Rainforest and Reef

Trip Start Jan 18, 2008
Trip End Feb 26, 2008

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, January 28, 2008

Australia  - Port Douglas 22nd January We landed in Brisbane at 9.35 am after an all night flight - 9hours. The night was quieter than we expected as we were seated just in front of a party of adolescent school children. After the initial commotion they settled down to watch the movie. All was well. On arrival at Brisbane we had a short panic over whether we could catch the flight to Cairns. Nobody told us it was in a different building and we had to collect luggage and check in again. We paid up for a taxi and looked happy. The taxi driver even let us off 2 dollars of the fare because we hadn't got any change.
Impressions so far:
We eat too much
 Australians are all so friendly.
It's very warm
Bendigo banks don't take Nationwide cards
Beer delivered to your room is a good idea.
The rain is not as wet
The flowers are prettier
Flip-flop manufacturers will never go bankrupt in Australia.
Port Douglas is a smashing town with lots of restaurants and up  market shops. Everywhere you go there are tropical plants and in the trees lots of parakeets. Silent in the day but at dawn and dusk deafening
The apartment in Port Douglas is just what we needed. Very relaxing with laid back helpful staff and 2 small swimming  pools. It is very tropical with many green leafy plants and a rather nice green frog, which sits on our balcony all day. Both Gill and myself had a massage. It was very relaxing. : Lots of smoky incense and flowers. The best so far
We visited the tropical rainforest. I can see now why it is called the rainforest. It rained and it was very dense forest. Lots of birds and a rare one called a cassowary. We looked for one all day and just as we were getting into the car out popped a large turkey-like bird and there was a cassowary. Unfortunately Ian couldn't get to his camera so you will have to take my word for it.
Last night we went to a restaurant recommended by Ian's chiropractor. It was rather expensive but excellent food. 
Friday 25th January Today we went to the Atherton tablelands. This was a trip up through the rainforest by Skyrail and down by an old train.
The day started wet and got wetter. It bucketed down all day. It is the first time that I have felt cold and the temperature was still 24 degrees. Little could be seen of the ancient rainforest because it was in cloud but it felt enormous. The sight of all the tree ferns attached to the tops of tall trees is amazing. Tomorrow is Australia day so as it's going to be 32 degrees we are staying by the pool all day and having a 'barbie' tonight.
We decided to go for a little stroll on Four Mile Beach just to stretch our legs The walk went true to form. We were 'disorientated' and ended up in a swamp. The flies that bit us were brutal and  effective. They bit you through your shirt and when you squished them you got a large bloodstain on the fabric - your blood. 24 hours later and we are covered in huge red blobs that itch like crazy.
The reef
Finally the day dawned and we headed for the reef with a highly efficient company called 'Quicksilver' The journey to the largest coral reef in the world was 70 kilometres and took 1hour 20 minutes by catamaran. The whole reef is larger in area than Great Britain and it is the only living thing that can be seen from the moon. We travelled to the outer reef : the bit that is next to the continental shelf . This is where Australia ends. We were advised to wear stinger suits as it is at this time of year that nasty jellyfish are in the area. I had been warned about the lycra suits and all the warnings were true. Les, Ian and myself ( Gill had decided snorkelling wasn't for her) eased our bodies into the very clingy suits. We need not have worried. After a sharp intake of breath for the photograph we joined all the rest of the party who came in all shapes and sizes. I am not a confident swimmer so I opted for the safety vest. We made our way into the water. I thought that because of the boat and the people kicking and splashing (mostly to survive in my case) that there would be few fish to see. I was totally wrong. It was mind boggling. Every time you saw a type of fish you had never see before up came another one just a bit different. If you ask a child to design a fantasy fish it would look like most of the fish on the reef.  They come up to you just for a look.  It was like swimming in a tropical fish tank: like a scene from 'Finding Nemo'
Monday 28th January
Today was Hartley's Crocodile Farm . It was very hot and sticky but the crocs didn't seem to mind. We learned a lot about Freshwater crocs and snakes and saw a cassowary close up, very strange birds.  We leave at 4 am tomorrow for Ayers rock. We have really enjoyed Port Douglas and Queensland. Thank you John for the recommendation.
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