bigger, beafier car! We ended up with a Hyndai Sonata with only 30000km's on the clock! I tell you what, it has all the bells and wistles you could possibly want in a car that is being driven from Cairns to Melbourne (Did I mention that was what we are doing? Ok, so we have allowed 5.5 weeks and 6000 km's to get from Cairns to Melbourne - that is the entire East Coast of Australia - What an awesome road trip!)
We set up camp in Cairns for 2 nights. While we were there I tried to twist Peters arm to go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, but he wasn't interested, and the weather didn't allow it either - far too windy! (Never mind, I have a further 2000 km's to convince him to go snorkelling with me! We explored the Cairns esplanade - a really large salt water lagoon pool that the council have put in as its too dangerous to swim in the sea because of marine stinger jellyfish.
The following two nights we camped in Port Douglas (about an hours north of Cairns). Our friend from NZ (Amanda) has moved over there with her little dog, Donny. Port Douglas reminded us a lot of Byron Bay, but was much, much hotter! We treated Amanda to a lunch time cruise with a difference! We went out on a boat called the "Lady Douglas" which took us through the estuaries, cruising past massive mangroves and looking for wild crocodiles. Unfortunately, the crocs didn't like it because it was raining - they prefer to sun themselves - but we did have an awesome lunch on the boat and saw loads of fish, eagles, kingfishers and other birds too.
After Port we drove back down to Cairns for a night, via the Kuranda Skyrail. We took the skyrail from Cairns to Kuranda and back again. Its about 7.5kms long and takes you over the top of the Daintree Rainforest canopy. It was an absolutley amazing experience! You get to stop off twice in the rainforest itself, and have a wander around. I haven't got enough time to write about it all know, but it really was so interesting and so beautiful! We spent two hours in Kuranda town and paid a bit extra to go to Birdworld. Its a giant aviary that the birds can come and go as they please, but a lot of them have made it home. You get the most amazingly coloured parrots and lorrikeets and other birds too. I was in my element there and got some seeds to feed them!
After Cairns we drove down to Townsville - all I can say about that is there were too many flies! We were thinking about going to Magnetic Island, but there were too many flies!
The following day we spent travelling from Townsville to Mission Beach via a circuit of waterfalls on the Atherton tablelands. If you imagine a great area of raised land with lakes on the top that overflow over the sides of this "table land" all around it then you can maybe imagine how cool it would be! We only saw 5 waterfalls, but there are about 20 altogether! At one of the waterfalls we saw a small dragon lizard (see pics).
Got down to mission beach in the afternoon and set up camp. By this stage (about a week into our trip) I was being consumed by mozzies, midgies and sandflies - I must be tasty - and yes, I am putting on copious amounts of deet, but they always find the places that you have missed!
Part 2 of our lengthy road trip follows shortly!