Week 6 Weekly Blog 02/07/2021 - 08/07/2021
Last week saw us exploring around the Atherton Tablelands, experiencing lots of rain, waterfalls and the food and wine it has on offer. Read on below for what adventures we got up to in week 6 of Allan and I exploring Oz.
Woke up to rain again and many small puddles inside the camper. Allan and I went to Cairns Lifeblood to donate plasma, which took pretty much all morning. By the time we left, the sun was out, and it was quite humid. While we were out and about, we decided to go to the Cairns Aquarium with pretty much all of Cairns, as it was school holidays. It cost us $44 per person, but we used a 10% discount card from a brochure. The Aquarium was awesome and got me a bit more excited about snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef tomorrow. The exhibits included lots of plant- and animal-life that inhabits the ocean, rivers, mangroves and rainforests. I really enjoyed it (I think Allan did too), but it was quite busy, and no one was worrying about social distancing, so I would recommend not going during school holidays or peak-season. It had finally stopped raining and the sun was out, so Allan and I decided it was finally time to clean the mould off the roof of the camper. We used vinegar mixed with water in a bucket and paper towel to clean the mould off. It was a horrible, but necessary job. We then decided to go swimming in the pool and promptly got out when we got inundated with small children. We tried to get ready for our adventure to The Great Barrier Reef tomorrow, then went to bed early.
Allan and I woke incredibly early (4am) as we were both extremely excited about going to The Great Barrier Reef. We decided against breakfast, which, in hindsight was not the greatest idea. We got an Uber to The Reef Magic boat terminal; the driver was very chatty and slightly opinionated about COVID. We arrived at the terminal by 8am, walked down the wharf to the boat and checked in. We boarded the boat by 8:15am even though we were not going to leave the dock until 9am. We got our seats on the top deck at the front. We finally left the dock. Allan went exploring around the boat. The weather was sunny, but very windy. I was feeling great until about 45minutes into the 90minute boat ride. I started to feel a bit queasy, which was the beginning of the end for me. Allan took me to the bottom deck out the back, and I hung my head out the side of the boat, so I was still able to get fresh air. I was not the only one feeling a bit off-colour. Allan got me some natural anti-nausea tablets (tasted disgusting) and ice. Unfortunately, the anti-nausea tablets did not stay down, but the ice was fantastic. With 10minutes of the trip left, half of the boat was sitting out the back deck. We moored at the pontoon and got off the boat. Allan and I got a wet suit, flippers, snorkel and mask ready to go snorkelling. We got into the water, which was not too cold (roughly 25 degrees). The reef was beautiful and there were many different species of fish swimming around the reef. I loved every second of being out in the water. We got to see Wally, the local Humphead Maori Wrasse. I was still feeling quite unwell and vomited in the water, gross I know, but thankfully, no one was around us. After about an hour of snorkelling, we got out. At this stage, Allan also was not feeling well, so we both went and had a sneaky vomit. Once we got back, our buffet lunch was ready which had a large array of food from cold meat to tropical fruit platters, lots of different salads and curries, as well as seafood. I just had a plate of fruit because I was not feeling well, but Allan had a plate of pasta and potato salads and meat. We then went on the semi-submersible boat tour, where we were sitting under the water, with glass panels on either side of us so we could see underneath. There was a marine biologist on board who explained the different corals and fish species. I could not stay under the water, as I started to feel unwell again. I went to the top and had another vomit. We got back to the pontoon and had another plate of food. Allan had to wait 15 minutes before getting back in the water otherwise he did not think he would float. We went back in the water for another hour or so, unfortunately, I still was not feeling well and had to vomit again in the water. The fish all came at me and started to eat my vomit, which was so gross, but also kind of cool at the same time. I do not think it was particularly good for the fish to eat my vomit though, whoops. The water was getting a little rougher, so we got out. After a little while back on the pontoon we got back into the water for another snorkel and then they announced they were going to do the fish-feeding. It was very cool to watch them feed the fish. There were a few more clouds and it started to rain. Allan and I spent another hourish in the water, then got out, as it was getting a bit too rough, and I was exhausted. We got changed with about 1hour left on the pontoon before heading back to Cairns. We bagged a seat inside on the bottom deck and I bought two “Travel Calm” tablets from the boat which I think helped settle my stomach. I slept most of the way back to Cairns while Allan checked out his Gopro footage and had a couple of beers. I woke up with about 15minutes left of the trip and ate a packet of chips with the hope I would be able to keep them down. Despite feeling sea-sick pretty much the whole day, I had a great time, and it was well-worth going out and snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef. Once we were docked at Cairns, Allan and I really struggled with bad sea legs. We walked along the Esplanade and went to the night markets to have a look. We then stopped at a cocktail bar, Miss Chief and had a drink (non-alcoholic for me) and then booked an Uber to get us back to the caravan park. Allan and I were super tired, but incredibly happy after our day so for tea, we had raw 2-minute noodles and ½ a muesli bar each and went to bed by 8pm.
