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Daily Life 2017
Aloha HAWAII Mahalo!
Daily Life 2016
USA - the EAST
Ca-Li-FOR-ni-A! (It's a Nation State)
Central and South America
Daily Life 2015
USA - the WEST
Daily Life 2014
Mexico and the Caribbean Islands
Amazing INDIA
Entertaining Sites Around LOS ANGELES
Daily Life 2013
Daily Life 2012
Daily Life 2011
Daily Life 2010
Daily Life 2009
Daily Life 2008
Daily Life 2007
Daily Life 2006
Daily Life 2005
Daily Life 2004
Daily Life 2001-2003 (in my Gray People phase)
Gran'ma's photos
neither here nor there

'17 Jul: Queensland
Cairns, Port Douglas, Lady Elliot, Brisbane.
including two visits to
The Great Barrier Reef!
'17 Jul: Darwin+ and The Red Center
The Northern Territory
and The Red Center.
July 8-13 Darwin, Kakadu, Arnhemland.
July 13-18 Alice Springs, Uluru.
'17 Jul: Broome
Western Australia
Camels and sunsets and a tour of the Danpier Peninsula - July 1-7.
'17 Jun: Tasmania
Including a bus tour of the mountains. And it's cold. June 23-July 1.
'17 Jun: Canberra and Melbourne
Canberra June 16-20: The nation's capital, and Relatives!
Melbourne June 20-23: A very fine city.
'17 Jun: Sydney
The bookends to this trip - first and last. Only first is in here now...back on July 29.
'07 Apr: Christchurch-Hokitika
Across the top third of the South Island, east to west...Christchurch-Akaroa-Arthur's Pass-Hokitika
'07 Apr: the Glaciers-Oamaru
(managed almost 2 weeks of the 6 week plan) The Glaciers-Queenstown-Milford Sound-Dunedin-Oamaru

Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.

July 25

A tour of the Daintree Rainforest to Cape Tribulation.

July 24

A little bit about Port Douglas.

That's it - 4 Mile Beach on one side, the marina on the other side, and the main drag runs between the two.

(internet pic)

At one point this area was a mud flat but then the tide came in and it got shiny and nice.

I've noticed that my normal pattern when coming to a new place (find the main square with the original cathedral and the old government buildings) hasn't happened here in Australia. The main square is hard to find or non-existent and there certainly wasn't one here in Port Douglas.

This church was the oldest, and it is picturesque, but they only use it for weddings.

The main drag had mostly restaurants and shops but also a Coles and a Target.

Everything looked nice, but there was something amiss which I never bothered to identified until I learned that there are 3,000 permanent residents of Port Douglas and 40,000 hotel beds. Ah.

On the marina side.

Anzac Park where families and sweethearts gather, and a drum circle beats away into the night.

Tim Tams, an Australian passion and for a very delicious reason. I'm beginning to miss Tim Tams already.

July 23

Snorkeling at The Great Barrier Reef!

They had a -1.5 snorkel mask which was perfect for me. The mask never leaked and I never flooded the snorkel either. AND they had my favorite, shortie wetsuits with the zipper in front. Gear-wise, Perfect!

(Note for the future: the wetsuits were 5 mil and I might have been better off in a 3, I think, if I ever get around to buying one.)

Oh my oh my. The water was definitely more clear than my week in the Galapagos so I can't compare fairly.

Moved to the Pacific the GBR would run the distance from Vancouver BC to Tijuana MX, the entire west coast of the US and then some, so we saw less than a fingernail of that distance.

From NOAA's website:

"Coral reefs begin to form when free-swimming coral larvae attach to submerged rocks or other hard surfaces along the edges of islands or continents. As the corals grow and expand, reefs take on one of three major characteristic structures —fringing, barrier or atoll."

And here we have the Great Barrier Reef although fringing and atoll reefs are also present.

My Austrian table pals for the trip.

We did three different dives and between each place we had something to eat - morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea. Tea means tea, coffee, juice, fruit, and pastry. Lunch was a small but tasty buffet.

