Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Bloomfield Track with Roanne - Roger & Peter

We (Roanne, Roger and Peter) left here soon after 8.30 heading North aiming for the Bloomfield 4x4 track and perhaps the CREB track to return home on, if it is open.
We left with Peter driving and headed North up the coast through the rainforests and following the coast. Part way up we crossed the Daintree River on a car ferry which crosses both directions all day long between 6am to 12am. It takes all of 4mins to cross @ $12.50 each way. On the other side we headed through the rain forest with a stop at the Masons Cafe to get a map and a coffee. We then continued North on the lookout for cassowary’s as there are signs every 2kms up the road warning of them crossing.
When we arrived at the beginning of the Bloomfield track there was a sign saying 4x4 vehicle access only and warning “Crocodiles watch out. We let the tyre pressure down to about 25 PSI so that we would not feel the bumps too much and went through the first of about 5 water crossings. The track had some very steep uphills and downhills. The track was rated a 3 although it was very enjoyable and great to see a different part of the country
It took us through the rainforests a bit more and then along the river to Wajul Wajul where soon after this we stopped and had lunch - good old chippy sandwiches, (Chippies only, as Roanne had forgotten to pack the marg & by then the thermos had broken!). Here we were very closely watched by the local Aboriginal man who was watching two women fishing, not too sure if he was assessing us or what!
At our lunch stop we saw our first sighting of a rather large croc in the wild. We continued on and saw another croc further along. After about 5 hours travel and 160km we arrived at the very popular Lions Den Hotel which is marked on all the Australia maps. Here we had beer, bourbon and wedges then headed back to Wajul Wajul to see the Bloomfield Falls as we had missed them on the way up.
We stopped at Ayton for a ice cream and also to find out whether or not the CREB track was open. We here found out in was closed and that there were people stuck on the track at this point in time waiting to be rescued. It was decided that being rescued was not on our list of things to do so we headed home the way we came. We saw a few more crocs on the way.

At Wajul Wajul we went into the Bloomfield Falls where we drove in then walked the last 400m. As we stood on the sand down by the water admiring the falls Roger turned around and saw a croc sitting there only 40m away from us on the rock in the middle of the river. Roger then decided he needed to hunt more crocs, while Peter and Roanne watched from a distance wishing we had the Patrol keys and not Roger. (Roanne also had a camera ready in case he did get eaten for evidence for the insurance claim)
We then continued heading home on the Bloomfield track this time with Roger driving. All in all we saw 7 crocs, had about 10 water crossings, looked for the elusive cassowary, drove 360 odd km’s and got home at 8pm. A great day had by all and looking forward to doing the next one at some stage.
Ugly Cattle Buffalo!
Lawn Watering Tractor
Homeward bound

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wildlife Habitat

On Friday we had two separate activities. Peter, Roanne and Roger left soon after 8.30 am and drove to Cape Tribulation to complete the well known Bloomfield Track which is 4wd only and a stop off at the Lions Den Hotel. I will leave it for one of them to record their day.

The children and I went to Wildlife Habitat for the day including the luncheon with the lorikeets. We left the caravan about 10 am and drove the 3 kms into town. At the main road I realized I didn't have the mobile with me so turned around and came back as the others may be trying to contact me. Fortunately I came back as I realized I didn't have my wallet and I could imagine the disaster if we had arrived at Wildlife Habitat with no money! I must be getting old and forgetful or three chattering excited children was the problem.

The facility again has boardwalks around the zoo with specific areas. We initially went to a presentation on pythons and baby crocodiles. We followed this with a grassland tour which included the kangaroos and then the crocodiles. Even though the children have seen kangaroos many times now the attraction does not end. Some of these had joeys so they were even more special.

We had booked lunch with the lorikeets so this was a buffet luncheon in the restaurant within the bird aviary. Jake and Tim were disappointed that they weren't able to have a black cockatoo on their arm but the ranger thought that their arms were a bit thin to take the weight. This opinion was not shared by the kids.

After lunch the kids joined the kids club for an hour. They were delighted that they were the only kids booked in (it is not school holidays here and surprisingly there are not many kids about) and they had the wildlife assistant totally to themselves to answer their questions. They were taken on a behind the scenes tour and collected the food and equipment to clean out the quollo's cage. They were shown how to put the quollo into a secure area so that they could enter the cage. Tim then hid a fish in the cage area, Zoe found a hiding place for the dry food and Jake had to find somewhere for the dry food that was caked together. After cleaning the cage area they released the quollo and it was interesting to see that he found the fish straight away.

