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Old 11-28-2012, 08:10 PM   #166
khertz
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Very nice that your friends made sure you were well fed before you left, but it sure does sound like a LOT of food!!

That train ride looks so fun! The scenery is just beautiful.
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:51 PM   #167
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With respect to pooping, the bats hang on with wing claws, flip themselves over, poop and flip back. You have to be careful in Qld and northern NSW not to park under a tree that might attract fruit bats to feed during the night as that poop is so hard to get off a car-it sets like resin and is so acidic it eats into the paintwork. As a protected species if you get a colony decide to move into a group of trees near your house there's nothing you can do despite the noise that can go on all night, every night. Glad you enjoyed the train trip-waiting to hear if you caught the skyway back?
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:37 AM   #168
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khertz View Post
Very nice that your friends made sure you were well fed before you left, but it sure does sound like a LOT of food!!

That train ride looks so fun! The scenery is just beautiful.
Ugh, so much food. I actually can't remember a time ever feeling less like eating again in my life.

The train ride was a lot of fun really. I don't know that I would've wanted to go down on it as well, but it was worth the trip.

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With respect to pooping, the bats hang on with wing claws, flip themselves over, poop and flip back. You have to be careful in Qld and northern NSW not to park under a tree that might attract fruit bats to feed during the night as that poop is so hard to get off a car-it sets like resin and is so acidic it eats into the paintwork. As a protected species if you get a colony decide to move into a group of trees near your house there's nothing you can do despite the noise that can go on all night, every night. Glad you enjoyed the train trip-waiting to hear if you caught the skyway back?
The things you learn on the DIS!

We DID catch the skyway back...more on that below!
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:41 AM   #169
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Day 18 - Kuranda & Birdworld

Picking up at the end of the train ride you find yourself at the top of the mountain in a small “tourist” village. I call it this, because it is a bunch of shops, restaurants, and tourist traps aimed at separating travelers from their money.





There were also signs that Perry the Platypus had been here recently.



There was lots of tourist souvenirs around, though we didn’t buy anything:



We offered DD her choice of ONE tourist trap, we looked for some sign of which one to choose:



Not surprisingly, she chose “BIRDWORLD”, where they had, you know, lots of birds. They gave you a bag of food when you go in to feed them. Some of the food was more popular than others. None of these birds liked carrots!













This one conure just wouldn’t leave me alone!




Was BIRDWORLD “worth” it? Well, it was like $25 a person, and probably not really, but for DD it was well worth it. I wish I had just taken her myself, as DW is not a big fan of birds, and would’ve preferred to browse the shops. You notice no pictures of her…well just this one.



We were on a bit of a schedule, since we were going to take the Skyway down to the bottom of the mountains, and then we were going to an aboriginal museum. So we didn’t really have time to shop, but instead just went to get some lunch. We settled on this place.



The food was decent and reasonably priced. (As in only $37!) The best part was the big hunk of Lammington we got for desert. As mentioned before a very light white cake, with chocolate frosting and a coconut sprinkle coating. This was probably the best dessert we had all trip! Yum!



Day 18 to be concluded in next post!
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:45 AM   #170
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Day 18 - Skyway and Tjapakia + Aussie Beer in review

Since we had to be down to the bottom of the mountain for a certain time (I think it was like 3 PM.) we went over to the Skyway, which is basically a gondola that goes from Kuranda down to the base of the mountains. It’s probably about a 60 minute ride, and there are two stops you can make in the rainforest to get out and look around.

Well, no sooner do we get into our cab and leave the platform than the thing breaks down. In other words, it stops with us dangling about 60 feet in the air. We try to pass the time by taking some pictures and joking around.





After about 10 minutes they make an announcement in about 28 languages saying that there is a problem on the tramway, and they need to send a crew out to fix it.

