Into the Daintree

So a quieter day today as we drove up from Cairns to Silky Oaks Lodge, outside Mossman. I was expecting fairly basic conditions, but was blown away by our treehouse. 

Opening out onto the rainforest, with all the sights and sounds you’d expect, a really nice room with comfy beds for us and the kids. A large terrace with a day bed outside. The bath looks out onto another small balcony overlooking the forest. 
We went for a guided walk, lasting about an hour and a half, which was an interesting education on the different plants, how they survive, the animals of the forest (surprisingly few of which can kill you!) and local aboriginal history. The highlight of the walk was spotting the little green fellow below. 

White lipped tree frog

After the kids had swum in the pool, we had dinner in the restaurant, which was to a very high standard. 

On the way up this morning, we stopped at Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, where the kids had a swim behind the stinger nets. 

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas


The water was unfeasibly warm – like a bath. Certainly not the refreshing coolness you need in 32 degree heat and high humidity!  After a quick (average) lunch at the life saving club, we headed up to Silky Oaks. 
At the point of writing, we haven’t managed to spot one of the local amethyst pythons, but still looking! Silky Oaks is definitely a hidden gem – wish we had more than a couple of nights to spend here!!

Meeting the Tjapukai & Kuranda – 18/12/16

A slightly better start time for a Sunday morning with the first stop the Tjapukai Aboriginal Park. The Tjapukai is the local tribe, from the rainforest around Cairns.

The kids started off with their faces being painted, before various films and presentations on the Tjapukai’s version of the Dreamtime myth, aboriginal weapons and a didgeridoo demo.  Although these things are by their nature a bit contrived, it was all very well done.

After the cultural demonstrations, everyone got the chance to throw a boomerang (Ollie getting three quarters of the way to a return) and then a spear using the throwing stick. Hopeless on all fronts!

After a quick bite to eat (chicken, rice, kangaroo – quite tough, but tasty), we walked over to the Kuranda Skyrail and took a gondola up to Kuranda village.  We stopped not he way up and took a ten minute boardwalk at Barron’s Falls.  On the way round, a guide asked if we were still looking with ‘City folks’ eyes’, which I thought was just a joke until he pointed out a five foot red-bellied black snake sunning itself on a log about six feet away. Even looking there, we hadn’t seen it.

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Poor photo of a red-bellied black snake

Apparently it would take a coupe of days for the venom to kill you, with anti-venom only an hour away, so the chances were good!! But a reminder that the rainforest is real, especially when we head out into the Daintree to stay tomorrow.

At the top, Kuranda village is now pretty much all aimed at tourists. It was settled in the gold rush and then was used as a logging base. The highlight for the little Scotts was the koala park where they both got to cuddle a koala, before hand feeding the wallabies and kangaroos. Much cuteness all round, then a talk about the new baby common wombat.

The trip back down was an hour and a half on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which was on the route laid in the 19th century, with a hundred or so killed in the building. Hand-hewn tunnels and viaducts, but from the Gold Class carriage with a beer and some macadamia nuts, all seemed well with he world.

Just having a cold beer on the balcony before we head down for dinner. We move on from Cairns tomorrow up into the Daintree forest, staying in a treetop lodge.  Hopefully not too rustic……..

Green Island Day, 17/12/16

Today was the first chance to try out the new one-piece snorkelling gear.  An early start onto the Big Cat fast boat across to the island.  Lots of Chinese. It’s noticeable how many more Chinese there are generally here compared to 15 years ago – many many bilingual signs and announcements and a lot of Chinese staff in the tour companies.

We went straight onto the lifeguarded beach to give Izzy the chance to acclimatise to being in the water.  Full body stinger suits + mask + fins = quite  a look!  The Tribord masks have a special anti-fogging motuhpiece and the design means you can breathe through your nose or mouth, so they were great for the kids (and us!).

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Ready for snorkelling!

The sea looked beautiful and the water was warm, but visibility was actually not that great. Off the beach, there isn’t much coral to speak of, with the ‘garden’ being further offshore. There is a little sea grass, which was where we spotted one of the native green turtles, swimming through to have a munch on the grass.  He was obviously used to having people around him as the snorkelers didn’t phase him at all.  It gave Ollie the chance to practise his GoPro skills (and he got a couple of decent videos to be fair).

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Green turtle through the murk

There were loads of fish around off the beach. The most fun was the blue spotted lagoon ray, which shimmered across the sea floor trying to hide under the sand.  They’re fairly common, but his bright blue spots looked great (although hard to photograph!).

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Blue spotted lagoon ray

Ollie was off like a fish, but Izzy was much more timid, especially out of her depth – despite a float vest and Jo and I being around her.  Hopefully she’ll be more comfortable as we move down the coast…

We finished the day off on the glass bottom boat and the semi-submersible, sitting below the water line. There were some impressive fish further out, a big shoal of silver trevally with one black giant trevally. Lots of blue yellow-tailed fusiliers and a few black and white-striped sergeant major fish.

Five hours on the island wasn’t a huge amount of time, but long enough for a touch of sun burn on my ears and round the side of my mask!

And relax…

So, 30 hours after setting off, we were picked up by Wally at Cairns airport. Wally had been to the UK in 1986, and knew that Tunbridge Wells (where we told him we came from) was near Farringdon.  He also knew the most popular owl in the UK – the tea towel…you get the picture and a more appropriately named individual you’d struggle to find.

The flights were all pretty good. Slightly choppy overnight as we flew down the coast of Indonesia, but nothing major. Shared the Dubai-Brisbane leg with Phil Spencer from the telly, who had to be helped back to his seat by the crew after getting totally trolled in the bar! Kids managed some good sleep on the plane, but by the time we got here were seriously flagging.

Jo had arranged some chocolate in the room for O’s birthday and his grin was a mile wide when he opened his GoPro; he didn’t expect it, but he’s looking forward to trying it out on Saturday.

The Shangri-La is nice enough, but fairly tired. Not quite up to the brand image. Pool was used yesterday to try out the various snorkelling gear ahead of Green Island, and everything seems to work well. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We ended up in the Waterbar & Grill under the hotel last night for boy vs ribs – ribs won!

Bedtime was 7.30pm for all, and despite a bit of noise from the bars around midnight, a good night’s sleep was had by all.  I’m writing this on Saturday morning at 5.30 am, body clock still adjusting.  We’re off to Green Island this morning, on a turtle hunt!

Are we nearly there yet?

Unfortunately only one third of the way…. Decent flight from Gatwick to Dubai, loving the flat bed and plentiful booze. A short breakfast stop in the lounge at Dubai before 14 hours to Brisbane. 

LGW-DXB

The kids had had enough of watching football and films, so reverted to winding each other up by the time we landed, with the partition  between the seats firmly up. So predictably, J and I are splitting up to babysit them on the next leg. 

Randomly bumped into another DCPS family at Dubai also heading for Brisbane. Small world. 

Facilities here good, but showers etc not that great. Gatwick lounge the favourite so far. 

Bored now. 

Welcome to our blog

In just over a week, we’re off to Australia.  Cue two hyper-excited kids and two moderately stressed parents, mainly worried about how our two little darlings will cope with 24 hours on a plane, jet lag, not getting many Christmas presents and being terrified about being eaten / bitten / stung / drowned before they make it home…

This blog will serve two main purposes – helping us to record and remember what should be an amazing holiday, and keeping in touch with anyone who wants to be kept in touch with while we’re away.

So, it may be bit quiet until the end of next week, but hopefully will be a little bit interesting after that.

M