We left LAX at around 10:45 PM on the 14th of September and arrived at Aukland, NZ at around 5 AM on the 16thy after a 12 hour flight passing the Ecuator and the International Darteline on the way. We hung around the Auckland Airport for a little over an hour and took a plane to Cairns, AU arriving around 7AM. After clearing customs we got on a bus and toured the town before being deposited at our hotel. Debby, I and a friend went for a walk on the Esplanade, a several mile long park on the ocean front of Cairns Bay from our hotel to the harbor. These Royal Spoonbills were feeding in the mudflats..since the bay is extensivly mud flats the town has a free pool as well as barbecue kiosks for residents and tourists alike.These large fruit bats, not vampires filled the trees in front of our hotel and the egrets the trees behind our hotel. The picture of the egrets was taken from the hotel window
I suspect that everyone else in our group took some nap time before meeting for the welcome dinner at the hotel that night. The next morning we got up, had breakfast and took our bus to the Kuranda historic scenic railroad. On the way to the train we passed a number of suger cane feilds. It seems that sugar cane is a major crop in Australia.
The original Kuranda Scenic Railway is a spectacular journey comprising
unsurpassed views of dense rainforest, steep ravines and picturesque waterfalls.
This famous railway winds its way on a journey of approximately 1 hour 45 minutes
from Cairns to Kuranda, the village in the rainforest.
The Cairns-Kuranda Railway was constructed between 1882 and 1891 and even today is considered an engineering feat of tremendous magnitude. Hundreds of men were employed to build the 15 hand-made tunnels and 37 bridges that stand as a monument to the pioneers of tropical North Queensland who lost their lives while working on the railway.
Rising from sea level to 328m, the journey to Kuranda passes through World Heritage protected tropical rainforest, past spectacular waterfalls and into the awesome Barron Gorge.
After the ride up the mountain which amazingly is lower then the highest point in Morris County, NJ Debby and I went for a walk along the river while our traveling companions headed for the tourist shops. After walking on the trail and seeing a bush turkey making a nest
we also headed for the market but didn't buy anything. After several hours on the top in Kuranda village we all headed for the Sky rail.
Sky rail is a unique rainforest experience taking you on an unforgettable
journey through Australia’s World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests.
Spanning 7.5km, Sky rail Rainforest Cableway traverses the McAlister Range, through the Barron Gorge National Park, taking guests on an amazing journey between its Caravonica and Kuranda Terminals.
When the Bronx Zoo put in a Skyfari Debby let me take the kids but wouldn't go herself. Now high above the rainforest she joined me and our tour group on the Sky rail back to the bottom. There are two stops along the way. The first overlooks Barron Falls where the Australians built a hydro electric plant and the other is just a way station with an interpretive center and ranger talks.
When we arrived at the bottom we went for a buffet lunch and tour of the Tjuraki cultural center where after lunch we toured the Center with an Aboriginal guide, listened to some music on a traditiobnal instrument called a dijeree- do, threw a spear and boomerang and learned about rainforest medications.
The dizeree-do is made by finding an appropriate log and sticking it into a large Termite mound for about six weeks so that the termites can hollow it out. then smooth the lip end and decorate.
After breakfast on Thursday we boarded a bus for the harbor and took a boat out to Michaelmas a sand island on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Once there we took a short ride in a semi submersible
and visited the beach to observe the nesting birds and snorkel or at least I snorkeled.
The large bird above came to the beach to rescue a lady who almost drowned while we were there.
After a nice seafood lunch on board the boat the naturalist took the willing about 6 of us on an interpretive tour of the island although the nesting g area was off limits.
The next morning after immediately after breakfast we checked out of the hotel and went to pick up our motor homes.