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Great Aussie Adventure, Part 2

I recently visited the Land of Oz, otherwise known as Australia. I took a gazillion photos on this trip of a lifetime, so I'm breaking them down into four parts. This is my Great Aussie Adventure, Part 2. (Click the images to see larger versions.)

Melbourne (Part 1) • Cairns (Part 2) (this page) • Uluru (Part 3) • Sydney (Part 4)

After much fun in Melbourne, the next stop was Cairns. My good friend Narelle Todd, book business and marketing consultant extraordinaire, met my travel companion Nancy and me at the airport. Cairns is the jumping-off point for visits to the Great Barrier Reef (fishies! sharks! crocodiles!) and the vast tropical rainforest area (wet!). Narelle was kind enough to help us find day tours with scientists and naturalists as guides. I'm working on a space opera novella right now that is set in a rainforest and cloud forest as part of the action, so my experiences will be very helpful. 

The Adventure Continues in Cairns

Continuing our posh tradition, we rented a lovely 3-bedroom apartment on the harbor for our stay. Here are three photos of the view from our balcony. The 270º view was too much for my phone's panorama feature to handle (not to mention my ability to hold the camera straight and steady).

View from highrise apartment looking up the bay in Cairns, on the 2nd part of our Great Aussie Adventure
View from highrise apartment out to sea in Cairns. Aussie Adventure part 2.
View from highrise apartment, looking at downtown Cairns. Adventure in Australia.
Our apartment was on the 11th floor and the corner, so we had a good view up the bay toward what looks like a weathered volcanic cone in the distance. Geographically, this is Chinaman Creek. The rainy weather made for interesting cloud formations when looking out toward the ocean. However, I probably needed a better camera to do them justice. Cairns invested in an international airport in the 1980s. Looks like it paid off. Previously, their main industries were sugar cane and mining. Tourists bring a lot more money.

Our first foray into the rainforest took us north-ish to the Danbulla National Park. They have some fig trees so famous that they've built walkways to go see them.

Photo of a very tall strangler fig tree, with two people at the bottom in the foreground. Adventure in Aussie-land 2023.
This is the famous (and probably 500-year-old) Cathedral Fig. They're called strangler figs because they start as a parasite on another tree, then eventually strangle it with curtains of gigantic roots.

In the Yungaburra area, the government rehabilitated a river area that had become overgrown with invasive plants and construction debris. To their surprise, the platypuses came back all on their own. Sadly, the photo below is as close as we got to seeing any of them. The rain probably convinced them to stay home.

Photo of a sign with an illustration of two platypuses, with cutouts to encourage tourists to take funny photos.
Two dignified tourists from America in the Peterson's Creek Walking Track. Maybe platypuses are a myth to lure gullible tourists into looking for them.

The Cairns harbor was dredged to allow cruise ships to dock at the wharf. This is medium-sized ship with only five levels of cabins, and it barely had room to turn around with the help of a tugboat (pushboat?). After seeing this one, I believe I'd rather not see one of the truly big cruise ships. 

Photo of a cruse ship at the wharf in Cairns, Australia.
This cruise ship stayed for 2 days, then took off to parts unknown.

Rainforest Adventuring

We took a gondola ride up to Kuranda, a town near Barron Gorge, and a train ride back down. Heights are fine with me, but the same couldn't be said for one of the other gondola passengers (poor dear). 

View of the narrow-gauge train as it winds its way through Barron Gorge in Australia.
Aerial view of Barron Falls near Kuranda, Australia. Great Aussie Adventure part 2
Photo of a sidewalk in Kuranda, Australia, decorated with carving and inlaid stones
The tiered cascade of Barron Falls looked quite pretty after the recent rains. This is the view from our gondola ride to Kuranda.

Kuranda is a delightful tourist town with plenty of opportunities to spend your money. My favorite part was the decorated sidewalks, which I'll keep in mind the next time I need to replace my own.


The narrow-gauge train track was an engineering marvel of its day. It cost a lot of money and a few lives, but it opened up the mountain area to the coastal area for people to have homes and viable businesses.
Photo of a display diorama depicting a cassowary with chicks in a rainforest environment.
Photo of a block of stone with three colors of mud, a bowl, and a person's hand.
Photo of Josephine Falls in Australia, with people on a paved walking track leading to the river bank.
This display diorama is as close as I care to get to a cassowary. They're naturally aggressive, but when they're protecting their young, can be quite deadly. I loved our short tour of the rainforest led by an indigenous man who can trace his lineage back through far many more generations than any Westerner. His commentary on life in the rainforest touched on survival, culture, language, and plants to look for and plants to avoid. Josephine Falls has a more gentle spillway than the giant Barron Falls to the north. Even in autumn, the water is warm enough for brave people to swim in and slide down the rocks. Nancy and I decided we are far too dignified to be daredevils.

The Great Barrier Reef

Photo of Aussie tour staff on a boat in the ocean near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Photo of a virgin mojito in a tall glass.
Me and Nancy, very excited to be on our way to snorkel along the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia.   Two of the Aussie tour staff who were on the boat that took us to our designated snorkeling spot. We noticed that all the staff were careful to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Since it was still “stinger” season, we all wore long-sleeved, neck-to-ankle suits in the water. It only takes one nasty jellyfish encounter to ruin your whole day. Another froofy drink from Australia. This is a virgin mojito, which is much safer to drink than alcohol after a day on the water watching the fishies line up to tease the tourists.
Panorama photo of the ocean, looking out toward the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia. Part 2 of the Great Aussie Adventure.
A peaceful panorama view of the ocean, looking out toward the Great Barrier Reef.

Next stop: Uluru!