Meanwhile, DD is getting a bit nervous about being stuck on here. We reassure her that everything is perfectly safe. Inside I am going all buggy trying not to show any signs of panic. I know I’m a skier and I go on these things all the time, but I have a bit of a phobia of heights – especially bad of heights over water. Luckily we were not that high here, and also the car hadn’t made it to where we cross the river, because I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done had we been stuck over the river. (I suppose spent the whole time in a panic attack.) Because in the end we were stuck there on that thing for over 45 minutes before it started to move again. And then after it started to move again, it stopped again, TWICE – for only about 5 minutes each – but still. By this point, we were all feeling sort of like we just wanted to get out of this thing. Still, we were trying not to show nervousness, so took some pictures. The view was pretty spectacular:








Well, by the time we got to the first platform stop, and debated about getting out and looking around. We had wanted to do this, but we realized at this point we only had about 10 minutes before the show we had paid a bunch of money to see was going to start, and it was still a good 30 minutes down the mountain. So we had two choices…skip seeing part of the Skyway in hopes of not missing the entire aboriginal cultural center and show (called Tjapakia), or see the Skyway and miss more of Tjapakia. Well, DW was REALLY looking forward to the cultural show, and we’d already spent the last 90 minutes staring at the rainforest, so we decided to just keep going.

By the time we got to the bottom, we were about 15 minutes late for the performance, which was a 5-minute walk away. But before we went, I wanted to talk someone at the station for about getting some refund for part of out day. We paid about $400 US for the three events today (Train Ride, Skyway and Tjapakia) and only got to experience part of two of them, not through any fault of our own. I wasn’t expecting a full refund, and I actually wasn’t expecting them to give me any here, since I booked through a tour company, but I just wanted something in writing that said our day was disrupted by this breakdown. (Understand that the Tjapakia show was the last performance of the day, and we couldn’t go see a “later” showing instead.)

The guy I spoke with told us not to worry, and just go over and catch the Tjapakia show and come back. The problem was he wasn’t answering my question about whether we could get a notice in writing about missing part of the show due to the breakdown. He just kept saying “ No worries! Go see the show.” This is the closest I came to being the UGLY AMERICAN – as I retorted back (not shouting, though) “Well, I do have some worries, this was a pretty expensive day.” Well, he finally convinced me – go see the show, and then come back and he’d take care of things.

So, we went over to see the cultural center. We completely missed out on the dance performance, which was really what DW had wanted to see. We were able to see a demonstration of the food (or Bush Tucker) that the tribe would gather in the woods. Then we got to see a spear and boomerang demo, in which we were promised that we would be allowed to try them. The spear we were allowed to throw a whopping once, and the boomerang twice. (I was sort of disappointed in this whole thing – I figured it would be a tourist trap type place, and it more or less was.)





We then went in and they had a didgeridoo demonstration, which was sort of cool.





They were supposed to have a kid’s program where the kids could learn to play it, which was scheduled at the same time as another performance. I let DW go to the performance, while I took DD to the didgeridoo lesson. We went into the store, and instead of having an area for this, they just had one of the people in the store kind of showing her. She actually tried it for a good 20 minutes.



She wanted to get one, but they were 100s of dollars and I said NO WAY. We did let her pick up a returning boomerang, which you can see here.



We have since tried it out a few times, and I’ve gotten pretty good at getting it to come back. You need a HUGE field though.

In the meantime, back while we doing the boomerang demo, the lady from Oregon and her family came running in. They had the same problem with the tram, except they were just behind us so they waited the 45 minutes to get ON. They decided to stop at the stops on the way down, and therefore missed more than we did. So, when all the stuff was done at Tjapakia, we went together back over to the tram.

Now, understand, I was never asking for a full refund here, but I was hoping to get some compensation. So, when we went back, I again asked for something to prove that we missed a good portion of the show, and that we could go to the travel company to get something back. He gave us each a letter saying the ride was disrupted, so I was happy at this stage. We said goodbye to Oregon, and went to wait for our bus.

When we got back to the hotel, it was probably about 5 PM, and it had been a pretty long day. We were not in a mood to go in the freezing pool, so I went down to the travel desk to fight for my refund. Well, the girl there said that the letter the Skyway people had used wasn’t really the right letter to indicate I had missed out on anything. (Grrr!) However, she and the tour company worked with me, and they refunded us the cost of the Tjapakia portion of the day, about $90. This was plenty for me. As I said, it had not ruined out whole day, but had put a big damper on a portion of it, and at $400 it was probably the 3rd most expensive day excursion of our trip (Mt. Buller and the Reef Cruise both cost more.)

