A Travellerspoint blog

Day 53 Cow Bay to Cairns

Crocs, ice creams, barramundi, lizard

overcast 32 °C

We awake to rain. The clue is in the name I guess, 'tropical rainforest'. They get somewhere between 2 & 3 metres of rain a year here, so waking to rain is common. Having failed to see a croc yesterday on Cooper Creek, we are taking advantage of a second chance today for free. First we head off to walk the Jindalba boardwalk which runs through the rainforest just South of Cow Bay. The forest is dripping wet and before we reach the end of the walk we have more rain, it's damp and hot. It's not easy seeing a lot of the rainforest inhabitants but this 18inch lizard was a good spot.

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Cow Bay beach is another little known, deserted, but spectacular beach. There is a walk that Judy recommended North up the beach but with Dot asleep in the car we are limited and have to make do with a stroll down to the waters edge

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Just opposite our Daintree Rainforest Retreat lodgings is the Floravilla Ice Cream Factory. It makes an array of classic and unusual flavours. I have a Guinness, Nat a hazelnut and Dottie a mango.

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The little old guy who owns the place is selling up. None of his family are able to continue the business. The ice cream is lovely and according to the sign is made for angels......although our Dot is a long way short of an angel (I think we have entered the terrible twos...)

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The gardens here are full of beautiful tropical flowers.

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The Cooper Creek crocodile hunt looks more hopeful today. It's low tide and has been raining, which are apparently good things....if you want to bump into a croc. We see a young 1 metre croc almost straight away, just opposite where we walk through the mangrove to get to the muddy bank launch spot, and no sooner do we turn to go up river a 4 metre male surfaces.

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It's chilling to be this close to something as big as this croc, something that survived the dinosaurs, weighs about a ton, can lift itself completely out of the water with a flick of its tail, and that would eat you if it got the chance. Once bitten your chances are remote. They spin to off balance their prey and then take you underwater, eating you bit by bit, keeping anything that is left underwater in a lair or hollow. Nice. He moves with such great confidence and although aware of us seems unperturbed.

The mangroves and myriad of gullies and channels makes the thought of capsizing horrifying

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We spot a third and final croc, a female, on the banks. She doesn't move a muscle.

With a successful crocodile trip under our belts we head South and cross back over the Daintree River and on up to Daintree Village. We enjoy some fresh barramundi at the Daintree Tea House and get the chance to learn a bit about tropical fruits. The guy who runs the place is a little odd, and is somewhat of a fruit specialist.

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Back in Cairns and with kids in bed and wifi, we catch up on blogging, emails and make an attempt to decide what to do after Uluru. Guide books and maps out, still nothing booked.

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Posted by cpbrooks 02:36 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 52 Cow Bay

Balls, cape, crocs

semi-overcast 31 °C

No access to wifi for a couple of days up here in the far North of Queensland so my apologies but you are going to get several days all at once when we get back to Cairns tomorrow tonight.

We are loving our time here and have contemplated extending our stay. The tropical rainforest is beautiful, lush, full of sounds and drops down from the hills right to the waters edge, broken only by the odd spectacular beach. It's very relaxed and chilled

We head North from Cow Bay and it is only a short drive before we reach Thornton Beach.

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There is a small kiosk here where we buy tickets for a boat trip this afternoon up Cooper Creek in search of crocodiles. We also buy the most expensive bag of crisps, a regular bag for $4, that's £2.60 in real money, that I have ever bought!

There are things living under the sand on the beach. We think they are small crabs and we subsequently discover they are Fiddler Crabs. They obviously spend their time digging tunnels, throwing all the sand they remove out the top of the tunnel in the form of small sand balls. These vary in size, some like peas, some much smaller. Amazingly though, the patterns that these make on the sand are like leaves or flowers. It reminds us of the frost you get on glass.

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We take a walk along the deserted beach, paddling in the warm shallow water, keeping an eye out for crocs. There is a lot of dangerous stuff in the water here and you can't swim unless there is a net. We've heard that the box jellyfish, that breed in the mangroves here, are now 'out', which means they are moving out to sea. Obviously there are sharks. The list of things that can kill you is long.

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We continue North passed Noah Beach and on to Coconut Beach taking another short walk and sticking to our rule of "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints"

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Just North of Myall Beach we reach the end of the tarmac road and Cape Tribulation. This is as far as we can go in the banger, it's just a dirt track North of here right up to the very top of the Cape York peninsular some 400 miles away. It's 4WD country.

