Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

A few random shots of Kuranda before we move on to Sidney:

White bird

The white bird you see above was only one of many birds that live in this area (rain forest in Australia).  He was not restrained  in any way.  He was free to come and go as he wished although there were food and water dishes available for him to come enjoy.

Color in the middle of the jungle.

This tree is supposed to be 75 years old!

Rough Road Ahead!

One of the things Tony had planned was for us to go on a tour of the rainforest on one of those amphibious vehicles which this place called “Army Ducks”.  It goes on both land and sea.  We climbed all over the hills then went down to the river and into to it.  The photo above shows the road we were about to go on from the water.  It was, needless to say, a bumpy ride!

Lush Land

As you can see in the photo immediately above, the land is very lush and colorful.  The skies are bluest blue.  The sounds are those of birds calling out to each other, the jumping of kangaroos, splashing of crocodiles in to the water, and because there was an indigenous interpretive center adjacent to this area, there were also sounds of didjeridu and drums.  It was more than enough to make us want to stay a lot longer!

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Some more pictures of our visit to Kuranda.



This crocodile was nicknamed Jack the Ripper!

Jack the Ripper, shown above, was taken out of the group crocodile enclosure and quarantined after killing four of the crocodiles he mated with.  He was promptly taken out of circulation (not prompt enough for the last three!) and nicknamed Jack the Ripper.  He is about 18 feet long.

Bearded dragon...these little guys were all over the place!

Once finished in Kuranda (all the attractions shut down by 4:30 in the afternoon) we headed to the train station to board the train.  Tony noticed in the brochure that we could upgrade our pre-paid tickets to ride in the Deluxe cars of the train.  After a very long day, Tony thought it was worth the additiona $24 each so he upgraded us.  It turned out to be a really great deal because the regular seats are bench seats and the train ride was two hours.  Our upgraded seats were single swivel upholstered chairs that were one per each side of the train and the upgrade included unlimited beverages and finger foods all the way back to Cairns.  So we sat back and enjoyed the scenery, our champagne, and lots of gourmet snacks!  The gentleman that took care of us didn’t let our glasses get even half empty before filling it!  We really felt pampered!

Scenic train from Kuranda to Cairns

On train going toward Cairns from Kuranda.

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Finally we got to see kangaroos in Kuranda.  Not only did we get to see them but we got to feed them and touch them and be chased by them.  They are very docile and petting them feels a little like petting a German Shepherd. Tony has the pictures of me feeding them because he took them with his camera so if I get those from him, I can post them some time in the future.

3 Kangas!

These three kangaroos were off by themselves, kind of like they were too good to be with the rest of the gang.  The one in the upper part of the photo is the biggest one of the entire group.  There were probably about 60 of them running all over the place.

This is the same group as above, from a different angle.

Tony petting one of the kangas.

This particular roo did not want us to stop petting or feeding him.  When we stopped, he would go after us.  He seemed to be quite interested in our camera bags!

Kanga and wallaby with Tony.

With his right hand he is feeding a wallaby (about half the size of the kangas) and with his left hand he is feeding the same kangaroo from above who insisted on being fed when Tony started feeding the wallaby!

Standing kanga

Same kanga!  He posed for me.  I tell you, he sure was an attention grabber!

Lots of lounging kangaroos.

This is the group of kangas that we spent most of our time with.  The little one standing near the middle of the photograph is a wallaby.  When Tony was feeding them, the wallaby got a little agressive and bit Tony.  Tony called out “Ouch!  He bit me!”  and the kangaroo we had been feeding that you saw in the pictures, ran over and slapped the wallaby with his paw and chased him away.  Then he stayed to be petted and fed!  Tony’s protector is the one in the uppermost left hand of this picture above.

Red kangaroo

Above is a red kangaroo.  They are not as friendly as the other kangas.  They were in a separate area and while they could roam freely, they pretty much stayed together in an area that was less accessible to the park attendees.  This was above appeared to be shy but did stop long enough for me to take a picture.


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One of the other things Tony and I really wanted to do was to go to the rain forest in the mountains next to Cairns (pronounced Canz by locals).  Tony found a way to maximize the experience.  We booked a trip on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway from outside of Cairns to the top of the mountain in Kuranda.  It’s a gondola that you ride.  It hangs on a cable, high above the ground!  (I actually discovered I was afraid of heights on this trip!)  It takes an hour and a half to get to the top.  Once we were at the top we participated in some activities and this is where the German Tucker Sausage House was located.  Then when we were done, we took the trip back home via the scenic railroad (thank goodness we didn’t have to take the skyrail back because I don’t think I would have gotten back on!)

