Port Douglas – Day 2

After breakfast in our apartment we were off to explore the Daintree National Park, which is north of Port Douglas. This national park is huge, 55, 000 hectares (each hectare equals 2.5 acres). 

Our first stop was in the Mossman Gorge section of the park. Here we took the shuttle bus up to the hiking area where we hiked along the Mossman River for a bit before heading off on a 2.5km circuit through the deep, dark rainforest. We enjoyed the diverse plant life in the rain forest and kept our eyes out for a cassowary. We stopped to swim in a pool on one of the creeks that flows in to Mossman River, enjoying the refreshing water temperature. It was warm (26 degrees) and humid in the forest, so the cooler water felt great. 

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Checking out the info at Mossman Gorge.

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Walking on the rainforest boardwalk at Mossman Gorge.

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Mossman River

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Mother Nature’s artwork.

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Tucker and Jim creek swimming.

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Alison and Marji creek swimming.

After returning to our car, we continued on to the town of Mossman where we stopped at a cafe for lunch, which was a treat since some how we missed that meal yesterday!

We then went on a road trip through the park to Cape Tribulation, where the road ended! The road took us along the coast and high up into the rain forest. We stopped to hike at a couple of beaches and overlooks. It was all beautiful. Also, this is where cassowaries live but as hard as we tried, we never saw one, in spite of there being lots of signs indicating that cassowaries had crossed parts of this road. There are only about 1,500 cassowaries known to exist and to see one would have been incredibly lucky! 

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We hoped to see one of these, rare, elusive birds.

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Overlook of the Daintree River emptying into the ocean.

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Art work made by tiny Bubbler Crabs on the beaches.

We took the Captain Cook Highway to Daintree National Park and for most of the 35km there were sugar cane fields on both sides of the road. It was an impressive crop!

We returned to Port Douglas and checked out the wharf area to see if we could find the boat that we are booked on for tomorrow’s snorkeling adventure. We found the boat and now are hoping that the weather cooperates. We were supposed to go on this snorkel trip to the Great Barrier Reef today, but the wind was too great, causing the sea to be too rough and the trip was canceled by the charter company. The forecast is for a bit less wind tomorrow, so we are still planning on going, but the charter people encouraged us to take some sea-sickness pills before we leave! Wish us luck!

Tonight we ate dinner at the Iron Bar and for an appetizer we all shared an Aussie Tasting Platter which included kangaroo, crocodile and emu. We decided that the kangaroo was the best tasting and the emu was our least favorite. Tucker enjoyed his kangaroo appetizer so much that he selected the kangaroo burger for dinner and said it was very good. 

The Iron Bar is famous for holding Cane Toad Races so we stayed around for that. Our $5.00 ticket got us into the event and gave us a chance to participate in the races. Jim ended up having one of the winning tickets so he got to go up on stage and try to get his toad to win. But first he had to kiss his toad when he pulled it out of the bucket of toads! He and his toad didn’t win, but we all had fun watching him try!

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Jim kissing his toad at the Iron Bar Cane Toad Races!

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Jim using his “party favor” to try to get his toad moving!

So I think that about sums up another great day in Queensland and we are looking forward to tomorrow!

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Jim was very excited about the possibility of seeing a cassowary!

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A bush turkey, Mossman Gorge, Daintree NP.

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Along the Mossman River.

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Amazing sights in the rain forest.

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Beach warnings and the antidote!

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Walking through the mangroves, Daintree NP.

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Port Douglas Marina

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Sunset at Port Douglas.

Port Douglas-Day 1

We have had a fabulous day, long, but fabulous! We were up at 3 AM to catch a 6 AM flight to Cairns, in the AU state of Queensland. We arrived around 9:15 AM, got our rental car and decided to check out Cairns before heading north to our home base for 4 days, Port Douglas.

Cairns (pronounced Caans) is the largest city north of Brisbane on the northeastern coast of AU and the place many people use as their home base when going to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and this part of Queensland. We had a bit of brunch here at an outdoor cafe, overlooking a park that was right next to the ocean. We were intrigued by infinity pool that seemed to be the focus of the park. Our after-lunch walk showed us that the pool stopped short of the ocean, where the mudflats meet the boardwalk. Apparently Cairns does not have any beaches, only mudflats so they built the beautiful pool area. 

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Alison in the infinity pool at Cairns.

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Infinity pool at Cairns.

We started our drive north on the Captain Cook Highway with our first stop being at the Cairns Tropical Zoo, where Alison was able to hold a koala~something she really wanted to do! The zoo was great with exhibits with the great saltwater crocodiles, kangaroos, lots of tropical birds, koalas, and Jim’s favorites~the cassowaries!

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Alison and the koala!

 

We continued our drive up the Captain Cook,stopping for a walk at the beautiful Palm Cove beach. A bit farther up the coast, we pulled over to check out a scenic overlook only to discover a group of people watching two guys getting ready to make a tandem flight on a hang glider! We watched them take off from the cliff and soar high above us and the ocean! What fun!

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Hang gliding along the Captain Cook Highway.

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Hang Gliders high in the sky!

Port Douglas is a smaller town than Cairns, but was recommended to us by several people and they were right, this is a lovely town, right on the stunning Four-Mile Beach! We are staying in a 2 bedroom apartment here which is very spacious and comfortable. We walked to town to find a restaurant where we could book a table for dinner tonight and bought some groceries for snacks and breakfast in the morning. Our apartment has a big kitchen so doing brekky here will be most convenient. We booked a table at Nautilus restaurant, more about that later.

We returned to the apartment and some of us got into our swimsuits for a quick dip in the ocean. There was a bit of concern about swimming when we read the sign that indicated that the chance for getting stung by jellyfish was low, not non-existent! But Tucker, Jim and Alison decided to be brave and in they went. I went in as high as my thighs and documented their quick swim. I am happy to report that no one encountered a jellyfish! 

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The swimmers at 4-Mile Beach, Port Douglas.

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Waves of fun!

We all got quick showers before walking back to town for dinner. We booked a table at Nautilus, which was up a steep gravel path from the main road. At the top of the path was this open area surrounded by the rainforest where there were tables with white linen clothes, candle light and high-backed wicker chairs. It was gorgeous! We got to the place early so we could have a drink in their lounge area, again, in the rain forest! Nautilus’s signature drink is a mango daiquiri, which we all decided sounded like just what we needed! And it was like drinking in heaven! After drinks we returned to the dining area and had the most wonderful meal. Between the setting, the ambiance, the food and the company, the meal could not have been better. We asked our waiter about what they did when it rained and he pointed out an elaborate set of clear plastic curtains that are pulled high above the diners. He said it takes about 10-15 seconds to get the place covered and sure enough, a shower blew through mid-way through our meal and in no time the staff had these “shower curtains” in place. It was very impressive! So if you ever find yourself in Port Douglas, treat yourself to a meal at Nautilus! 

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View up from the lounge area of Nautilus.

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Mango daiquiris for four!

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Our dinners at Nautilus, perfect!

Our walk home felt good to our tired, full bodies so we extended the walk to include the beach. A nice way to end a wonderful day.

Tucker and Alison have been dealing beautifully with their jet lag~we try to keep them so busy that they don’t know they are tired!

Tomorrow we’re going to the Daintree Rainforest National Park. Here are a few bonus photos from today!

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Koala fun!

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Saltwater crocodiles~nasty things!

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Family fun!

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One of two cassowaries

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Palm Cove beach.

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Warning sign at the beach! Yikes!

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More family fun!

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Alison and Tucker relaxing before walking to dinner.

Intro to Melbourne

Tucker and Alison had a good, long sleep last night and got up ready to tackle Melbourne! We took the #8 tram to Federation Square in the CBD and did a walking tour of the laneways and river walks. Alison got a latte in one of the laneways which is a very Melbournite thing to do. We then walked to the Melbourne Museum with the top priority being to see the Afghanistan gold exhibit. I blogged about that early in our stay here and it was fun to visit the exhibit again with 2 archaeologists! They were very impressed with the artifacts that were displayed as well as the story behind how these treasures were hidden and then found. We did a quick tour of the rest of the museum before heading back to the nearest tram stop to get us home.

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Tucker and Alison in the CBD of Melbourne

Fountain near the Melbourne Museum.

Fountain near the Melbourne Museum.

After a quick stop in the apartment, we were off in the car to St. Kilda for lunch and hopefully a bike ride. We ate lunch at a cafe called Little Blue at the end of the St. Kilda pier. By then we were starving and lunch was delicious!

Tucker and Alison on the St. Kilda pier.

Tucker and Alison on the St. Kilda pier.