Cape Tribulation beach is a large horseshoe shape. The water is very warm. The waves are tiny, the coast being protected by the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea. We see spiders, stick insects, butterflies and birds on our walk around to the cape. The beach is again covered in 'frost' created by the crabs and we spend some time creating our own patterns, namely sandcastles, which Dottie loves to break down as fast as we can make them (kids can ruin a good sandcastle session!!). The worms here produce huge towers from their tunnels reminding us of gourmet modern restaurant servings you get. The beach is littered with these and they stand maybe 5cms in height.

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Cape Tribulation is a lovely place to be for some reason, it's not clear why. It just is.

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Reluctantly leaving our most Northerly point we head South to the Marrdja Boardwalk which takes us out over the mangroves. There is an ongoing battle between the salt water and the vegetation herewhich means the trees roots need to avoid the salt and go out of their way to do so, creating what are called snorkels and knees (the shapes of the roots as they stick out)

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We meet up with the guy who takes people up Cooper Creek in his boat in search of crocodiles and we spend an hour trying to find one of the saltwater crocs. These beasts are very territorial and there is a female to about every kilometre. The males however, just cruise around wherever. We see nothing and he invites us back for free tomorrow.

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Posted by cpbrooks 03:48 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 51 Sydney to Cow Bay

Standby, banger, ferry, judy

semi-overcast 24 °C

We are up early and Sydney decides to bid us farewell with a lovely sunrise over the Pacific. It will be sad to leave, but we are ready to be on the move again. Having 7 nights in one place has been a luxury, but it feels like enough. We miss Charles and Camilla by a day.....they are all over the news here.

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So we are back to counting the 13 things (2 kids, 3 suitcases, 2 car seats, 1 buggy, 2 hand luggage, 1 ladybird rucksack, 1 camera and 1 hat). We say goodbye to 'the babe' and are helped by a lovely lady from Qantas who pretty much takes us through the whole process of checking in. Oddly they take our 6 hold items from us even though we do not have confirmed seats (we expected to have to cart everything around with us) and we are sent through to the gate to discover our fate.

If we don't get this 9.20 flight it's a 4 hour wait for the next. There is the usual nervousness at 9.00 when we are asked to return to the gate. Sweaty palms. We don't talk........we are on. Our first successful Qantas domestic standby. We high five. Dottie shouts 'we made it'. That is the next 10 days sorted.

On board we are surprised to discover we have bulk head seats with the bassinette. Perfect, just 3 hours to Cairns in Northern Queensland.

It's 30 degrees as we arrive in Cairns and it feels like a different country. Both Nat and I think it feels like the Caribbean. We collect our Corolla from A1 Car Rental. Sadly we don't have any tape cassettes with us.

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Some smart packing just about gets everything in what we have decided to call 'the banger' and we head up the Captain Cook Highway, past Port Douglas and Mossman. As we turn right onto Cape Tribulation Road, approach the Daintree River crossing and look towards the Daintree National Park the rainforest looks dense. There is no mains electricity North of here and in less than 20 miles it becomes a dirt track for 4 wheel drives only.

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We join the wait for the Daintree River cable ferry crossing just third in line. It's hot and humid.

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Once over we enter the Daintree National Park and the road becomes very narrow and winding. Walu Wugirriga (Alexandra Range) lookout provides a spectacular view over the Daintree river estuary and the coast right back down to Port Douglas. It's beathtaking.

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Just North of the lookout we descend to Cow Bay where we find the entrance to the Daintree Forest Retreat, our accommodation for the next 2 nights (www.daintreeretreat.com.au).

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We are greeted by Judy and her daughter Marcel who take the next 10 minutes telling us all about Cow Bay and Cape Tribulation. The places to eat, the beaches, the walks, the shops, everything. They are clearly very proud. They also take Dot and Finn for us whilst we get unloaded from the banger.

We are literally in the jungle and the vegetation and sounds are amazing. We can't resist a dip in the pool.

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Just 5 minutes drive is Crocodylus for dinner, only served 6.30 to 7.30, under canvas in the middle of the rainforest. I meet Steve, the owner at the bar and he asks if we are from Judy's, I ask how he knows and he says "well you are not staying here and there are only 3 places to stay, so it was a 50/50 guess". The food is great and the beers served in bottles in polystyrene stubbie holders. Great atmosphere (www.crocodylus.com)

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Posted by cpbrooks 03:42 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Day 50 Sydney

Darling, water, fish, paddy

overcast 24 °C

A disappointingly grey and wet start to our last day in Sydney so we decide to change plans, skip the suggestion from Marcus of Shelley Beach, and head for Darling Harbour.