One note:  It was sad to see a lot of dying, drying, brown trees on the way up the mountain and once we were at the top.  We were told by locals that there has been very little rain the past few years, even here in the rain forest.

One the way up, via the skyrail, we had a beautiful view of Cairns and the ocean which is really not the ocean but the Trinity Inlet and the Coral Sea beyond.  The day was crystal clear.  By the time we reached Kuranda the temperatures were in the upper 80s.

On the way up, Cairns in background.


Oncoming gondola

Over the river. Note lush plant life!

Near Barron Falls Overlook

Above rainforest looking down.

Once at the top of the mountain in Kuranda, we got off of the cableway and were greeted by the lush tropical rainforest!

Kuranda, Skyrail Station

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A Lot Of Croc–Australia

I haven’t written much about the food we had while in Australia but I have to spend a few words here to accompany some pictures.

We really wanted to have crocodile and kangaroo before leaving.  We hadn’t seen it in Melbourne or in Port Campbell so when we were in Cairns, we made it a point to really look for it.  We found a couple of restaurants that had it on the menu but it is really, really expensive (about $50 for each of us) so we kept looking.  One evening as we walked by one of the restaurants that we knew served it, I noticed that the evening’s specials included A Taste Of Australia and a crocodile dish.  It was a lot less expensive than the non special price.  We probably didn’t get as large a portion as we might have if we had gotten it from their regular menu, but both came with rice and my crocodile plate came with veggies, too.  The special included wine, a real bonus!  Tony had the Taste of Australia which included a skewer of kangaroo (the dark meet in the center), one of emu (hiding under the kangaroo), and a nice size fillet of barramundi (a fish native to the area).  I had a plate with just the crocodile.  Neither of us was disappointed!  Everythign was absolutely declicious.  The crocodile (my plate) was prepared with some kind of mint and was quite tender.  The kangaroo on Tony’s plate was fixed with teriyaki sauce.  The emu was barbecued and the barramundi was absolutely delicious and kind of melted in the mouth.

My plate of crocodile for dinner.

Taste of Australia

The next day we went to Kuranda (rainforest) and found a German sausage house that served emu sausage and crocodile sausage so we got to feast again!  Tony ordered the emu. I had the crocodile, shown below.  I thought their menu was interesting (see the “warning” on it below) so I’ve included some pictures of the menu.

Crocodile sausage

Menu from German Tucker Sausage House

Portion of menu from German Tucker Sausage House

Warning on men from German Tucker


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Adventures At Sea

Note: Just a bit of a break from pictures to share what was, to me, an amusing part of our catamaran trip out to the sea that day.  And a warning that if you don’t have a strong stomach, you might want to skip this post!

Just before the catamaran departed for our day’s trip to Morse Reef, the crew began their instructions to the passengers.  Before finishing, they kind of glossed over the fact that there were plenty of bags placed strategically all over the ship, in case we needed them for seasickness.  They said if and when this happened, we were to use the bags, and raise our hand and a crew member would come and take the bag from us.

I thought it interesting that they didn’t dwell on it.  I knew from previous boat trips that the odds were a good number of the passengers would get sick.  I hoped I wasn’t one, although I wasn’t too afraid of that because I have not ever been seasick during any of the boat trips I have taken.  I hoped Tony didn’t get sick but feared he might.  I found a big dish of ginger tablets that were marked as an aid for seasickness.  I grabbed some and gave them to Tony.

Less than fifteen minutes out of Cairns harbor, the “entertainment” began.  I shouldn’t laugh at any of them but it was funny.  As if on cue, the catamaran began to rock back and forth and side to side, very violently.  Those that were up and walking around found It very difficult to stand or walk and at least ten people began to get sick all at the same time.  Then there were more and more, until most of the passengers were truly miserable.  I must say that the crew was on hand, watching and usually, before the person actually got sick, there was a crew member there with a bag, a paper towel, and a cup water.  For the next hour and a half, everyone on the ship got sick over and over and over again.  To the crew’s credit, they were right on top of it.  Every crew member, regardless of their job, participated in helping those that got sick.  They were constantly there with ice chips for everyone and even sat by those that were most sick and held their hand and rubbed their back and held their hair out of the bag.  Even I took my turn at handing bags to those that weren’t near them when they needed them.

No, I didn’t get sick.  No, Tony didn’t either.   We were probably among the one percent of the passengers that did not get sick.  Yay!  We were the first to be served when the buffet lunch was ready!

It was a wonderful trip but I think if I had gotten sick, I would have asked them why they hadn’t told us ahead of time that so many would get sick so we could prepare ahead of time by getting something at the drug store!


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Here are more pictures of our day at the Great Barrier Reef:

Catamaran docked at pontoon at Morse Reef

Coral, taken through Underwater Theater window

Lots of little fishies!

And lots of bigger fishies!

Tony and I before boarding the catamaran

That’s all for today.  Not feeling great so off to bed.

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When we planned the trip, there were four main things that Tony wanted to do.  The first was to rent a car and go to the Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell.  We did that.  In Cairns, he wanted to go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and go to Kuranda in the rainforest.  So now that we were in Cairns, it was time to take on another of the things on his list: the Great Barrier Reef.

We left our hotel early to walk the mile to the harbor where we boarded the catamaran for our reserved trip.  It was a two hour catamaran trip out to Morse Reef where our catamaran docked at a pontoon for the day’s activities.  I cannot swim so I did not sign up for the snorkeling but there were other things to do, such as the Glass Bottom Boat and the Semi Submersible.  Tony can swim so he signed up for the snorkeling and went a step further and booked the advanced snorkeling trip during which they take a group of 4 or 5 at a time for a 40 minute adventure outside of the cordoned off area where everyone else goes snorkeling.  It was so wonderful for me to see him so excited about this activity.  This was, afterall, his trip.  I wanted to make sure that he got to do everything he wanted to do.  I didn’t want him to miss anything because I could not do it.

The water, the fish, and the coral, as seen through the glass of the semi submersible and the glass bottom boat were amazing.  I took way too many pictures to share here but I am posting a few below and will post more tomorrow.  Enjoy.  And yes, the water was really that color!


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After five days in the Melbourne area, we went on to our next destination, Cairns.  Cairns is in Queensland, a two and a half  hour flight from Melbourne.  We left a cloudy Melbourne behind and headed for a tropical 80 degree paradise!  If you have ever been to Hawaii (maybe Kauai) you will have an idea of what Cairns is like, minus the hustle and bustle.  It’s a small town with a very laid back kind of life.  Things don’t get rolling in the morning until about 11.  Imagine us wanting breakfast at 9 and not really finding much in the way of food because it was too early!

The main tourist street is literally across the street from the beach with a park/bike/jog area between the street and the water.  It has a very large pier for a town that size, then again, it is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef so I guess it’s not surprising.  There is also a casino in town.  Yes, Tony and I visited there twice in our four day stay.

People are very friendly and helpful.  This goes for both locals and tourists.  The taxi drivers were very chatty and tend to drive very fast!  Most of the taxis we saw there are Prius models and for a Prius, they sure do move!

Just a couple of pictures below.  Tomorrow more, probably of our snorkeling trip to the Great Barrier Reef.


The bay in Cairns from our hotel balcony.


Cairns Harber at dusk

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St. Kilda–Australia

When Tony and I returned to Melbourne from Port Campbell, we stayed in South Yarra, a suburb of Melbourne.  We had read before leaving home about St. Kilda Beach.  It was supposed to be a neat area to go shop and eat and have a drink.  We took a tram to St. Kilda and although it was an overcast and windy day, we did find quite a few people in the shopping area.  The beach was deserted and Luna Park (amusement park) was closed for the season but the restaurants and shops were doing a brisk business.

We had a delicious Porterhouse steak dinner with beer as the house special that night and paid only $15 each which is a bargain in Australia where most dinners out will set you back at least $30 each.  It was interesting to watch the restaurant.  In the U.S., the fire marshall would have been there to close them down or make them get rid of some of their customers.  It was so crowded that we actually had to wait for the restaurant staff to ask people to get up out of their chairs so we would have a path to the door.  And it happened anytime they were seating someone or someone wanted to leave.  The food was amazingly delicious and the beer was brewed locally so other than having to wait to get out of there, we had no complaints.


The beach at St. Kilda


Entrance to Luna Park


Building that looks like reptile skin!

This building was pretty neat.  When you looked closely, the outside looked like reptile skin.

Beach folk atop St. Kilda hair salon!

The beach folk weren’t real but they sure looked real.  They made everyone do a double take!



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