This was by far the earliest we have had to awaken. Our pick-up this morning is at 4am!!! We are going on a balloon ride since it is on Mom's "Bucket List" and I had thought about taking her sky diving but she has already done that so, ballooning it is! Well, the day started out really badly: I had requested a 3:30 and 3:45 wake-up calls from the hotel desk last night. Mom woke up and shouted: "Get up! It is 4:00am!" our pick-up was 10 minutes later, the wake-up calls were never placed. Anyway, it was good that I was totally asleep during the one hour drive to our take-off location because I was getting sick siting in the back seat of the bus on a very very curvy road. Oh well, c'est la vie!
We made it safely to the field where we watched the balloons inflate as the sun was rising. It was pretty cool. We were on the "second flight" since we chose only to go up for 30mins. We were the "balloon chase" crew, which consists of looking for the balloon in the air and follow as best we can to be there on its landing.
We did a great job, found the balloon, entered the field and off-loaded the passengers and we got in. After a brief safety briefing we were off. I must admit, this was one of the best things I have ever done although it involved heights. The ride is extremely smooth and offered outstanding views of the landscape below. I can't believe we were flying above birds!!!
Although the sun had already risen, there were quite a few clouds but we were privy to a beautiful display of the sun breaking through the clouds. We could see the rays of the sun start breaking through the clouds and shine on the valley below. WOW! We made a very soft landing after our time in the air and then the fun started.
We had to help fold the balloon up and pack it away. We all chipped in and had a great time doing it. As the logo says: "The Best Balloons, The Best Crew." It was totally right since we all were the crew!!! Once that was all done, we left for our breakfast buffet. We had a good spread out in the bush - really fun. Although this experience may be a little expensive for some, I would highly recommend you setting aside some money to do it. You will not regret it.
Upon our return to the hotel, I went to pick up the car so we could explore Queensland at our own pace. Once I picked Mom up from the hotel, we set out North to explore the coast up to Port Douglas. Along the way, we made several stops at various beaches to "check-out the scenery".
Nice sand, beautiful palm trees, but the sea was quite brown this time of year sadly. It was really nice to be back on the ocean, I really miss living on a beach as I did while growing up. Someday soon I hope!!
A little further north, we made a stop at a Nature Reserve where we were able to see some of the indigenous fauna of Australia. It was divided into three areas: Wetlands, Savanna, and Rainforest. We decided to go and visit it since we had not been lucky in spotting many different animals on our various treks.
Not the same as seeing them in their natural habitat (completely wild) but this was close. We continued north a bit to visit Mossman Gorge. A short walk from the parking lot opened up to a beautiful stretch of river where several people were swimming. I wish I had brought my swimsuit so I too could enjoy a refreshing dip in the cool river!! I love it here, but it is humid so a cold dip at the moment would have been great!!
On our journey back to Cairns, the tour information clerk at the hotel told us to stop on a "clearing" to see the Wallabies at dusk. I followed her very vague directions and did not find any field per se so we gave up. As we were driving along the highway, I glanced to my left and there they were!! There must have been a hundred or better of them in the field. We tried to find the entry to the field but alas it was all on private property.
It was really cool to witness them in their natural habitat unphased by humans. I really wish I would have brought my large lens so I could have shared this with you all, but I did not :(
All in all, another great day exploring Australia.