Kids club was then completed and we went to the koala presentation area where Tim was keen to have his photo taken with a koala. This
cost $16 and he had been told if he wanted to do this he had to use his birthday money from Peejay and John. He thought this was good
use of this money, (which I agreed) but Jake had other ideas for his money. The attendants were a little unsure whether to allow Tim to hold the koala because of the weight of it but did agree. Tim was a very happy boy with his photo which turned out very good and I am sure it will be taken to school proudly.

From here we did another tour of the full park catching up on the various animals we had missed and revisited the crocodiles and the
kangaroos. Finally at nearly 4 pm we left the park although this was at my suggestion not the children's. On the way back to the caravan
we stopped off at the Mowbray River old bridge as we had been told that a couple of crocodiles bask in the sun there at low tide. We
couldn't see them at all and a lady told us we were about half an hour too late but that she had seen them. We will have to try again another day.

We finished the day with toasted sandwiches for dinner and listened to a guy playing his guitar and singing down in the communal area. We had a good day and the children had lots of experiences and really enjoyed them. They were all in bed sound asleep when the others got back.

Nature's trail - Mossman Gorge

Today we planned a picnic and a walk at Mossman Gorge. The gorge was shown on the local activities and marked "not to be missed". It was only about 22 kms each way from the caravan park. Roanne and Roger now have a rental car so Tim and Zoe travelled with them and Jake travelled with us. The road into the gorge narrowed significantly and the speed was down to 20 kms. Roget fluked a carpark opposite the picnic tables and Peter had to take the Patrol quite a long way further down the road. We had our picnic lunch first and it was just as well we did. We happened to be in the right place at the right time.

We had seen signs of cassowary on the drive in. At the picnic area the signs said there were no rubbish bins because of wild cassowary. Within five minutes of us arriving a cassowary wandered out of the rainforest. Roger was quick with the camera and everyone was able to see this flightless bird that we had been hearing so much about. For Peter and me this was our second sighting and we are told that it is quite rare to see one let alone two.
Jake following

After lunch we commenced the rainforest walk. We had no idea how long the walk was but it was well set out on boardwalks and good paths. Jake was very interested in all the trees and various types of growth and would read the signs and explain the information to us all. The path followed the Mossman River and this was very similar to the terrain that we had seen at The Boulders down in Babinda about 130 kms south of here. The signage warned or crocodile in the water but we didn't see any. We did see lots of Dusky Morehens wandering around the undergrowth. 

We crossed a swing bridge and continued our walk higher before following a two kilometer circuit and starting the return trip which went a slightly different way than the way in. When we finally made our way to the carpark and picnic area we realized that we had started at the end rather than the beginning and had taken the walk backwards. It didn't matter at all. We had walked between 4 and 5 kms so it was no wonder that both Zoe and Tim were very tired when they got back. We had also made two bad errors with our walk today - we didn't take any water and some of us had jandals (thongs in Aussie language) on. We will have to watch that in the future.

We had afternoon tea in the picnic area then headed for camp. On the way we stopped to watch a sugar cane harvester working. Roger and the boys were keen to look at the cane so they were able to see some close up. Jake, Peter and I then stopped when we saw a sugar cane train and we were surprised to see that one of the wagons had derailed.

We had Kangaroo kebabs for dinner tonight - the first Kangaroo that the Lumsden family had tasted. Although they are farmers, it looks as though they might have a vegetarian daughter as Zoe refuses meat at most meals. It will be interesting to see if this habit changes as she gets older.

We have been very lucky - the days have been very warm around 26 degrees and more. The evenings have also been very pleasant and surprisingly warmer than in Cairns. We have eaten our dinner outside each night and for those who know me well, it must be warm as it is around 8 pm and I am sitting outside typing this into the I-Pad. Over the last 2-3 years I have noticed the cool and I am quick to put a sweater on even when everyone else is saying how warm it is. I am really enjoying the warm weather and look forward to more as we travel further north. I am not sure how I am going to adjust to the cold winters in Mt Maunganui when we return to live in NZ. We might just have to plan our winters in North Queensland! In the nearly four weeks since we left Melbourne we have only had one day of misty rain in Babinda and a couple of showers overnight. Here's hoping it stays that way when we are in the tent next week heading to Cape York.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Crocodile Hunters

After a leisurely start to the day we all went down to the marina. We had been told that there were a lot of large fish around the marina area and this was true. We had forgotten to take some bread but we still saw heaps. Obviously we will need another visit again while are here. After wandering around the marina we had lunch at the Hogs Breath Cafe. We then joined the Lady Douglas for a crocodile tour in the mangroves. The tour was for an hour and a half and went out into the estuary and we all went crocodile hunting. During the trip we saw at least five or six crocodile of varying sizes. We were quite pleased to see them in the wild.

