Day 27 – Cairns, Australia
Cairns (pronounced “cans” locally) is a three-day sail north of Sydney – roughly the distance from New York to Miami, and about ¾ of the way up the eastern coast of Australia. Cairns is the capital of the State of Queensland, has a population of 150,000 and is the major center for activities on the Great Barrier Reef, which is about 40 miles off-shore. On our first visit here, we spent the day on the reef (there are some great pictures of us in wetsuits in the 2012 blog). On this visit, we decided to explore the other attraction here in Cairns – the Rain Forest. Our tour bus picked us up at the dock, and we headed through the city, up the coast, through cane fields and began our climb into the forest.
Here is a shot from the road up, back toward Cairns across the cane fields.
The bus dropped us off at our destination – the Rain Forest Station Nature Park.
We first boarded Army WWII Ducks for a trip through the park, which was primarily an undisturbed rain forest full of native plants and animals.
One of the things I found most interesting was the presence and indeed the necessity of, termites. These pests are useful to the jungle, clearing out dead wood. Here is a termite nest – about 2 ½ feet in diameter.
This plant has almost microscopic spines on it which are extremely dangerous. If touched, these spines inject an extremely toxic material more painful than a jellyfish, for which there is no antidote and which can remain painful for up to 2 years.
The roof of the forest was covered with tree ferns.
The duck being an amphibian vehicle, proved it as the trail entered a lake.
Exiting the ducks, we headed to a series of Aborigine demonstrations.
We then toured the “zoo” portion of the park. A dingo.
A crocodile – this saltwater croc is about 15 feet long.
Some of the animals, such as the Tasmanian Devil and the Cassowary, a large flightless bird, were much too shy for photos.
After a brief lunch and mandatory lurking about the gift shop, we prepared to board the bus for our trip home.
Sally was delighted that she got to hold a live Koala – something she has wanted to do for a long time.
We headed back to Cairns and traveling through town we got to see some more wildlife – bats hanging from the trees downtown. According to the guide, the citizens of Cairns are mixed in their feelings toward the bats, as they are interesting but messy.
We exited the bus in the middle of town and did a little shopping in the supermarket for necessities, and ducked in the Casino for a peek – at $50 per hand for Black Jack it was purely a spectator visit.
Here are some shots of Cairns from the ship – just to give you a feel for the town.
And now, off to Darwin, Australia, on the top of the country.