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Tropical Far North Queensland

Last Build Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2017 23:52:23 +0000


46. James Cook Museum

Sat, 16 Oct 2010 11:30:00 +0000

Above: James Cook MuseumThe James Cook Museum administered by the National Trust of Queensland is considered one of the most significant Trust Museums open to the public.The building, designed by Scottish architect F D G Stanley was constructed in 1889 by the Catholic Church as St. Mary's Convent for the Sisters of Mercy and until the second world war was a major centre for the education of women in Far North Queensland. In 1960 the Catholic Church donated the building to the National Trust of Queensland. Above: AltarAltar-Convent This is the original altar that came from the convent chapel used by the Sisters of Mercy. The chapel would presumably have been in use from 1888. The museum building then was known as the "Convent of Saint Mary" Above: Spiral StaircaseUsed by the convent girls to access the attic. The nuns left the convent in 1941, and had the stairs dismantled and sent to their new location in Herberton. The stairs were later recovered and have come back "home" to the Cooktown convent/museum. Above: MonstranceThe Ostensorium (Monstrance) From ostendere, "to show".The large star shaped object is a Monstrance. A monstrance is the vessel used in the Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and Anglican Churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic Host, during Eucharistic adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.From left to right, the objects are:1. A votive lamp (candle) is a small, typically white or beeswax yellow, candle, originally intended to be burnt as a votive offering in a religious ceremony. It also refers to a standard size of candle 2 inches high by 1.5 inches diameter, of any color or scent.2. An Urn used for burning ballot papers after the election of superiors.3. Monstrance4. Chalice Above: H M Bark Endeavour (replica)Built by Captain Dan Moynihan in 1915. This model of the Endeavour was used in Cooktown ceremonies. Lieutenant James Cook sailed in the Endeavour on his first voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand from 1769 to 1771. Above: Lighthouse Lamp Above: Chinese IdolsThese came from Cooktown's Chinese Joss House (Taoist/Buddhist temple), and would probably date from the Gold Rush days of the late 1800's. Above: Very Early TelephoneAntique Phones No exact record available but possibly predate the switchboard (See next photo) Above: Antique Phone SwitchboardCommissioned in 1873 by the Posmaster General to service ninety telephone subscribers. When the switchboard was decommissioned in June 1985 there were 400 subscribers to the now automatic exchange. Above: Endeavour HarbourThis is a view of Endeavour Harbour from the balcony of the James Cook museum. The foreground building has no significance. Above: Cooktown GardenThis lovely tropical garden was to the left side of the James Cook Museum as you faced the street. I took this from the upstairs balcony.[...]

45. Town Walk

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 08:48:00 +0000

Cooktown is the northernmost town on the East coast of Australia, located at the mouth of the Endeavour River on the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland.HistoryIn June, 1770, Captain James Cook arrived in the crippled sailing vessel – His Majesty's Bark Endeavour.The English crew spent almost seven weeks on the site of the present day Cooktown, repairing their ship, locating food, and caring for the sick. The wealthy scientist, Joseph Banks, and naturalist Daniel Solander, who accompanied Cook on the expedition, went collecting, preserving and documenting many new species of plants.Historical BuildingsCooktown is an historical town and many of its fine old buildings have been preserved. The photos below were taken on my walk along Charlotte Street. I didn't get to see all of them as the weather was very hot and I only had a certain amount of time. Above: The Old BankThe magnificent Bank building, heritage listed both inside and out, was originally built in 1881 as the Queensland National Bank. Typical pf the Victorian era it still retains the original red cedar counters and other decor. Above: Close-up of entranceThe banking chambers are home to photographic exhibitions conducted by the Cooktown Historical Society. With over 400 glass plate negatives the 2007 exhibition "Cooktown & Palmer - The Early Years" provides a glimpse of our pioneering past. Above: Mrs. Watson's monument~ Dedicated (c.1886) to Mrs. Watson who survived an Aboriginal attack on Lizard Island in September 1881 to die later on Number 5 Island of the Howick group for lack of fresh water. The wife of a beche-de-mer fisherman Captain R.F.Watson the attack on her was provoked because their homestead was built on sacred land. One of her two servants was speared but Mrs. Watson her infant son & the other Chinese servant escaped in a boiling down tank to Number 5 Island. Their remains & her diary were found in 1882. Above: Ferrari EstatesFerrari Estates was built in 1883 for the Bank of North Queensland. Above: Sovereign Resort HotelOriginally constructed in 1874, at the port end of Charlotte Street, the Sovereign was transformed into a resort style hotel in 1986. Above: Seagren's InnSeagren's Inn was erected in 1880 by a former mayor, P.E.Seagren, as a store.It is now a motel/guest house and goes by the name of Chop Suey Louie's[...]

44. Pam's Place

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 04:47:00 +0000

Cooktown AccommodationThis is where I stayed in Cooktown. Pam's Place is both a hotel and hostel. The hostel is YHA affiliated and the cost very reasonable. It was $25 per night when I stayed here in 2008 and I can honestly recommend it. Pam's Place is on the corner of Charlotte Street and Boundary Street. Charlotte Street is the main road in Cooktown and is on the right hand side as you arrive in Cooktown from Cairns. Above: EntranceThe huge crocodile on the right is quite welcoming and best of all, he doesn't bite! Above: MuralsThis is part of the colourful hand-painted mural near the reception area. Scott (the owner) told me one of the backpackers who from memory was Austrian asked to paint the walls. And what a wonderful job she did too. Above: Communal AreasThe top left photo is part of the dining area and the one on the right shows the inside/outside lounge/games area. Lower left is part of the kitchen which is all stainless steel, clean and has a very good selection of pots and pans etc. The lower right is the ladies bathroom. Note the painting on the wall - it is the first thing you see on entering! I never did find out who the model was but he had a nice figure.☺ (The ladies used to often gaze upon this painting...I wonder why)Above: My roomThe room was fairly basic, but it was clean and the mattress was comfortable. A small bar fridge, hanging and shelf space for your clothes etc and a lovely still life painting on the wall. I was in Room 16? (not sure of the number) which was off the side and to the left. There was a nice covered area outside with a couple of timber table and chairs where I would sit and have a cup of tea and a smoke. The view was of plants, flowers and greenery.Garden AreasThe garden areas around Pam's Place were very lush and green with tropical plants. There was, I beleive, a pool although I didn't use it, there is also a BBQ, which I didn't use either. Above: The GazeboThis gazebo is towards the end of the garden. The building on the right is part of the hotel section. Above: Tall Palms Above: Garden CollageDifferent parts of the garden. There were several hibiscus growing, some with massive flowers and a Chinese (or Japanese) section with garden statues in and around the plants. The lattice with the Welcome ornament was on the wall of the verandah facing the gardens.[...]

