Australia Trip Report (Nov-Dec 2007)

Old Feb 20th, 2008, 06:53 AM
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Australia Trip Report (Nov-Dec 2007)

Trip Report:

My husband and I spent three weeks in Australia (late Nov-Dec 2007) and we received so many excellent suggestions through this board it inspired us to contribute! We are in our early 30's and very active. We are not luxury travelers and we're definitely not foodies so we won't have too many restaurant recommendations, but we did splurge on a few things like a Great Barrier Reef cruise and a few nice hotels.

Overall itinerary:

3 days - Sydney
2 days – Cape Tribulation
4 days - GBR cruise
3 days – Tablelands (1 night in Yungaburra, 1 night in Undara, 1 night in Cairns)
7 days - Tasmania

The entire trip was fantastic, but some of the highlights included: Coral Princess Great Barrier Reef cruise – the snorkeling was absolutely incredible!!!, our stay at the Cape Tribulation Exotic Fruit Farm, the wildlife at Undara, and beautiful Tasmania, especially Hobart, Mt. Field National Park, and Cradle Mountain.

Details:

We departed from Syracuse the day after Thanksgiving. I highly recommend traveling the day after Thanksgiving as the airports are dead and the planes are empty! The trip was very long (we flew from SYR to ATL to SFO to SYD), but we had an entire row of seats to ourselves on the flight to Sydney so we were both able to sleep for a few hours.

We arrived in Sydney at 8AM on Sunday. We breezed through the airport and followed the signs for the CityRail train. The train was very convenient so if your hotel is close to a train stop, I highly recommend taking it. We were staying at The Russell hotel (thanks to a few recommendations that we read on this board) and it is an easy walk from the Circular Quay train stop.

The Russell is in a fantastic location and is one of the least expensive hotels in the Rocks area ($135/night, shared bathroom). We arrived very early, around 9:30AM, and they quickly got our room ready. We were able to use the free internet while we waited, which wasn't long at all (this was one of the few places that we stayed in Australia that had free internet). We grabbed a quick shower and then hit the city as we wanted to grab as much sunlight as possible to help our bodies acclimate to the time. And we were so excited to finally be in Australia!

We walked around quite a bit our first day in Sydney. We explored the Rocks and browsed at a market. We walked across the Harbor bridge and had great views of the city on the way back. I am terrified of heights so I had no interest in doing to bridge climb. We walked around the opera house and through some of the botanical gardens. When we were ready to give our feet a break, we took the ferry over to Darling Harbor. It was a gorgeous day and it was great to have a chance to just relax. There was a Christmas Festival in Darling Harbor - it was strange to think about Christmas given the 80 degree weather since we're from NJ and NY. We went to sleep very early after the long flight and being in the sun and walking around all day (around 6PM or so).

The next morning we woke up around 7AM and felt great. We went for a 5 mile run around the botanical gardens and since it was a Monday morning, there were a lot of other people getting in their morning workout or heading to the office early. After the run, we had breakfast at The Russell (it's included in the room rate) and then went over to the Information Center at Cadman's Cottage to get a map for the Spit to Manly walk. They gave us directions to catch the bus which we found without any problems. The bus driver was really nice and let us know when we reached the stop and gave us directions to the start of the trail (it's not completely obvious since it's on the opposite of the bridge and opposite side of the road from the bus stop).

The walk was fantastic! It was very easy to follow and the scenery changes fairly often. We saw a lot of lizards and birds and we passed by a park with kids playing cricket so that was neat. We appreciated the parts of the trail that were shaded because it was pretty hot that day. When we arrived in Manly, we did some window shopping and had lunch. We continued on to Shelley beach and went for a swim – it was beautiful and the water was nice. We walked back to Manly to catch the ferry back to Sydney. Again, we were pretty tired and went to bed early after a drink and a light snack.

On our last day in Sydney, it rained most of the morning (one of the only times that it rained our entire trip). We were planning to go to Bondi Beach, but it was definitely not a beach day so we decided to go to the aquarium instead. We spent about 2 hours in the aquarium and when we came out, it was no longer raining. We decided to walk to the fish market, which took a long time since we made a few wrong turns and a lot people that we talked to did not know where it was located. We eventually found it and it was lunch time so it was pretty busy, which added to the charm. We bought some sashimi and ate at a communal table. The sashimi was excellent! We went back to the Rocks area and did some shopping. We had dinner that night in Darling Harbor at a Malaysian restaurant. We had a great time in Sydney and were excited about our next destination - Cape Tribulation!

