FNQ: Day 8: Monday 1 May, 2006

1 05 2006

What a GREAT day today! We went out to one of the Great Barrier Reef's outer reefs – Moore Reef, some 40kms out from Cairns – on Reef Magic Cruises. The water was almost like a millpond the whole day – hardly a breath of wind and no swell to speak of (unlike last week when the swell was 2m). It was cloudy, but that was OK.

The boat only held 140 people maximum, and there were about 110 on it, so it was quite small. The staff were terrific, and all in all the day was quite lovely. We wore lycra stinger suits and they helped keep off the sun too. But they were red – so we all looked like weird red "tele-tubbies" or red aliens!

Red Aliens

The highlight was swimming with and touching one of the HUGE Maori Wrasse that live near the pontoon. The reef there was fabulous with lots of bright, colourful fish – some of colours on those parrot fish have to be seen to be believed… fluoro pinks, blues, greens and yellows.

Me with a Maori Wrasse

A great day, finished off with a meal of Barramundi at Il Forno in Palm Cove. Bit like eating bacon after watching "Babe", but you get that!

So, this is the last day of vacation time. Tomorrow Dave has his pre-conference workshop and we have to pack up and move into the conference hotel in Cairns. All in all, it's been a wonderful week.

FNQ: Day 7: Sunday 30 April 2006

1 05 2006

We did the Kuranda Skyrail today. This is a cable car that goes for about 7.5kms over the top of the rainforest and the Great Dividing Range to the town of Kuranda, inland from Cairns. One option is to take the train (up or back) then the cable car in the reverse direction. But recent heavy rains created a landslide somewhere on or near the railway track, so we could only take the cable car both ways.

It was a terrific trip. Now that I seem to be over my fear of these beasts, I had no problem at all – except coming in to the stations when I scrunched my eyes shut.

The day was gorgeous – no rain, some cloud, some blue skies. The rainforest was as green as. And the views back to Cairns and the ocean were fantastic. On the way up we stopped and walked the rainforest boardwalk at Red Peak Station, and went to the Barron Falls at the next station. The Barron River is in full flow with the recent rains, so the falls were just thundering. We also went to the Butterly world in Kuranda, which was interesting though a little disappointing because there were only about 8 species flitting about. Again, we felt we were ripped off at $14 a head. The tropical butterfly place on Vancouver Island in Canada is better, in my opinion.

Kuranda itself was a bit disappointing. Being a Sunday, it was pretty packed (I suspect all the locals get the hell out if they can!), and there were Japanese tour groups everywhere. The markets and little shops are all catering for the tourist market and as a result, the prices are quite steep. Either that or the goods are cheap – cheaply made, but not necessarily selling at a cheap price. Except for lunch, we didn't buy anything. We had lunch at Banjo's Bar and Grill… well, "cafe where you could buy a beer" was more like it. Hubby and I had the $12.90 Cajun Chicken Burgers (but the Cajun bit seemed to be missing) and Dave had Prawn and Barramundi skewers (nearly $25 for two skewers + salad – as I said, it was a rip-off). Dave raved about his meal, but the quantity was severely lacking even if the quality was there.

This evening my sister, brother-in-law and nephew came over for a BBQ. It was good to see them and spend time with them all.

Tomorrow is the reef trip – the water has been really calm the last couple of days and there's been little to no wind, so here's hoping…