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Published: January 25th 2016
The alarm goes at 7am and I can roll over to go back to sleep. Martin on the other hand had made arrangements with Phil to go fishing in his little 2 man tin boat on the Barron river estuary. Phil has kindly taken the day off work and Martin says goodbye all excited.
Melissa and I get up late and spend a lazy morning by the pool waiting for news of the hunters catch. Finally a photo comes through and sure enough there is Martin with a fish, apparently a 'queenie'. To be honest it could have been any fish, I wouldn't know the difference but I do think 'thank god for that', at least the rod has got out of it's case and the airport shenanigans have not all be in vain. We later learn that the catch was a 'team effort' with the usual fishermen tales of 'the ones that got away'.
After lunch Phil offers to show us a couple of waterfalls which are away from the usual tourist trail
because access is not straightforward but are hidden gems known to locals.
The first is near Crystal cascades and Phil tells us that it is his favourite place. Being a local he wishes to keep it relatively protected from too many visitors so I won't mention the name. We climb an incline of rocks and tree root paths along the waterside and after about 20 mins reach a beautifully refreshing pool which Phil assures us is deep enough to jump into. Martin, Melissa and Phil all jump without hesitation but I hold back not feeling that confident. There are a couple of ropes hung from some strategic points and a couple of teenage lads are already messing about. The teenagers rock climb the sides of the waterfall and jump from a higher spot. Phil follows suit and does a backflip dive into the water below, even the lads were impressed. We swim about a bit more, get ourselves into the waterfall and Phil obliges us with some family photos.
Eventually I pluck up
the courage and jump in from a rock and while Phil is taking pictures we all line up to jump in on the count of three for a photo. On the count of three I jump only to find that the count was a practise and there is Melissa and Martin still on the rock and the photo opportunity missed. Under instructions I am told to jump again, this time just a fraction after Martin and Melissa to get the best out of the photo - this time I am too late and only Melissa and Martin are in the photo. Enough, I really don't need to be in the photo and make my way to the water edge to join another Mum who had arrived with her teenage daughter. Where are you from, she asks as we get into the same conversation that I have had a number of times on this holiday but somehow never seem to get bored of. She tells me that she came to Crystal cascades as a teenager and only today did she discover this hidden gem when her daughter showed her how to get here. I feel really quite privileged and grateful to
Phil for taking us off the beaten track.
Are those boys with you, she asks as she points to the two young lads who are pushing their luck climbing a very dodgy rock face in the pursuit of a higher jump. No I say and I suspect their Mother would have a fit if she could see them. Even Phil has stopped his climbing and shouted over to them to ask if they are OK with fatherly concern. I suspect however he was taking the same sort of risks when he was their age and this is probably the path to growing up in a country where there is so much to explore with in temperatures of up to 40 degrees. The boys soon realise that it is not a good idea and gingerly make their way down to the relief of us all.
We decide to head for
another waterfall at Stoney Creek. Once again we walk about 20 mins up a tree root track and this time we find a number of bathing pools on the way. Phil however makes sure we go right to the top where the waterfall is at it's best. We climb more rocks and find a vine hanging over the water which was just waiting for someone to take a swing. Melissa jumped on and Martin and I pushed her just as we did when she was child. Once again we get to the waterfall and this time we attempt to recreate the 'herbal essence' advert where the girl dips her hair in the water in front of her and rather glamorously flips her hair backwards to show a display of crystal clear water cascading behind her. Of course Melissa has the advantage with her longer hair and even Phil manages a respectable take, and then there is Martin and me! Oh, well it was good fun trying.
It's late afternoon as Phil jumps into the
back of the car with Melissa and he jokes that it feels like being a kid again with Mum and Dad in the front. I confess that it feels like we have adopted him but it all feels very natural and a friendship has been born.
Martin had moaned to Phil that we hadn't seen any wallabies in all the time that we had been here so he offered to show us to a spot on the way home where we would see hundreds of them. Sure enough there they all are hundreds of them as we simply pull up on the side of a road and our list of wildlife spotting increases.
We arrange to meet Phil later for dinner and head back. After a quick shower and change we make our way down to the sea front and Phil arrives in his sports clothes. Sorry guys, I got
so wrapped up in taking the day off, I forgot that I have got netball tonight. Netball, Martin scoffs. I know replies Phil but it keeps us fit in between baseball seasons and I can't let the team down. He arranges to come along to the restaurant a little later and we make our way to Dundees for a seafood platter. A year to the day Melissa had been to this restaurant and posted a picture on Facebook and I had commented that I would have loved to try it - here was my opportunity. On advice from Melissa we order the seafood platter for 2 albeit that there are 3 of us. Lobster, prawns, yabbies, a whole crab, mussels, oyster, scallops and calamarie accompanied with chips, and fruits of strawberries, kiwi, grapes, water, cantelope and honeydew melons - it was huge and even 3 of us can't eat it all. We put the leftovers on a clean plate and Phil polished it off when he joined us - that the best left overs ever and I have to agree his plate wouldn't have looked out of place if ordered directly from the menu.
It's been a great day,
we are not ready to go home yet and Phil suggests a game of pool doubles. He has obviously played this before but Martin and I make a respectable first win, lose the second game and we go onto the best of three. Depending upon whose rules you choose to follow, would decide who won the third game!
At closing time we are persuaded to make our way to an Irish pub, PJs which is the same chain of pub that we went to on Xmas day. It feels familiar but there again perhaps all Irish pubs all over the world feel the same. After another game of 'Buck and Deer Shooting' Martin and I leave Melissa and Phil to continue to party without us - it's 1.30am and we need our bed.
More photos below.
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