The Russell Hotel: we thought it was an extremely good value for the location and included nice perks like breakfast and free internet. I would highly recommend it. As mentioned in other posts, there is no elevator so you have to be comfortable with fairly steep stairs and there is no A/C, but we were very comfortable with the ceiling fan. We asked for a room at the back of the hotel because we were concerned about the street noise, but we were so tired by the end of each day that it did not really matter.
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 09:19 AM
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marsfelder,
Thanks so much for the wonderful report. Can't wait for the next installment!

We will have one day in Sydney at the very beginning of our trip (plus more time at the end of the trip!) and had considered doing the Spit to Manly walk on that day (we will arrive very early on an international flight, and plan to check into our hotel early the way you did).

Does that seem like a workable idea? We'd have to go pick up the map the way you did. Also, we hope to keep walking once we reach Manly to visit Shelley Beach and also North Head. Not sure if this is realistic, time-wise? What do you think?
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 09:49 AM
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caligirl - I think your plan is realistic. If I remember correctly, the walk takes about 3 hours to get to Shelley Beach. If your hotel is in the Rocks area, it will be very easy to pick up the map from Cadman's Cottage and catch the bus to the Spit.

Just bring plenty of water with you because you might be a little dehydrated from the flight.
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 10:44 AM
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Cape Tribulation

Day 4: Sydney to Cape Tribulation

We caught an early morning train to head back to the airport for our flight to Cairns. We took a JetStar flight departing at 7:05AM, arriving at 9:15AM. We decided to rent a car through Sugarland Car Rentals based on Pat's recommendation on this board. The rates with Sugarland were lower since they offered an off-season rate and they also offered free pick-up at the airport and drop off at the wharf on our return.

This was our first time driving on the left-hand side of the road and we were both nervous. I volunteered to drive first. Thankfully, the drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation is very easy. It is one highway almost the entire way. Adjusting to the opposite side of the road was easier than we expected and neither of us had any problems – except for getting the blinker and windshield wipers confused.

We stopped at Mossman Gorge and went for a hike. It was fairly crowded because there was a tour bus there when we arrived, but it was still pretty and a very worthwhile stop. We ate lunch in town at a nice café – I don't remember the name, but they had very good wraps and vegetarian options.

We crossed the Daintree River fairly quickly and continued on to Cape Trib enjoying the beautiful scenery. We checked into the Exotic Fruit Farm and I'm so glad that we chose to stay here. The cottage was perfect and Alison and Digby were fantastic hosts. Since it was late afternoon when we arrived, we walked to the Dubuji boardwalk and admired the unique plants. We had dinner and then got a bottle of wine to enjoy on the deck of our cottage. They provided a citronella candle and I didn't notice the mosquitoes at all. It was heaven.

Day 5: Cape Tribulation

The next morning, we did a half-day rainforest hike with Noah's Valley Mountain Trek. It was fun, but our group was fairly large (~10 people). We learned a lot about the rainforest from our guide so it's definitely worth doing at least one guided tour. After the hike, we went for a swim at a swimming hole, but the water was far too cold for me. In the afternoon, we went kayaking with Cape Trib sea kayaking. We saw a few green sea turtles and enjoyed the view of Cape Tribulation from the water. There were only three other people kayaking with us. We also spent some time along the mangroves on the look-out for crocs, but I was actually relieved when we didn't see any! The water was so warm - it was definitely tempting to just jump in, stingers or no stingers. We both resisted the temptation since we would be leaving for our GBR cruise the next day.

