Apparently Qantas doesn't like Furbies on their planes.
We arrived in Cairns (pronounced "cans") this afternoon without anything scheduled. Our plans were to roam around this seaside town, which seems to be the jumping off point for adventure seekers and outdoor recreation lovers: whitewater rafting, scuba diving, parasailing and skydiving, and a thousand other things. The city has a hip, young feel to it; you don’t have to journey far in any direction to meet a gaggle of backpackers or thrill seekers.
The city and countryside itself remind me of some of the Central American countries I have visited: warm and humid but surrounded by mountains covered in lush vegetation. Miller and Sheldon said it reminded them of some part of Hawaii. I’ll let you know if I concur at some point in late June. The people, though, are extraordinarily friendly, courteous, and helpful… and downright colorful.
Chris and Sheldon on the gondola over the rainforest.
We checked into our motel and then began to traipse through the city streets to book our Great Barrier Reef expedition for tomorrow. The main drag is known as the Esplanade, and it is part Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and part Little Five Points. (Note from Sheldon: for those of you up north who don’t know what Little Five or Gatlinburg are…another way to describe this place is the cheesiness of Hampton Beach combined with the great restaurants of South Beach in Miami.) Restaurants beckon you with special deals and wonderful flavors and smells; Miller was bitten by the gelato bug almost immediately. But then there are some downright tacky stores that cater to every imaginable fringe.
Looking down at the ferns in the rain forest.
Booking our expedition was no problem. From the pier, spontaneity set in. We rented a car when we hadn’t planned on doing so. A manual. With Miller driving. On the left side of the road. (I have yet to figure out why someone hasn’t told the Australians that driving on the right is normal). After a rosary or two, we made it to Caravonica, the jumping off point for the Skyrail. The Skyrail traverses 7.5 kilometers over the Barron River Valley and the surrounding rainforest… in a gondola. This area of Australia is a World Heritage Site, full of some amazing, unique species of flora and fauna. (Note from Sheldon: Mom, you would wet your pants if you were with us!) (Note from Chris: Sheldon’s mother, for those of you who don’t know, is a botanist.
Barron Falls...in the dry months. The river is also dammed up for hydroelectricity.
We floated over the rainforest and observed specie after specie of unique plant life, particularly ferns, pine trees, eucalyptus, and other things I can neither spell nor pronounce.
But it was all beautiful, and it culminated at Barron Falls
, which, if we were here during the rainy season, would be something possibly more spectacular than Niagara
The drop is certainly more precipitous, and the water flow would be equally impressive.
As it was, the waterfall was a mere trickle of its February glory, but still provided a nice vista in the middle of this tropical rainforest.
After returning, the three amigos feasted on a seafood meal somewhere along the Esplanade. Jet lag set in soon thereafter, though, and we bedded down once more before 9:00 pm. Tomorrow… the Great Barrier Reef!!!