The beach at the campsite. So peaceful. Everyone says Cape Tribulation is where the rainforest meets the ocean. You can’t swim there though, too many dangerous things in the water.
At the end of the beach there is a short trail that leads to this stunning creek. I had heard there was a four meter croc that lives in the creek but didn’t know how hard it would be to see.
Turns out NOT HARD AT ALL. I walked about another 50m down the path around that bend and saw this big boy lying on the other side of the creek!
I’m glad he was on the other side. That was my first crocodile sighting on my own ever.
I walked the last boardwalk that I hadn’t gone on yet. Still no cassowary.
I did an exotic fruit tasting. We got to try:
Bread fruit – Roasted like chips. Very potato-y. Apparently a very sustainable food.
Soursop – Fruit salad flavour, cotton wool texture.
Yellow mangosteen – Extremely tangy like sour candy. Yum.
Ice cream bean – Soft fluffy mild fruit. The beans grow to like 1 meter long!
Black sapote – Mild chocolate pudding, v creamy.
Turmeric – Spicy carrot.
Cacao – Slimy nice fruit around a bitter seed that you can eat
Mamey sapote – Kind of the texture of avocado, but sweet.
Nagami – Like a mini-orange but you can eat the whole thing, peel and all. Delightful!
Yellow sapote/canastelle – Like a cooked yam.
Abiu – Watery, sweet, nice.
Overall very cool. All of them were pretty nice, probably the Yellow mangosteen and the Nagami were my favourites. And I didn’t get itchy!
That night I did a nocturnal tour. It was a semi-interesting tour… we saw a few sleeping birds (cute little balls of floof), another Forest Dragon (much further away), a cool triangle-shaped spider, and a few other things. The guide was a little strange, very dry humour which was hard to interact with. I didn’t take any pictures because I don’t really have the right equipment for that, but I did learn a bit about spotlighting and I would like to do that again.
I did one last cheap crocodile cruise because why not and also I thought it might be another chance to see some fun birds. We did see quite a few crocs but surprisingly not a single bird. The boat captain looked about 95 years old and I was not entirely sure he could see ANYTHING, but he did point out all the crocs somehow!
Then I drove to Port Douglas. I stopped on the way for a scoop of mango sorbet, and did another quick lap of the Jindalba boardwalk, but still no cassowary.
I booked snorkeling for the next day and had a fancy lady late lunch in Port Douglas. But I got overwhelmed by how busy it was everywhere so I just grabbed some groceries and headed back up the squiggly road to the Tablelands.
More snorkeling! #YOLO. The boat was much bigger so even though the weather wasn’t great again, it was slightly more comfortable for the much longer trip.
We went to three different spots on the Agincourt Reef.
The first one was much deeper than the other day. The coral was not as colourful and the current was much stronger. I saw one very massive fish that both me and my snorkel buddy immediately looked at each other and were like WHOA BIG FISH in sign language.
The second one was two “underwater mountains” you can snorkel all the way around, however the current was very strong on one side and it was quite hard work. Didn’t really enjoy.
The third one was the best one!! No currents! It was deeper, and had these massive coral walls. There was one spot we went in that was almost 360 degree bowl of amazing coral all around us, but then the guy in the safety boat told us we had to go out of there because soon the tide would be down too far and we might get stuck. We saw lots of interesting fish: long skinny yellow ones, ones with unicorn horns, ones that bury themselves in the sand. It was nice and relaxing where you could just float in one spot and just spend some time looking around at everything.
Super low King tide. Even the guides were surprised to see so much coral sticking out of the water. It can’t be good for the coral. But also it must be fine because this is a thing that happens every year. And aren’t ocean levels rising?
I didn’t really talk to many people on my whole trip so I think this is my only non-selfie picture of me, lol. But my snorkel buddy ended up being quite interesting, even though initially I didn’t really want a snorkel buddy. I’m not sure how we started on the topic but he was actually a big board game enthusiast and we spent the whole boat ride back talking about games.
Day 8 (Last Day):
Went to a mango farm in Mareeba to try mango wine. I wasn’t a big fan of the wine but I found the farm interesting. Apparently December is when everything just goes bonkers and there’s tons and tons of (delicious) work. I want to live there.
I quickly stopped in to Barron Falls for a last ditch attempt to see a cassowary. I’m pretty sure this is where MEP saw one!! I did not.
I had a quick sushi lunch and visit to Birdworld in Kuranda. There were indeed a lot of birds in there but zero educational info, which I found to be a bummer. Also I don’t think people should touch birds.
I came back to Cairns and cleaned up the van. I had a bit of extra time so I went to the Esplanade again. Even at low-tide, and only in about 20 minutes, I saw a lot of humongous mud crabs, a Masked Lapwing, Sacred Kingfisher, and a Scaly-breasted Munia. I was quite pleased. Apparently you can see even more when it’s high tide because the water pushes all the birds closer.