I wanted to give Tucker and Alison the opportunity to ride bikes on the beautiful bike trail along the shore in St. Kilda, but the shop where I hoped to rent bikes did not open until 3:30 PM. We decided to walk around a bit and then drove to visit the Brighton Beach Boxes, beautifully painted shed-type buildings along the beach.

Brighton Beach Boxes

Brighton Beach Boxes

Water view.

Water view.

At 3:30 PM we got our rental bikes and were off for an hour’s tour of the area. I think they got an appreciation for the wonderful bike trail in a very scenic area.

Sightseeing from the rental bikes. We all appreciated our own bikes after an hour on these!

Sightseeing from the rental bikes. We all appreciated our own bikes after an hour on these!

We arrived home in time for beverages and the left-over cheese plate.

Tomorrow we fly to the Great Barrier Reef. There is a bit of concern about our snorkeling trip because the forecast is for very high winds, which is good if we were sailing, but not so good for snorkeling.

Contest Update: And the Winners are (drum roll, please):

For the kangaroo, Carla wins with her nomination of Yarry, which we are modifying to Yarra, since that is the area of Melbourne which we call home.

For the Koala, Allison Adams wins with her nomination of Adelaide.

Thanks to all the participants. Prizes will be sent out in mid-June!

Guests!

Tucker and Alison arrived this afternoon after a long delay in Brisbane. They were supposed to land in Sydney before flying on to Melbourne but Sydney was experiencing an unusual heavy fog this morning and all flights were delayed or diverted. So they went to Brisbane and sat on the tarmac for 4 hours before flying back to Sydney and then on to Melbourne. They came through the customs/baggage claim gate shortly after 2 PM and I was so happy to see them.

After getting them settled into the apartment and feeding them, we went for a short walk along the Yarra River. Jim was home when we returned and we four were happy to be together again.

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Tucker, Alison and Jim enjoying drinks and appetizers on the balcony.

It was a delightful evening here so we enjoyed beverages and an Australian cheese tray on the balcony, watching the sunset. After dinner, Tucker and Alison thought they were up for a walk so we headed out for a stroll on Chapel Street. When we returned we celebrated their birthdays which were in the past few weeks. This is when we discovered that we had no matches for the birthday candles on the cake! They were good sports and pretended to blow out the candles!

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Double birthday celebration with Alison and Tucker.

It is a tough flight to get here and they managed to be sociable until about 8 PM – pretty good since they really cannot figure out when they last slept! Hopefully they won’t be up at 2 AM! Each day will get easier and we plan to keep them very busy so they cannot think about being jet lagged!

For those of you who don’t know our family, Tucker is our oldest son and Alison is his bride! As you can imagine, we having been looking forward to their visit and sharing Australia with them.

Contest update: The contest is now closed. We thank the 10 people who submitted names and we will announce the winner(s) shortly.

G’Day Mates!

Phillip Island Part II

Our Sunday on Phillip Island was another day full of activities. As we pulled away from our B&B, a rain shower started, but we saw patches of blue sky so were not deterred from our plans for the day.

Our first destination was the Koala Reserve, where we were hoping to see some koalas, but we struck out. We did see 5 wallabies, a couple up fairly close. One of Jim’s colleagues told Jim today that the reserve may be one of the places that has lost all or most of its koalas due to some disease moving though the reserve. We have been wondering about the difference between a wallaby and a kangaroo so I did a quick Google search and there are 2 main differences. Wallabies are generally smaller than kangaroos and have fur that can be 2 or 3 different shades of brown. Kangaroos tend to be one dull shade of tan or gray. Apparently if you get the wallabies and roos to open their mouths, their teeth have differences too. 

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A wallaby at the Koala Reserve. Notice the multi-toned fur.

As we were  walking through the reserve, the noise from the Grand Prix course was really loud, considering it was at least a couple of miles away. The sound was being carried by the wind and we decided we needed to go back to the Grand Prix course and see what was going on.

We were able to pull up to a fence by the far straight-away at the race course and we watched some souped ups cars go zipping by. We know nothing about auto racing so I cannot tell you what kind of cars they were~just that they were fast and loud!

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Grand Prix Course, Phillip Island

From there we continued  on to see and hike near Pyramid Rock, one more rock formation just off shore with waves crashing around it! The rain had moved on and we only had to deal with the wind. We hiked to a couple of overlooks and then returned to the car.

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Who can find Pyramid Rock?