Sydney has the second largest fish market in the world, behind Tokyo. It is in Pyrmont and just a short walk from Darling Harbour. It's very busy and mainly with Chinese and Japanese all enjoying the fresh fish food stalls. Unfortunately most of the actual working market is operated behind closed doors ( they sell behind the scenes tours). We buy some drinks and frozen yoghurt (of all things) and come away a little disappointed. I hope this isn't a theme for the day.

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I'm pleased that Nat likes Darling Harbour. It looks rather splendid snuggled up right next to the high rise of the city and with its ships that form part of the Sydney Maritime Museum, it's restaurant lined quays and its calm waters it makes for a very pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by. We also have some work to do so choose a restaurant that has free wifi so we can sort out our flights for tomorrow. Nat spends almost half an hour on the phone, I entertain the kids with the help of a cold beer and a camera

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Our standby flight for tomorrow is busy but not as bad as expected, so we decide to go for the direct fight instead of taking the long way round going via Brisbane.

Although its not sunny it is warm (24 degrees) so we encourage the kids to take on lots of liquids, which Dottie is happy to do

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Darling Harbour has a great kids play area just South of the quay opposite the Entertainment Centre. Amongst other things it has fountains coming out of the floor, all different shapes and sizes and all continually going on and off, large and small. Dot strips off and gets right in there

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Once Dottie had had her fill of fountains we head for Paddy's Market, a very well known market that runs Wed to Sun. I love markets and Paddy's is no exception. It's busy, smells of a combination of Chinese and Indian aromas and is a feast of colour. We pick up some salad, cumin and chilli for tonight's meal with Alan.

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Both Dot and Finn miss out on the market.

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The cumin and chilli help to make our dinner with Alan at Tamabeach a great evening. We eat and drink as much of the fridge as possible and still Alan has to leave with two doggy bags of goodies, including beer!!

It's a 5.15 alarm in the morning for a long day North. Fingers crossed.

Posted by cpbrooks 02:42 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 49 Sydney

Sand, sea, showers, seafood

sunny 24 °C

With the time difference as it is between here and home we are able to spend a lovely couple of hours in the morning catching up with family, without impacting too much on whatever we have planned for the day. At 6am here (when the kids get up) the UK is at 7pm, so it sort of works nicely. This morning was the nanas, Alice and Mary and catching up always makes us all feel good for the rest of the day.

We head for Coogee Beach with Uncle Alan for coffee, a quick swim and sandcastles. Coogee is quiet, it's a Tuesday, its windy, but that doesnt stop there being a few people happy to venture into the crashing surf. It takes Nat and me a little while to build up the courage, the waves are a good few feet high. Dottie waves us off. Uncle Alan is left in charge of Dot, Finn and most importantly, the camera.

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These are proper waves. They literally knock you backwards and if that doesn't have you on your arse they suck your legs away from you as they return to the ocean. Nasty. But fun. Wanting to say we swam at Coogee we wait for a lull and make a dash beyond the breakers, swim for a few seconds and rush back, keeping a close eye out behind us. We survive and are pleasantly surprised at how not freezing it was.

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The Aussies are good at providing showers on the beaches and this one is no exception. Dot enjoys getting me to go round and press all six showers for her to dash under.

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We head for Doyles at Watsons Bay for a late seafood lunch.

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Watson's Bay is one of my favourite spots in Sydney. It's close enough to the city that you can see it, but its far enough away that you feel apart from it. I particularly like 'The Gap' where these two next pictures were taken from. One looks West to the city across Sydney Harbour and the other looks East across the Pacific Ocean. Both wild in their own ways, but in very different ways.

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I thought this was just another example of the attitude over here and how it contrasts back home. Yeah I've got a nice old Jag, yeah I like to get out on the water, and yeah, they are going to have to be friends.

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We really appreciate all your blog comments, we read and enjoy absolutely every one. Sadly the Bridge Walk is out for us as the kids are not allowed to be strapped to us (thanks Jo & Lisa) and I think we are likely to spend our last day here tomorrow at Shelley Beach (thanks Marcus) and a walk around the North Head.

We leave Sydney on Thursday for 6 nights in Cairns and then 4 nights in Uluru (Ayers Rock). That takes us to the 18th Nov, Day 61 and we just can't decide on what to do next. Melbourne, Hobart, beach in the Far East? We'd love any ideas or thoughts.

Posted by cpbrooks 03:01 Archived in Australia Comments (5)

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