Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rainforests...reefs...and relaxation

There is a very good reason people travel from far and wide to visit Australia and the Queensland coast.  It is breathtaking.  The Coral Sea butts up against the Daintree Rainforest, estimated to be 180 million years old, where you feel like you're on a soundset for Jurassic Park.

After Roger spent five weeks in camp battling flies and heat, we met in Cairns and then jumped in our rental car and headed an hour up the coast to Port Douglas.  The town is touristy without being crass.  No Starbucks, high rise hotels, or people flogging timeshares.  We stayed in a great apartment, the Regal, just off the happening Macrossan Street and 2 blocks one way to the marina, and 2 blocks the other way to Four Mile Beach.

Cairns marina
Cairns Marina
Fortunately, it wasn't stinger season, but stations like this were on all the beaches
Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. We could literally count the people on the beach; the sand was super soft and the water warm.
Check out the water temperature.....28C!
Prawns...oysters...Sauvignon Blanc and cold beer by the marina.  Heaven.
We went to the Great Barrier Reef on Calypso's new boat, called Bubbles.  The weather was rainy as we left Port Douglas, but within half an hour we were in sunshine.  It took 90 minutes to get to the reef, and we went to 3 snorkeling sites.

There were less than 40 people on the boat and the crew gave talks on the state of the reef and what we might see.  Listed as a World Heritage site, the Great Barrier Reef is in danger of losing its status due to mismanagement of the reef.  For instance, since the movie, Finding Nemo, clown fish have been harvested for salt water aquariums and are now difficult to find when snorkeling.
The Great Barrier Reef --- it was fabulous not to see other boats in the area
Our boat seemed quite far away!
The coral was spectacular, and at times we felt like we were swimming in a giant aquarium.  Unfortunately we didn't see any turtles, sharks or rays.

Amazingly clear water

Heading back into Port Douglas
Boats...boats...and more boats.
St. Mary's church by the sea is a beautiful place for weddings
Macrossan Street is the main drag in Port Douglas with great restaurants and shops
Aussie's love their outdoor markets and we do too.  This one was in Mossman under some gorgeous trees.
Lookout on the way to Cape Tribulation.  Here you see the rainforest meets the Coral Sea in the distance.
The root system of these huge trees resembles Christmas tree light cords -- a tangled mess that somehow is beautiful.
We were disappointed not to see the famous Cassowary which is Australia's answer to the Ostrich -- but there were lots of signs warning people about them.
Crocodile warnings were on beaches and riverbeds
Recreated the same sand drawing I made on a beach in Cape Breton in 1979.  Still feel the same!
I had to google to see what these little balls of sand were from..they are made by Sand Bubbler Crabs

Long arm shot while grabbing a kiss
Ferry pulled by cable across river to road that leads up to Cape Tribulation
We had some fabulous meals in Port Douglas, and the one at Salsa Bar & Grill was no exception.
Bill Clinton was at the restaurant on September 11, 2001 ---- hours before the 9/11 attacks in New York.
Mango and Chilli Creme Brulee with Coconut sorbet. Oh yeah.
We drove to Mossman Gorge to do a hike in the rainforest --- we liked it even more than Cape Tribulation.  The pictures don't do it justice.
Mossman Gorge
The river wasn't running very high as there hasn't been a lot of rain in the region
I swear I look like I'm standing in a hole...either that or Roger is growing or I'm shrinking.
Massive boulders dotted the route
 There are plants that are used to produce everything from pharmaceuticals to Chanel No. 5.
White fungus and moss 
This fig tree was a mass of roots and seemed to be split up the middle
More fungus type plants -- very flat and black
A suspension bridge that had quite a spring to it

Lookout point at Port Douglas of Four Mile Beach
Reality hits tomorrow as we head back to Alice Springs.  While we were relaxing, Roger got word that the first project was suspended.  The second project will soon start, but since Roger has to go over to Kansas for meetings, we decided to both go and have a quick visit with friends and family. So, we fly to Calgary on Oct 26th and return to Adelaide where Roger will start coordinating the second project around mid November.

Adelaide is a beautiful city...on the ocean....in the wine region....pretty well ticks all the boxes.

With all our moves, I sometimes feel like it's Groundhog Day and the first day of grade one. You know the feeling --- wondering who will sit with you at lunch and be your friend?  With few exceptions, we've met people who have opened their circle of friends to include us, and by doing so, enriched our lives.

"You're off to great places. Today is your day.  Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.
                                                                                                                  Dr. Seuss

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