Day 19- Afternoon flight from Uluru to Cairns. Used the time in the airport to book snorkeling and rainforest trips. Landed about 5:30. Hotel Heritage Cairns on Minnie St.
very good value and location. Quick walk to the Esplanade – main food and shopping tourist area by the water. Concert in the park. Dinner at Splash, www.splashrestaurant.com.au sat outside had bugs (crayfish) & avocado, prawns, pork belly and scallops,- all excellent. Cairns is an active touristy city with lots of nightlife.
Day 20- Got picked up for our Great Barrier Reef adventure at 7:45 by Silverswift. Very well run boat. Beautiful day, about 1.5 hour ride out to reef fairly smooth, (but still felt a little sick, took meds) comfortable boat, light breakfast. Rented full stinger suits for an extra $6:00. Boat stopped at 3 different spots on Fins Reef for about an hour + each time. AWESOME- some of the best snorkeling we’ve ever done. Very interesting corals- fans, spikes, spirals, blue, green, purple. My favorite was the giant blue clams with green spots. Saw large blue, green and purple parrot fish, a 2 ft white tipped reef shark, felt like you were swimming in a fish tank. At the 3rd stop we followed the guide for ½ an hour, held a sea cucumber. Very good hot/cold lunch on the boat before the 2nd spot. EXCELLENT day!!! We were in the mood for some local sushi, so we went to Cherry Blossom Japanese Restaurant. We should have realized when the welcome sign was in multiple languages that it was a tourist place. Food was tasty- pork belly in barbeque sauce, udon noodle soup with fried bean curd and something they called Aussie Animals- kangaroo pieces, fried croc chunks & dry emu skewers in a fried cheese bowl-interesting, but not Japanese. I guess the day was meant for looking at fish not eating them. Walked around the night mall tourist shops. Went to the Blue Sky Brewery for a local beer, loud young 20’s hangout. Good beer and people watching. Day 21- Yummy, yummy brunch at Perrotta’s at the gallery. Had sausage & chick pea baked eggs and French toast with yogurt and pears. Wait a While Rainforest Safari picked us up at the hotel at 2:00 for our nocturnal tour. Only 6 guests plus the driver/guide. First stop out of the city to see a flying fox tree. We were all given binoculars so you could see their cute little faces and blond heads. Back in the van up a very windy road, (felt a little sick- should have taken some meds) Stopped at a tea house on a pretty lake for some scones. Saw a Boyd lizard. Eacham lake –cute little turtles. Next stop at a farm stream to look for platypus. Saw 2 with the binoculars playing in the waterlillies. Dinner at Nick’s Italian/Swiss, good-nothing special. Our guide showed us photos of the nocturnal animals we would be looking for. After dinner we were given torches (large flashlights with heavy battery bags).First stop giant Curtain Fig tree – Amazing!! Another giant spider. Saw 4 Green Ring Tailed Possums climbing around in the trees- very cute. Back to the hotel by 11:00. Excellent trip! Day 22- 7:30 picked up at the hotel by the Kuranda Scenic Railway transfer bus. Cute little historic train museum, ride through the rainforest past bridges, tunnels built by hand, awesome waterfalls, very comfortable with audio/visual commentary 1 ½ hours up to Kuranda. Very nice artsy touristy town., with interesting boutiques, art galleries and coffee shops. Award winning pies at Annabell’s , best pies on the whole trip!! Sky rail down. 2 stops – 1st- amazing views of the falls, 2nd very good ranger walk/talk.The combination Kuranda rail/cableway was a great experience! Not to be missed. Back down at 1:40, bus at 2:00 – hotel 2:15- bus to airport 2:30 – perfect timing! Flight to Sydney at 5:00. Hotel Ibis Airport- very nice- ordered food at 10:00 very good.