Cape Tribulation Exotic Fruit Farm - I can't say enough good things about this place. The hosts were wonderful and the breakfasts are amazing! They bring you a huge platter of fruit and the best yogurt. You also get to choose one hot breakfast item and it's hard to decide!
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 03:38 PM
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Enjoying your report marsfelder - look forward to reading about your time in Tasmania.
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 07:23 PM
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Also enjoying your report and looking forward to reading more.
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 08:00 PM
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More please, I love trip reports!
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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 07:53 AM
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that's for posting ur report brings back fond memeories although wer stayed at the flying fox research station and definetly left before the breakfst
chr=eers
AndrewDavid
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Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 06:03 AM
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Thanks everyone! Here is the next installment of our trip report - it's tough thinking about snorkeling and the GBR while we are currently getting hit with a snow storm here in NJ.....

Day 6: Cape Trib to Cairns for GBR Cruise departure

We went for a run in the morning, had another wonderful breakfast at the Fruit Farm, and sadly said goodbye to our hosts. We did not have to board the cruise in Cairns until 4:00PM so we were able to take our time on the drive back south. We stopped in Port Douglas for a swim in the incredibly warm water – it's hard to believe that ocean water can get that warm! We browsed in the shops and then checked email in an internet café. We then headed to Cairns to return our car and Sugarland dropped us off at the wharf. Since it was after 2:00, we were able to check-in our luggage for the Coral Princess cruise.

Just a quick side note on why we chose Coral Princess. We were actually planning to go on a Captain Cook cruise because it was quite a bit less expensive, the itineraries seemed comparable, and my husband tends to get seasick so we were worried about the smaller size of the Coral Princess boat. However, when we contacted Captain Cook to make our reservations, they informed us that they would not be running any departures during that time because they were planning to do maintenance on their boat. We really wanted to do a lot of snorkeling and see the ribbon reefs so we decided to go ahead with the cruise plan and pay the extra amount for the Coral Princess cruise. We were very happy with our decision and had an incredible time!

I read a few negative reviews about Coral Princess on TripAdvisor before we left so I was a little nervous, but we had no reason to worry. We were very pleased with our entire trip and have no complaints.

The boat can carry ~42 passengers, but our cruise only had 17 passengers so we were upgraded to a bigger room. The first night, we had a really nice seafood dinner. The food was excellent and there were so many options. We had a great mix of people on the cruise, ages ranged from late 20s to a man from San Francisco that was 93! He was the only other American on the cruise so it was great meeting people from around the world.

Day 7: Coral Princess Cruise, Cooktown

We slept great our first night on the boat and did not have any issues with seasickness. Our first stop of the day was Cooktown. I think we had about 2 hours to spend in Cooktown so we decided to hike to the lookout with another passenger from the cruise. We had a little trouble finding our way, but we eventually met up with a woman from Cooktown that was heading that way for her morning workout. It was such a delight to meet up with a local person and learn more about the area. We talked the entire way, which made the long and steep climb go by quickly. The view is fantastic and worth the effort! There was also an option to go on a bus tour and the bus takes you here if you're not up for the hike.

I think the woman we met up with was just as happy to have company as we were to have a local tour guide so we hiked back down and wandered around town together. We stopped in a store selling local handicrafts and I bought a bracelet. There was a small market in town and one of the stands was offering doggie baths. We were already missing our dog so it was nice to play with those pups for a bit. We had a drink with our resident guide and it was time to shove off.

We were supposed to have our first chance to snorkel off an island in the afternoon, but the winds were not cooperating and were blowing in the opposite direction than they normally do, so this stop had to be canceled. Since we didn't get a chance to snorkel, Coral Princess offered sunset drinks on the upper deck before dinner.

Day 8: Coral Princess, Lizard Island & Ribbon Reef 9

When we awoke, we were moored (I think that's the right term) off Lizard Island. It was a beautiful day and we were excited about finally having a chance to snorkel. There was an option to get up early and do a hike on Lizard Island before breakfast. We really wanted a chance to see the island so we went along with three other passengers. We started on Watson's beach and hiked over the Blue Lagoon. The island itself was not what I expected and we didn't get a chance to see any lizards, but we did see some crazy bats and a few sting rays when we arrived at the other side of the island. The beach was really pretty and we were able to lounge for a bit while they sent the glass bottom boat over to pick us up. When we got back to the boat, we went for a glass bottom boat tour of the reef. This was the routine at each reef stop, which was a great way to get your bearings and calm our nerves since we were a little nervous.

