End of the line for the east coast

Trip Start Mar 07, 2006
Trip End Jun 30, 2006

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Whew! What a month it's been!

Hard to believe that it's been just over four weeks since I stepped off a plane in Melbourne, clear across the country. I've looped around and followed the east coast for thousands of kilometers, and I've now arrived in Cairns, slightly run down, bugbitten and cold-laden and a bit worse for wear, but definitely having experienced an awful lot.

After leaving Magnetic Island, we drove up to Mission Beach, making a few stops along the way. One stop was at a mango and tropical fruit farm, where we got to try all sorts of smoothies made from fruit that only grows in this part of the world. We made a quick stop in the town of Tully as well, which prides itself on being the wettest point in Australia and has even built a giant "golden gumboot" to boast about its status. I'm not sure that's something I'd choose to brag about, personally, but hey, to each his own.

Mission Beach wasn't anything all that spectacular. Very rainy, and we were only there for a quick overnight stop. The whole area suffered a lot of damage in Cyclone Larry last month, and everywhere there were tons of uprooted and fallen trees.

Yesterday, we took the long way from Mission to Cairns, making a whole host of stops. The first stop was an unscheduled one, as we had to hang back to allow a herd of cows to use the highway in front of us for a couple of kilometers. Not a side road either; this was the main highway. Then, to the town of Innisfail, where we visited a crocodile farm and saw giant crocodiles being fed. We even got to hold baby crocodiles. Not as cute as the koalas, but fun nonetheless.

Next it was onto Milla Milla falls, which are very pretty waterfalls in the rainforest. After lunch, we stopped at Lake Eacham, a large volcanic crater lake, where some people went for a swim and all of us got to see some turtles. The next stop was at Barren Falls, which are rainforest waterfalls even larger than Milla Milla falls. Finally, a stop at the AJ Hackett Bungy site, which is sort of a poor imitation of the bungy sites in New Zealand, and where I got to see more crazy people jump off a bridge with a cord tied to their ankles. Deja vu all over again.

After that long day, we arrived in Cairns around dinnertime. At the moment, I'm taking it easy in Cairns, recovering from the nasty cold I'd come down with in Airlie, and getting ready for the next leg. Cairns itself is a very touristy town, built on the economy of backpacker travel, full of booking offices, hostels, bars with loud music and dancing on tables and such. Originally I'd intended to do a boat trip to the Reef and maybe even try scuba diving, but after the Whitsundays trip, I pretty much decided against it. No more boats or water activities for a while. I'm staying at a lovely, quiet hostel where I've made a bunch of friends already, and we've been just hanging out and pretty much taking it easy for a couple of days of much-needed rest.

On Saturday, I swap ocean, reef, rainforest and civilization in for vast desert and remoteness when I embark on a 10-day tour of the Outback. I'm really looking forward to it; the east coast was beautiful, but was starting to feel a bit repetitive. Besides, there's nothing all that unique about party towns on the beach. The Outback should be very different from anything I've ever seen before, which is why I'm so anxious to go.

For a good part of the tour, I'll be miles away from phones, internet, or any real kind of contact with the outside world, so if I don't answer your e-mails right away, don't panic. I promise a long update and lots of photos once I'm back in civilization again.
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