I've been letting my hair grow by default, not having got it cut. It's usually back with a head band and not bothering me At All which is a mini-miracle.

All these close-up fish I bought off the crew photographer. She was one of the five who ran the ship and who did a ton of other things as well as the photos such as giving a reef talk after lunch, helping with the gear, and hold the barf bags for the few who didn't make it through the chop unscathed.

More. There's another one too later on, trying to control the number of pictures I'm using!

She was using the exact same camera as I had and I got no fish picture even one half as good as these. But---she had done it 1,000 times, had the camera in a housing, was wearing weights, and spent most of her time diving with her snorkel. I need to learn how to do that.

This was the best learning experience ever photo-wise. As we all know, it's not the gear.

Just that much different from the fish above.

Clam shells, wow.

We saw so many shapes of coral.

I'm going to talk about coffee.

The Aussies have become, in far less than a decade, total coffee aficionados. Bad coffee is not to be tolerated. If you ask for coffee you might get asked back barista coffee or instant? You don't see a lot of brewed coffee.

They also have a pretty uniform way to order coffee and I've got mine "skinny flat white". There are two sizes, regular and tall so if you don't say tall you are supposed to get regular.

For the first week or so I was going with "flat white" which was ok but really too milky so then I went with "flat white with an extra shot" which was nice with the extra shot but didn't work in cutting the milk because they just added more. Now I'm getting "skinny flat white" which is working best. I don't know what percent they use for skinny...I should find out! They don't have the add-your-own-milk option so that's why I've been working with what there is.

So one time I was in the mood for iced coffee and I saw "iced cappuccino" on the menu, which I ordered, and what I got was a cappuccino float! A cappuccino with ice cream added. Ok, I ate the whole thing.

More close-ups from our crew photographer.

There were so many different kinds of fish...So Many even so many more than these.

During the second dive a couple of the crew ran tours where you could follow them around and they would show you things. Even the best swimmers were using noodles to hold themselves in place...

...and I tried to do it but every time I looked down I got so distracted that I lost the group so I had to give up on the noodle and just go back to floating around in amazement.




Some more reef shots.

There were two or three reef sharks about.

There was a mildly amusing but ultimately unfortunate moment when one of the crew was doing a talk and at one point while she was talking about the bleaching asked in one breath "are there any Trump supporters here never mind it's a long swim back".


Looks like an aquarium up in here.


At the end of the day the tide was low enough for a part of the reef to be exposed and the water was sheltered and calm. I didn't flood my snorkel once! Man. I'm even thinking I might try a snorkel dive next time. We'll see!

July 21

My hostel in Port Douglas is the building on the left and we are completely full. It's big and extremely lively but my room is big too, the biggest yet, en suite, with a/c so I'm not bothered by the lively, and a tv with five movie channels that don't have commercials.

The main street is one up parallel to this street so I couldn't be more central.

I'm a fan of the pub vibe for lunch.

Aussie burger! It includes lightly pickled sliced beets (they call it beetroot and it's a much more popular ingredient than in the US), grilled onions, bacon, lettuce and tomato, and a tomato jam that I think might be unique to each establishment. I like it!

Last night I ate in an Indian restaurant and had a large cheese and garlic naan which was delicious.

Also the previous night in Cairns I went nuts from the market and ate probably 4 or 5 ounces of wonderful Australian blue cheese, an entire tub of quince paste, and fabulous walnut crackers in remembrance of my time in Canberra.

Four Mile Beach, one of the prime attractions in Port Douglas. It arcs all the way around the bay and is quite beautiful.

The sand is so firm and the ground so flat, great for walking although I didn't walk the entire four miles out and four miles back.

This is the full scene where you could swim...

...because see that sign...

...between the two flags is the only life guarded area and swimming in the ocean can be dangerous here.

Now it's winter so it's unlikely to find the box jellyfish, "the world's most venomous creature", in the water. During the summer months you can swim in the ocean only inside stinger resistant enclosures.

If you go outside the enclosures when the stingers are active you'd better be wearing one of the special head-to-toe full-coverage wetsuits or a visit to the hospital might be in your future.