We were able to spend as much time snorkeling as we liked. The reef was beautiful, with many giant clams, parrot fish, the list goes on and on. This was only the second time we went snorkeling so we were completely blown away by everything we saw. My husband and I were the first ones in the water and the last ones to get out, which seemed to be the routine at each stop. Since there were so few passengers on board and not everyone went snorkeling, the marine biologist guide was able to spend a lot time which each person pointing things out and answering questions. There were only three people that went diving (one experienced diver and two first timers) so I felt that the cruise really catered to the snorkelers.

We had lunch and then continued on to Ribbon Reef #9 for an afternoon snorkel. Since the winds were still blowing in the opposite direction, we had to moor on the ocean side of the reef (the deep side!). The water was a bit rough, but we were still able to go out on the glass bottom boat and snorkel. There was only one other couple that went in the water at this stop because of the rough water. We are really comfortable in the water and didn't have any trouble. When you are looking down at this amazing world of sea life, it was easy to get lost and not even notice the waves and the water was still amazingly clear. The fish were definitely bigger than the ones at Lizard Island and the coral was just as spectacular. The giant blue boulder corals were probably my favorite.

Our overnight anchorage was at Ribbon Reef #3.

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Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 08:33 AM
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Nice report, marsfelder. I live in New Jersey too and am home from work today (snow day--yay!). It's great to read about sunny Australia while looking out at our white winter day.

We'll be staying at Exotic Fruit Farm for 3 nights in June (as part of a 6-week trip to Australia), so it's great to hear that it is as nice as we hope it will be.

One question about the rainforest hike, and the sea kayaking. Did you reserve these in advance (before you left the U.S.)? I'd love some advice (from you and others on this board) as to how much we need to do in terms of advance reservations. It would be great to be able to play some things by ear, rather than book ourselves into activities and accommodations every day. What do you think?

The sea kayaking is definitely on our list. We've done some river and bay kayaking but never ocean kayaking. Can you say more about that experience?

Looking forward to the part of your report on the Atherton Tablelands. We're planning to spend 2-3 days there and haven't been successful yet in finding a place to stay (no response to our e-mails). Any recommendations?

Thanks again--keep it coming!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 11:35 AM
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waiting for the tasmania part too... ;> janine
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Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 05:27 PM
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Reading about your time on the Coral Princess takes my mind off the snow and cold outside So, thank you.


Aprillilacs, who have you tried to contact so far in the Atherton Tablelands?
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Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 10:24 PM
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Hi

So glad you enjoyed Australia and am pleased you took some walks.

For those interested there are terrific booklets about walks around Sydney and environs which you can pick up at any newsagents. That way you go beyond the usual trail of the Harbour in CBD and the Rocks -although they are beautiful.

I am surprised that I rarely hear about walking around the Gap in Watson's Bay(there is even a nudist beach nearby if you like sunbathing sans clothes)and you can catch a ferry to Watson's Bay

I love Bradley Head and Middle Harbour Walks = both the bush and the sea.

Of course if you have time and inclination you could walk the Great North Walk from Sydney to Newcastle - some 250 km north of Sydney - see information about it and other coastal walks at www.walkingcoastalsydney.com.au

See also the national parks site at www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au



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Old Feb 23rd, 2008, 08:23 AM
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aprillilacs -

That is great that you will have 6 weeks in Australia!

We did not reserve the rainforest hike or kayaking in advance - we just booked them the night before. I assume June would be a busier time of year, but you could probably email Alison & Digby to ask whether reservations are necessary at that time of year. It would be better to wait so you can juggle things around depending on the weather.

There are two places that offer kayaking and both places have a morning trip and sunset trip (our sunset trip started at 2:00 instead of 4:00 because they were worried about the winds picking up). We had never been kayaking before and we didn't have any trouble so you will definitely be fine. I think they adjust the distance and speed you travel depending on the experince of the group. Each trip is ~2-2.5 hours and we really enjoyed it. There is also a horsebacking riding tour offered around the same time and they were going by on the beach while we were kayaking so we got some neat pictures of all the horses on the beach. If we had more time, I think we would have done that trip as well.