43. Cooktown

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 22:04:00 +0000

Monday 29 September

We arrived in Cooktown at 1.25pm. Checked into the YHA (Pams Place) on the corner of Boundary Street and Charlotte Street. Scot, the owner was a friendly chap and when I said, "Phew it's so hot", his answer was, "Oh no, this isn't hot dear, this is only warm!"
He drove me down to the car hire place - A1 Car Hire - but somebody stuffed up and there was no car for me. I had booked a 4WD automatic several months prior and Joe couldn't find it. I told him I had a copy of the email back at the hostel and could go and get it if necessary. AFter soime checking on his computer, he found it. He said they no longer had those type of 4WD's - the booking had been done through the head office in Cairns. The 4WD auto was in Cairns and he'd have to get someone to drive it up and I would be able to pick it up early next morning.

He gave me the use of an ordinary car, a Hyundi Sonata, but the problem was you could only drive it around town. He said he wouldn't charge me a hire fee, just pay for the petrol.

Went to the Bakery and had a coffee and cake for $6.50 and bought a corkscrew at the IGL Supermarket for $6 - I'd forgottne to bring one with me and had a nice bottle of wine.
The best place for a meal is the Cooktown Bowling Club - beaut home cooked meals just $12. I had Beef and vegies and the most delicious cheesecake which was $6.50.

Joe (from A1 Car hire) drove me up Grassy Hill (in his 4WD) to see the lighthouse (No 2WD's allowed) and watch the sunset.

Cooktown Lighthouse
The Lighthouse is located on Grassy Hill which is at the eastern end of Hope Street. The lookouts provide panoramic views of Cooktown, the Endeavour River & Coral Sea. James Cook climbed the hill on several occasions to view the surrounding reefs enabling him to navigate a safe passage out after repairing his ship. The lighthouse was built in England & shipped to Cooktown in 1885 & was automated in 1927. Between 1942-45 it was complemented by a radar station & dismantled after WW2 & served the community for 100 years.

42. Bloomfield River

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 17:44:00 +0000

Monday 29 September

The Bloomfield River is 60 odd kms south of Cooktown and Allan stopped for a photo view.

Ze Bus
This was our bus.

Bloomfield River
The river enters the sea north of Cape Tribulation and is noted for its Bloomfield River cod fish species, found only in the river.

It was originally named "Blomfield's Rivulet" on 26 June, 1818 by Phillip Parker King.

Bloomfiled River & Hills

It was a beautiful scenic spot and the water appeared to be so blue.

41. Wujal Wujal

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 17:30:00 +0000

Monday 29 September

We made our second break at Wujal Wujal and I bought dim-sims and a nice hot cuppa tea - it was the best tea and I really enjoyed it. We sat outside and it was very relaxing after bouncing around on the bus.

At Viv's Cafe you can get chicken and chips, hamburgers, chips, dim sims, cold drinks, coffee and tea. I bought dim-sims and a nice hot cuppa tea - it was the best tea and I really enjoyed it.

You can rest a while and you can talk to the locals. You can also look at the history of the old days in Bloomfield. There are toilets provided for and every second Saturday a market is held there.

The Ayton store is a small shop on the right hand side of the road where you can buy food and drinks. There's a cafe called the Croc and Barra Cafe which sells takeaway food and drinks. There's a nice outdoor eating area with shade.

The Aboriginal police woman came up while we were there and said hello.

40. Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Community

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 17:04:00 +0000

Monday 29 September

Wujal Wujal means ‘land of plentiful water’ and is on the Bloomfield Track 60 kms south of Cooktown. Wujal Wujal was previously known as Bloomfield and later the Bloomfield River Mission. Originally founded in 1886 by Lutheran missionaries, the community became too difficult to administer due to its isolation and the missionaries of the time withdrew. The community opened again in 1957 and was administered by the Hopevale Mission Board. In 1979 the name was changed from Bloomfield River to Wujal Wujal. At the 2006 census, Wujal Wujal had a population of 326. The people are Kuku Yalanji.

Wujal Wujal
Visitors are warned not to bring any alcohol into the community as part of the Queensland governments aims at tackling aboriginal alcohol abuse.

Wujal Wujal artists Glen Williams and Doreen Creek worked with teacher Ross Franzi to create the tiles representing the communities’ cultural past and their future.

In 1980 the Aboriginal Council came into being, with the area regaining its traditional name, Wujal Wujal. The community has an Indigenous Knowledge Centre "Binal Mangka Bayan" (which means house of knowing things). The centre provides access to books, magazines and other educational material.

Wujal Wujal Crossing
Getting to Wujal Wujal is by an unsurfaced track road which is only suitable for 4WD's due to the gradient of the terrain and the numerous streams and rivers which cross the path at regular intervals. The road is unpassable when there's heavy waterflow.

