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Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Alice Springs
Kangaroo Island

Christchurch, NZ
Queenstown, NZ
Pictures:  Sugar Cane Fields  |  Rainforest from plane  |  Fruit Bats  |  Cassowary Road Sign  |  Lodge Room  |  Coral Sea Beach  |  Cooper Creek  |  Nature Walk  |  Coastline  |  Port Douglas  |  Great Barrier Reef  |  Wavedancer Sailboat  |  Cairns  |  Cairns Flora  |  Hotel Room  |  Reef from air  |
History:  Cairns  

The flight from Sydney to Cairns was 3 hours.  We headed north past sugar cane fields - the principal crop of the area.   It was a beautiful drive with the Coral Sea on one side and the rainforest on the other.  After 2 hours we reached our destination at Cape Tribulation for a two night stay at the Coconut Beach Resort in the Daintree Rainforest .  It's on the northeastern seacoast in the state of Queensland.  Cape Tribulation is as far north as you can drive on a paved road.  

To get to the rainforest we had to cross the Daintree River via ferry boat.  There is no bridge into the rainforest.  Right after the river crossing we stopped to see numerous large fruit bats hanging high up in the trees.  Interesting sight to see.  We also stopped for an interesting road sign.

Our resort room was actually an individual lodge with screened porch/sitting area overlooking the rainforest.  Since the room was open, we could hear the sounds of the rainforest at night.  The coolness of the ceiling fan helped us sleep at night.  It was a great place to relax but we also walked on the beach and used the pool.  We were told not to swim in the Coral Sea because the box jellyfish were still in the waters.

Cape Tribulation is a true natural wonder.  It has beautiful eucalyptus forests and unspoiled beaches on the Coral Sea coast.  It is advertised as a unique ecological gem - "It is the only place on Earth where the forests are much as they were 100 million years ago.  The very first species of flowering plants bloomed while dinosaurs were still alive"   This is also the only place in the world that two World Heritage sites are next to each other - Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Tropical Rainforest.

We had our first experience handling a sea kayak.  We spent 1 hour paddling from the beach to a point about a kilometer south.  We went out in the sea a few hundred meters and had small 1 - 2 foot waves.  Unfortunately that's all it took to hit the kayak just right and flip us over.  We needed help from our guide to get the kayak right side up and then we pulled ourselves back in.  We were in pretty deep water and Kirsten was worried more about jellyfish than anything else.  We were using our life vests as seat cushions, which worked well.  Once we were back in the kayak we knew we were now experts.  After paddling to the south point we landed on the beach and had a snack and some drinks.  A short hike to an overlook was a nice break.  The paddle back to our starting point took about another hour.  No mishaps on the return trip.  Two of our fellow kayakers actually flipped twice - once on each leg of the ocean journey.

We had an eco-cruise on Cooper Creek where we saw a few crocodiles and a forest of mangrove trees.  A nature guide took us on a nature walk through the rainforest to see the variety of flora.

On Mother's Day our resort had a huge seafood buffet.  There was lobster, big crabs, salmon, oysters on shell, other fish, plus salads, and deserts.  One of the best meals on the trip.  We were told they don't offer a spread like that very often.

Leaving the rainforest and driving along the coast we arrived at Port Douglas for a full-day excursion to the Great Barrier Reef.  It was about a 45-minute trip on a 30 foot catamaran sailboat, the Wavedancer, to Low Isles, a coral reef with a small sandy island, where John got to snorkel.  The first snorkel was with a nature guide who pointed out interesting coral, fish, and a couple of large sea turtles.  We also walked along the beach to see the varied marine life.  Since Kirsten did not snorkel, she saw basically the some things on the glass-bottomed boat.  After an on-board lunch John was back in the water to snorkel on his own and take pictures.   

After exploring the reef we had the long drive to Cairns checking  into the Royal Harbour Tradewinds Hotel arriving after dark.  The hotel was overlooking the harbour on the esplanade.  The next day was spent exploring the city, doing the Heritage City Walk, doing some shopping and getting some exercise.  Shopping and restaurants were within a few blocks.  The city is very touristy serving as a supply base for cruises and trips to the barrier reef.  There were lots of young backpackers.  Flora was all over the city.

The hotel room was again an apartment with a separate bedroom, sitting area, kitchenette, and clothes washer.  The bathroom was between the bedroom and lounge area.  The Jacuzzi tub was circular and if the curtains around the tub were opened - you could bathe and look out over the harbour.  We were on the sixth floor so the view was great (and private).

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