It just gets hotter! We arrived at Airlie beach in the whitsunday region and spent a day kicking around the town and staring at the amazing water that you cannot put a foot in! Its very posh here, but seems to cater more for twenty-somethings and cruises around the islands than diving, so I’ve decided to wait until I get to Cairns before taking to the water.
We have been driving for so long now, its become a bit of a blur as to what campsite was where, and we have to really think about where we saw this or that on our neverending Queensland roadtrip! But at last we are on the last run, with only about 400 KM to go, which to us seems like nothing, before we pull into our destination of Cairns.
Every now and again we pull into a free site. The Australian councils and parks provide fantastic facilities at these places, they vary in quality, but most of them provide toilets, cold showers (no problem there with the heat here) and even free electric BBQs. At Rollingstone Creek we were even allowed to build a fire, which is not only the best fun I’ve had with matches since I was a kid, but is also the best mossie guard ever – they hate the smoke. Ray Mears would be proud! We actually got to sit out late into the night here instead of being driven indoors (batten down the hatches!) by insects.
Its at this point in our journey that we reached the true tropical region of Queensland, the centre of which is a place called Tully – the wettest place in Australia. It’s like being back in Malaysia. The rain comes in fits and starts, but is torrential, the heat is in the high 30s and the humidity is life sapping! But the landscape is really beautiful, lush mountain rainforest with creeks and waterfalls everywhere. Its also a big sugar cane and banana growing region “Oooo ‘ave a banaaaana!” – these vast plantations even have there own railways running through them, the tracks constantly cross the roads, to get the harvest in efficiently.
We had met a guy from Whitby at one point who told us to head for Mission Beach. This is the place where people ‘Jump the Beach’ We pulled in, got out of the van, and….spot on timing…the skydivers were just appearing high up in the sky. It was a fantastic sight watching them come in to land right in front of us. Very cool… even makes me want to try it! MMmmm well one day maybe… need bigger balls I reckon! 🙂
Mission Beach was our penultimite stop and a great place to hang out for a night. We treated ourselves to a fantastic steak and chips at the local, looking out over the beach, and listened to a good three piece band play some good covers. At one point we even took our chairs and our beers onto the beach until the tide got a little too close for comfort – with the tide come the crocs! “It’s not rocket science” as the late great Steve Irwin used to say 🙂
The next day we took a small detour to Josephine falls before settling into our last campsite before Cairns – Babinda Boulder Pool – and it could not have been better! Not only did we have the whole campsite to ourselves, with a clear cool rock pool to swim in and take the heat off, but we had an amazing visitor!
After a swim we returned to the camper to find a wild cassawary mooching about our vansite, picking up berries that had fallen from the tree. These things are straight out of Jurrassic Park – I know… I’ve said that a few times in our travels, but this truly was/is a throwback to dinosaurs. With it’s huge, leathery, veloceraptor-like feet it can rip a man open by kicking out front, if it feels threatened. It also has this kind of horn on its head, like a flattened rhino horn or something. And they can run pretty fast too as we found out…
Earlier in our trip at Australia Zoo one of the keepers decided to have a laugh with one of them and sprinted past the enclosure, as soon as she did so the Cassawary chased her (from behind the fence you understand). I remembered this with our visitor and made sure to walk slowly around the van going about our business and not getting too close… but Jane…well…need I say more?? She was being sensible at first and not really noticing that this bloody dinosaur was right behind her. She got a bit of a fright. I told her not to run but she didn’t hear me (she is 50 after all) and she ran straight for me… with the Cassawary chasing her… it was so funny (but serious) she reminded me of the little kid in the movie “Up” who befriends a huge bird – not unlike these very things. Anyway, no harm was done and we enjoyed at least two hours with this huge bird – he even lay down next our van for a short rest before he dissappeared into the forest at dusk. Really good day.