Wujal Wujal Falls
The community at Wujal Wujal is thought to have existed on the site for thousands of years and in their eyes the waterfalls are sacred. Visitors are only permitted access to one waterfall as the other falls are only for the eyes of the female members of the community. There have been cases where non-aboriginal women have built a strong relationship with the community and been granted access to the falls however the Aboriginals insist that the other women be naked and coated in a layer of saliva from the aboriginal women.


39. Bloomfield Track

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 13:59:00 +0000

The Bloomfield Track runs from Cape Tribulation to the The Bloomfield River for 32 kms and is a true 4WD Track as there is very little gravel on parts of the surface, unimproved creek crossings, steep climbs and plenty of opportunity to get stuck if it is wet. The actual condition of the road varies enormously, and it can be anything from an easy drive, to almost or completely impassable.

Rykers Bridge
It was fun bouncing up and down and listening to the "squish" of tyres as they went through the water on the roads. There are two steep climbs and descents on the track — Donovan's Range is 20% (1:5), and Cowie Range is up to 33% (1:3).

Bloomfield Road Sign
Normally the creeks are alright, but in wet weather there can be at least 4 challenging crossings. Most 4WD vehicles can only cross about 0.6m depth of water before the risk of damage, and even if the vehicle is capable of a deeper crossing, the strong current can easily wash 4WDs away!

Bloomfield Track
There was a fair amount of water on the track and along the side. Sometimes the road sort of breaks up and you gets lots of mud. The road surface can be loose and slippery even when dry. At times I thought we weren't going to make it, but Allan, our driver knew the ropes having done this many times before. It wasn't till we arrived in Cooktown, that I realised Allan was not only our driver, but also the owner of the company.

Bloomfield Track
You can get lots of dust which blows up around.

Track History
The Bloomfield Track was pushed through from Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield in 1983. It was constructed amidst vehement protests from within the environment movement resulting in pitched battles at the site of construction between protesters and the police. Eventually the track was completed providing a 4wd thoroughfare from Cape Tribulation to just south of the Bloomfield River where it connected with an existing road which carried on through Ayton to connect with the Cape York Peninsula Developmental Road leading to Cooktown.

38. North To Cooktown

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 12:50:00 +0000

Monday 29 September

It is just after 8.00am and the journey to Cooktown begins. Country Road Coachlines, a locally owned an operated company travels between Cairns and Cooktown - offering two routes, the inland service and the coastal service. The inland service is a same day run, but I chose the coastal route as I wanted to travel along the famed Bloomfiled Track. This is an overnight service, going Cairns to Cooktown on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and returning to Cairns on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Allan was our driver and he had a great sense of humour.

I had a migraine and most of the way was spent lying across the seats on the bus - self-inflicted I know. I really should have gone to bed earlier the night before, but you know how it is - you're on holiday and don't want to miss a minute of it. Ah well, c'est la vie!

Raintree's Cafe
Our first stop was at the Raintree Cafe about 9.00am for a bite to eat and a cuppa. I bought an egg sandwich and a cup of coffee for $8.00 which was just what was needed after an early start to the day. Allan was really good and didn't mind if you wanted to linger a bit to finish that last smoke, or make a quick dash to the loo.

Outdoor Dining Area
We sat here in the outdoor area - all the smokers congregated here, plus it was much nicer sitting outside with lots of greenery around. The timber tables were indifferent shapes and the air was warm with a faint breeze.

Daintree River Ferry Crossing
I awoke to the sound of the ferry and we waited out turn to cross. TGhe time was a little after 9.30am.

Route Map
This shows the coastal route from Cairns to Emmagen Creek and part of the Bloomflied Track.

37. Low Isles - Return journey

Sat, 19 Dec 2009 17:49:00 +0000

Sunday 28 September

Afternoon Tea
All too soon it was time to leave and head back to the boat for the journey back to Port Douglas. Afternoon tea was served (again by the First Mate) - wonderful biscuits and of course tea and coffee.

Low Island
A last look at the island as we slowly made our way back to Port Douglas. I hadn't noticed the bird until after taking the photo.

Watching the Boats
People were sitting outside along the water just looking at the view. The chap on the left in a white top has his camera out.

Setting Sun
It was magical - slowly sailing with the setting sun, sipping champagne.

Sunset Sailing
The still sounds of night and the beauty of the sunset, the gentle ding-ding of the bell ringing as we approached Dixon Inlet and the Marina. A wonderful end to a glorious day. I was a little sad - I wished the day could go on forever. Of all the cruises and trips I've done, this one stands out as an unforgettable and beautiful memory.

The Crew

Back at the Marina, the journey is over - a wonderful ending to a beautiful day. I asked the Skipper could I have a photo with him and the First Mate - he gracously agreed.

