Friday, 18 June 2010

Australia: 12. Kickin ' up Cairns and Last Train from Kuranda



Last time I was reporting of my adventures in the Land of Oz I was in Port Douglas. Pretty place to hang for a bit....


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Strange things you find in hostels....

 
Having not spending much time in Cairns when I arrived there the first time back in April, I ventured back there and into the Aboriginal Rainforest Regions of Kuranda on a skyrail flying over the beautiful rainforest. 'The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway' is one of the world's longest cableways stretching 7.5 kms over North Queensland's Tropical Rainforest to the cute village of Kuranda, nestled amongst the cocoon of the tropical rainforest - spectacular!


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Yeah that little black shadow blob in the middle there....yeah thats me
 

Upon descending at Kuranda after gliding for 90 minutes over the rainforest, the village itself sprawls out throbbing with quaint, eco market stalls as 'Boots' and I trudged around the aura of friendly locals - but of course very touristy as it provides a great day tripper for travellers from Cairns.  
I then took up a visit to a Rainforestation Park, which again is an enormous tourist park where I got better acquainted with some Aussie Wildlife Locals......


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yeah not the smartest idea....

 
Riding in Army Ducks through the rainforest with a 'true blue' Aussie guide (they're really cool, they drive on land and then plunge into water and drive like a boat)


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The highlight of my trip to Kuranda was witnessing a male Aborigine ceremonial dance performance which was very different to anything I'd seen before, which paid homage to the dream time stories and native Australian animals that different Aborigine skin names hold so sacredly. They even made fire in less than ten seconds...now they know how to survive. They later took us outside to give us a spear throwing, boomerang and primal hunting demonstrations - woowww!!!! watching six boomerangs being thrown at once swivelling through the air was incredible to watch. I decided to take a more adventurous way back into Cairns by walking down to the pretty little Kuranda station to find a traditional old steam train waiting for me how cute!

The Kuranda Scenic Railway took me 34km winding through the tranquil picturesque mountains and rainforest (waterfalls!) back to the cement, iron world of Cairns with the wind rippling through my way as we roared back into the city welcomed by the friendly waves of passer-bys who were all so familiar with the train passing through daily. Great Train Journey - highly recommend it. 
 
I was taken by the reef so much after visiting it off Cape Tribulation that I attended a marine school for a day back in Cairns being lectured about the World of The Great Barrier Reef (Do you know that Dory is actually a dangerous fish from Finding Nemo? No!)

Until next time....



Sunday, 6 June 2010

Australia: 11. Journey To The Great Barrier Reef


My 'stripper' friend came back to our room one morning and told me that she'd been out to the Great Barrier Reef, snorkelling. A small operator in the village were doing 'Eco Tours' out to the reef to explore. I had planned to go to Cairns to see the reef but here in Cape Tribulation, there were less people and less disturbance to the marine life and just hearing the word 'ECO' just swayed my decision. Of course I favour organisations which minimise the disturbance of the environment and to be honest if you wanted to be 100 % ecologically friendly, you wouldn't even travel and go places and not step foot around Planet Earth - life would kinda be pointless don't you think? so I signed up and was heading out nice and early on a high speed boat transporting me to the rainforest to the reef zipped up in a stinger suit brimming with excitement that finally I will be visiting one of the great wonders of the natural world. 
 


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But here's some info about it...courtesy of Lonely Planet. really I didn't know too much about it just that it was just one of Planets Earth's most precious treasures. The Reef itself is actually larger than the Great Wall of China stretching along the Queensland seaboard from south of the Tropic of Capricorn to the Torres Strait which is in the south of New Guinea and is archived to be between 600,000 and 18 million years old - that's pretty damn old! its said to attract about two million visitors a year but marine biologists and conservationists are continuously growing concerned that the Reef is dying out from warmer seas and the oceans rise in acidification because of yep you've guessed it, climate change and global warming.
Now I was one of those two million visitors and I now had the opportunity to see this spectacular showcase of natural beauty while it was here. Lucky I was doing it out here in the Far North area as the reef was only located 30km from the shore whereas in the
southern parts its way out there beyond 300km.


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After about a 40 minute speedy journey, our Skipper dropped anchor at a small sand island explaining how to snorkel and all the hand help symbols and all that - I was just eager to get in and slapping my flippers on with an underwater camera - I dived in never having snorkelled this far out in the open waters and was transported to a different world hidden beneath the calmness of the marine ocean surface


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Wow! One of my dreams was to the visit the Great Barrier Reef and I was extremely glad that I'd chosen do it but here. I went for a 2 hr snorkelling trip where there are no other boats around and the reef is totally unspoilt. It is like being transformed to another world as soon as your head goes under the water, its magical - swimming alongside turtles and fishes, watching the corals pulsating with collages of colours its a must do in life in general. I even found a star fish!



