Over and Under Cairns
Cairns is one of the gateways to the Great Barrier Reef which lies about 1 - 1/2 hours offshore by boat. Some companies keep permanently moored pontoon platforms at the reef and ferry tourists from shore for an afternoon's exploration of the coral and fish.
The teenage members of our group took the opportunity to relax in the sun (actually the clouds). James didn't even get his feet wet, but did go for a tour of the reef in a semi-submerged boat.
Alex in his snorkeling gear of shorty wet-suit, life vest and flippers. With all that neoprene there was absolutely no way he could sink...and that was fine with him.
The confinement of snorkel and mask were a bit too much for Alex's first foray into the ocean but he did take a quick peak with Ed's encouragement.
Cover girl shots of Sophie and Valerie in their snorkeling gear.
Sophie and Valerie took a brief snorkeling tour with Catherine. It's impossible to smile with a snorkel in one's mouth but it does prove we were there.
In the aboriginal community of Yarrabah, James and Ed attended a local Anglican church service that incorporated aboriginal cultural elements into a Christian service. After the service, these dancers offered to perform a crocodile dance that is used to teach youths about the dangers of fishing alone.
The performers told us that, if you fish in the same spot repeatedly, crocodiles will notice your pattern of behavior and stalk you at that spot. Here in the crocodile dance, the "crocodile" on the ground is about to make a fisherman into a meal.
We got the same story from the Cairns Tropical Zoo, where one of the croc keepers illustrated how the toothy reptiles lie still as a log under the water in a chosen spot until their prey makes the mistake of stepping in the water or disturbing its surface. Then they can leap out in a flash and drag their prey into the water for a snack.
Crocodiles are not as handy on land but apparently don't like to turn down an easy meal as this scaly lady crocodile showed us. Contrary to some legends, crocodiles do not run very fast on land and we saw many horses being pastured near water in the region around Cairns.
Queensland not only has the Great Barrier Reef but also boasts a large area of tropical rainforest. We took a quick afternoon trip to Kuranda, a usually tourist filled town at the top of this spectacular tramway. Because of the weather and the time of year, we were actually some of the few tourists there aside from a number of Japanese on holiday.
On the way up to Kuranda we passed the Barron Gorge and Falls, which were worth a trip in themselves.
Sophie and Valerie are bird magnets. Ed was less than happy about the parrots taking an interest in his movie camera and had to be rescued by the girls.
Three frilled lizards pose at the Cairns Tropical Zoo.
Alex and Valerie spent some time feeding the kangaroos. The roos seemed fairly bored with their pellets (sounds like some dogs we know) but we soon found that they really liked the eucalyptus leaves that were lying about on the ground which were nice and juicy and green.
Alex is very proud of having held a koala all by himself. He was barely high enough to reach the cut-off mark for being eligible. He commented that they were very soft but kind of stinky.