Once again we are way behind but hopefully we will catch up soon. We are currently in New Zealand and having a blast. This is the 1st blog on our Australian travels….
We arrived in Australia on 8/26 after leaving Bali. We flew to Cairns which is in Northern Queensland on Australia's East coast. Cairns (pronounced cans) is known for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and this seemed a good spot to start the trip. We arrived with no plans other than a flight to New Zealand 9/18 out of melbourne so we decided to rent a car and figure it out as we went.
After staying overnight in Cairns we spent the next day exploring the Daintree National Park, driving as far north as Cape Tribulation. This is the furthest point you can drive in far North Queensland without a 4WD vehicle (we had rented a Camry hatch back) and it is the only place in the world where 2 world heritage sites meet, the Daintree rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
Marine stingers are a real problem I guess. Good thing they weren't in season.
Crocs can also be a problem…
Cassowarys are an endangered bird found only in Australia. The are big birds and can weigh up to 60 Kgs. There are many signs on the roads in the Daintree warning of potential cassowary crossings.
Literally 2 Kilometers after stopping to take a picture of this sign we spotted a cassowary and 2 chicks. Unfortunately by the time I got my camera ready this was all I managed to get. You can see a chick on the far left.
The next day we decided that since we were so close to the Great Barrier Reef we might as well go explore it. We took a day trip to the outer reef for a little snorkeling and Scuba Diving. The boat we were on was the calypso.
For insurance purposes I must say that I was not planning this dive when I had my phone interview. It was totally a last minute decision!
The coral was very colorful
We did see a white-tip reef shark but unfortunately I just have a video of that. It was only later that I was informed that these sharks are the “pansies” of the ocean because the have no teeth. Interestingly they are one of the few sharks that are able to stop swimming because they have developed a way to pull water through their gills while staying still.
Before leaving the far north we stopped at mossman gorge which is in the Daintree park. We went for a short hike through the forest and nearly stepped on a 10 foot python laying across the trail. Arpita was leading the way and nearly knocked me over when she saw what she had almost stepped on!
We also stopped at the Millaa Millaa waterfalls. This is supposedly the most photographed waterfall on the continent.
There were several waterfalls in the area including zillie and ellinjaa. This is a pic of Ellinjaa
From there we made our way down to Airlie beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Now there is no such thing as the Whitsunday Islands (although that is what the national park is called). There is a Whitsunday Island, and a Whitsunday passage but collectively the group of Islands is known as the Cumberland Islands. Anyway, we booked a 2-night tour on a Catamaran named the Whitsunday Adventurer. We set sail around noon of our 34th day with 5 other couples and 2 crew members. The 1st afternoon was pretty much spent sailing before we anchored and spent the night in a place called tongue bay.
The next morning we took a raft to the shores of Whitsunday island and another one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Whitehaven Beach
What makes this beach unique is that the sand is 98.67% silica. No other beach in the world has more than 70% silica. The high percentage makes the sand very fine and very soft. It also does not get hot, squeaks when you walk on it, can polish jewelry, and easily damages electronic equipment.
The pictures don't really do it justice.
After the beach we made our way to a a couple of snorkeling sites near another island before anchoring for the night. We did have a hot-tub on board and after snorkeling Arpita and a couple of the other girls decided to use it to warm up.
What's better than a hot tub, and cold beverage? Bubbles!
The next morning we awoke to 2 humpback whales swimming nearby.
One even breached but I wasn't quite quick enough
After a morning snorkel we sailed back to airlie beach. We had a great time and it was definitely one of the many highlights of our trip so far.
For our next stop we decided on Fraser Island. This is the largest island in the world made entirely of sand. It is akso known for having a large population of dingos. There are many ways to explore the island but we choose an organized tour. Here are some highlights from the 2 day tour.
These were what nearly all the roads looked liked. The only access to the island is a ferry and vehicles must be 4WD.
It may just look like sand but there is a stream there that is around 2 feet deep.
Lake Wabby. This is a barrage lake formed when sand is blown across a creek or river creating a blockage of water and thus a lake. The sand will eventually cover the whole lake.
Nothing to do with Fraser Island but I thought it was interesting that I saw this flavor for the 1st time there!
We took a plane ride on our second day. You can see how the sand has blown over and into the forest. Again, ALL of the island is sand!
This is a Dingo. He had just stolen a fish from some fisherman. This was one of 2 we saw on the island.
The beach was the main “highway.”
Champagne pools. Water from the ocean breaks over the rocks and forms these pools. They were not very warm this day but we got in them anyway!
The wreck of the Maheno. This was a luxury cruise liner that was sold to a Japanese company for scrap. The engines had been removed so the ship was being towed to Japan in 1935 when it got caught in a cyclone, broke the tow line, and ended up on the beach. Multiple attempts to remove the ship failed and now it is a permanent resident on Fraser Island.
Stay tuned for our next update!!