For the tablelands, we stayed in Yungaburra at The Gables B&B (see website below for Yungaburra accommodation). Yungaburra is a really nice, centrally located town and it's easy to explore the area from here.

http://www.yungaburra.com/accommodation.htm

We really liked The Gables - we stayed in the self-contained flat and it was really spacious. We had more than enough room, the hosts were very friendly & helpful (detailed story about this still to come), and there was even a small kitchette if you feel liking cooking simple (after 6 weeks, I imagine you might want to cook a few meals).

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Old Feb 25th, 2008, 11:29 AM
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angelnot1 - your walk suggestions sound fantastic. I wish we had more than 3 days in Sydney to check-out all of the walks!


Day 9: Coral Princess Cruise, Ribbon Reef #3 and Rachel Carson Reef

The best day of snorkeling was definitely saved for last!!! The winds calmed down and the reefs and diversity of fish at both stops were amazing. We saw white-tipped reef sharks at ribbon reef #3 and a large trigger fish that was one of my favorites at Rachel Carson reef. We also saw a moray eel that our guide pointed out. I was happy to see him and then swim away quickly – they are scary looking! We also saw several really large cod, but I don't remember at which reef, and many, many species of fish that I don't remember the names of. We took a disposable underwater camera and while it is nice to have some pictures of the experience, the disposable camera does not even begin to show the brilliant colors of everything. It would have been great to have a really good underwater camera to try and more accurately capture the amazing underwater life and rainbow of colors. This day alone would have made the whole trip worthwhile. It is incredible to snorkel in such an amazing place with so few other people around.

At the last stop, our guide also conducted a show and tell session on board. He gathered a blue starfish, a few types of sea cucumbers, and a few other things to show everyone. It was a great opportunity to take some pictures of some of the common things that we saw and learn more about them.

For the last night on-board, they have a big barbeque, including crocodile, kangaroo, beef, and lamb.


Coral Princess Review: this cruise was one of the highlights of our trip. We loved the opportunities to snorkel with a small group of people and all of the stops were fantastic! The staff was very friendly and helpful and the food was excellent and plentiful. Our snorkeling guide was very knowledgeable and approachable. It was also a nice plus to have so few passengers on board. The only disappointment of the whole trip was not being able to make our first planned stop because of abnormal winds so we missed one opportunity to snorkel.

Day 10: Tablelands

We arrived back at the Cairns wharf around 8:00AM. Coral Princess called Sugarland Car Rental and arranged our pick-up. We picked up another car for the next segment of our trip – the Atherton tablelands and Undara lava tubes.

We headed north and made our first stop in Kuranda (since we had the car, we did not get a chance to take the train or cableway). We wanted to do the hike to Barron Falls, but we couldn't find the way (despite finding a few signs pointing the way) and we couldn't find anyone to give us directions. We gave up pretty quickly (I'm sure we missed something completely obvious) and decided to go to the Koala Gardens instead and hold a koala. It was a very special experience so I'm glad we did it. They are so adorable and unique. Kuranda is a really touristy town, but I think it's still worth visiting as part of a visit to the Tablelands. There were many other things to do, but we were ready to continue exploring.

Our next stop was at Granite Gorge outside of Mareeba to feed the rock wallabies. We were the only visitors at the time and we didn't see any wallabies at first because they blend in really well. However, they eventually start to come out because they know visitors = yummy food. The owners prefer that you feed the wallabies directly out of your hand because the rocks have so many feces on them. The wallabies were really cute and they are constantly hopping around and fighting so I'm sure kids would love a visit here. They also have a swimming hole and a few hiking trails that you can check out and we saw a few frilled neck lizards on the road into the Granite Gorge.

We enjoyed this stop, but it was the beginning of our camera saga and we did not get any pictures. I borrowed my parents' digital camera for the trip, which has rechargeable AA batteries. We didn't bother getting a converter before we left because I brought lots of disposable batteries. We did not realize that the camera wouldn't work with disposable batteries so we had to begin a hunt for a converter.

