July 26, 2011
Sitting in the hostel office last night talking to John and Kerry about I should do today, we decided what I needed was a day with Uncle Brian. I needed a break from the reef .
Uncle Brian is a little strange but loads of fun. I can't wait to meet the family.
Uncle Brian is a tour of the rainforest, the Atherton tablelands and swimming like no other tour around. They promise fun, food and waterfalls with little to no effort. SIGN ME UP!
At 8:00 AM Cousin Brad picks me up in Gus the Bus and 20 other cousins for the day. It's a family bus so we are all family for the next 12 hours.
Our family heads south out of Cairns and travel through the small village of Babinda which is the wettest place in Australia, with almost 7 meters of water in a year. They all know Gus and everybody waves at us, a friendly little town. They have a roundabout and we circle it about 7-8 times, I lost count trying not to get sick. We wave to all the orange and green creatures along the road (
It slices, dices and spits you out!
road workers) and they wave back. They are all friend of Uncle Brian's.
Just west of Babinda is our first waterfalls. The Devils Water Hole is here but we avoid it and the the boulders just below it as it is certain death to any swimmer who gets tangled in the boulders of this river. It is however very picturesque. No swimming here. Best thing here is that we were able to see a very rare site. We saw a cassowray which is a very dangerous and elusive bird seldom seen in the wild. YEAH! We score big in the hunt for animal sitings and the morning has just started! Also we get to see quite a few of the Australian turkey vulture, it has a rather pretty bright band around it's neck. As promised Cuz Brad has cookies, cake and juice waiting for us when we return to Gus, the Bus. Score 2 on animal sitings.
We are traveling in the edges of the rainforest and the tablelands. The Australian rainforests are the oldest in the world. It is the only one to survive the Ice age. A pocket of the rainforest was sheltered by the mountain
ranges and was able to maintain the envirnoment. It has 14 of the 19 prehistoric rainforest plants that are known to still exist in the rainforest. Here we get to see the golden orb spider a little one , about the size a large silver dollar. They grow as big as your hand they tell me!! Score 3 for wildlife!
We also play games on the bus to keep us occupied. He also has a bucket of mind teasers to work on as we go along. You know the type -trying to take a ring off the chains and to undo interlocking pieces of metal. I get a couple undone but give up on more than I care to tell you.
The next stop is Josephine Falls and this is a great swimming hole as there is a natural rock slide. The problem is swimming across the river and climbing up the steep rock face and walking across the slippery edge to get to the slide. But what great fun it is. The water is very cold. Cousin Brad has promised to feed us after each stop so we get chocolate bars on the way to the
Our next stop is a distance away and it will be for lunch. So we sing, listen to music and listen to the long and involved stories that Cuz Brad loves to tell.( some are aboriginal stories and some are from the vivid imagination of Cuz Brad.) We do hand motions to some of the songs and really have a fun time. For lunch we have salad,fresh rolls, chicken and couscous, with hot steaming fresh from the oven , chocolate bread pudding and ice cream for dessert.
The next waterfall is the Millaa Millaa Falls and it is nearby. This time we have a photo shoot to replicate. A famous commercial for a shampoo was filmed here and we are now the models. The waterfall is beautiful and we can actually swim behind the falls too. This water is even colder than cold!!! I am numb when I get out.
We have a rather long and boring drive to the next stop. So we are hunting for a rather colorful and rare snake as we drive the roads. Brad suddenty stops the bus and we all have to get down in our seats as he
backs up and we are told to look out our right side and there on the sidewalk is the biggest and fattest multicolored snake I have ever seen being held and shaken by Brad's Granny. She also pulls out a baby snake from her basket along with her matching multicolored duster that she is waving in the air!! What fun the joke is so funny and poor Granny having to wait all day for us to pass her house. But Granny had a big smile when we cheered and clapped for her. ( Granny obviously doesnt get out much). I don't think we can count this as a real animal siting.
We travel on to Lake Eacham just past the city of Malanda to this volcanic lake for the final swim of the day. The last eruption of 13,000 years ago so the water is not warm as we were hoping. This is the biggest swimming hole ( actually a lake) and the warmest but the water is still cold only a fraction warmer. Some are climbing the trees and jumping from them. The water is 65 meters deep. No worries here about hitting the bottom. I decide not
to swim, if the weather were just a little warmer I would have. It is somewhere in the mid 70's. When leaving we spot a kangaroo rat which is the smallest of the kangaroo family. Score 4 for animal sitings
The next stop is at dusk to catch site of the very endangered and rare platypus. The minute it gets too dark to take pictures (we can't use flash)the stream becomes alive with them moving about. Hard to see other than there movements in the water. But a very distintive little body gliding down the river stream. Score 5 for animal sitings.
We also have a cup of hot cocoa and muffin in hand as we walk the river banks.
Now the long journey back to Cairns, no worries mate, as Cousin Brad has us singing and dancing all the the back to the city. One rule on the bus is no sleeping and he is sooooo good at keeping us awake. During a Disco 80's tune he flashed the overhead lights off and on and even has interior red lights that he can use!!
What a fun day and if you are ever have a
chance you have to travel with Uncle Brian or one of his cousins while visiting Cairns you have to do it~~~ !!!!!
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