23.09.2009 - 06.10.2009 70 °F
...That might have been the fastest two weeks of my life.
The last blog left me sitting at an internet kiosk in Surfer's Paradise. Turns out, Surfer's Paradise and the surrounding area isn't too entertaining unless going out every night and spending billions of dollars getting hammed is your thing. The beaches were gorgeous...and there was a nice lookout I ran to every morning. But other than that we got our use of free movie rentals from Worldmark, took lots of naps, and played cards. Vacation without Anita seemed unbearable but I adjusted pretty quickly.
After four nights in Kirra Beach, we took the bus two hours north to Brisbane. We arrived on empty stomachs to the hostel only to learn that our booking had fell through. The huge music festival in Brisbane that weekend meant most hostels were booked out which left us at the last resort...The Banana Bender's hostel.
We walked around downtown Brisbane that night, found an outdoor pub, and watched the footy on TV. I went to bed that night in long pants and a hoodie. When I woke up in the middle of the night to find my hood had slipped off exposing my bare precious cheek to the wretched hostel sheets, I felt like dying. We were out of there by 8am.
I tried to delicately tell Brendan and Miller I needed some room to breathe and so we spent the day apart. Brisbane is so dead to me. It's a huge hustle bustle city, don't get me wrong. But there was nothing to do. I spent my day at the outdoor markets, the museums, and the fake beach (Bris is on a river). I also got hit on by a South African man with B.O.
That night we slept in the airport. Miller made a makeshift bed from his towel and clothes...embarrassing but it made for good pictures. Domestic airport security is a joke here. I never had to show my ID, I didn't have to take off my shoes at security, and they didn't care that I had a full water bottle.
Checking in to the Worldmark resort in Cairns (northern queensland, a 2.5 hour flight from Sydney) after Banana Bender's and the airport floor was amazing. Brendan said, "it's so amazing to be able to walk around barefoot and not worry about getting a disease. Also, to not have to wear shower shoes...it even smells good." Thanks again mommy!
The first day was spent grocery shopping, planning our week's schedule, hot tubbing with some friendly local aussies (the resort was also an apartment complex), and of course ended with a movie.
The next morning we hired (rented) a car. Whip of choice? A cotton-candy-blue 1980-something Ford Laser...close sibling to the escort. Okay, not of choice but I suppose we could have done worse, right? Miller was designated the driver for the week. Upon pulling out of the "Old Car Hire" parking lot, Miller immediately drove in the right hand lane. Scary. Later on down the road he used his right hand to try and shift the door handle. I'll give him credit: for a backwards car as well as a backwards road system, he did well.
We drove 45 minutes through steep, windy, narrow, mountain roads to a hidden town in the forest called Kuranda. Kuranda is like Cannon Beach but without the beach. Lots of little cute shops and homemade ice cream...you know the scene. We went on a long long nature walk through the rain forest. I spotted the first sign of real wildlife! An orange water snake in the river. We also saw bubbles in the river which we're still convinced was a sleeping crocodile.
The next day was the big one: our snorkel cruise! We left the harbor in Cairns in the morning and the boat took two hours to reach the portion of the Great Barrier Reef where we snorkeled. The coral, anemones, huge clams, and fish stretched as far as I could see. My pictures don't do anything that I saw any justice. Oh, by the way, my camera broke half an hour into it. I've since learned that six other people with the same camera had the same thing happen on the reef and we've all taken our cameras under water before...so we're convinced it's something special to do with the area. I can still take pictures, but the display is broken. Apparently, it won't connect to my computer either so stay tuned for pictures this weekend when I get to Anthony's...they work on his computer. We went to a second snorkeling spot. This is where I found Nemo. He doesn't leave his anemone. Ever. The guides on the boat fed the fish just as I was swimming back towards the boat so I got caught in the middle of a fish feeding frenzy...so cool.
The next day we drove to Hartley's Crocodile Adventures. It's a zoo but their main feature is crocs...80-90 of them. We went on a river safari where they lured the crocs to jump up and catch raw meat right in front of our boat. I also tried crocodile at the cafe...the texture was like chicken...tasted good, nothing amazing. At Hartley's I also got to hand feed and jump around with some kangaroos! There were a couple koalas but not for cuddling.
The day after Hartley's, we drove to some remote villages in the tablelands. Not a lot to see so we continued on to a 16km waterfall circuit. The water falls were amazing. Especially Barron Falls...I'll post a picture. Yeah, lots of driving, lots of silly Aussie songs on the radio, and saw a lot of Aboriginals.
The next day was meant to be our BIG driving day. We went to start the car in the morning and then the key broke off in the ignition. We were let down but couldn't help but laugh. After waiting five hours for a spare key to be sent, we set off north. We drove along the beach, over a fairy crossing, through the Daintree Rainforest and arrived two hours later at a beach called Cape Tribulation. So so so beautiful. Hawaii-like for sure. The water was literally bathwater temperature. I put my feet in and immediately needed to go pee. Our day light hours were limited but we fit in some homemade rainforest fresh fruit ice cream, rope swinging over a river, a few more beaches, and hunting for tree kangaroos and Cassowaries (big dangerous birds...a bit smaller than ostriches).
The next day was our last. After checking out of the resort, driving through a bushfire (I know right), we continued north to a town called Port Douglas. We saved Port Douglas for Sunday because thats when the markets were on. Found Katie's Christmas present! Bought some exotic and locally made chocolate and tea for the Bennett's...and then I finally had my fish an chips I'd been craving all break. I paid more for locally caught fish...good choice. Mmmm.
We made a pit stop at the Cairns zoo, where I ran in to get my picture of me cuddling a koala taken...I'll post that soon as well. IT was really furry and lackadaisical.
The drive back to Cairns was bittersweet. I loved loved loved it up there. The weather was sooo good and the landscape was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Lush green rainforesty mountains, meets super dry vegetation and bushfires, meets pure white sand beaches, meets super warm ocean with salt water crocodiles in it, ending with the great barrier reef (my first and certainly not last wonder of the world).
However, it's good to get back to the familiar. Knowing the streets, knowing the transit system, and back to Anthony's house. Not so much loving the back to school thing but meh.
Oddly, I miss waking up and hanging out with Miller and Brendan all day which consists of them trying to perfect their "Crickey!" and "g'day mate!", inappropriate boy jokes, street racing in the laser, and me making endless quesadillas (which fascinated the Belgian).
I've only been back a few days but am already obsessing about where I'm going to go in December. Traveling is the best in the universe and will always be integrated into my life.
I think this blog is about long enough. For those who read all of it, you make me feel special.