Friday, July 21, 2006

Part 7 - Mission Beach and Atherton Tablelands

We headed south to Mission Beach and the Atherton Tablelands for a few days before returning to Cairns for our flight home.

The area is inhabited by the cassowary bird - a flightless creature with a huge growth on its head that doesn't look healthy. Apparently it helps the bird make its way through dense rainforest. We did come across a young one as we drove and Heidi was quick enough to get a photo. The second cassowary photo was taken at a wildlife reserve in Sydney - just wanted to show what an adult looks like!

The area grows sugar cane and bananas. We saw tons of sugar cane but unfortunately the banana trees and crop were decimated by Cyclone Larry that tore through the area in March. Its aftermath was still obviously on our trip - broken trees and houses with tarps keeping the rain out were everywhere. Now we understand why bananas are $15 per kilogram at grocery stores!

We made several stops in the Atherton Tablelands including a Platypus Lookout (didn't see any), a waterfalls near Mission Beach, a curtain fig tree and Millaa Millaa falls!

We even crossed a washed out road to get to a local swimming hole named Alligator's Nest (weird name considering there are no alligators in Oz).

Our journey back to Cairns took us up and over Mt. Belleden - talk about wild S turns! We never imagined Australia being so mountainous.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Part 6 - Moore Reef

Are ya ready yet?

As mentioned earlier, we enjoyed our first dive on the reef but we figured other areas must be better otherwise they wouldn’t call it the GREAT Barrier Reef! We found the GREAT Barrier Reef on our second trip on the water. Moore Reef was exactly what we were expecting. The Sunlover reef trip proved to be well worth the money. We snorkeled several times, rode in a glass bottom boat, cruised in a semi-sub, observed fish in the underwater theatre, held sea slugs and starfish, and enjoyed a prawn lunch. The boat arrives at a pontoon permanently stationed on the reef where we are given our gear. Then it’s time to jump into the middle of the reef. Unbelievable colours of coral, an array of fish, giant clams that could swallow you, lazy sea cucumbers and a friendly sea turtle! It has to be the most relaxing/entertaining/visual stimulating/beautiful activity we’ve ever enjoyed! We wanna go back already! (Click on the photos to enlarge and get a closer look!)

Faster Charlee, they're catching you!

Glass bottom boat tour over the reef. Charlee and Heidi take to the water like fish.

Hey Dude! (If you've seen Finding Nemo you'd know what I mean!)

Dave and Charlee went in for one last dive to look for Nemo and his dad, Marlin!

No luck finding Nemo and Marlin but we did find Nemo's cousins playing in the anemone!

View from the underwater theatre!

What an awesome adventure!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Part 5 - Kuranda

Our next adventure took place in the mountaintop town of Kuranda. You can drive to the top but the windy road isn’t nearly as much fun as the Skyrail. The journey takes you 7.5 km over dense rainforest allowing you to stop at two locations for a first hand look at the forest. The 50 minute trip across two peaks to the top of another peak leads you to Kuranda – a small hippie town from the 1960s! After a quick look at the numerous markets selling cheap souvenirs, we headed off to see a bat woman and take a hike through the rainforest.

Holy Batman!

This poor croc's gonna make a nice pair of shoes!

Yet another nice nature walk!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Part 4 - Hangin' Out in Palm Cove

Charlee and Adam really enjoyed Jameson and Maia's company in Palm Cove. We've gotten together with the DiNuccis a number of times on our exchange and they've proven to be good travel mates - easy going, relaxed and fun! We plan on getting together again in the near future!