Back home, and already planning next year's trip!

Oct 7th, 2004, 11:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 424
Back home, and already planning next year's trip!

Hi, all you helpful Fodorites out there.
I want to be in Cairns right now, with the warm weather! We left Brisbane on Sunday at 12:40p.m. in 29 degrees, and arrived in Wellington at 10:00p.m. to 8 degrees! A bit of a shock after two weeks of singlet tops, shorts and sandals. It has warmed up a little but once again I am in the thick winter woollies.
Pat, I wish we had taken your advice and gone with either Ocean Spirit or Wavelength! I chose Quicksilver, and the day we went was windy (although I have had much worse winds going across Cook Strait!) so the water for snorkelling was choppy, and there were not many fish. At least I learnt to snorkel which was so exciting for me. I had no problems with the asthma side of things, either. My poor husband decided the sea did not look too good so he is still waiting to learn.
We found the Undara Lava tubes absolutely awesome, and would recommend a visit. We wished we had stayed overnight to take advantage of the night tour, and a longer tube tour. The Savannah Guides are a mine of information about the land approaching the tubes, as well as the tubes of course. I am hoping the photos I took do justice to the wonderful colours on the ceilings of the tubes.
We had arranged to hire a car for two days, planning to visit the Mareeba Wetlands as well as other points of interest. I was bitterly disappointed to be told that under no circumstances could we take the car on the unsealed road to the Wetlands. Anyone hiring a car, do check what the hirer's conditions are before you hire in case you strike the same problem.
We visited the Golden Drop vineyards, and left with a few dollars less in the pocket and a delightful taste in the mouth. I toured the Coffee Works while my husband, a tea drinker, visited the Museum. Both of us enjoyed our experiences, and as with the vineyard I left the Coffee Works lighter in the pocket but with more weight in the suitcase. One of my great purchases was of a cafetiere (plunger) cup, which I have used every day at school. The children have been enjoying the aroma of Australian coffee! My husband found the museum interesting too.
At least with a set of wheels we were able to go to the Garden Room for dinner one night, which was totally superb, delicious, and a great experience. Would most certainly recommend it, and can see why you rave, Pat and Andrew. What a lovely lady Phoebe is, and what a wicked sense of humour she has. The other night out was to Nick's in Yungaburra. A different style of meal but also very enjoyable. Will return to both next year, and try to add a couple of others in, too! As an aside, I STILL haven't seen platypussies in the wild!
We are very grateful to Cairns for again putting on the Festival of Light Parade and fireworks for our last night in Cairns!!
From Cairns we travelled on the Tilt train to Townsville. This tilt train was much nicer and more comfortable than the tilt train we travelled on between Brisbane and Rockhampton three years ago. We stayed with friends in Townsville, although we did have one night on Magnetic Island. Again I would recommend at least two nights and one full day there to take advantage of the diving / snorkelling tours, as well as a chance to look around the island and just to sit on the beach and enjoy the sun. We were bitterly disappointed with our accommodation which turned out to be a backpackers place, and to boot they had no record of our reservation. Thankfully I had their confirmation email with me. Also, as a person who is used to being able to buy a cup of coffee in the early morning (i.e. 6 - 7:00 )I was suffering caffeine withdrawal symptoms when we finally located a very pleasant cafe open for breakfast at 8 a.m.! Our daughter, who met us at the train and who we haven't seen for 3 years as she has been living in London for 5 years, enjoyed a short dive at Alma Bay. She is looking forward to going back next year and diving the Yongala.
Surfers was the 'rest' phase of our holiday. We did go to Byron Bay, along with everyone else in Australia, on the last Friday of the school holidays, but because of the mist then rain we were unable to see much at all. Must go there again next year.
I was on the beach at Surfers just before 5:00 a.m. to watch the sun rise - a particular penchant of mine is watching the sun rise. It is different every day.
Did enjoy some whale watching from our 6th floor apartment on the Saturday morning. I was so thankful to discover that the boat I was watching make heavy weather and little progress across the sea was in fact the tail flukes of a humpback whale having a wonderful frolic on a beautiful sunny morning!!
Forgot to mention our day tour of North Stradbroke Island. A very pleasant day, highlighted by seeing dolphins frolicking, and whales spouting. What an interesting island this is.
Hope your elections go well tomorrow!! Thank you for your help, folks. The only thing I had difficulty with was locating books of legends. Oh well, maybe next year.
dotty is offline  
Oct 8th, 2004, 01:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 151

Hi Dotty,

Great to hear you had a great time. No fishes though, hard to believe, I saw so many tens of thousands of them! Did you scare them off with a Helen Clarke impression lol just joking!

