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Cairns, Port Douglas and the GBR, part 4A of SnR's Fabulous Oz Adventure

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Aug 20th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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Cairns, Port Douglas and the GBR, part 4A of SnR's Fabulous Oz Adventure

When last I posted about our trip, we had just flown out of Darwin at 5:50 AM. We stayed 9 days in the Far North Queensland area and here is a short version of our itinerary:
Day 1--( July 11) Wild World (aka Cairns Zoo) we had a ball, got pictures holding a koala to prove it.
Day 2--snorkel trip to Frankland Islands (the only day it rained our whole trip to Oz, and we were on a sunny island. How's that for luck) A good time was had by us both.
Day 3--Did the Kuranda thing, train up and Sky Rail down, shopped, bought a digeridoo. Delightful breeze, sunny, great. Met some great Aussies on the Sky Rail (and did the walks at the stops hauling the didgy and other souvenirs).
Day 4--Flew to Lizard Island with Greg at Daintree Air. Best snorkeling ever (although it was too short a time. Greg took us on a walk to view the Blue Lagoon "because when will you get up here again" but I think it was because the tide was too low to snorkel on the reef until later) NOTE FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO CRUISE THERE: the cruise ships are only allowed to snorkel in a small roped off area of Lizard Island, not in the Clam Garden part. NOTE FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO GO TO LIZARD ISLAND WITH GREG: check the cruise ship schedules and go on a day that they won't be there. It was disconcerting to be at our wonderful (and expensive) island adventure with a boat load of people ferrying to and from the ship. Luckily, they weren't snorkeling. Greg (or rather his charming wife Judy) provided an excellent lunch and the other people were nice. The most breath-taking parts of the day were (besides the excitement of the excellent snorkeling) the views of the reef on the way up and the sun setting behind the rain-forested mountains on the way back. We'd do it again in a minute (when our bank account recovers), but check the tides and cruise schedules first.
Day 5: Cairns Day--Cairns Historical Museum, small but interesting; Art Museum, excellent; rented a car--Flecker Botanical Garden, amazing; Reef Teach--startling at first because of Paddy's style of Irish shtick, but quite memorable and informative
Day 6--Last walk on Cairns' Esplanade--the light in Australia is quite extraordinary--then drive to Cape Tribulation, a short stop at the Bat House where they are nursing injured fruit bats, drive back to Mossman and a Dan Irby's night tour of the Daintree (except it wasn't Dan, but Ian). I loved it--the memories of scenes at sunset still lull me to sleep at night, especially the egrets flying over the water. I wouldn't recommend driving all the way to Cape Trib with a time constraint like we did.
Well, I have to stop now, but will post part 4B soon (Port Douglas and the GBR).
Wow, did we LOVE Australia or what!
Sally and Randy in Seattle
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Aug 20th, 2004, 09:46 PM
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Oh, I forgot to rave about the stars on the Dan Irby (albeit Ian) night boat tour. I was mesmerized. The Milky Way was so thick it looked like ice cream and the unfamiliar constellations made me feel like I was in another world. We were disappointed that we couldn't do the night tour at Uluru because of the clouds, and were wowed by the stars in Kakadu, but to be out in the wild with the stars overhead was truly awesome.
Sally
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Aug 22nd, 2004, 04:54 PM
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Nice report SnR and glad you enjoyed Cairns and area - wish more people realised the Flecker Botanical Gardens and Mt Whitfield walk just behind them are only about 4km from Cairns CBD.

In Australia you can own beachfront property but that doesn't mean you own the beach itself in front of property. Most beaches here are for public use. So you would expect to find cruise boats stopping at Lizard, after all, those cruises are very expensive too and passengers have every right to disembark.
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Aug 23rd, 2004, 03:35 AM
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Hi Sally

The Flecker Botanical Gardens are gorgeous ! Just discovered them myself on my last trip. Beautiful relaxing walk. Recommend to anyone in the Cairns area. We walked up from the highway after jumping off a bus, was only a short beautiful walk past the tanks? What are they, an art gallery? Pat?

Well worth a visit especially if you feel like some nature without leaving town.
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Aug 24th, 2004, 10:05 PM
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Well, Pat, I agree, and I was being extremely selfish, but if one can go on a day without the cruise ship passengers (and we almost were one of them so I don't begrudge them their use of Lizard) it would have been better. It would have fulfilled the fantasy of an island to ourselves better if we had come on a different day, so if other people were looking to book with Greg, they might want to consider the day. It was still the best snorkeling ever and the most wonderful experience. BTW, thanks for all your advice and comments. We benefitted greatly from them.
Sally
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Aug 25th, 2004, 12:26 AM
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Hi Jane, yes the Tanks are now an art gallery - originally fuel storage tanks from WWII for the military, when there was fear of Japanese invasion.

SnR - can't blame you for wanting Lizard Island to yourself, but it is a scheduled stop for quite a few cruise boats and liveaboards around its waters.
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Aug 26th, 2004, 12:20 AM
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Hi SnRSeattle

We also did the day to Lizard Island with Greg, we also walked all the way to the Blu Lagoon. Phew !!!
The kids loved swimming in the mangroves with him ( and the shark ) at the Blu Lagoon Beach.

I am Still not so sure how safe that was.( crocodiles )( sharks )Mangroves appear very inhospitable to me but I must say we did see lots of marine life during that swim.

I thought the scariest thing I had done in my life up until the mangrove swim was landing in the plane in a field covered with Cow and Bull (you know what ) We stopped off at an Aboriginal town on the way up to Lizard. That was an eye opener.
For various reasons.

But then swimming over the top of a huge Bull Ray in the mangroves came a very close second up until the shark which was as long as Greg swam past us so close you could reach out and touch the thing. The shark did not seem to notice us at all even though we were in his or her house as Greg put it.

The funny thing was Greg did not mention the shark either until I asked about it later on.

He sort of shrugged it off saying the sharks do not bother with bony old humans when they have all the fish in the world to choose from. I thought that a reasonable answer to my query about( WHAT IF )

The kids thought the day with him was just the best. And so did we.

But It did take an other two days to get over it. There were several small boats at the clam garden as well as a small ship. However we did not meet any other people all day except a group from the lodge taking part in a guided walk to the Lagoon as well.

God knows how he does that as often as he does and still fly's the plane home with out falling asleep. Even though the scenery was amazing during the flight home we all had problems keeping our eyes open.

The only advice I have for any one contemplating a day at Lizard with Greg is to make sure you have an early night the night before and be ready for the Australian Sun.

We stayed at Kewarra Beach and were glad we did. A little far out of town but on a very nice beach and very quite. Friendly staff and great food.
You have the feeling of being in the middle of the rainforest as the cabins are set amoung huge gardens.

We joined a couple of other tours from Kewarra that picked us up from the door as did Daintree Air.
We chose Oz Tours (www.oztours.com ) for our day in the Daintree which was a wonderful informitive day.

The fruit market in Cairns was interesting and well worth a visit.
We also went to the Gardens near the airport which we really enjoyed.
North Queensland (Cairns Port Douglas Lizard etc )was the high point during our much too short travels.

The Marriott at the circular Quay in Sydney is certainly worth a mention.
The day at Sydney Zoo was also very special and lots of fun for the whole family.

We enjoyed several days on the Gold Coast which was very touristy but wonderful for the children. We chose sea world resort mainly for the kids but really enjoyed it our selves as well. www.seaworldnara.com.au Perhaps it enticed a little of the kid out of us as well. Much water has flowed under the bridge since I have been on a water slide.

Would I do it all again ??? Absolutely !!!!!!!!!!
Sharks and all.
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