More Australia Pictures: Cairns and the Rainforest
First of all, Cairns is pronounced "kanz." We arrived on July 20 and stayed until July 24, though the first two full days we were on a SCUBA dive trip.
Here is the view as we approach from the north to land. It looks amazing from the air. The rainforested mountains meeting the turquoise waters...
Craig decided that he loved the place and wanted to move here even before he got off the airplane.
Learning to Drive on the Wrong Side
We decide to see the sights inland of Cairns. Rather than take a bus tour, we opted to rent a car, what could be more fun than driving a manual in this left handed country. Driving along a one laned highway is mainly without worries but getting back on or turning can be difficult. A couple times we forgot we were no longer driving on the right side of the road and turned into oncoming traffic. Craig calls the passenger seat "boomerang" instead of shotgun. It's this persons responsibility to navigate to the next location but also to perform continuous lane checks, are we on the left side of the road?
Len was the first one to try driving on the wrong side.
Does that not look sketchy? Just when you've mastered driving during the day, you find yourself on the highway at night. You expect the oncoming headlights to pass you on your left, but they don't. Then you fight every urge to swerve right.
Craig standing next to our tiny Daewoo rental car.
Exploring the Rainforest
Rainforest flowers at Millaa Millaa falls.
Craig Standing next to Millaa Millaa falls. With clear water, it would have made a good swimming hole.
Elinjaa Falls down the road from Millaa Millaa.
We had to be very careful in the rainforest. There are several species of trees and shrubs that leave painful stings. One called the Gympie Gympie Tree causes burns that last for 2-3 months if you so much as brush against it.
Here is a giant Fig tree with its roots that grow down from the branches.
Here is the Esplanade as Australians always call the road closest to the waterfront. We stayed in the Caravella's 77 hostel in the light blue building.
Here is a view of our hostel room for those that wouldn't ever venture there.
Unfortunately, Cairns doesn't have beaches. It has mud flats instead. So at low tide, this is the view of the esplanade. The fact that you have to go up or down the coast to hit beaches probably keeps a lot of people away. This leaves a young, adventure(SCUBA, skydiving, outdoors) crowd and not just a bunch of lazy tourists.
The Leech Hike
Naturally, we decided that we were going to climb the tallest mountain in Queensland. So we left the hostel at 5:30am to go climb Mount Bartle Frere south of Cairns. We got to the rainforest and it was raining. We went anyways. A 5000 ft vertical ascent over five miles and back down...
We started. It was steep, dark, overgrown, and wet. An hour into it Craig found these strange forest leeches crawling up his pants like inchworms. Gross, but not going to stop us. Never. Craig tucked his pants into his socks. He starting taking leech-removal breaks to flick them off. Two and a half hours into it, he noticed a spot of blood on both ankles. And we were covered in bloodsucking leeches...
Len Crosses a creek. An aussie hiker pointed out a leech on Len's chin. So we turned back even though we were 2/3 the way up. Saw a tree kangaroo. And hiked back to the car, de-leechified, and drove to the beach instead. And continued to bleed from leech wounds.
The park was a haven for these really big strange looking birds called cassowaries that lived on Mount Bartle Frere. They look like something from Jurassic Park. Here is a picture, though it is at from a zoo in Sydney.
Both of Craig's ankles continued to bleed for two hours (because leech saliva has an anti-clotting agent). There's a picture of a tiny one on his thumb. Not scary you say? How about when there are three dozen on you at one time, they're crawling up you, and they get really big when they suck your blood.
We leave the mountain and go to a rural bar at 11am to get bush tucker. We order fish and chips. There are already three Aussie drunkards in there boozing.
After the leeches, we decide to go to the beach north of Cairns to unwind. The water is muddy because we are close to the estuary of a large river.
Len standing next to the car, as we prepare to go to the airport. We had a 5pm flight to Brisbane. We rent wheels then drive three hours north from there to arrive in Hervey Bay by midnight. The following morning we rent a 4x4 for Fraser Island before the contract for the above car expires. Thus, we has three cars under rental contracts at the same time.