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Australia & New Zealand 2003

Los Angeles - Sydney - Brisbane | Mackay - Hamilton Island | Cairns - Great Barrier Reef
Port Douglas | Darwin - Perth - Adelaide | Melbourne | New Zealand | Tasmania - Blue Mountains
Retrospection
(click any image to enlarge)

Cairns

The next day we boarded a small plane and flew to Cairns. While flying I got my first glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef (from 20,000 feet, through a plane window. The picture is all that you might expect). We arrived and were driven to a beach resort. The Australians buy beach condos and rent them out by the day or whatever for the time they do not use them. Therefore we are not really staying in a hotel, but in a time-share. It is nice but lacks the amenities of a hotel. For example, the room is not set up for a computer (I am typing this on the kitchen bar and there are no facilities for Internet in the facility). But it is pleasant and, to Carol's delight, has plenty of TV (!).

We took a cab into Cairns. The tours planned were going to have us miss the City but I felt that I would at least like to see downtown as I was getting a lot of seashore views. It turned out to be a relatively large beach community with blocks of shopping facilities. As we saw in Brisbane, the city created a park side swimming facility: in Brisbane, by the river, and in Cairns by the ocean. The sunbathers and swimmers use the facility rather than the larger body of water.

The city itself was pretty funky. Loaded with kids of all ages. It looks like a college hang-out city and so the stores cater to this crowd. Every third shop sells food or drinks and many have live entertainment. Looks like Coney Island without the Ferris Wheel. We came back to our community and walked along the beachside. As I said, lots and lots of condos being built and sold as semi-time shares. The ocean is very rough today - the weather is peculiar, it is not supposed to rain this time of year (and has been) and is not supposed to be windy (it is).

Today we went on a real tourist day trip. We started in the morning on an old railroad line that led up to the tablelands in back of Cairns. The train climbed for 2,500 feet or so, winding through gorges and through many tunnels. The line was put in at the end of the 19th century and was all done with pick and shovel. The scenery is, as all such climbs are, spectacular. It cuts through rain forest all the way and ends at a little town that stays alive selling tourist stuff.

At the top, after going to several markets and shops (one gift), we turned around and headed for the tram to take us back down the mountain. It is supposed to be the longest and highest tram in the world. Whether it is or not, it was plenty high enough for me. I now know what wash feels like swinging from a clothesline. I am not a great fan of this type of "thrill" (Mike would have loved it). To make matters worse, the day became very windy and the tram swung more than I was comfortable with. Our guide made me feel better by talking with me and diverting me as one would a child (she was a nurse in an earlier life). Besides the "thrill", the sights of being on top of a rain forest is pretty neat. I only saw one orchid though. On the other hand, the bird life, there and, in fact, everywhere we have been the last week or so is abundant and incredibly colorful.

The day ended with us going to a tourist center that showed native dances, a film on the history of the aborigines, and one on their religion. We then proceeded to a section where we were taught how to throw a boomerang (I wanted to learn to show Sean). I did fine, Carol less so. The next section was a lesson in spear throwing. I did not so fine, Carol very well. This means that I am best at sports (the boomerang that returns is only for sport and kidding around) while Carol is more proficient at the things that put food on the table.

Great Barrier Reef

A rainy, windy hung-over day that only crazy people and those on a schedule would go to the reef. We boarded a catamaran and were ferried for an hour and a half to the reef. Unfortunately, it was heavy seas and the boat rocked all the way. The destination was a platform constructed at the far edge of the reef. By the time we got there, the sun was out again but the wind kept up. This meant that the view of the reef was cloudy as the wind stirred up the bottom. We passed on the scuba diving and the snorkeling but boarded a semi-submersible and went around the reef - twice. We also went down to a chamber they have at the bottom of the platform. In spite of the weather, the platform was mobbed but most of the people went snorkeling or diving leaving the submersibles to us. It was like being inside a fish tank. Very eerie, very exotic, awesome! The ride back was equally rough but was punctuated by rain. All in all an incredibly memorable day.
     

Los Angeles - Sydney - Brisbane | Mackay - Hamilton Island | Cairns - Great Barrier Reef
Port Douglas | Darwin - Perth - Adelaide | Melbourne | New Zealand | Tasmania - Blue Mountains
Retrospection


HOME  |  AUSTRALIA 2003  |  ACROSS AMERICA  |  IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA  |  VIETNAM  |  AFRICA  |  AROUND THE WORLD 2009  |  SOUTH AMERICA 2009  |  LEGENDARY CULTURES 2011
  |  TURKEY AND GREECE  |  CIRCLE THE ARCTIC