|I am actually writing this entry on November 24 2005. I have just transferred my journal to mylifeoftravel.com, and it reminded me that I never did write the final entry. I was too tired on the journey home, and then real life just got in the way.
Consequently this entry won't be nearly so detailed as the others. I have forgotten much of what happened, and a lot of names of people and places, but I shall use the photos (of which there are many) to jog my memory as best I can.....
On our way away from Mission Beach we drove to have a look at the Tully River, where we would have been White Water Rafting, if Jon hadn't been ill and it hadn't been shut, which was lovely. We were very close to the tropic at the time, and were amazed by just how short our shadows got in the middle of the day - it was no place to be out without sunscreen and a hat!
From there we continued to follow the seemingly never ending Bruce Highway north, and moved into sugar cane territory. North of Cairns the road became a very lovely coast road, and we followed it all the way to Cape Tribulation, which is as far as you can go before you run out of Tarmac! Here we again encountered something of a distortion of distance, so prevalent in Australia. The brochure for hour hotel had blitely informed us that it was a mere 90 minutes North of Cairns. Some 3 hours after passing said city, and long after it had become pitch black, we finally made it! Upon mentioning it to the hotel they told us they had complained on numerous occasions to the brochure people, but they wouldn't change it because it put tourists off!
Our hotel at Cape Tribulation was lovely, with boadwalks wending to chalets between the trees and a nice pool to dip into to escape the heat of the day. Cape Trib has no mains power - something which you have to be willing to put up with if you move in. They keep it that way to discourage too much development, which would harm the ecosystem there. And what an ecosystem they have! With rainforrest and barrier reef almost ontop of each other, it's quite incredible. Our hotel had all sorts of creatures in/around it, from pecular fowel in the bushes to a very large lizzard who wandered the boardwalks.
We had a lovely last week in Cape Trib, and it was somewhat more relaxing than our mad dash up the coast had been. On our journey to the hotel we had seen a number of microbats, and fruit bats could be seen flying over the pool at the hotel around dusk every night. Soon after arriving we discovered that bats were a major part of the local fauna, and Cape Trib has its own "Bat House", where injured bats are rescued and looked after before being released. These are mostly the larger fruit bats (who we discovered are more closely related to human beings than to microbats!), who are very friendly. Tourists aren't allowed to handle them as we can carry many of the same diseases and so the volunteers who work there have to be innoculated.
Our first exciting activity of the week was something called "Jungle Surfing", where you whizz thorugh the rain forrest canope on flying-fox style lines. Jon wasn't too impressed at being so far from terra firma, but I loved it, and the views were quite spectacular. The guys running it were biologists, so told us some wonderful things about the plants and animals - shame I can't remember many of them now!
Next we went out on a boat to do some more snorkelling on the barrier reef, which was just as spectacular as it was around the Whitsunday Islands. You could spend the rest of your life pottering around the barrier reef and never get tired of the endless colours and shapes and interesting fish. I even saw what I think was a manta ray - it was certainly very big!
We spent our evenings in the Dragonfly Cafe, Cape Trib's only real nighttime hot spot. The food was fabulous, and one night they even had a fire arts display, which I rather enjoyed. The entire town was there, as there is little else to do....
The next morning we had, of all things, a full English breakfast at a cafe further down the road, and then went on a river boat trip along the mangroves looking for crocodiles. I know we saw one, and it's in one of the photos, but they were so well camoflaged I can't find it now!
At some point during the week we went sea kayaking, which was superb fun.
We did another rain forrest walk with a very nice lady who lives in Cape Trib, who told us all sorts of wonderful things about the plants and trees they have there. She also introduced us to the "stinging tree", which can cause excruciating pain if you even just brush against it. The pain comes back for years afterwards every time you get the affected area wet. That's one to avoid! We also met some lovely lizards who spend their time hanging on the side of tree trunks, and went for a swim in a water hole. "The crocs don't come this far upstream", she assured us!
On the last day we went for a lovely walk up the beach, and nearly trod on a stingray, "The fastest way to get a free helecopter ride in Cape Tribulation" one local informed us - they have to helecopter you to the hospital in Cairns if you get stung! We then paid a final trip to the Bat house, and then made our way back down the coast.
Our last night was spent in Cairns, which turned out to be nicer than expected. They have this amazing swimming pool complex down by the shore because they don't want people going in the sea and getting stung/bitten/etc by all the things that can, if not kill you, at least put you in hospital for some time! We had a nice meal - I forget where - and stayed in a cool hotel that was sort of like studio appartments rather than rooms, and had a weird bath that seemed to be 1/2 in the living room....
The next morning we caught our flight back to Singapore, where we had a lovely jacuzzi and shower, and from there back to Blighty.
It was a truly amazing trip, and one we will never forget!