Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Australia Travelogue--Part IV

Tuesday morning, 11/17 dawned sunny and hot again, just gorgeous for our plan for the day, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.  Another drive to Cairns for Susie.  It was really nice being a passenger and getting to read signs like "Overtaking lane ahead.  Consider followers", and speed limit signs of 80 or 100.  Susie bought my ticket and we boarded the gondola for the trip up into the rainforest, above the canopy. The information pamphlet Susie read from indicated that in order to avoid disturbing the rainforest too much, the towers had been airlifted in.  Amazing!  As we rose to the first tower, a large white cockatoo flew over the gondola.
The rainforest used to cover all of this area all the way to the sea, but has been cleared for settlements and sugar cane fields.  Most of the fields had been harvested a few months before I arrived so the plants were short.

Most of the housing has metal roofs and are light colored, so different from home!  Susie thinks it may be for cyclone ratings--asphalt shingles would likely just blow off.

Between the towers as we got deeper into the rainforest, the foliage changed.

We got off the gondolas at the first station and took the pathway into the rainforest, listening to a guide.  There were many types of trees, most of which he explained had no tree rings because there is no winter in Tropical Queensland. 

This huge tree (note people at bottom left for scale--and we were on an elevated platform) was covered with thick vines.

He had a face, arms, and hair!

We got back on the gondola for the ride to the Barron Falls Station.  In the distance we could see the town of Kuranda, where the Skyrail ends. 

Normally raging, Barron Falls was a mere trickle.  Tropical Queensland is known to have two seasons, Dry and Wet.  This year's Dry has been just that, and the Wet was late!

The Barron River still looked pretty full as we crossed it on the way to Kuranda.  We saw no crocs sunning themselves on its banks, though, to my disappointment!

Kuranda was a logging town in its infancy, then in the late 1960s was a popular destination for hippies and of late has been trying to become an artist's colony.  There were lots of tourist shops and galleries.  I loved the wrought iron signposts.  This one had a man with an axe chopping at it.

The world's largest ant perched on this trashcan.

A 4 foot tall praying mantis guarded this signpost.  We did not visit the butterfly sanctuary or other wildlife centers this trip.  Maybe next time...

I found some souvenirs.  I gave these to the girls at work.

And even came home with a couple of things for me.

We wandered around Kuranda for a little while.  I liked this shop:

Then we headed back to the Skyrail for the trip down the mountain.  A couple ahead of us were debating at the front of the line.  The man put his wife in the gondola, then turned and walked away.  She stayed in for a second then got out.  We were shown into another gondola and then the crew member asked if we would allow the lady to ride with us, which of course we agreed to.  She said her husband decided at the last second that he couldn't go in the gondola and she wasn't so sure herself about heights so felt it was better to have companions!  Her husband was taking the train down.  They were Danish and had been visiting their son who was at university in Brisbane, and had been traveling around Australia for several weeks, seeing lots of wonderful things.  She took our picture before getting off at the lower station to walk in the rainforest while we went on to the bottom.  That's me on the left, of course, and my dear Susie.

Susie drove us down to the Promenade of Cairns on the water, among the big hotels and downtown buildings.  We lunched on my dime at a little Italian place, sitting outside and watching the boats, ships, and tourists.  As family was going to be coming into town that night, we stopped at the "Supa" on the way home and shopped for dinner.  I decided to make a rice salad but could not find black beans so settled for borlottis.  I also picked up some corn tortillas so I could make breakfast tacos, which I should rename SoCal Tacos as they are not just for breakfast.  We had a lovely dinner and it was wonderful to meet Susie's brother Rob and his fiance Debbie, and her Aunt Wendy, and to meet their friends.  Jon had me try "tomato sauce", as he thought it was the same as ketchup, which it was.  Sue's son Matty and his girlfriend Jessie and I discussed all kinds of food and the differences between there and home.  Next up: a Boat ride!


Vivian said...

The sites, the souvenirs, the stories -- I'm enjoying your posts about your trip to Australia -- and congrat's on cutting back on your all-too-busy work schedule. There are only so many hours to dedicate to work, and then we transcriptionists get burned out. Enjoy the hours away from that one job, hopefully spent quilting and/or relaxing.

belinda said...

....Oh Me Oh My....high up in a gondola...I
would have been scared....well, sorta!!!