Our last stop was to Churchill Island, just a short bridge away from Phillip Island. This island is dedicated to the preservation of the farming lifestyle from this area in the 1800’s. They maintain herds of cows and sheep that were originally brought to the island. There is also a cafe there where we had our lunch overlooking the nearby bay. Our time here concluded with a walk around the tip of the island and the return of the rain.

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Moonah trees, Churchill Island

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Churchill Island cows.

We drove back to Melbourne to get serious about our final preparations for Tucker and Alison’s visit. They arrive on Tuesday morning and we can hardly wait!

Contest update: We have a nice list of name suggestions for our stuffed koala bear and kangaroo, but we are still accepting nominations until Wednesday. Don’t miss your opportunity to win a fabulous little Aussie prize!

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One more Pyramid Rock photo, with a crashing wave!

Go Karts and Penguins

Phillip Island- After a good night’s sleep at Silver Waters B&B, we drove to the southwest coast of Phillip Island to see an area called the Nobbies, a group of large rock formations just off the coast. There was a boardwalk along the cliff tops and we once again enjoyed watching the waves crash into the rocks and cliffs. It never gets old! Click here to see a short video do the surf.

Self portrait at The Nobbies.

Self portrait at The Nobbies.

The Nobbies, Phillip Island

The Nobbies, Phillip Island

Snakes, anything but snakes!

Snakes, anything but snakes!

From the Nobbies we drove to the other end of the island, to Cape Woolamai, on the southeastern point. We planned to hike a bit here, but the track was not obvious and we ended up walking on a sandy jeep trail, which eventually connected up to the trail we wanted to be on. We later realized that the trail started along the beach, but since the tide was in, we couldn’t walk there, and were supposed to use the jeep trail! This hike was another cliff walk and we were once again in awe of the cliff and rock formations and crashing surf.

On the Cape Woolamai hike.

On the Cape Woolamai hike.

The Ancient Rocks on the Cape Woolamai hike.

The Ancient Rocks on the Cape Woolamai hike.

Bay at the base of Cape Woolamai.

Bay at the base of Cape Woolamai.

We were really unprepared for this hike (no water or snacks!) and we returned to the car after about 4 miles of hiking and drove straight to the town of Cowes for lunch. Cowes is the biggest town on Phillip Island and the town in which we are staying.

View from our outside lunch spot in Cowes, Phillip Island.

View from our outside lunch spot in Cowes, Phillip Island.

One of the big attractions on this island is a Grand Prix course. A variety of races are held year-round on this course. For all would-be race car drivers there is a 1km replica of the Grand Prix track right next door and you can rent a Go Kart to drive! This sounded like fun to me so we paid our money, watched a training and safety video, got fitted with a helmet and were put into Go Karts with 18 other drivers! We got 10 minutes to race around the track and I am happy to report that I took last place! We were in with a group of hot-shot young guys who had all done this before and they went zooming round the course! It took me a lap or two to get my confidence! But it was great fun and I am glad we did it!

Go Kart course at the Phillip Island Grand Prix track.

Go Kart course at the Phillip Island Grand Prix track.

Drivers, start your engines!

Drivers, start your engines!

We returned to the B&B, changed into our biking clothes and did a quick 9 mile ride to and from the town of Rhyll. This was all the time we had because we had to get to the Penguin Parade, our reason for coming to this island!

Rhyll jetty, Rhyll, Phillip Island

Rhyll jetty, Rhyll, Phillip Island

The Penguin parade is the most popular wildlife attraction in all of Australia. A non-profit organization has set up viewing stands along the beach where, each and every evening at sunset, hundreds of Little Penguins come out of the ocean, waddle across the beach and up into their nests in the sand dunes. No photography of any kind is permitted so,I don’t have any photos to,share but I did find this YouTube video that gives you a hint of this procession! Click here to see the video, it is a tourism video, so enjoy the little penguins and disregard the touristy stuff! It was amazing to watch and to think that it happens every night, without fail! We’re glad we made the trip to see these Little penguins!

We drove by the penguin beach earlier in the day and had this view of the bleacher seating for the parade.

We drove by the penguin beach earlier in the day and had this view of the bleacher seating for the parade.

I am writing this on Sunday evening, back in Melbourne. I was having trouble inserting photos and the videos into the blog on the iPad, so I had to wait until I was home with my laptop to do that. Tomorrow I will write about our Sunday activities on Phillip Island.

Happy Birthday, Corey!