During the trip we saw a couple of boats that were badly damaged during Cyclone Yasi. They were still waiting to be taken from the water and looked as though they were beyond repair. All the children had a turn of assisting to drive the boat.

It has been cooler here today - only about 24 degrees. Bit disappointing really as I expect it to be warmer than that. I also had to be up early today!! Zoe has the habit of visiting the caravan as soon as she wakes wanting her breakfast as she is starving. She normally turns up anywhere between 7 am and 7.30 am. This morning I was unfortunate to be out of bed when she knocked on the door so that put me on to making the coffee, and the breakfast for Zoe and the others as they turned up. Now it is nearly 5.30 pm and it has turned windy and quite cool. Here's hoping this cool patch blows over quickly.

We are staying at the Glengarry Big 4 caravan park in Port Douglas. After the Coconut Holiday Resort with all the activities for the children they are disappointed with this park as there are no activities and the pool is quite cool.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Enjoying the park facilities

After such a full day on Sunday we all agreed that as it was our last day in Cairns we would have a day in the park. We spent a good part of the day at the whale swimming pool, although I am not sure that anyone got in the large pool as the spa was very popular. Soon it was time for table tennis & tennis again but really that is more about hitting the ball across the table and then chasing the ball to hit it back. Still all three children enjoy it.

We had met a Dad with his two girls, Charlie aged 7 and Stevie aged 3 when they had played ball with Jake, Tim and Zoe in the spa. They were playing basketball when we arrived at the table tennis tables and the children soon joined in for a combined game. They were fast becoming friends and made arrangements to meet at the Splash fun park at 3 pm. Jake got very anxious as it got towards 3 as he didn't want to miss playing with Charlie. It was lovely to see him making friends. The next couple of hours or so went very quickly spent at the waterslide park. While Peter and I cooked dinner the Lumsdens played tennis - Zoe ended up with a bleeding nose from running into the net pole but that was the only casualty. It was dark when they finished but they really enjoyed their time. Roger tells us that it is about 25 years since he last played tennis but he certainly looked as though he was enjoying it. The boys are going to go to tennis lessons this summer so this and the table tennis have been good introductions.

Tomorrow we leave Cairns and head for Port Douglas. The Coconut Holiday Resort was a perfect choice for us in Cairns with plenty of activities for the children and far more than we have seen at any other caravan park we have stayed in over the years. The caravan park is beautifully maintained and deserves it's five star rating and the additional costs charged to stay. There were lots of retired couples staying as well as a few families with children.

Great Barrier Reef visit for the Lumsden family

There was an early start for Roanne and Roger and the children on Sunday as they were booked on to the Reef Magic boat trip and had to be down at the marina for an 8 am start. Tim had not been very well on Saturday but he was not going to stay behind. As soon as he got out of the Patrol down at the Marina he was sick (fortunately he was out of the car!) - a perfect way to start a day on a boat. Fortunately that was the only time he was sick all day.

They had a wonderful full day which included snorkeling and seeing many of the marine life of the reef. They were also told of and saw some of the damage caused by the recent cyclone. Roanne had fortunately brought their wetsuits with them. However Zoe being Zoe decided that her job for the day was to be social to all the other travelers and did not go in the water even after lots of encouragement. Still she is in lots of photos to go in the albums of many tourists.

As Peter and I have previously been to the reef (and I don't really enjoy the boat and have a long term memory of being very sick last time) we decided to stay behind. Peter and I thought that we may go down to the shops, catching the caravan park shuttle bus. However after we had caught up with the housework (it still needs to be done even though we are on holiday) and the washing, we went for a couple of walks around the camp and did our share of socializing. Before we knew it, it was mid afternoon and the thought of going shopping was no longer appealing. We are retired now you know, we can do that tomorrow or the next day if we want too!