36. Low Isles - Island Walk

Sat, 19 Dec 2009 17:48:00 +0000

Sunday 28 SeptemberThe Low Isles are a Marine National Park Zone. Day visitors can come to the island via a number of commercial operators. There is a lagoon where private vessels can moor or anchor overnight, but there is no overnight accommodation on the island. There is a weather station, a lighthouse and the University of Queensland's research station.There are two islands - Woody Island and Low Island, but it is to Low Island that the visitors come. Low Island is a "typical" tropical island - just like you see on the movies. It is a smaller vegetated, sandy, coral cay surrounded by 55 acres of reef.Low Isles MapNo fishing is allowed in the lagoon or within a buffer zone around the islands.Personal Palms There are several shady palms - you get your own personal palm. One had two maroon chairs which are "reserved" the the crew - the Skipper and the First Mate!Around The IslandI did a nature walk around the island. Low Isles are low, wooded islands, an island type unique to the GBR. The story begins around 7,000 years ago.....As rising sea slowly covered the top of an ancient reef, dead corals were swept onto the reef flat. Heavy fragments settled on the windward side, building up a barrier. Mangrove seeds established in behind the barrier and Woody Island was formed. Finer coral fragments were blown onto the sheltered corner of the reef flat. A low sandy cay emerged - Low Island. Shady TreesWith their heavy cloak of vegetation, the islands are home to many birds - Osprey, Varied Honeyeater, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Sooty Oyster, White-Breasted Woodswallow, Mangrove Kingfisher.PalmsIn 1992 local people mindful of their neighbourly responsibilities, formed the Low Isles Preservation Society to protect Low Isles and promote reef research and education.Many years of habitation has left its mark on Low Island - coconuts are more plentiful than on a "pristine" cay and exotic plants bear witness to diligent gardening by previous residents. Some exotic plants brought to the island include Singapore Daisy, Frangipani and Hibiscus. Today, Low Island is managed to prevent further imapacts, especially from visitors to this special place.Low Isles LighthouseThe Low Isles tower (1878) was constructed on a timber frame with a galvanised sheath in the typical Queensland fashion, and it was the first to have porthole windows. . Attached to the top was a 1.5m diameter lantern manufactured by Chance Bros of Birmingham, England.A timber staircase gives access to the lantern room. The tower was painted white with a red dome. All the buildings were prefabricated elsewhere and transported and assembled on site.The final cost of the lightstation was: capital cost of buildings - £4,090, cost of optical apparatus- £1,389. The island the tower is now controlledby Queensland Parks and Wildlife.Lighthouse The Low Isles Lighthouse is on a low flat coral cay surrounded by thick vegetation. You can read further information and history here.Research Station The University of Queensland's Low Isles Research Station was previously the assistant lighthouse keeper's house. The research station consists of one house only, with good laboratory facilities located below, and can accommodate a maximum of 6 scientists.Low Isles Research Station works closely with the ecotourism vessel Undersea Explorer, supporting quality research projects, promoting field work opportunities for University students and providing an exciting and stimulating reef adventure for scientists and students.Shed The shed is part of the research station.Island View Back to where I started. It was lovely strolling around the island - no noise save for the sound of birds and the leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. No smelly polutants, just clean, fresh air with the sun on your face and a feeling of timelessness.[...]

35. Port Douglas - Low Isles

Sat, 19 Dec 2009 15:18:00 +0000

Sunday 28 SeptemberI made my way to the Marina for my trip to the Low Isles. There are several tours to choose from but I wanted to sail on "Shaolin", an authentic Chinese Junk. She is the only boat that leaves at midday and returns around sunset. You can BYO alcohol and the Captain puts it in the esky for you to keep cold. The maximum number of guests is only 23 making it a more personalised and friendly experience. On this day there were 17 of us. I would recommend this to anyone wishing to see the Low Isles - the trip on Shaolin is something that lingers with you long after your holiday is over. ShaolinCommissioned by an admiral and built from teak in Hong Kong, she cruised the South China Sea for 16 years, sailing around the world twice, before Port Douglas became her home.Shaolin has been operating for over 21 years and is the longest running charter boat in "Port", laced with history and charm. At the Marina Standing in front of Shaolin.ShaolinShaolin is an authentic Chinese Junk which sails to the Low Isles each day at noon. The magnificent polished timber, opulent Oriental decor of the Bedroom would make this a dream come true for those who wanted to live "At Sea."The InsideThe ship is a timber ship with beautiful polished timber. The one bedroom has portholes on either side and above the bed. Red silk coverings of Chinese design with plump pillows and cushions. On boarding, we had morning tea with delicious cakes served to us by the Captain's mate, Pete. The square table has a red top with a timber "lip" - to prevent cups from falling off. Onboard Shaolin Morning tea over, the trip takes one and a half hours. The wind was cool, the sea a little choppy, and as we neared the Low Isles, the weather became warmner, the sea calmer and the sun shone brightly in an blue sky. Low Isles Lighthouse Low Isles is a pristine coral cay island on the Great Barrier Reef and when we reached this blue lagoon, we had a delicious lunch of assorted cold meats, salads and crisp rolls. Malaita Other boats at the island.Sailaway IV Sailaway was making its way back to Port D.Glass-bottomed Boat Lunch over, we climbed into the glass-bottomed boat and saw fish and coral through the glass. We marveled at the turtles swimming around and under us. Ocean ViewStanding on the island and looking out, you can see Shaolin on the right-hand side and the glass-bottom boat in the middle. There is another boat to the left.[...]

34. Port Douglas - Four Mile Beach & Sunday Market

Thu, 17 Dec 2009 20:21:00 +0000

Sunday 28 SeptemberAnother wonderful day today - went down to Four Mile Beach at 8.00 this morning. Headed down Warner Street, turned right at Owen Street, then left up Mowbray passing some lovely red hibiscus on the way.Hibiscus in Mowbray Street It was a lovely walk and the sand was very clean and the water lovely and warm. I was surprised at the number of people out and about already. Four Mile Beach This is the premier beach of Port Douglas. From the main Port Douglas district, you can walk to the beach in under 5 minutes and then continue to walk along the sandy beach for hours under the tropical sun.Facing North 4-Mile Beach begins at the northern rocky headland - great for children to explore and play with the small crabs that make the beach their home. Facing South Then the 4 miles of beach unfold in a gentle curve that continues as far as the eye can see, without a hint of development - the accommodation and houses are neatly hidden behind the swaying palms. Then it was time for the Port Douglas Sunday Market which is held every Sunday at Anzac Park at the end of Macrossan Street between 8.00 and 1.30pm. Anzac Park At the mouth of Dixon Inlet is Anzac Park, also known as The Old Stinger Enclosure due to it originally being a man-made rock wall protecting a sheltered swimming beach from box jellyfish. The area behind the rock wall has since been filled in and it is now a very pleasant area of parkland with rock faces dropping off to the water on three sides. Anzac Park is a great place for family fishing with plenty of room for children to run around in, playground equipment, picnic tables, beautiful big shady trees, easy parking, and a stones throw from the centre of town, and the Courthouse Hotel. Sunday Market Each Sunday a market is held in Market Park, which adjoins Anzac Park Port Douglas.Bordered by Dickson Inlet and Wharf Street the location is picturesque with the mountain ranges and Coral Sea in the background.Established almost 20 years, Port Douglas Sunday Market provide locally made hand crafted goods of every description.In 1998 Council decided that the Port Douglas Sunday Market would be a "Cotters Market", thereby ensuring that goods offered for sale were made by the stallholder or their immediate family.There were many arts and crafts, jewellery, clothing, and fresh produce as well as dried fruits and nuts. I bought fruit $5.00, three tomatoes, two peaches, a pineapple ($2). That was the best pineapple I've ever tasted. Also macadamias ($6), liquorice, dried paw-paw, cost- $14.00.After this it was time to head to Coles for three small bottles of champagne ($13.00) for my trip to the Low Isles.Port Douglas Click on blue marker for photo. You can also enlarge the map. frameborder="0" height="350" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src=",145.465663&spn=0.007202,0.00912&z=16&output=embed" width="425">View Port Douglas in a larger map[...]

