We’ve had two days to explore Cairns and its environs and we chose to visit some of the places that had a natural flavour.
Kuranda is a town in the hills to the west of Cairns and it can be reached by vintage train, a seven-kilometre long aerial cableway or a windy mountain road. Being unsure about how Jill, with her mobility issues, would handle the more commercial methods of travel, we chose to drive the 27 kilometres to this town in the hills. We thought that Port Douglas was a real tourist town, but it has nothing on Kuranda. This place just bustles with tourists who visit its attractions, shop or eat in its cafes.
We began our day with a visit to the Bowen Falls. The track to the falls took us along a raised boardwalk though the rainforest until we reached the lookout from which we had a spectacular view of the water falls, The lookout is right above the train station, so we had just as good a view as if we had taken the train to Kuranda. It’s very dry at the moment so there wasn’t much water coming over the falls.
We spent a little while in the butterfly house. Jill found the paths to be very steep and too textured for her mobiliy scooter. But just staying put near a feeding station meant that she saw most of the butterflies anyway. I wandered around the paths a few times taking photos. There were no Ulysess Butterflies (you might remember this blue butterfly from the Dunk Island Commercials) but there were plenty of other species to see. Some had red colours, others were green and some had blue on their wings. Apparently, the current climate has stopped the Ulysees Butterflies from breeding normally.
I also spent some time at the Bird World exhibit but was mostly dissapointed. I had expected to see local rainforest birds but their display consisted of a general mix of birds that could be seen in many other places.
Overall, I would rate Kuranda as a real tourist trap. You pay a lot of money to see these natural exhibits but don’t get a lot of value for your money.
Back in Cairns, this morning, we watched another naval vessel come into port. Its number was D63 and I Googled it to try and find its name wiithout much success. The closest that I could get was that this number has historically been linked to the name, HMAS Hobart. Perhaps this continues until this day, but I can’t be sure.
On our second day of exploring, we headed back up the road towards Port Douglas to visit Hartley’s Crocodile Park. We were thwarted this morning as the highway was closed because of a large cycling event. We were detoured to Palm Beach where we filled in some time watching a kids surf school that was being run by the local surf life saving club until the road reopened.
We eventually reached the crocodile park by around lunch time and had a 20 minute boat ride around the lake in a simulated paperbark tree swamp.
There must have been around twenty salt water crocodiles in the water or sunbaking on the shore.
After lunch in the cafe, we wandered arond the rest of the park that contained many other Australian animals, Lizards, and Birds. It was a very good experience and one that I would recommend as being well ahead of the atttractions at Kuranda.
Two animals intrigued us. One was this little kangaroo that bounded up the enclosure gate to meet us and followed us along the path. It had clearly been hand reared and had an affinity with people.
The other was a Cassowary. We had been looking for this bird for a few days. Warning signs to look out for them had been posted on many of the roads that we drove on but none of these birds had appeared. Seeing this one in captivity wasn’t quite as good as seeing one in the wild, but it was much better than not seeing one at all.