Today we were planning on leaving Cairns for The Daintree Rainforest Village, so we packed up camp (after a big breakfast, because I was super hungry after being seasick all day yesterday and not being able to keep anything down). We stopped at Port Douglas and walked on the beach, which was packed and had a beer at a café. Allan and I felt too poor to be in Port Douglas, as it felt very touristy and there were many big, fancy resorts so we did not stay long. We got to The Daintree River, where we had to cross via a ferry. There would have been about 30 cars in line in front of us, so we knew we would have quite a long wait. It cost us $32 to cross the ferry as a one-way fare and after about one hour of waiting, we boarded. It only took 10minutes to get across to The Daintree National Park, which was beautiful ferns and thick rainforest trees. The road was steep and windy, and we stopped at the top at Alexander Lookout which had an awesome view of the coast and part of the rainforest. From the lookout, it was only 10minutes drive to The Daintree Rainforest Village Caravan Park which we had only booked one night at. We checked in, set up camp and had a look around. Allan and I found two swings hanging from trees in the park, so we took photos and had some fun for a bit, acting like children. Went to the camp kitchen to cook and eat dinner then sat around the communal fire before going to bed relatively early.
The Daintree Rainforest Village Caravan Park was such a clean, beautiful park that we wanted to stay another night. Unfortunately, when we asked reception if we could stay another night, we could not because they had had 11 bookings overnight, so they were all full. We packed up camp and headed toward Bloomfield Track. We pulled off the main road to have a look at Rex Lookout, which was a stunning view of the beach, ocean and the rainforest. Not far down the road, we stopped at Thornton Beach where we went for a walk along the beach. We met some boys coming off the beach carrying coconuts. They said they had used a long stick to get them off the tree. Allan being Allan had to find said tree and try his luck. We found the tree and the stick and Allan managed to get a coconut down. We continued driving then stopped at Marrdja Boardwalk, which took us through the rainforest and mangroves. Allan was getting itchy feet to go mud crabbing in the mangroves but did not want to get his feet dirty. There were information plaques about the trees and wildlife, which were interesting. We even saw fresh cassowary poop, but no cassowaries. Continued the scenic drive along the coastline weaving through the rainforest. We got to the Bloomfield Track warning sign telling people not to tow trailers and that there were steep sections which would require low range 4WD. We knew the risks (especially with the camper on the back) and what the track would be like, so we ignored these warnings and continued. The road started off quite tame, with a few water crossings, some windy dirt roads with intermittent potholes taking us through the scenic rainforest. We got to our first yellow warning sign telling us to engage low range as there was 22% incline for the next 2km. It was quite a steep incline, but we made it up quite easily in low range second gear. We stopped for lunch off the side of the track to rest the cars for a bit. The next warning sign we reached said to engage low range because for the next 1.5km there would be a 31% incline. We slowly made our way up the mountain. It has been the steepest incline Allan and I have ever been up, especially towing the camper trailer. We made it to the top and of course, what goes up, must come down and down did we go! We had a third and final warning sign to engage low range 4WD due to a steep descent of 27% for 1.7km. The last stretch of the track was still on dirt, but there was less rainforest, winding along a river to Wujal Wujal, an Indigenous Community. We made it through the Bloomfield Track in one piece! We were aiming to get to The Lions Den Hotel to camp the night, which was only about 50kms which was estimated to take 50minutes. The road was very windy and hilly but was bitumen. When we got to The Lions Den Hotel, it was pumping and there were lots of people already set up camp for the night. Brian and Allan went to the front bar to ask about the camping. They found out that we could camp pretty much anywhere that was not already numbered and if we did not block anyone else. We set up camp, then beelined for the bar for a drink. We stayed at the pub all evening and tried to book a table for tea. They were not taking bookings for tea for numbers less than 10 people, so Brian decided to ask 2 other families to ‘join our table’ so our number came to 16 and booked for tea under “the Mercer’s”. We even managed to get three separate tables, as they did not have a table that big. We ordered tea, had a few more rounds of drinks, ate tea, which was delicious, then went back to camp. We were in bed by 7:30pm.
Packed up camp at The Lions Den Hotel, then drove to Cooktown, which was only about 30km away. We got to Cooktown by 9am and decided to stay at the Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park, as it was first in best dressed. We booked a site for 3 nights, got set up and chilled out for a bit. It was very windy. It does not happen very often to be all set up by 10:30am. The caravan park was very tidy and well-kept. We went for a walk down to the wharf, which took about 2 hours, because we stopped in at the pub for a couple of rounds on the way back to camp. Chilled out at the camp kitchen, as it was the most sheltered place to be, as it was super windy- we were in for a rough night tonight.