33. Port Douglas - Rainforest Habitat 3

Thu, 17 Dec 2009 15:16:00 +0000

Saturday 27 SeptemberThe RainforestRepresenting the Wet Tropics rainforest environments where native species such as the Southern Cassowary, Boyd’s Forest Dragon and colourful Eclectus parrots can be viewed in a natural setting. Boardwalks meander along the forest floor to the rainforest canopy.Southern CassowaryDespite being a bird, the Cassowary is Australia’s largest land animal. Reaching 200 cm and weighing up to 83 kg it's so big it's unable to fly. It has glossy black plumage, two dangling red wattles and a big bony lump on its head called a casque, and live in tropical rainforest and feed mostly on fallen fruit.The Cassowary is an endangered species, with estimates of only 1500 remaining - its extinction could affect rainforest plant diversity as it helps spread the seeds of up to 100 tree and shrub species. Its relatives such as the Elephant Bird of Madagascar and the Moas of New Zealand became extinct after contact with humans.Eastern Water DragonEastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesuerii) Australian water dragons have long powerful limbs & claws for swimming & climbing & have a prominent nuchal & vertebral crest.Including their tails which comprise about two-thirds of their total length adult females grow to about 60 cm long, & adult males up to 1mt & show bolder coloration, with red chests and larger heads than females.Water dragons eat a wide variety of insects, molluscs, small fish & native fruit & scavenge around picnic areas & urban park.Eclectus Parrot - maleThe male Eclectus Parrot is bright green except for red under the wings and a bright orange beak and a black tail.Eclectus Parrot - femaleThe female Eclectus Parrot is so different it was once thought to be a different species. It is bright scarlet except for a dark blue belly and back and a black beak. Even tiny Eclectus Parrots look different. Male chicks are a grey ball of fluff, female chicks are a black ball of fluff.They grow up in a hollow high in a rainforest tree where the female lays two eggs. And she almost never leaves them in case another female takes her nest hole. She does not starve because lots of different males come to feed her rainforest seeds and fruits at her nest.The diet of the eclectus in the wild consists of mainly fruits, unripe nuts, flower and leaf buds, and some seeds In captivity, they will eat most fruits including mangos, figs, guavas, bananas, any melons, stone fruits (peaches etc), grapes, citrus fruits, pears and apples.Plantlife Some of the many plants at the Habitat. The souvenir shop has a good range of items and I bought a Kingfisher ($8.95) for a friend. One of the (toy) parrots said 'hello'. Caught the bus at 11.30, and promptly fell asleep as soon as I reached the hostel. Watched the Grand Final in the Bar. The Hawks defeated the Cats by 26 points - 109 to 83. Yay! Although I follow the Bombers, Grandad followed Hawthorn and I was barracking for them.[...]

32. Port Douglas - Rainforest Habitat 2

Thu, 17 Dec 2009 14:24:00 +0000

Saturday 27 SeptemberThe Habitat is a wildlife park and has three areas - the wetlands, rainforest and grasslands. The WetlandsThe Wetlands depicts the amazing diversity of our natural wetlands that are important fringing areas and provides a link to many ecosystems. An array of wading birds can be viewed foraging for fish in waterways beneath the boardwalks. The restaurant is within the Wetlands environment.Bush Stone Curlew The Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius) is a large, ground-dwelling bird endemic to Australia. It is mainly nocturnal and specialises in hunting small grassland animals: frogs, spiders, insects, molluscs, crustaceans, snakes, lizards & small mammals are all taken.During the day, Bush Stone-curlews tend to remain inactive sheltering amongst tall grass or low shrubs & relying on their cryptic plumage to protect them from predators. When disturbed they freeze motionless, often in odd-looking postures. Bush-stone Curlews make a somewhat eerie, wailing noise at night and have been responsible for many a phone calls to the police, from people thinking someone was screaming in the bush. For this reason the Bush-stone Curlew is also known as the "Screaming Woman Bird"!Magpie Goose The Magpie Goose is a large, distinctive black and white water-bird, around 70-90 cm long with a prominent knob on the head, and orange legs. Immature birds have no head-knob and their white parts are mottled grey or brown.The diet consists mostly of aquatic plants although some small invertebrates are also taken. They also eat certain crops, particularly rice, and can be a pest to agriculture. The magpie goose is also known as the pied goose and is a favourite food of north Australian aborigines. Yellow Tailed Black CockatooThese birds are very large with yellow cheek patches and large yellow tail panels and grow to 600-700 mm. Males have black or dark grey beaks and dull yellow cheek patches, while the adult females have white beaks and bright yellow cheek patches. They inhabit a variety of habitat types, but favour eucalypt woodland and pine plantation. The favoured food is seeds of native trees and pinecones, but birds also feed on the seeds of ground plants. Some insects are also eaten.Red Tailed Black Cockatoo The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo is a big black parrot with a short crest, a stubby beak and a long tail red patches. The tail of the female Red-tailed Black Cockatoo has black bars on the red patches and the head has yellow spots. It lays two eggs but only one young ever grows up to leave the hollow in a tree in which the eggs are laid.It lives in forests and open country, sometimes taking the seeds of gum nuts in trees, sometimes finding seed on the ground. In some places Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos have learnt to find peanuts under the ground!Australian White Ibis The Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) is a wading bird also known as the "Sheep bird" & is around 65–75 long & has a bald black head & neck & a long black down-curved beak measuring over 16.7 cm in the male & under in the femaleThe body plumage is white with some black feathers near the tail although it may become brown-stained. The upper tail becomes yellow when the bird is breeding.The legs & feet are dark & red skin is visible on the underside of the wing. They can reach 28 years of age.Black-Necked Stork One of the largest birds at the Habitat. Black-necked Storks fly with the neck outstretched, not retracted like a heron.They breed in marshes & other wetlands in tropical lowland. It builds a stick nest in trees, laying three to five eggs. It often forms small colonies. The diet consists mainly of fish frogs & large ins[...]