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Sea Turtle
 
Sea Turtle
 

Some more snaps from my underwater camera.....the colours are not done justice

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wow greatest biodiversity of an ecosystem on earth....check out some stats

1,500 species of fishies
400 types of coral
4000 breeds of clams
800 echinoderms like those funky sea cucumbers!
500 varieties of seaweed
200 birds
6 types of turtles!


STOP GLOBAL WARMING and come see this!!



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Won't forget that. Ticked off the list. Well there's been many adventures so far but that's the general memories of it but I'm heading back south to Cairns now to go explore the rainforest a bit more down there and then hopefully get some more work on a farm...with so many cool things to do your hard earned cash dwindles away so quickly - we'll see.


Hope you'll good! (weather is 30 degrees - nice!!!!)

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Australia: 11. Cape Tribulation and Rainforest Flying




G'day everyone!

Calling from Port Douglas! a swanky coastal town north of Cairns where the Aussie rich folk come to play. Last night I went 'Cane Toad Racing' in one of the bars on the main street, you bid for a cane toad which are Giant Toads which inhabit this part of Australia to place them in the race and then proceed to blow them off a round table, catch them, run across the bar and put them in a bucket - not as easy as it seems! but that was quite an experience dabbling with Aussie quirkiness.


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Of course I didn't win.


Well quite a change of scene for me since I left the Atherton Tablelands. All 'cashed up' (as the Aussie's say for having money) I hitched a ride with one of the locals from the Kairi pub to head further north to the mystery of the Daintree Rainforest boarding the two minute cable ferry to cross the Daintree River deliciously riddled with tropical crocodiles and word up hear was that some guy actually swam across the Daintree River as a result of a drunken bet...he did live to tell the tale.


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I then travelled 34km by sealed road into the ancient thick foliage of the Cape Tribulation rainforest area - indigenously named 'Kulki' but in fact the area was renamed 'Cape Tribulation' by the English Explorer Captain Cook where his ship ran aground causing 'tribulation' right?
 

                     



It is seriously paradise here and is the only place where the rainforest meets the reef - The Great Barrier Reef that is

Just like a desert island and not replusively crowded like the claustrophic beaches of Sydney - I love it! I was rooming with a girl at a beach lodge who was working as a stripper in Darwin (interesting conversations) and our eco friendly lodge, its electricity powered by generators and solar energy fitting nicely into my earth saving ways.
The lodge also backs onto the beach, I couldn't ask for more. Life is so simple and uncomplicated. I think the photographs say it all.


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I Love it Here!!!!!!


Exploring the coastal rainforest area on my trusty borrowed bike, the Government are very clued up about the
dangers of crocodiles that may be lurking in the mangroves and caution of marine stingers that inhabit the waters this time of year. Vinegar boxes are laid out on the beach with clear instructions of treating any unfortunate souls who are stung. Cringe. These things can kill you out here. Was funny to notice the signs here are in English and German....mmmmm



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Not that this should put you off by any means, the rainforest life is gorgeous and I captured the rare sight of a Lace Monitor strolling around his domain on the sand and took a visit to a voluntary Bat Hat in the Rainforest Village - avoiding throwing caution to the wind of my awareness for wild Cassowarys (remember, the most dangerous birds in the world they say) which you may see on the way as I rode to the village.


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I never did - but there's plenty of signs telling you what to do if they freak out. The simple rule is, leave them alone and they'll leave you alone. Simple. They do look quite cute though, like big bright blue emus.
Well the Bat House is a local conservation organisation which is a cute nursery for fruit bats, I even met two of the residents themselves 'Joker' and 'Edward'....mmmm wonder what inspired their names. 


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I signed up for a night walk in the rainforest (highly recommend it) armed with 'Boots' coming in handy yet again with headtorches and was taken deep into the lowland rainforest to see what the night would bring. My guide informed me about the wonders of the Queensland rainforest, things I hadn't even seen out in the Amazonia of South America - pieces of wood that glowed in the dark and a sea of glowing mushrooms on the forest floor, not 'magic mushrooms' by any means. Apparently the Australian Art Producer of 'Avatar' had gathered his inspiration from his travels here. I was also lucky to spy a tree dragon, cleverly trying to disguise itself on a tall slim tree trunk and of course the tree you want to go nowhere near....the stinger tree ahhhhh no really do not go near it.


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The next afternoon I had a go at 'jungle surfing' (leads to the imagination) - its a lot of fun. You strap yourself to a flying fox harness and you fly about 25m above the rainforest canopy on a zip wire to a series of towers scattered across the jungle - is awesome you gotta do it, even upside down. Quite rightly I was wearing a helmet saying 'Peter Pan'

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To Leave You with...