Australia Part 1: Cairns

This year, from April 19 to May 2 Matt and I took a (much needed) vacation to the land down under, Australia! It was our first time out of PNG since we arrived April 7 2014 (except for my short trip to Jakarta for a conference, which doesn’t really count), and my first real vacation from work.

This post will be cut into 3 parts as we did a lot in the two weeks we were there, even though we were only in Cairns and Sydney. But, I’ll keep the text short so you don’t get bored!

Kuranda

Kuranda is a small village in the rainforest of Queensland, very close to Cairns. It’s basically a tourist village, but since we have never been to Australia before, we wanted to do all the kitschy tourist stuff.

We took the Skyrail up to the village. It takes about an hour, and has a few stops to get out and appreciate the rainforest and spectacular views.

Kuranda 01-03

Top: Looking backwards and forwards from our gondola. Bottom: View of a suburb of Cairns from the skyrail.

At one of the stops on the Skyrail, there was a short rainforest walk, where we learned that all the plants here are spikey and out to get you.

Kuranda 04-08

Australia: where the plants soften you up for the snakes and spiders.

Kuranda 09-11

These plants seem non-threatening, but I bet they are worse than the spikey ones.

Kuranda 12-13

This parasitic fern builds itself a basket to catch water. Left: Side view. Right: Top view.

Kuranda 14

A huntsman spider awaiting our return with the knowledge that the plants have made us easy prey

Kuranda 15-16

View of Barron falls, which becomes much migthier during the wet season

Once in Kuranda, we walked around and checked out some touristy stores, then went to a small zoo.

Kuranda 17-19

Some sugar gliders and a wombat

We fed and petted some kangaroos

We fed and petted some kangaroos

We hugged a koala

We hugged a koala

Also viewed: frogs, lizards, snakes, & crocodiles.

Also viewed: frogs, lizards, snakes, & crocodiles.

We then took a 1.5 hour train ride back to Cairns.

Some views from the train

Some views from the train

There were a few other sites in Kuranda that I wanted to see, so I took our rental car up a few days later to catch the stuff I missed. First stop: butterfly sanctuary.

Kuranda 36-41

Kuranda 42

We have these electric blue butterflies in PNG as well, but as you can see here they will not sit still for a picture!

We have these electric blue butterflies in PNG as well, but as you can see here they will not sit still for a picture!

Kuranda 46-49

I also checked out the venom museum, which had all the most dangerous Australian critters.

Kuranda 50

Roadside look-out on the way back to Cairns

Roadside look-out on the way back to Cairns

Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree rainforest is the largest rainforest in Australia. We took a day tour out of Cairns to explore it. While waiting for our pick-up, we checked out the nearby beach. We were there at the end of the stinger season, so the nets were still out.

Austrailia: pretty much everything is out to get you

Austrailia: pretty much everything is out to get you

Our first stop was a short river cruise where we saw some crocodiles and an interesting plant. I can’t remember what it was called, but if you rub the seed against a hard surface the seed will heat up and you can burn your friends with it.

Crocodiles

Crocodiles

Daintree 06-07

Seedpod & burning seed

We went on a few short rainforest walks, where we saw more spikey plants and ferns that were up to a thousand years old. We didn’t see very many critters, the few we saw included a lizard, a turtle, an eel, and a bird that looked like a turkey vulture.

Some of the interesting plants we saw on the walks

Some of the interesting plants we saw on the walks

A few critters

A few critters

Look-out over the Daintree rainforest to the ocean along Cape Tribulation

Look-out over the Daintree rainforest to the ocean along Cape Tribulation

Our second last stop was an insect museum. If you’re from Canada, you should recognize the beetles on the bottom left. In SK we call them spruce bugs. The writing on the bottom middle picture says “Giant Longhorn Beetles – Cerambycidae (Batocera): The Batocera develop into the most exquisite forms in New Guinea…” Imagine my surprise when Indy caught one and brought it inside our house – we moved halfway around the world and I thought I had gotten away from these things! But here they are in PNG, even bigger and camouflaged with crazy patterns.

Some of my favourites from the insect museum

Some of my favourites from the insect museum

Our final stop was a stroll along a beach.

Daintree 32

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