Mauled by a McCaw
Jun 12, 2013
|An early day today – up at 6:30 and a quick breakfast then to the lobby to meet the bus for a full day of adventure. Sort of.
Off to FreshWater to meet the Kuranda Train. It travels from just outside of Cairns up the escarpment to the table lands of the area. It was used to transport a variety of things down to the port. Built in the 1870s it has about 15 tunnels and 20 bridges going up to Kuranda.
After a bit at the station looking at a rather meager museum (and a gift shop) the train, painted by local aborigines, arrived and we headed up the escarpment. We passed field after field of sugar cane – the most important crop around here. Train made some dramatic turns and passed some spectacular scenery. Barton Falls was quite nice, though the river was damned for hydro power so not the flow there should have been.
We finally arrived in Kuranda and walked up the hill to the village. Nicely done town but clearly designed for tourists. Some nice local trees though – the parasitic fig in particular were nice – They start as a vine then choke out the original tree and become a tree themselves.
We then went o the first nature park – and Alice got to get her picture taken with a koala bear – all set up quite nicely. Then we got to interact with some kangaroos and wallabies before we made our way to the bird house.
Lots of tropical birds flying about – including one pushy McCaw - landed on my shoulder, climbed down my back, and unscrewed the top to my water bottle! Other than the claws digging into my shoulder it wasn’t bad. I offered him a 50 cent piece and he traded that for the cap. He would not get off my shoulder though and it took quite some time to convince him that I was not his best friend. He finally left – with the money…
We then wandered on and I got to see my first fabled black swan – and Alice got to get a bird to eat out of her hand. All great fun then we exited through the gift shop into what can best be described as a hippie village. A man reciting poetry, massage and palm readers, lots of healing crystals and other sorts of oddness. Interesting stuff, but not at all authentic.
We made out way to a restaurant and I got to eat a kangaroo burger. Interesting, but too much bread. A bit dry but quite nice really. Alice had spaghetti. We were going to get crocodile sausage but ran out of time.
Then through even more gift shops selling all sorts of “aborigine” crafts – including a toad change purse, kangaroo leg back scratchers, and stuffer crocodiles. We met up with a bus that was to take us to a nature center and a trip through the rainforest.
Got to the Rainforest Adventure and had a 15 minute run through with some local critters – kangaroos, Dingos, Cassowary (astounding creatures!), and some nice birds. Then off to the duck tour.
The area had a fleet of 12 WW2 DUCKS – transports that could go on both land and water. While sounding interesting it was rather dull – a short trip where the most exciting thing was a brief sail on an artificial pond. Rather the low point of the day.
Finally back to the bus and to the rail station – but this time we took the “Skytrain” – a cable car from the village back down the escarpment. Quite the nice trip – well over the rain forest. Most of the time going fairly level but then the descent down the escarpment was quite steep. About an hour in all. Very interesting seeing the top of the rainforest. Sadly we did not get the car with the glass bottom…
Back at the base (a gift shop) we waited for the bus, then a hotel tour of the city (we dropped off 12 or 13 people at different hotels) we finally got back to the Pacific International. After a quick trip to the room ( and looking at a flock of Flying Foxes) we headed off to BushFire restaurant in the hotel. Alice had her eye on this place since we’ve been here so we gave it a try. The restaurant styles itself as Brazilian (odd what we find exotic) and serves all you can eat meats. I got a broiled seafood platter and Alice got the works – Beef, pork, lamb, sausage, chicken, prawns, and pineapple – plus a bunch of sides including black beans, rice, slaw, and cheesy potatoes. She liked the beef but not so much the other stuff. A fun meal for her but way expensive for me.
She headed back to the room, I headed for another ATM (they charge 2.5% if you use a Visa card) and then back to the room to pack. Now I’m in the hotel lobby, Alice is asleep, and we leave at 6:00 AM tomorrow for our trip to Ayers Rock (Uluru) for a couple days.