31. Port Douglas - Rainforest Habitat 1

Thu, 17 Dec 2009 02:37:00 +0000

Saturday 27 SeptemberToday is "Breakfast With The Birds" at the Rainforest Habitat. If you don't have a car, there's the Sun Palm Freedom Shuttle Bus which operates between the township of Port Douglas and some accommodation places every 30 minutes.Shuttle Bus I caught the bus outside the Rattle and Hum bistro in Macrossan Street at 7.30am. Cost was $3.00 (each way). The bus goes around to various locations throughout Port Douglas including the Marina and Rainforest Habitat. It didn't matter what your destination was - it was the same price.Rainforest Habitat MapAs you can see, the Habitat isn't far from town, but you do need wheels to get there.Breakfast with the birds is really wonderful and doesn't cost that much more than your normal entry fee. You can eat as much or as little as you like, plus there's champagne, orange juice and tea and coffee. Altogether I had 2 glasses of orange juice, 2 glasses of champagne, (well, I needed a clear head!) a coffee, sausages, has browns, scrambled eggs, bacon, Danish pastries, muffins, and a glorious platter of tropical fruits.Dining RoomIt's a little blurry, but this is where breakfast is served. I was to the right behind the counter - there are tables and chairs all around and the birds wander freely. Fresh Tropical FruitMango, passion fruit, pineapple, strawberries, rockmelon were just some of the fruits available.Rainbow LorikeetThis little fellow was one of the birdies sitting on my table. The staff at the Habitat explained that we couldn't let the birds eat or drink any of the food as it was bad for them.The Rainbow Lorikeet is widely distributed along the coastal strip from Cape York south to Victoria and into South Australia. They are considered a pest by the Australian govenment because of the damage they do to fruit trees - they can ruin 70 to 90 percent of fruit crops if they feed on them. Their feathers have a range of different colors - green, blue, purple, red, orange and yellow, hence their name. Cattle EgretThe Cattle Egret is a species of heron found in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones. It is a stocky white bird and nests in colonies, usually near bodies of water and often with other wading birds. The nest is a platform of sticks in trees or shrubs.If we left the tables we had to cover our drinks and food so the birds didn't get to them. Some birdies are very persistant!Your "Breakfast with the Birds" ticket also allows you to return to the Habitat on another day.[...]

30. Port Douglas - Marina Mirage

Wed, 16 Dec 2009 05:37:00 +0000

Friday 26 September

Marina Mirage is part of the 5 star waterfront complex/facilities on Dixon Inlet and is the departure point for many of the tour operators offering cruises surrounding the Great Barrier Reef. Not merely just somewhere to moor your boat, you'll also find great shopping and exclusive fine dining.

Marina Mirage

Yachts and Boats
The black and red boat on the far right is Shaolin, a Chinese junk.

The Marina

A Quicksilver boat

Dickson's Inlet

There are a number of private residences, restaurants, private boats along here. This collection of photos was taken on the way back from the GBR cruise.

29. Great Barrier Reef - Fish Feeding & Underwater Observatory

Wed, 16 Dec 2009 05:00:00 +0000

Friday 26 SeptemberFish feeding was conducted at the snorkelling platform.Quicksilver Platform MapFish feeding was conducted at the snorkelling platform. The above map will give you some idea of the layout and size of the pontoon.Splashing the Water Fish There were many fish, some of the very large and although the photos are blurry, I've still included them here.Underwater Observatory After 1.30pm, when lunch is finished, I went to the underwater observatory, which is quite large, in/under the bowls of the pontoon. Rather than posting lots of fish photos, I've selected the best and made this collage. If you look closely at the middle photo on the right hand side, you'll see two snorklers in the far right corner.Afte this, I went back and sat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was a wonderful feeling. The only posting box on the GBR is on the Quicksilver pontoon - any letter/postcard you post there is stamped "Great Barrier Reef" - I posted four. Wanting a souvenir, I bought a hot pink cap with "Quicksilver, Great Barrier Reef" on the front, at $20 I thought this a good buy.At 3.00pm we departed Agincourt Reef for Port Douglas. Afternoon tea was served - tea and coffee with dry biscuits and cheese. A reef video was shown. The sea was rougher heading back and there were some brown paper bags in evidence!We arrived back at Marina Mirage, Port Douglas at 4.30pm after a real fun ride - the boat went up and down and listed to the left - I loved it!I sat with Jenny till her bus came - it was late and arrived at 7.05pm. Walked to Coles and bought smokes. Had a lovely meal for tea - dinner was grilled barra, salad and boiled rice only $10. Richie cooked it specially for me as I like barra. It was the best.Quicksilver Cruises Great Barrier Reef Here's a video of the Outer Reef cruise.Map of Great Barrier Reef Click on blue markers for photo, you can also enlarge the map. frameborder="0" height="350" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src=",145.640259&spn=0.923364,1.167297&z=9&output=embed" width="425">View Agincourt Reef - Port Douglas in a larger map[...]

28. Great Barrier Reef - Coral

Wed, 16 Dec 2009 04:00:00 +0000

Friday 26 SeptemberI decided to go on the underwater sub first, as I wanted to watch the fish feeding which takes place at 1.00pm.Underwater SubThis is the underwater sub you transfer to - the "sub" is underneath and you sit on small seats spaced a few feet apart.Viewing CoralThere are windows on both sides which are slanted to give a better view. This is a good way for non-swimmers to see the coral. (Note - Both the above photos are from Quicksilver)CoralBelow is a series of photos showing the coral I saw. The "Cauliflower"To the right or dozens of tiny little bright blue fish. The Fish [...]

27. Great Barrier Reef - Agincourt Reef

Mon, 14 Dec 2009 03:11:00 +0000

Friday 26 SeptemberToday is the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) cruise. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system. Composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands, its stretches over 2,600 kms over an area of approx. 344,400 square kms. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia.The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. The GBR has been a World Heritage Site since 1981 and is classed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.I walked to Marina Mirage. The sea was very rough and choppy (I already knew this previously) 25 - 30 knots and boarded the Quicksilver catamaran at 9.30am. The Crew advised everybody take two sea-sick pills - a crew member was giving them out. I did tell the lady I never get sea-sick and didn't need them, to which she replied, it was going to be so rough I would be advised to take them. I thanked her, accepted the tablets and chucked them in the bin later.I may not be able to swim a stroke, but I am blessed with an iron stomach. While most of the passengers were decidedly "green" with some so pasty-looking and quietly looking like death warmed up, I had a ball. The return journey was rougher and I knelt on the front seats and watched as the sea rose up and down and up and down and the boat dipped up and down. That was fun.On The Catamaran The sea was so choppy, I had to hold on with two hands for this photo otherwise I'd have fallen over.Map showing cruise route Quicksilver goes to Agincourt Reef which is in the Outer Reef - a trip of around 90 minutes. We had morning tea and shortbreads on boarding and the boat left at 10.00am. A half an hour later there was a Marine Biologist presentation shown on the television screens followed by a snorkelling demonstration. Quicksilver We arrived at the reef at 11.30 and hopped onto the pontoon. The semi-subs departs every fifteen minutes from the rear of the platform, and I did this first and saw the famous coral. The Pontoon Lunch was at 12 noon and a veritable feast it was too! There was a hot and cold buffet - meat, chicken, prawns, pastas, salads and tropical fruit. I had two chicken drumsticks, sliced corned beef and ham, potato salad, with tomato wedges and lettuce. The pineapple slices were delicious. A glass of red wine completed my selection.Stinger Suit I wore bathers and hired a stinger suit -$5, and sat in the water of Agincourt Reef - I enjoyed that immensly. Agincourt Reef The GBR. Agincourt Reef is a series of many smaller reefs. It has at least 16 different dive sites including Point Break, Three Sisters, Horseshoe Reef and the Fish Bowl. There are pieces of a Taiwanese wreck featured at The Wreck and giant clams and Maori wrasse appear at all the sites. Some of the fish there are yellow-striped barracuda, lionfish, drummer, unicornfish, clownfish and their host anemones in the shallower sections[...]

26. Port Douglas - Macrossan Street

Tue, 08 Dec 2009 18:55:00 +0000

Thursday 25 SeptemberI had a migraine and took some tablets, and slept on and off until after 12 noon. Goodness, the day is almost over! After a refreshing shower I strolled down to Macrossan Street and bought two coffees $3.80 each at the Port Douglas Central Pub and sat in the smokers area - a huge undercover area with lots of tables and chairs, right on the street. I met two ladies, Sue and Nicky. It was Nicky's birthday - she was 28. We pased a very pleasant time and chatted and Sue filled me in on all the goss - they were both "locals."Macrossan Street About Port DouglasPORT DOUGLAS is a nice little town about an hour's drive north of Cairns. The main street Macrossan is filled with cafes, clothing shops and the street is lined with trees. Beautiful Four MIle Beach with it's long sandy shore, nifty little boutiques, a host of restaurants, Sunday market, and a range of accommodation to suit all budgets, this is the perfect get-a-way for a laid-back holiday. The Central Hotel is a great watering hole with outdoor smoking areas in a relaxed and shady setting. Marina Mirage is where you depart for the Great Barrier Reef, and the complex has an array of shops and cafes.Below A few pics of Macrossan Street - the main street where all the shops are. Cafe Ecco ECO Wear & Palms Opposite Macrossan Gardens Street Plant It was Chef's night off so I had water crackers and tinned salmon for tea.Jenny and IThursday night was Trivia Night and Jenny, one of my room mates, and I entered. Each team had to have a name, so we called ourselves "The Blondies" - we had most of the 30 questions right but fell down on the pictures of muscicians. I said Spartacus, she went for Gladiator. It was Spartacus. We came 6th - last! But even though we didn't win, it was fun and we had a really good time.Jenny is from Canada and had been working in Korea and had done a trip to Australia and was flying out the next day.[...]

25. Port Douglas - Accommodation

Tue, 08 Dec 2009 18:50:00 +0000

Wednesday 24 September

The Foaming Fury Shuttle bus didn't arrive and the girls at the YHA (Cairns) rang them, but they did not have my booking, so they then rang Parrotfish who knew nothing of it either. It turned out that when I made the booking, it was with the previous owners - Parrotfish had been sold and lists hadn't been passed on.

Shuttle Bus
A shuttle with Krystal Shuttles was organised for 12.30pm - Jeff was the driver. We set out and had to stop at the airport, but the clients didn't arrive, so we headed out to Port Douglas. Jeff's boss rang - he had to return to Cairns to collect two passengers. They were not there either.