We planned to possibly visit Lake Tinaroo, walk around Lake Eacham, and check out Cathedral Fig and Curtain Fig, but we decided to head straight to Yungaburra instead and check into our accommodation. As I mentioned before, we stayed at The Gables B&B. Our hosts were very nice and suggested that we check out a few places in Atherton that might carry converters. As we expected, every place that we checked out had converters from Australian outlets to US or European outlets, but not the reverse. We went to at least six different places and almost gave up hope. However, we finally found a small electronic repair shop that had one in stock! We used up most of the afternoon, but at least we would have a working camera for the rest of the trip. We decided to stop in an internet café to check email and I'm embarrassed to admit it, but we stopped and got take out from KFC because we were ready to go back to The Gables and just veg. When we got back, we went to charge the camera and we realized that we left the camera at the internet café! It was just one of those days……….. We couldn't remember the name of the internet café so our hosts called a friend that worked in town who was able to give us the name of the place based on our description. She actually worked next door and agreed to ask them if anyone turned in a camera since they were going to be closing in a few minutes. We were very lucky because the camera was still sitting exactly where we left it. The café also agreed to stay open a little late so we could come and pick it up that night. So, we really wasted the rest of our day over the whole camera saga and had to heat our KFC dinner in the microwave.
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Old Feb 25th, 2008, 05:00 PM
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Really enjoying your report, I haven't been to FNQ in over a decade, you have inspired me to return.

Sorry to hear about the time lost with the camera converter (and the KFC)! Looking forward to reading your Tasmanian section.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 10:35 AM
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Almost to Tasmania (next installment)....

Day 11: Undara Lava Tubes

I forgot to mention that we actually did check out the cathedral fig and curtain fig the day before. They are so impressive!

Anyway, with our camera saga over, we started the drive to Undara. We visited Mt. Hypipamee crater and Dinner Falls on the way. We thought this was a beautiful place and there was no one else there. We spent about 45 minutes to an hour here before continuing on. It was great to see the changing scenery as we traveled from Yungaburra to Undara, although the sections of single lane road with two-way traffic took some getting used to. We were scheduled to go on a lava tube tour at 1PM so we didn't make any other stops. We arrived around noon and were able to check into our swag tent and go for a quick swim in the pool before our tour.

The guide for the lava tube tour had a great sense of humor and we all had a great time. The lava tubes are really impressive and beautiful. On the two hour tour, you visit three different sections and they are all quite different. We also saw another rock wallaby on our way to the first section and this time we had a working camera!

We went back to the camp and went for another swim because it was too hot to hang out in our tent. We went for a short hike and then read until it was time for the sunset wildlife tour. We were excited about the chance to see kangaroos because we hadn't seen any wild kangaroos yet. We only saw a few kangaroos and wallabies on the tour and most of them were somewhat far away. During the tour, we also made a stop to have champagne, cheese, crackers, and fruit at the top of a hill with a great view of the area. After the refreshments, we went to a different section of the lava tubes to wait for the nighttime ritual of the bats to start. This was definitely the highlight of the tour! As we were waiting, we saw a peregrine falcon waiting in a nearby tree. After the first few bats attempted an exit, the falcon swooped down and caught one on the first try. We watched the falcon fly back the nearby tree and start eating his dinner. When he was done with the first bat, he went back for seconds and caught another one, again on the first try!

When it was completely dark, the guide had us walk down to the edge of the cave as the bats began emerging in large numbers. He shined his flashlight (torch) on the cave walls and the trees to show us how many snakes had gathered to try and catch their dinner as well! It was nerve racking and thrilling at the same time. There was a snake on the cave wall only a few feet from where I was standing and hundreds of bats were flying overhead!! It was a very neat experience.

We went back to camp and had dinner at the lodge with an Aussie couple that also went on the sunset tour. They were less than a week into a planned 6-month tour of Australia and we were excited to hear about their planned adventures. The dinner itself was okay, but the dinner conversation was excellent and we were the last ones to leave. One tip if you plan a trip to Undara – make sure you bring a flashlight to dinner because it is COMPLETELY dark on the walk back to the swag tents!

Day 12: Undara, Tablelands, Cairns

I woke up early the next morning and when I exited the tent, I couldn't believe how many kangaroos and wallabies were out and hopping around the camp! I woke up my husband and we walked all around taking lots of great pictures. They must reproduce like crazy because it seemed like every other kangaroo had a joey in her pouch! It was great to see them interact with one another and they seemed a lot less skittish than the day before when we were in the van for the sunset tour. Now we could really appreciate why everyone on this board said that Undara is a great place to see wildlife. The bats, falcons, snakes, and kangaroos were completely worth the trip out here and the lava tubes made it even more special. We were very happy that we included Undara in our itinerary.