Playing in the water further down the four miles.

See how the foot prints are under the little sand balls meaning the crabs that make those balls did their thing after the walker went by. I'd like to see how they do that!

July 20

The excitement for today: Kuranda, up by train and back on the SkyRail.

Wiki: "Kuranda is positioned on the eastern edge of the Atherton Tableland where the Barron River begins a steep descent to its coastal floodplain. Parts of Kuranda, particularly along its eastern edge, are protected within the Kuranda National Park and Barron Gorge National Park. Both national parks belong to the UNESCO Wet Tropics World Heritage Area."

But basically the town of Kuranda is a funky little down-home shopping opportunity.

It's sugar cane cutting season in North Queensland and we saw these fields throughout the trip to Kuranda and again on the drive from Cairns to Port Douglas.

A nice view of the Kuranda Scenic Railway. You can just see nine cars here and I was in car fourteen so the train is much longer.

I heard sometimes they run as many as seventeen cars, and there are four trains heading up every morning so in the busy season you can imagine the numbers pouring into the little town. But they have to go-go-go when they can because tourism during the wet slows considerably.

Here's another view so we can be impressed by the bridge.

Stoney Creek Falls, a grab shot out the window, where Stoney Creek descends from the Atherton Tablelands to the Cairns coastal plain.

Looking at Trinity Bay, Cairns is to the right just out of view.

Into Kuranda, the train station.

Here in Kuranda we have several large markets with mostly craft stalls, and individual shops with crafts, and people selling crafts on the street.

There are also restaurants of many stripes and some attractions such as a bird place and a koala place...

...and this dinosaur place.

I could have extended my stay by several hours and enjoyed a few of the many fine walks available from here but I didn't have time since I was going on to Port Douglas today.

Heading back on the SkyRail. Ok, this is fine, not scary, no problem until...

...Barron Gorge and the SkyRail just stops. In the air. High high up, stopped and rocking in the noisy hard-blowing way-up-here wind. For a short minute I calculated the odds...fine, I'll be fine, these things Never break.

We had a stop along the way to admire the Barron Falls.

And then back to finish the ride.

Captain Cook Highway joins Cairns and Port Douglas and it is gorgeous along here, from a speeding bus with almost no light out a dirty window, but worth it anyway.

Here's another one with even less light.

July 18-19

This transfer from Alice Springs to Cairns went very smoothly. I got out of The Northern Territory without another canceled flight! Yay!!

On the 19th I did a walkaround in Cairns (pronounced CANS, really). Here is the Bolands Center built in 1912/13 and one of the many classic buildings to have survived the barrage of cyclones that hit regularly.

There's a handsome marina full of luxury yachts and even an along-side restaurant which I think is unusual.

Heading out for the well-reviewed boardwalk, it didn't look too appealing and I think part of the problem was the low tide that left just a long stretch of muddy shoreline.

This is a plover, two people here told me so and I checked it on the computer. Yes, a plover. Plovers are everywhere in Kauai and they don't look anything like this guy.

What wiki says: "The masked lapwing, also known as the masked plover and often called the spur-winged plover or just plover in its native range..."

My first foot massage of this trip!

Then I took the bus to the Cairns Botanic Garden (Flecker Botanical Gardens). This is their Visitor's Center with a café and shops.

The Conservatory was a relatively modest affair. I followed this butterfly around for 10 minutes trying to get him to sit still for a sec.

This plant name reminded me of Alex and Carol who have retrieved their boat Nepenthe from Florida overland, and re-launched her in Long Beach to the delight of all their SoCal friends and friends from far and wide who will benefit from the welcoming generosity of A&L.

A Bush-Turkey!

I do love a boardwalk because it so often takes you places you wouldn't otherwise get to enjoy.

And you can speed your way past the mosquito farms.

My Cairns accommodation was in an extremely nice hostel, the YHA. I would have nothing but praises were it not that they allowed smoking in the courtyard that permeated the whole area. It's the first time I've run into a pocket of smoke I couldn't escape, so really, that's pretty good.
Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.


© 2012 •