It was starting to sound like the comedy of errors. We finally arrived at Port Douglas at 2.10 pm.

Parrotfish Lodge
The Internet Cafe and the outdoor dining area outside the bar. You get free breakfast, and the dinner meals were very well priced - $10. Richie was the chef, he was from Wales and hoping to get a sponsor. He was a very good cook and always cheerful.

Parrotfish Lodge

The lounge was on the first floor with an open air plan, and dorms were on the first and second floors. The outdoor pool area was on the small side with a few tables and chairs.

What the outdoor section may have lacked in comfort, it made up for it with the great location - right in the heart of town and a mere 3 minute walk to Macrossan Street.

The whole place was very clean though and the dorms were cheery and bright with very comfortable beds. Bathroom facilities were excellent and modern.

The new owner, David, upgraded me to a 4 share with en-suite because of the shuttle stuff-up, which I thought was nice of him. After settling in, I went to Coles and bought some stuff.

24. Cairns - Accommodation

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 11:10:00 +0000

Wednesday 24 SeptemberToday I am off to Port Douglas. During my time in Cairns, I stayed at Cairns Central YHA in McLeod Street. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a hostel in Cairns. It has excellent facilities, well run and scrupoulsly clean. It is also right in the heart of Cairns. Cairns Central is just opposite about a minute's walk to your right.The North Side These are the dorms.South Side These are the single and double rooms.Pool and Spa In the right-hand section is the spa. Pool If you enlarge the picture, you an see the kitchen just behind the red plants at the end. My room was the one at the end.Water Fountain This little fountain was always trickling and made the sweetest sound. It was very relaxing listening to it.In the Billiard Room Where I am sitting was in the "Billiard Room" - undercover but no walls. The billiard table is to my left.Below: Click on blue marker for photo. You can also enlarge the map. width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src=",145.773489&spn=0.007185,0.00912&z=16&output=embed">View Cairns Central YHA in a larger map[...]

23. Atherton Tablelands - Waterfall Circuit

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 10:49:00 +0000

Tuesday 23 SeptemberThe last item on today's agenda was the waterfall circuit. A lovely drive and well worth doing. I have included both vertical and horizontal shots here to give some idea of the grandeur of these falls.Millaa Millaa Falls This is the photo you will see in all the tourist brochures and is the one all tour companies stop at. It is perhaps the most well known and is symbolic of the Tablelands, which is why I photographed them with the red flowers in front. I had to wait around 25 minutes to take this as there were people swimming in front of it.Millaa Millaa Falls Zillie Falls The white gushing water travels at an incredible speed.Zillie Falls Ellinjaa Falls This was the last in the circuit and to reach these falls it is necessary to go a long way down - down many steps. You could hear the waterfall long before you saw it.Ellinjaa Falls Below: Two photos I took along the way.Another Wicked Camper This van was parked near one of the waterfalls. Since seeing it, I have used this as my motto when travelling.Dairy Cattle These two cows crossed directly in front of my car.Below: A map of the waterfall circuit. Click on the blue markers to see photos. You can also enlarge the map. frameborder="0" height="350" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src=",145.618286&spn=0.114604,0.145912&z=12&output=embed" width="425">View Waterfall Circuit in a larger map[...]

22. Atherton Tablelands - Yungaburra

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 09:16:00 +0000

Tuesday 23 SeptemberNestled in the Atherton Tablelands is the village of Yungaburra and on the advice of a friend, I had lunch at the Yungaburra Pub (Lake Eacham Hotel. They were the best lamb chops I'd had in a long time - three chops, mashed potato, pumpkin, carrot, broccoli, zucchini, gravy and mint sauce, and all for $17! Add a glass of wine ($4) and you have the makings of a delicious meal. The Yungaburra Pub This grand old lady is a wonderful showpiece of Federation architecture and is still in amazingly original condition both inside and out. With all the style of a bygone eras it has seen since it was first built in 1910, the time of the timber getters is reflected in cedar and silky oak - visiting dignitaries to the enormous ballroom are preserved forever in photo frames and there is an excellent collection of general memorabilia on show.The Verandah A lovely spot to enjoy a quiet drink and a smoke with a refreshing breeze.The Sign I was amused by the "Toilet Ethics" sign - I wonder how many people adhere to this?Whistle Stop Cafe On the corner opposite the pub is this lovely little "cottage" with all sorts of delicious cakes plus an assortment of "cottagey" type crafts. Another Sign I thought this sign was so quaint, I just had to take a photo of it for posterity!Curtain Strangler Fig This is the tree that all the tour companies go to.A short drive (about 1 km) from Yungaburra is this magnificant Strangler Fig - directions to this fantastic tree are well sign-posted and it is well worth it. There are interpretative signs which describe how the Curtain Fig Tree grew and some additional interesting information.A closer look There is a continuous board walk around the tree and a section which creates good perspective for photo opportunities. Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos & Green Possums can sometimes be seen asleep in this area during daylight. After dark you can spotlight for Tree Kangaroos, Green Possums, Herbert River Possums and Coppery Brushtail Possums.Did you know that to count the tangled roots of the Curtain Fig would take a week?The Top It is one of the largest trees in north Queensland, and one of the best known attractions on the Tablelands, and its curtain of aerial roots drop 15 metres (49 feet) to the ground. Large basalt boulders cover the forest floor, which is probably why the forest here wasn't cleared for farming - and why the curtain fig tree remains standing.The Curtain Fig Cycle 1. A seed is deposited in the host tree's crown in bird, possum, tree kangaroo or rat droppings.The seed germinates and its first root begins to descend to the soil. 2. Enriched by the soil, the fig develops aerial roots which encircleand eventually strangles the host tree. 3. This stage is unique in the development of the Curtain Fig Tree.The host tree falls into a neighbouring tree and vertical fig roots descendfrom its leaning trunk to form the curtain like appearance. 4. Eventually the host tree rots away leaving the free standing Fig Tree.[...]