Yes election time tomorrow. I feel very left out, both parties have targeted all sorts of demographics with election promises except mine poor me. Guess I am the demographic that will have to pay for it all lol.

Anyways hurry on back !
Jane_47 is offline  
Oct 8th, 2004, 05:40 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Hi Dottie - what a shame - I wish you'd dropped in, we live only about 8 doors from the Garden Room. So glad to hear that you took the 8km drive out of Cairns city to Stratford to find it - truly a feasting treasure.

You're the second person in that many days who has mentioned not being able to take a regular rental car to Mareeba Wetlands. Only yesterday I checked with local rental car company in Cairns, Sugarland Car Rentals who have absolutely no problem with it - after all there's only a short distance of level dirt road and I've seen many non-4Wd rentals in their carpark.

Sorry you copped a windy day to the reef - unfortunately this year those SE trade winds have been particularly strong and long-lasting. I hate to tell you this, but today is was around 29C without a cloud in the sky with a zephyr of a breeze, ideal reef conditions. Weather is the most important element in any reef trip - in a nutshell, less wind, better visibility. Perhaps next time for optimum reef conditions try from mid-October, even in January, (excluding slight chance of cyclone) sea is like glass with fantastic visibility.
pat_woolford is offline  
Oct 8th, 2004, 10:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 424
Jane, Have the same problems with being the only demographic group who seems to have to pay for everyone else's "rewards" at election time!
I should correct the impression I have obviously created - there were fish at Agincourt, but very few varieties which I was disappointed with after seeing so many at Green Island last year. Now why didn't I learn to snorkel last year?! I did discover one very vital piece of information while snorkelling -fish do not stop and pose for you! I suspect I have rather a lot of photos of the bottom of the ocean!
Pat, I did hum and ha about calling in but thought it might have been considered presumptuous! Will definitely do so next year, promise. And thanks for the info about the rental car company. Will get on to them when it is closer to the date. This year's rental was organised for us by someone else. Sadly, unless we win Lotto, we are restricted with our times to visit by the school holidays, so it will be the same time next year. We were offered the choice of going that day to the reef or changing to later in the week but chose to stay with the day because of our plans involving the rental car.
On our trip to Undara was a middle-aged Canadian brother and sister, who had been to Michelmas Cay the day before. They were so full of praise for the crew, and their dedication to ensuring that everyone who wanted to snorkel was given the opportunity. The sister was not a swimmer, and struggled for some time until one of the crew suggested she lie across a rubber tube and snorkel that way. I was impressed! Another good reason for choosing Ocean Spirit.
dotty is offline  
Oct 9th, 2004, 03:47 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,630
Hi Dottie, Glad you enjoyed the Gardebn Room and meeting Phoebe. Sorry you missed Pat and Mike and staying at Lilybank B&B, the pride of Stratford!.

AndrewDavid is offline  
Oct 11th, 2004, 12:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 424
Pssst! Andrew,
Don't let on but we are hoping to stay at Lilybank next year if Pat will have us!
You must have been in Cairns around the same time as we were - 20 - 26 September. Where do I find the first part of your report that talks about Tully, please?
dotty is offline  
Oct 11th, 2004, 07:24 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,630

Type in: The Great Flood at the Tully River or our adventure at the Euramo Hotel; or do a search under AndrewDavid and find the earlier reports of our April13- May 15 trip down under: Sydney, Blue Mtns, Tasmania and the Whitsundays. We too are hoping to come back soon visiting new friends in Sydney, Canberra and Cairns and then heading out west for the Kimberley, Monkey Mia and Shark Bay.

Would really like Pat and Mike to come out here and bring Phoebe with them!

AndrewDavid is offline  

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