I had to drop off the van at 4pm, and couldn’t really do anything more since I had my suitcase so I just went to the airport, even though my flight wasn’t until 8pm, which got delayed to about 10:30pm. Got a lot of knitting done, the first time I’d gotten it out all trip. I got back to Melbourne at 1:30AM, yuck. Took an Uber home and collapsed in bed and slept for ages.
Overall the trip was 10/10 amazing. I spotted 71 different types of birds. Saw impossible looking insects. I learned about rainforests and mangroves and other nature-y things. I learned new birdwatching and spotlighting techniques. I got to do so many fun activities and also relaxed a lot. I read 1.75 books. I sweated. I’d go back any time!!
I had a lot more holiday than Scott and was feeling cold so decided to go on a trip by myself. I flew up to Cairns, rented a campervan, and spent a week traveling around Far North Queensland. It was great.
Had to wake up at 4am to go to the airport. Scott drove me even though I insisted that I could just take an Uber. Why is he so nice.
I spent the first day in Cairns. I picked up the van and then checked out the Brushturkeys and mosquitos in the Botanic Gardens. Then headed into town to eat some seafood and get supplies for the week ahead.
Then I drove up the hill into the Tablelands to spend the night at the Mareeba Drive-in. I had a vegan burger and watched Where The Crawdads Sing and then fell asleep 20 minutes into the second movie. A long day.
Woke up at 6AM to drive to Atherton to meet a bird nerd for a birding tour. There was another couple around my age from Sydney on the tour as well, which was cool. We drove all around the area and looked at tons and tons of birds. The guide, Patrick, knew every single bird and was very good at making sure that each of us got a good sighting of each bird. It was very cool, and very overwhelming. I really want to get a nice pair of binoculars now, it makes a huge difference.
I didn’t get many good pictures that day because a lot of the birds were teeny tiny or fast moving. But I saw heaps of cool birds like Pacific Baza, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Red-winged Parrot, Pale-headed Rosella, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Red-backed Fairywren and tons and tons more.
The Bowerbird was probably the easiest bird for Patrick to show us, but was still one of my favourites. They’re just so weird and unique! Great Bowerbirds like white shiny objects (and Satin Bowerbirds like blue things).
After birding all morning I made a quick stop at Granite Gorge to see the tiny rock wallabies. Then drove down the twisty road towards the Daintree. I saw lots of banana, avocado, mango and sugarcane fields. Why do I love seeing different crops so much.
6:30AM wakeup! This time for a morning bird watching river cruise. Was cool to get a bit closer to the birds. I think that Rainbow Bee-eater pic is my favourite of the whole trip. We also saw a few snakes and crocs.
I continued driving towards Cape Tribulation, constantly on the lookout for cassowary. Jindalba Boardwalk is supposed to be a common place to see them but all I saw was a stupid dragon. Just kidding, the dragon was SUPER AWESOME. I went around the boardwalk two times.
I remember stopping at this ice cream place FOURTEEN YEARS ago. This time I was very happy that they had a dairy free version of their special tasting cups. This had coconut, mango, soursop, and something like razzleberry?? I couldn’t really understand what she said. They were yum.
The boardwalks around Cape Tribulation are awesome. Madja Boardwalk was very mangrovey. I saw this crazy bug! How does this exist in real life?
That night I went out for dinner and had to eat on a couch because I didn’t make a reservation (Queensland tourism is booming yo). I felt like I was at home. Then I read my book and went to bed early. Delightful.
7AM wakeup for snorkelling! The company kept telling us that it was going to be a really rough day. It definitely was a very moistly boat ride out to the reef. Thankfully it was only a 30 minute trip, which is very short for the Great Barrier Reef. And thankfully we had wetsuits and raincoats to help with the constant drenching splashes.
The snorkelling was ok! I thought the reef would be in worse shape, tbh. I saw a turtle, some type of ray, a few clown fish, lots of other fish, and heaps of really really big giant clams… like as big as a car. They look like galaxies on the inside.
It was not the easiest snorkelling, a lot of waves and a bit cold. Visibility was great though. I was extremely greatful for a hot shower afterwards.
The lunar schedule aligned with a weekend with no hockey so I booked us a weekend away in the country to attempt to do some astrophotography.
We went out for dinner at Fergusson Winery in the Yarra Valley on the way out. Good thing I made a reservation! Haha. I told Scott I reserved the whole restaurant for a truly romantic experience.
We had cured kingfish and beef carpaccio, Angus beef and confit duck. Everything was lovely except for the potato with the steak, very paste-y.
The Airbnb had a wood-fired hot tub. Like Kyla’s hot tub! They had it warm for us when we got there, so we stoked the fire and sat in it until we got too cold. We could see a bit of the milky way but by the time we got out of the hot tub it had clouded over.