It was very windy when we woke this morning and the weather forecast reported that it was going to stay the same throughout the day. Allan and I went for a walk to find a geocache that was close to camp. It took us 20minutes to find, but the clues were very handy. We then walked up a very steep hill to Grassy Hill Lookout. We tried to take a few ‘shortcuts’ using Google Maps, but the ‘shortcuts’ included streets that were no longer streets, so we got lost and had to turn back. At the top, the 360-degree view was beautiful. You could see all of Cooktown and the mountains on one side, then beaches, mountains and ocean on the other. We walked back down the steep hill and found another geocache. This one was a lot easier and only took one minute to find. By the time we had walked back to the caravan park, we had walked 8km and it was only 10:30am. We then drove about 20km out to Trevethan Falls. There was dirt road for about 10km and 1km of rock-stepping 4WD action, which Brian loves. We parked the car at the carpark and Brian, Allan and I walked the 200m to the waterfall (Sue stayed in the car). It was not the easiest of walks, as it was quite steep, the ground was uneven and there was a large rock that we had to climb over right at the end. Brian stacked it (again) right at the start of the walk, but luckily did not hurt himself too badly. We got to the waterfall and had a swim. The water was beautiful and not too cold! We even got to sit under the waterfall. The water would fall smoothly, then suddenly, a large downpour would occur. We drove back along the same road we came in on. We spotted a rainforest dingo and stopped to collect some firewood. We drove to Archer Point on a gravel road with a few potholes and washouts from flooding. We stopped at a beach area and looked around, saw lots of soldier crabs, thankfully no crocodiles. A few years ago, you used to be able to camp all around Archer Point, but council has made one designated campground, because people had trashed the area. They have made most of the area revegetation to help bring back wildlife and plant life. We drove to the camp area which would fit five camp setups comfortably and maybe ten uncomfortably. We drove on to the lighthouse. It was extremely windy, and I almost got blown over trying to walk around, but it was an extremely beautiful view of the bay and National Park. We drove back towards Cooktown, stopped at Keating’s Lagoon. There had been a crocodile spotted in the area recently, so there was a current warning sign up. Keating’s Lagoon was a beautiful wetland with lots of water lilies which had flowered and birds of all kinds. The mosquitos were horrendous, and I drove Allan mad by hitting his back whenever I saw a mosquito on him. It was only a 700m round trip walk and without the mosquitos it would have been fantastic. It was the quickest walk we have done (because of the mosquitos)! We got back to the caravan park then went to the other pub at Sue’s request, which was very dingy. I had said to Allan earlier that morning, that I would never be seen alive in that pub and here we were. We had one round, as we all felt a bit uncomfortable, then went to the other pub where we had another couple of rounds there. We walked back to the caravan park, went to the camp kitchen, as it was still windy and then went to bed.
Allan woke up complaining of sore legs from walking yesterday. It was windy still, but not as bad as what it had been. Allan and I put on some washing and of course it started to rain, so we put it in the dryer once it had finished the wash cycle. The weather forecast said it was going to intermittently rain throughout the day, but the wind was not going to be as bad as what it had been. We stayed around camp this morning until the rain looked like it was clearing. I gave Allan a haircut and promised him a pie from the bakery. We walked to the bakery, but when we got there, there was no hot food (sold out by 11:00am!!). We walked to the IGA to restock some supplies, then walked back to the bakery and thankfully there were pies in the warmer. We then drove to Finch Bay. It was a beautiful beach with mangroves and a river/creek outlet. Allan decided he wanted to go fishing, so he got his fishing rods, and we went fishing with lures. I had no idea what I was doing so I had no hope of catching a fish. Allan pretended like he knew. We were fishing for almost 2 hours, and we were just about to give up all hope when Allan finally caught something…. a ridiculously small undersized crab. We gave up fishing and wanted to go to Cherry Tree Bay, but the only way to get there was by walking and Allan was not keen on walking, as his legs were very sore after yesterdays efforts. Allan found a place of interest on Wikicamps and drove us there. It was a suspension swing-bridge that went over a river. The bridge was a bit rickety and there were quite large gaps between the wooden planks. There was a crocodile warning sign, so we were a bit cautious and on the lookout. I was a bit tentative, as I do not like heights and Allan was also being annoying and jumping and making the bridge swing. We walked (Allan jumping ½ the way) across the bridge and tried to spot a crocodile. After quite a while of trying to spot a crocodile, and with no luck in sight, we went back to the caravan park. We got back to the caravan park to find Brian under his car doing a once-over before we leave tomorrow. Soon after we started relaxing, Brian visited and said the bracket on his winch was broken and he needed to borrow a socket set to try and get it out. Allan helped him get it out, but they need to get the local fabricator to build a new bracket, which is a future problem (probably tomorrows problem). We chilled out at camp, cooked nachos in the camp kitchen and went to bed.
This week I was able to finally tick snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef off the bucket list, we got across The Daintree River via the ferry and drove through the beautiful rainforests of the Daintree National Park. We also got through Bloomfield Track relatively unscathed and spent a couple of days touring Cooktown. Stay tuned for next weeks adventures where we will be making our way up towards the tip.