In the end, this was probably the worst thing that happened to us on the trip, and really it wasn’t that bad. If I had to do it over again, I am not sure I would do the same thing. I liked the train ride, but the Skyway was not worth the cost. If we ever come back again, I think I would just drive my car up to Kuranda. As far as Tjapakia, I am not sure if I would do that again either or try something different.

We still had dinner ahead of us. We decided because the day was so expensive, we would go cheap and simple tonight, and found a place that served pizza called Pizza Trattoria. Not unlike the pizza we had in Sydney, it was pretty good, but a very thin crust with not a lot of flavor to the sauce. We got a small cheese for DD and a large for the two of us. It cost $39 with my 1 beer. (I use this particular meal to demonstrate to people how expensive food was there. I spend about $50 on pizza for my Super Bowl party each year, and feed 10 adults and 8 kids. And it’s better pizza.)

I haven’t much talked about the beer in Australia, but I found myself drinking a lot while I was here. The main reason for this was the high price of soda, which was typically $4 for a small bottle. I found that a beer was usually only $5, and for $1 more, I’d WAY rather have a beer. I tried many of the different beers (Carlton, XXXX, Toohey’s, Hahn’s and VB seemed to be the most popular) of the bunch, my favorite by far was the VB (short for Victoria Bitters) and by the end was pretty much my go to choice. Each beer comes from a different “state”, so there’s a lot of loyalty in each area to their local beer, but we didn’t see much slighing for ordering a Victoria beer. Maybe they figured we didn’t know any better. I found much like in the US, the most popular beers are rather on the light side, though at least they are crappy pilsners like Bud and Miller. They did not appear to have the micro-brew revolution that has taken off in the US in the last 15 years, which has provided us with some fantastic beers here in the states. Overall though – I enjoyed the VB very much, and wish I could find it in the states. (Apparently a shop in San Francisco is the only place you can get it.) I should also point out that there were frequently two sizes – the schooner and the pint. The schooner is the smaller of the two, so I of course usually ordered a pint.

OK, enough about beer, after we ate dinner, we were pretty tired, and went back to our hotel for some much needed rest. (We did stop at the grocery store to buy some food for the next day.)
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December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
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The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

October 2014 Pre Trip Report- "Let us plan our Escape !" LINK
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:01 AM   #171
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Sorry about your disrupted day-actually think you were pretty lucky to get the refund-not that you didn't deserve it just you know how places wriggle out of things like this and blame everybody else if they can! Hope the Oregon family also fought it out successfully.

We actually really enjoyed the Skyway last visit, more than the train which we had done many years earlier. I have never been fussed on Kuranda though - I can just remember it pre-tourist trap, it was a bit hippy central and a bit sad and dowdy then last visit it was just souvy shops and cafes and dubious tourist attractions. Not sure if you could say its improved or not? I love reading Bill Bryson's books and his story of I think its the Smoky Mountains and the tourist village set up on the outskirts and how awful it is, makes me think of several places in Aus unfortunately!

You got some great pics with the parrots though.

We do have micro-breweries but the beers tend to be sold very locally and only available in certain establishments so the big corporation beers are the ones most commonly available. Did you pick up that the size of beer glass you order is called something different in every State?
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:10 AM   #172
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Oh how we loved unlimited soda in the US. Whenever we eat out here, (which is rare with the family) I let the kids get one and then it is water, cause I'm cheap like that. It's probably a good thing though!

And those touristy places get you don't they, in those situations we find ourselves saying "it's not Disney is it!"

I did like the train for what it is, a genuine old time railway, and we loved the skyway, but being stuck in it for 45mins would probably kill the mood somewhat!
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:25 AM   #173
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Sorry for the disrupted day and I also think that you were lucky to get any sort of a refund.

But you got some great shots of the parrots.

And in defence of micro brewery.....didn't I serve you some of the micro brewery beer at our place? I'm sure I had some leftover from my dad's birthday.......or did I just leave that in the fridge?

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Old 12-02-2012, 07:52 AM   #174
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie Wendy View Post
Sorry about your disrupted day-actually think you were pretty lucky to get the refund-not that you didn't deserve it just you know how places wriggle out of things like this and blame everybody else if they can! Hope the Oregon family also fought it out successfully.

We actually really enjoyed the Skyway last visit, more than the train which we had done many years earlier. I have never been fussed on Kuranda though - I can just remember it pre-tourist trap, it was a bit hippy central and a bit sad and dowdy then last visit it was just souvy shops and cafes and dubious tourist attractions. Not sure if you could say its improved or not? I love reading Bill Bryson's books and his story of I think its the Smoky Mountains and the tourist village set up on the outskirts and how awful it is, makes me think of several places in Aus unfortunately!

You got some great pics with the parrots though.

We do have micro-breweries but the beers tend to be sold very locally and only available in certain establishments so the big corporation beers are the ones most commonly available. Did you pick up that the size of beer glass you order is called something different in every State?
I was sort of surprised that we were able to get any refund as well, figuring they would call it "act of god" or something. And I really wasn't expecting even as much as we got. I wouldn't really have said anything if it was just getting stuck for 45 mintues, but missing out on a good portion of two of the things we paid for (the skyway walks and part of Tjapakia) really had me peeved. It didn't "ruin" our day by any means, I was sort of "feeling lucky to be alive" off that thing. (It's never happened to me, but I've known people that have had to be taken off of chair lifts like that because they could'nt get them fixed, and it is a hairy proposition. They use safety harnesses and all, but you have to be lowered to the ground. No thanks!

Yeah, the Smoky Mountains have Pigeon Forge, home to Dollywood and a dozen other tourist traps. Overall, Kuranda wasn't too bad, but definitely taken over by the tourist trade!

And I did not notice that beer glasses had different names!

Quote:
Originally Posted by battymum View Post
Oh how we loved unlimited soda in the US. Whenever we eat out here, (which is rare with the family) I let the kids get one and then it is water, cause I'm cheap like that. It's probably a good thing though!

And those touristy places get you don't they, in those situations we find ourselves saying "it's not Disney is it!"

I did like the train for what it is, a genuine old time railway, and we loved the skyway, but being stuck in it for 45mins would probably kill the mood somewhat!
Soda is one of the biggest money-makers in a restaurant, even in the US. It's because it costs about 5 cents a glass. That's why I couldn't believe the prices for soda there! Especially even in the grocery stores.

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Sorry for the disrupted day and I also think that you were lucky to get any sort of a refund.

But you got some great shots of the parrots.

And in defence of micro brewery.....didn't I serve you some of the micro brewery beer at our place? I'm sure I had some leftover from my dad's birthday.......or did I just leave that in the fridge?

Actually, yes you did give me one of those, it was quite good! I was pretty sure you guys had microbrews there, but in the US, they are pretty easily found in bars and some restaurants - not so much the chain restaurants but most local places. Buffalo has several excellent local brewers (Buffalo Brewing Company & Elicottvile Brewing Co to name two). You can even get the microbeers at the local Hockey and Baseball stadiums.
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December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
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The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

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Old 12-02-2012, 02:13 PM   #175
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Actually, yes you did give me one of those, it was quite good! I was pretty sure you guys had microbrews there, but in the US, they are pretty easily found in bars and some restaurants - not so much the chain restaurants but most local places. Buffalo has several excellent local brewers (Buffalo Brewing Company & Elicottvile Brewing Co to name two). You can even get the microbeers at the local Hockey and Baseball stadiums.
Next time you're in Melbourne, I think I need to spend more time with you so that you get a taste of the local flavour.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:44 PM   #176
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Day 19: Hang around Cairns

I'm really trying to keep the updates coming. (1) work is slow right now, so now's a good time to do it, (2) if I don't get it done soon, I might never finish. We're up to Wednesday, August 8th, and there's "only" about 10 days left of the trip, so it feels like I could maybe get this wrapped by January sometime.

Today we spent staying around town. This was going to be our last down day of the trip, with the final 10 days being a busy push to the finish. We ended up staying in for breakfast and hanging out in our room for a bit.
Here’s a shot of our room. Pretty small really, and the view was nothing much to write home about:



The lobby of the Novotel Oasis. There were always dozens of people hanging around trying to get in the free wi-fi, which was limited to the lobby and pretty much no-where else.





The pool area:







After a while, we decided to take a trip down to the lagoon. Now Cairns is an interesting resort town. It’s got a beautiful water front esplanade, but really has no beach whatsoever. In fact, instead of beach, there is nothing but mud-flats.



I suppose as a tourist destination though this isn’t a big deal, since we found out that for the majority of the high season – the water is full of deadly box jellyfish which are so small you can’t see them while they are killing you, and will mostly discourage you from swimming.

So, Cairns wisely decided to get around that lack of a beach by building their own. This huge lagoon that is probably about 200 feet wide by 1000 feet long, with a beach/zero entry area and a deeper “pool” area. We packed ourselves a picnic lunch and went on down to the water. When we got there, it turned out it wasn’t yet open. Luckily, we arrived about 11:45 AM, and it opened at noon.







They also had some really cool fountains that sprayed water out into the lagoon. You can see in the first picture below out beyond the edge of the lagoon to where the ocean/mud flats are.







It wasn’t the best beach day ever, but that didn’t stop DD from enjoying the water and the sand. She liked that part of the water had a sandy bottom. She dug a hole in the sand under the water, and would laugh when I would pretend to fall into it.







This was probably one of the more cloudy days of the trip though the clouds seemed to mostly stay inland. The water itself was plenty warm though, and there were enough people enjoying the bits of sun. Really a nice area, and almost nicer that going to a real beach.

We spent a few hours there, and then headed back to the hotel. DW wanted to go out and do some shopping, so I hung out with DD while she played her DS. We had dinner at a place called Outback Jack’s, which was clearly a chain. I guess we were hoping that similar to our own US Outback chain, the steak would be really good here. No such luck, the food was just OK, but at least they brought it all out together! After dinner, we went back to the hotel and did a couple loads of laundry, trying to clean everything enough to make it through the last 10 days of the trip. (Boy, when you live out of a suitcase for 4 weeks, they really start to *stink* after a while.)
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1971 - 1982 Many childhood trips May 1997 - Off-site w/ DGF (now DW) October 2000 - Off-site w/ DW - 1st AK
October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:03 AM   #177
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Day 20 – Mossman Gorge and Daintree River Cruise

On Thursday, the day dawned and it was a bit overcast, looking like rain. We never really did get any, but it made for a grey morning. Today we had plans for two events, we had booked a walk with an Aboriginal guide through the Mossman Gorge national park, followed with a River Cruise to look for Crocodiles.

We drove up to Mossman, which took probably a little more than an hour. It was a pleasant enough drive, the road went along the coast, at times with very little land between us and the water. It was a bit windy, but not much traffic.

We arrived at Mossman Gorge and went to the visitors center where we met a bus that took us up into the rainforest.



The guide was a young woman who told us about here ancestors living here in the jungle. What I found interesting is that the lifestyle as described seemed considerably different from that we saw at Tjapakai a few days before. Much more nomadic, where they would live for 6 months in the jungle, and then go down to the ocean, and then return to the jungle, but not back to the same location. The rainforest itself here was very hilly, and I could imagine would be difficult to trek through.






The path had various examples of aboriginal living as you went along. This was a tree that they would use to make tools from the broad roots.



And here’s the native house that they would build. What’s really interesting is that these folks are really only two generations out from this point where they were living like this. It’s not like in the States where we think of this being 100s of years ago.



And here is a set of various indigenous fruits:



The Mossman creek, where folks go to swim in the warmer months:





Another local playing the didgeridoo for the dumb tourists:



DD thought she would be bored, but she was actually having a good time.



After we finished off here, we headed to Port Douglas, which is a small tourist town perhaps 30 minutes away. DD actually fell asleep on the car ride, but when we got to the dock where the Lady Douglas riverboat was docked, we needed to stop and have some lunch. We ate at a little outdoor café which I can’t remember the name, but the food was pretty good. Another $60 for a quick lunch. We had to wrap up sort of quick to make the boat, though we didn’t have to worry about missing it, since we could see it from our seats.

The Lady Douglas is a riverboat somewhat reminiscent of the African Queen (from the movie) but of course more modern. There were probably 40 passengers on board for the cruise, and pretty much all the seats were taken. The river cruise really goes up the mouth of the river where people dock their boats during Typhoons. Some dock them better than others:



The area is really mostly mangrove swamps and roots, and is home to saltwater crocodiles. They are rather loner type animals, so we didn’t see many. Really only two on the two hour cruise:

SMILEY


GINGER


Also very cool was spotting these:


This is a pair of Papuan Frogmouths. They are similar to owls, and are extremely rare and only found in this part of Australia as well as New Guinea and Papua. You’ll sometimes see their cousins, the Tawny Frogmouths, in zoos in the US. They are nocturnal, so almost impossible to see in nature. Very, very cool.

DD also had a lot of fun on this ride. She met this little boy from England, I forgot his name now, but they had fun running around the boat. (The boat had a bar with the first drink free, so the adults were having a good time too!)



Since really they were the only two kids on the boat, the captain let them take a turn at steering. I much prefer when they let her steer on the jungle cruise.



After heading back down the river we rode out into the bay a bit before the cruise wrapped up. As I said, it was 90-120 minutes long, and it was just long enough. It wrapped up around 4 PM, which gave us enough time to drive back to Cairns before dark. We stopped twice on the way down. Once to take a picture of these Ospreys building a nest on a telephone poll.





And then again we stopped to check out one of the beautiful deserted beaches:





While we were there, another couple pulled up. They were from Germany and were touring the South Pacific with a one –day stop in Australia (?!?), so we exchanged taking pictures with each others cameras:



Once we got back to Cairns we rested a bit before going out to dinner. We tried a Chinese/Vietnamese place that was pretty cheap, and not very different from what we would get at home. Dinner was only $47, so that was a nice break.

Tomorrow: A long, long drive.
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1971 - 1982 Many childhood trips May 1997 - Off-site w/ DGF (now DW) October 2000 - Off-site w/ DW - 1st AK
October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

October 2014 Pre Trip Report- "Let us plan our Escape !" LINK

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Old 12-12-2012, 09:06 AM   #178
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Day 21: 500 miles to Airlie

Today was the only long drive of the trip. When originally envisioning the trip, I had pictured several days of driving, but once we got down to the actual planning, it made much more sense to fly around. This was the one exception. I wanted to do at least one extended drive on the trip, and had decided I wanted to see Airlie Beach and check out the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef from there. In hindsight knowing what I know now, I might have just done the Reef from Cairns, and flew down to spend more time in Brisbane, but I still am glad we did it this way.

So, we left from Cairns fairly early in the morning, I forget the exact time, but it was around 8 AM. As we started driving, we looked through the tourist things at what there was to do on the drive down. One thing mentioned that we thought might be interesting was Paronella Park, it was this Spanish castle and gardens that was built 100 years ago and now is a tourist site. Well, we took about a 20 minute detour to get there.

(Side note: Once you get out of major towns, this area of Australia is extremely rural. There are houses along the way, and lots and lots of sugar cane and banana farms, but not a lot of towns. The “main” road down the coast is predominantly a 2-lane highway, that one slow car can really grind traffic to a halt. When you go off the main roads, the roads become really iffy. A real habit that they have is that they will pave large stretches of the these back roads as only one way roads. If you run into another car coming towards you, you better slow down quick and get off into the gravel. Sort of crazy from my perspective.)

So, we drove out to this Paronella Park, we were hoping to only take a quick look for maybe 30 minutes. Well, we got there, and first the cost was like $20 per person to get in, and then if you did go in, you had to take a 90 minute guided tour. When we said “No thanks!” they started haggling with us to try and get us to come in. I think eventually got down to like $35 for the 3 of us, but insisted on the guided tour part. We ended up saying no, so we didn’t get to see it, but if you are ever deciding to stop there, let them no you think its too expensive and try to leave!

In the end, I was glad we didn’t stop, because it was almost dark by the time we got to Airlie Beach. But before then we still had a long ways to go. The scenery in Australia can be pretty monotonous. We were in what you would call the “rainforest” but because it was the dry season, all the vegetation was kind of brown and scrubby. We eventually passed through the town of Tully, where we saw a sign saying “Home of the Giant Gumboot!” I had remembered one of my DISer friends mentioning this and I said we just HAD to stop. After missing the “exit” and driving 2 miles past town, we finally found the Gumboot!





The height represents the rainiest year they ever had in Tully. That’s a lot of water. No wonder the road warned of floodouts, because we sure didn’t see much water.

By around 12:30 we had reached the ½ way point in Townsville. We wanted to find a place to eat, but as we drove along, it seemed like the road was going to by-pass the city completely, so we took a chance, getting off the highway. We ended up eating lunch at the Kirwan Inn. If you are ever thinking of doing it, don’t. The place was a restaurant/casino, and when we got in, there was a big line, which took about 20 minutes to order our lunch. We then waited more than 30 minutes for our food. In the meantime, I forgot why, but DW got mad at DD and slammed into the table to stomp off, and in doing so, spilled my beer, sloshing part of it on my pants! DW wouldn’t eat with us, she was so mad, and I wasn’t in a great mood because I was wearing my beer instead of drinking it. The food was OK, we got meat pies that were pretty decent, but way too slow. We wasted an hour and a half on a meal detour that should’ve taken half the time.

So, after that I wanted to drive straight through as we had close to 4 hours to go. The good thing is there was even LESS to look at after Townsville than there was before, so other than a few dead kangroos along the roadside and a giant mango, the drive was pretty uneventful.



We pulled into Airlie Beach just as the sun was setting. It was weird because the area was so absolutely rural, until you got about 2 miles out of Airlie beach, when all this houses and shops suddenly sprung up. Our hotel was right on the water:



Looking back, I barely remember the room, but it was spacious enough. This one went right at the edge of my budget and ran like $199 a night. It was fine for the two nights.



We were all tired, but we still needed to eat something. DW continued to be in a foul mood (almost wrote fowl – that ain’t right) and couldn’t decide what to eat. We ended up going to this pseudo-food court area up the ways. Airlie Beach seemed pretty small, the main town was about 5 blocks long. Our little area was right on the beach. This place had a bunch of more high-end restaurants, but you went up to the window to order, and the wait-staff would bring your food out to you. We tried from a few different places, but the best thing we had was bacon-wrapped scallops from a place called “Salt”. They were delicious, but like $22 for 5 scallops, so the whole meal ended up costing us $85. Most expensive food court ever.

Up next – No Nemo, but a real reef!
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1971 - 1982 Many childhood trips May 1997 - Off-site w/ DGF (now DW) October 2000 - Off-site w/ DW - 1st AK
October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

October 2014 Pre Trip Report- "Let us plan our Escape !" LINK
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:19 PM   #179
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Pete - For the life of me, I really thought I wrote a response to the previous post. Love the picture of DD in the pool and it looks like you had a nice time there. If the room was small, at least the pool area looks great!


I love your pictures of the Mossman Creek. How cool for your DD to have found a friend (like ships in the day passing by) so that you could enjoy your drinks on board.

I'm finding it fascinating seeing you tally up the cost of food in Oz. It's like this weird twilight zone reversal of how us Aussies feel about the cost of food in the US. It is just so cheap in your part of the world compared to what we pay downunder. Having said that, $85 for the 3 of you for lunch is pretty expensive.

Looking forward to seeing the Whitsundays from your perspective.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:41 AM   #180
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Enjoying hearing your experiences as always. They have made the lagoon area in Cairns nice now. Yes driving in Aus is long expanses of nothing-you should try Whitsundays to Brissie if you thought Cairns south was bad-that's the more interesting part! and I am still reeling over the prices you paid for food. We will have to up my travel budget next time we head north I fear (and that's also why we don't eat out very often and love travelling overseas-'*** we can!)
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