The cabin was on a little farm overlooking a valley. Very scenic.
It was a cold weekend. We spent a lot of time on the deck with the heat lamp blasting, reading and knitting and crocheting. Very cozy.
I also spent the entire second day trying to heat the hot tub up again. It took FOREVER.
The lamb was only one day old!!!
Scott doing a dramatic horse rescue. The horse had hooked himself on to the fence and we knew the owner was going away that day! Scott used my advice of saying “easy” a lot (I learned that from Heartland), and managed to set him free. Good job Scott.
Trespassing (not really) to look at birds. My friend helped me identify a new to me bird: Grey Shrikethrush.
How is this comfortable for either participant?
Kind of a nice picture until you realise that they’re standing in a horse poo and their beaks are covered in poo from them digging around in it for snacks. Yum!
I don’t have any astro pics to show you. The second night was even cloudier than the first. A lot of things have to come together at the same time to be able to shoot the milky way. Especially when really don’t like staying up very late. I probably won’t have another chance until next winter, but I’ve resolved to plan a bit more ahead next year.
Week 4 was very very fun. We crammed in as many BC experiences that we possibly could. This is gonna be a massive, non-chronological, post!
We went to Vancouver one day for a massive day of seeing people and eating things. Let’s see if I can even remember everything…
started by going to Bulk Barn to buy more zingy zaps
met up with Kevin at Meat & Bread for porchetta sandwiches
bought a few treats from Purebread for later
met up with Phil for ice cream at Earnest Ice Cream
stopped at a random sushi restaurant for one yam roll
went to Terminal City Training while Rosemarie and Scott went to Parallel 49
met up with Liz, Tom and Kevin for Japanese BBQ
followed it up with some late night bingsu
A big thank you to Rosemarie for facilitating this ridiculous day.
We had a bit of time to kill in between eating things so Rosemarie suggested we check out the Bloedel Conservatory. It was neat! There were a lot of random types of cool birds in there. The highlights were:
Kramer, an insane parrot that danced and screamed
the four suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper high boys that were fascinated by everything in there including leaves
OK back to Squamish. AKA where Rosemarie and Lauren live now.
Squamish is scenic AF.
We put together the Hogwarts model that dad gave to us. And by “we” I mean 95% me. :D I enjoyed it.
Trivia night. Lauren was probably trying to cheer me up because I had THE WORST MARGARITA OF MY LIFE.
Of course we played more Pickleball. The Squamish courts were luxury, with those fences to divide the courts up so our rogue balls don’t go rolling into other people’s games.
Leslie and Kyla came up to stay with us for the whole last weekend and it was awesome. We had so much fun.
We are so spoiled. It was the very beginning of spot prawn season so Kevin brought up fresh prawns from Vancouver. They were still squirming in the sink. He poached them, made a delicious sauce, and taught us all how to shell them. They were so sweet and delicious. I had about 12. :D
Liz and Tom came up and we had a backyard sausage sizzle with everyone. The weather behaved for us. Kevin ate 9 sausages.
We went mountain biking twice. The first time we borrowed a bike from Rosemarie’s friend. Despite Rosemarie picking a route that involved the absolute least uphill biking, we still had to bike uphill for 90 minutes for 5 minutes of downhill riding. I complained the whole time. I hate uphill anything. I was unconvinced that this is a fun sport.
So the second time all four of us rented e-bikes. Now that helped! We were flying up the hill compared to everyone else, and it really didn’t require much effort. We did three big laps in our half day rental. However, it was terrifying!!! Lauren is a good teacher but I found it really really scary and hard. Yes I know I used to do skeleton racing, but skeleton doesn’t have sticks and rocks and pointy things all around you! Scott was much less scared and did much better than me, he was pretty fast.
My main problem was being a big chicken and not keeping enough speed to get over the bumps. I’d slow down too much and then have to pedal and then the bike would shoot me off too fast I felt like I was not under control. Also I really did not like the bridges. Lauren kept telling me to look more ahead and not down at the ground in front of me, and to relax more, but I probably did the exact opposite.
I fell off my bike twice. The first time I kinda just fell over, that wasn’t so bad, but the second time I had a bit of speed and it actually hurt a lot. Rosemarie was supposed to be helping me but she was long gone!!
Also Scott didn’t fall off his bike but managed to do a mini-crash where the spikes on the pedal tore the shit out of his shin.
I am still unconvinced that it is a fun sport.
Our final BC activity was doing a yam roll crawl in Vancouver on the way to the airport. I found an area that had 4 different sushi restaurants within about 10 streets (near Commercial Station). We parked in the middle and then split up and hit each place for a yam roll, and then met back up in a park to eat.
I think the cheapest one ended up being the crowd favourite? It actually was probably one of my favourite things we’ve ever done.
And the final few pics you already saw on Facebook: