Mission Accomplished 2 - the return

Trip Start Jun 13, 2007
Trip End Jul 03, 2007

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, June 25, 2007

Up early again this morning and another driver acting as tour guide - but this one also thought he was a stand up comedian.  He had his grandson with hims too who was about 6 and was helping to hand out the tickets.

When we got onto the Kuranda Scenic Railway, the carriage (number 13 - I was not happy about that) was deserted but the 5 people on our bus were crammed into one row.  It did eventually fill up but not to allow us to spread out that much.  The train is all wooden and probably from the 20's or 30's.  It was a fabulous view travelling but obscured by the couple sitting next to the window who didn't really have any perception that other people might want to take a photograph at some stage.  When they weren't sticking their heads out the window, they were investigating each others tonsils - which was nice!  The seats were not as comfortable as the Orient Express last year but it was only a 2 hour ride up the mountain as opposed to 10 hours across the Andes.  At some points the railway bends round so much that you can see the front of the train from the back.

Arriving in Kuranda is a little odd it as its completely given over to tourism and there are dozens of shops selling souvenirs, local produce, aborigonal art (again) or food.  I wonder how any of them make a living.  Some of it is a bit new age and mystical but most of it isn't - just the usual stuffed koalas and kangaroos.

My mission was to travel to the Koala Gardens where I got a big koala stamped on my hand (it did eventually wash off but it took a bit of scrubbing).  There were some crocodiles, lizards and snakes alongside the Koalas, Wombats, Kangaroos and Wallabies.  There was a big queue to have Koala photos taken so I stood and watched for a bit before going to feed the Kangaroos and Wallabies.  One of the Wallabies was having a bit of a rake around her pouch and when she stood up I could see the pouch moving of its own accord before a Joey's head popped out.  It looked like it was almost hairless so I'm assuming it was quite young.

I went back for my koala picture and they had to swap over koalas from one with her ears pricked up all the time to another younger one called Princess.  Koalas are only allowed to work for 30 minutes maximum at a time and no more than 180 minutes a week.

Princess was only 18 months old and loved having her chin tickled.  The staff were really good and took the official photo plus more with your own camera.  When there was nobody in the queue they were happy to talk and let people pet Princess.  I, of course, hung around for this opportunity. 

I was taking some photos of one of the sleeping koalas when an Australian couple walked by with the man saying 'weren't koalas the most boring animals' (which made me wonder why on earth they'd come in) and then he had to eat his words when one of the big males woke up and clambered down his tree and was reaching up the side of the enclosure for attention.  We were told not to reach over as it encourages him and they don't want him to learn how to get out of the enclosure.  So, Hogan (how apt for this he-man koala) decided to do a bit of acrobatics and went running up his tree then jumped between the branches - a good 4-5 feet.  It was really impressive.

Eventually I made my way back through the shopping market as I wanted to have some lunch before going down on Skyrail.  I stopped at a belt stall where there was an Indian family haggling for the 'best price' for all their purchases.  There was just such a clash of cultures since haggling isn't an Australian trait.  Once they left and I was buying my belt the shopowner asked if I'd had any experience of dealing with Indians - oh yes!!

Getting onto Skyrail (a cable car with each gondola holding a maximum of 6) I was a bit concerned that I might have got into a gondola with a lady who was going to freak out mid flight - especially since it would be at least 10 minutes to the next station.  Luckily, after her first squeals she seemed to be OK.  The views are absolutely amazing as you soar over the rainforest and see the mountains, hydro electric dam and ocean spread out.  There were a couple of stations where you could get out and have a walk around the lookout points so all told the trip down took a bit over an hour. 

On the last leg I was on my own in a gondola and breaking most of the safety rules about not standing up, not putting arms out of windows etc in my quest for photos.  That was until we hit a bit of a windy spot and I decided I should sit down or risk seeing lunch again.  I was fascinated by what appeared to be a waterskiing lake as I came down with several people skiing around.  Eventually I realised that there were no boats - it was a bit like a horizontal ski tow and the people were going round, over jumps, through gates etc.  Nobody fell over so I don't know how they would cater for beginners (which they do - I found the leaflet in the hotel).

Back home and I decided to have a lazy night in with takeaway pizza on the balcony before doing my laundry.  I've been able to wash my Rohan things ok but my jeans and cardigan could have walked home on their own.  Still, everything clean now.
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