Tourist Mecca

Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
Trip End Apr 14, 2006

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

I forgot to mention yesterday the bonus of going out to the franklands in the rain- we saw 2 water spouts (like mini tornadoes over the sea) which apparently are really rare to just see one let alone 2 together! Also after we went on the internet in town, me and mum went out for dinner and I had a meal called 'outback sampler'- kangaroo and ostrich steak, and crocodile sausages...! The kangaroo was really nice but the ostrich was a bit dry and the sausages had lots of herbs thrown in... maybe crocodile doesnt taste that nice normally! I'll try anything once :D

Anyway this morning we had a bit of a later pickup to take us to Freshwater station- the original station from 100 years ago (as far as I know) although now of course its been updated to contain the obligitary gift shop. Mum and I were given bright orange stickers (which we both hid in unobvious places) to show we were going on the train, and we went and got our boarding passes from the office. We had a nice breakfast of waffles and croissant sitting by and old train parked in the station before going to look through their museum, which was very informative, and told us all about how the line was built etc. Basically there were 3 towns in the area in 1882, and for one of them the only access was through this single road, which was wiped out in a bad wet season one year. The inhabitants near starved because they couldnt get their food from anywhere else so the council investigated whether a railway line could be built. It was either going to go to Port Douglas or Cairns- Cairns was chosen, and to quote the brochure- the future of Cairns was secured. Work started in 1886 and the third section was not finished until 1910. Unfortunately the very next year 2 cyclones hit the area destroying part of the line, so they had to rebuild quite abit. But since then its been going strong.

The train passes by gorges, waterfalls and across these tiny purpose built bridges, before arriving in the village of Kurunda an hour and a half later. Mum and I walked up to the many 'markets' that Kurunda is famous for- and found that the whole place was basically a village of tourist shops! Literally nothing else there but cafes and places that would be perfect to buy souveniers. There were a couple of art galleries, in which I found some really nice art (wish I had a house to put it up in!) and 'heritage' markets which were a little better (and I got a couple of Christmas presents for tomorrow) but nothing spectacular. It was also raining. We were inside for most of the day though, so it didnt matter too much. About 3 hours after milling about, we walked to the Skyrail station, where 114 enclosed cabins move up and down this cable like a ski lift over the rainforest. They were very careful when making it in 1996, airlifting the huge metal poles into the forest so as not to disturb the plants or anything, and you can really tell. We glided over the forest, looking down on the canopy, and amongst the trees you could see the ocassional bird flit about, or mistletoe ontop of some of the trees themselves. We got out twice for a walk in their designated areas- along short boardwalks, which was nice, but a little touristy. The best bit was being in the cabins themselves- mum and I had one between the 2 of us (they hold up to 6 people) so got lots of good photos from leaning out the window! When we got back down to earth the coach picked us up again, zipped back to the hotel, and we watched a film and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Christmas Eve!
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