We went for another short hike around the area and then headed back towards Cairns. For our return trip, we did the waterfall circuit and then took the Gillies highway back to Cairns. We thought about taking the Palmerston Highway and stopping at Josephine Falls and the Babinda Boulders, but my husband wanted to have more of a rest day. He wanted to get to the Cairns hotel and just relax so we opted for the shorter route. The drive was very pretty! The waterfall circuit is okay – I don't think it's worth going out of your way to see, but if you are in the area and have the time then I would go ahead and do it.

In Cairns, we stayed at the Palm Royale Cairns, which we booked through wotif. This place did not get very good reviews on Trip Advisor, but we were just looking for an inexpensive place to stay and they offered a free shuttle into town and a free airport shuttle. Since we had an early morning flight the next morning, this was attractive to us and they also have a pool. We thought our room was just fine. The room was fairly large, it had a balcony, a king size bed and it was clean so we didn't have any complaints. The pool was quite large and it was very nice and the place was empty so we were definitely able to relax. We hung out at the pool for the afternoon, had an early dinner, and then read and watched TV – so a whole lot of nothing. We were happy to have the chance to rest up before the last leg of our journey – Tasmania.
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Old Mar 28th, 2008, 01:08 PM
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Thank you for writing this trip report. Am enjoying your travels. Tasmania coming soon?
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Old May 11th, 2008, 02:42 PM
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Wow, this is REALLY late (but better late than never, right?)! Here is the start of our Tasmania trip report.

Day 13: Hobart, Tasmania

We had an early morning departure from Cairns to Hobart with a short layover in Brisbane. Our flight departed at 6AM and arrived in Hobart at 12:25PM. As soon as we deplaned and entered the airport at Hobart, there was a complete downpour and our checked luggage was completely soaked. Thankfully, the rain didn't last long and by the time we picked up our rental car from Budget, the sun was shining. We headed straight to our hotel – The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel. We had a hard time finding reasonably priced hotel accommodation in Hobart and this was a bit more than we wanted to spend (~$130), but we really liked this hotel.

I'm glad that we took the early morning flight because it left us with plenty of time to wander around and we took full advantage. Hobart is such a charming and beautiful city! We walked around Battery Point, Salamanca Place, Arthur's Circus, and through the "downtown" area. We had dinner at an all you can eat sushi place – not the best sushi, but it was still good and cheap! My husband has a hard time getting full eating sushi and he definitely didn't walk away hungry. We had drinks at an old pub near Salamanca – can't remember the name. They had a folkish, bluegrass type band so that was a lot of fun.

Day 14: Hobart, Mt. Field

We woke up early and went for a run - taking the bike path to the Botanical Gardens. The bike path is a great place to run and we were able to pick it up almost directly across the street from our hotel. The botanical gardens were really nice too, but it's unfortunate that they are so close to the highway because the traffic noise is distracting. It is so inconsistent with the serenity of the rest of the park. After the run, we went to the Salamanca market and did some shopping since it was Saturday morning. The market has a great atmosphere and you can buy such a wide range of things. We picked up some dog treats, inexpensive stuffed animals (also for our dog), and some fruit for our trip to Mount Field.

We left for Mount Field National Park around mid-morning. This was one of the highlights of our trip to Tasmania – we loved this park and there were so few people here, especially on the trails further from the visitor's center. We loved how green and mossy everything was! If you're in the Hobart area and like to hike, I highly recommend making the short drive to Mt. Field. We spent the afternoon here before departing to Richmond and our overnight accommodation.

Once in Richmond, we stopped to take pictures and took a short walk around town. We then headed to Hatchers Richmond Manor, which we booked through wotif. This place also gets pretty bad reviews on TripAdvisor – I guess everyone has really high standards! The staff at Hatcher's manor is pretty rude, but we didn't interact with them other than checking in. Our room was really large and was located in a separate building. The room was clean, and had nice perks like a sitting area and mini-fridge. If the staff was friendlier, I think they could make this a really nice place to stay.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 02:14 AM
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We're still reading - keep it coming please...
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