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In the absence of current travel options, this is a rework of our 2014 trip Down Under, previously posted on a private blog site.
+34C (feels like +42C) and sunny in Cairns/Port Douglas/Mossman and Daintree Village. Still +30C in Cairns at 10 PM.
We caught up on our sleep last night, awaking at 6:30 AM (9:30 NZ time). Opening up the balcony shutters, we found the temperature was still +25C, but it was still a nice place to enjoy morning coffee.
After breakfast, we headed up North along the scenic coast, through Flame Trees, sugar cane and banana plantations, past Port Douglas to Mossman for an hour and a half long guided Aboriginal tour of the gorge.
Arriving in Mossman, we joined our tour group. After a ritualistic smoke purification, we walked along the forest path where our guide showed us the red cedar trees from which boomerangs, shields, canoes, sailing ships, etc.. were made, but these very same trees could also be used to signal through the forest by pounding on the huge buttress roots with a hand or rock.
We were also shown plants that had a variety of uses including soap, antiseptic, poultice, wound dressings, gum, etc. and even a plant similar to Poison Ivy that is three times more painful, but whose root also provides the antidote to the plant’s venom. Our guide mentioned that those living in the bush tended to use leaves for toilet paper, but using these leaves could be a painful mistake and jumping in the water only intensifies the pain.
The tour guide had a special bond with the kids (some came from Sherwood Park near our home town) in the group and included them in fruit and bark gathering and ritual story telling skin painting. We ended up at a river with the 3rd purist water in the world (Canada has the 1st), where Paul made soap and the fruit gathered from the forest floor was washed, so it could be sampled by all.
And throughout the entire tour, our guide dressed in a heavy long sleeved shirt was cool as a cucumber, with not even one bead of sweat showing. On the other hand, the rest of us were drenched and even our sweat had sweat.
Tour over, we continued North to Daintree Village and booked a river tour to see crocodiles (not easy in the summer as the water is so warm they tend to stay submerged for 3-5 hours). While waiting for the tour, we enjoyed lunch and Paul and I got our first Aussie Seniors’ discount. We had the Barramundi fish burger, which was delicious. While awaiting our tour time, we were very careful to obey all warning signs as we wandered along the river.
The breeze on the river was refreshing, the bird life was amazing and each time we thought we saw a crocodile, we were assured that it was only a “log-o-dile”. Despite only seeing a glimpse of the snout and eyes of one croc, we were satisfied learning about the annual flooding of the river during the WET (coming soon) and the bird life along the river.
We enjoyed the scenery as we drove back to Cairns. As it was New Years Eve, we had some difficulty finding a restaurant for supper, but finally settled on a Turkish place along the Esplanade. The food was good, but the service was at best, haphazard. After supper we wandered along the waterfront, enjoying the illuminated Christmas tree and festive lighting among the gathering crowd awaiting our midnight (9 PM kiddies) fireworks.
Then, we found a spot along the waterfront to watch the show. On the first shell explosion, the bird life headed for the skies in terror. I must say, we have never before seen such an enjoyable fireworks display. We were right under the shells which were launched from a barge just off-shore and the reflections on the tidal flats were amazing.
During the show, the heat was still oppressive and we felt totally drained by the time it was over. We drove back home for some bubbly and much needed showers and we were all fast asleep before 2015 actually rolled in, but ready for another fabulous day, tomorrow.
Happy NEW YEAR to you all.