Sukhothai – day 345

Not the most energetic of mornings. In fact, I slept on and off until about 10am which never happens. Had to remind myself that we have been traveling for 11 months now and not a week. I think that Australia was so ‘easy’ that it felt like being back at home whereas, in reality, we have done so much that it won’t kill either of us to have a lie in! 
The town we are in flourished from the mid-13th century to the late 14th century. Known as the ‘Sukhothai (Rising of Happiness) Kingdom’, that period is often viewed as the golden age of Thai civilisation, and the religious art and architecture of the era are considered to be the most classic of Thai styles. The remains of the kingdom, today known as meu-ang gów (old city) features around 45 sq km of partially rebuilt ruins, which are one of the most visited ancient sites in Thailand. However, we decided to skip the ancient city for today as neither of us had the energy or attention levels to visit our 55th UNESCO site and really appreciate it so we decided to visit the new town instead. 
Slowly getting ready, we walked into town past the river with its banks almost at bursting point. The water was about a foot away from the top of the wall and there were sand bags placed at certain sections were the wall was clearly slightly compromised… As water started trickling out behind it! 
Stopped by the tourist information centre to ask if there was a laundry nearby for us to do some washing only to find that it was closed and they were pumping river water out from their garden back into the river as quickly as the river was depositing more water back into the garden…

Decided that we weren’t going to get very far with all the flooded roads so we opted for an early lunch (or late second breakfast) in Poo. The lady in the restaurant pointed us in the direction of a laundry so, as Jayne ordered our food, I went and dropped off our clothes. Walking through the town after lunch we watched men fishing in the relief rivers and people going about their everyday business. For a tourist town, they clearly aren’t used to tourists walking around the new section! Our walk brought us out near the bus station so we decided to buy our tickets back to Bangkok for Sunday before continuing our walk. 

Found a temple, but we have no idea what the name is as its not mentioned in the guidebook or on any map, which was a beautifully decorated Chinese style temple complete with dragons. Even though it was deserted, there was a chimney full of burning offerings and incense burning from sand pots. Around the corner and over the bridge we stopped at another temple, Wat Ratchathani, which was clearly also having issues with flooding as the monks looked like they were walking on water as they crossed the site. Even the chickens were using the planks of wood that had been placed down to make the path accessible. Another beautiful temple, we found a quiet seat to sit and admire it in the quiet and calm. The only other thing to do in town was visit the museum which was 3km away – deciding that it was getting too late in the day to walk there and neither of us wanted to begin negotiations with a TukTuk, we made the hard decision to go back to the guesthouse and use the swimming pool instead – it was a really tough decision!! We messed around in the water until the sun set before going back to our room to get dressed and head out for dinner. Tried to find the night market to get something to eat. Think we walked past it – it was a handful of stalls, nothing like what was described in the Lonely Planet. Not sure whether it has moved as our MapsMe app said we were in the right place, we decided to cut our losses and went back to ‘Poo’. A couple of curries and a game of monopoly later, we stopped by 7-Eleven to grab some ice creams and headed back to our room for some ‘Modern Family’. 

Friday 16th September 2016

Coles Bay – day 328

We had set our alarms for an early start but didn’t really need to… It was freezing! I even woke up at one point, contemplating whether to release myself from the cocoon of blankets to steal the free duvet from the bunk above. This idea was squashed quickly as I didn’t want to move one inch to let any cold in so slept huddled up and fully clothed. Ah… It brought back memories of being a poor university student all those years ago! 

Warmed up in the shower, dressed and in the car before the other ‘hostel’ guests were up, we headed back down the road we had driven on last night at some ridiculously slow pace. In the daylight, it didn’t seem so scary but, with the amount of roadkill on the side of the road, it was a good job that we had gone slow. 
I drove us the 30 minutes down the road as Jayne fancied doing some scuba diving. I really wanted to join her but my ears have been a bit sore recently and I didn’t want to push it, especially since I shouldn’t really be scuba diving at all. Dropping Jayne off at the dive centre, the one shore dive quickly became a boat dive followed by a shore dive. So with my blessing, she headed off for around four hours and got back in the car and headed back down in the direction we had just come from to walk in the Freycinet National Park on my own (cue the tiny violins!!!) Jayne: Unless, there was a crab called Sebastien, some trumpetfish and a guitarshark lurking nearby, there was no lament as Katherine drove off. Ok, maybe a small bit of guilt. Suited and booted, into the back of a rusty old truck, hopped on a boat before the boat was professionally launched behind the Governor Island. 5minutes around this bit of rock, being watched by the fur seals, we arrived at our dive site: Bird Rock. There were no birds on the rock itself and the churning water didn’t look appealing. But, the dive was a treasure trove, especially with one of the easiest accessible sites EVER! Giant rock boulders and gullies contained a variety of life. The surge was at times a difficulty, others a real joy. The trickiest moments were when going through the caverns and swim-throughs when it had to be timed well to get in to the sweet spot where it wouldn’t knock you against the sides, seabed or cave roof. Going through all these passages was fabulous. It was explained to me later that it was much to do about giving the open water diver a chance to practice old buoyancy skills before going to dive some particular wreck. A multitude of fish species that I can’t remember the names to, a draughtboard shark, old wives, secretive crayfish, massive abalones, colourful sponges and tunicates and a patchwork of encrusting algae where seaweeds and kelp didn’t grow. I managed to squeeze my fat ass out of a tight gap, idiot skinny people thought we would all fit through, waited for the last diver to shimmy through as well (at least it wasn’t just me), and returned to base for a hot milo and chit chat. The owner and the club are all heading off to Papua New Guinea soon and Bob and I chatted loads about hiking the Himalayas – not something he was expecting. Second dive was just Al and myself. An interesting ride down in the other jeep, with wide turns for the vehicle that didn’t have power steering, he set up a dive flag at the end of the pier and I picked up a smashed phone from the car park. This site was even better than the first – it is no wonder that so many locals dive it several times a week. Depth instantly off the pier with a beautiful mixture of granite sea bed, sandy areas and kelp forests. The pockets of vegetation were the best chances to spot the wildlife as we could hover and circle around the area with keen eyes looking for elusive creatures. We were thus rewarded with a pot-bellied seahorse and 6x weedy sea dragons. Completely over the moon with having seen these remarkable creatures I was fortunate enough to figure out the camera settings on the dive and get a few shots. Of course, all good things must come to an end and the idea of warming up was soon more alluring. Katherine: Having paid my park permit, and receiving a free set of posters to celebrate the centenary of Tasmania’s National Parks (what am I going to do with them?!?), I started with the Wineglass Bay walk. Considered one of the most celebrated views in Tasmania, I began the steep uphill climb on a rocky, well-constructed track up to the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. About half way up the path, I stopped to look out over the viewpoint of Coles Bay (and to catch my breathe and strip off several layers of clothing!!) which was absolutely stunning, even more so as I was the only one there! Continuing up the path, the granite rock formations were truly mesmerising especially when they were formed during the Devonian period. At the saddle, I followed the short side track that leads to the lookout with spectacular views over the crystal clear waters and white sandy beach of Wineglass Bay. Chatted to a Welsh and Australian couple who were also travelling through Tasmania. Offered to take a photo for them and captured a beautiful one of the both of them and the view. When they returned the favour, the photo is a close up of me and not much else – so much so, it’s not even making the blog so you’ll have to put up with my poor attempts at selfies instead. If only Jayne was there with her long lucky selfie arm!!

Backtracking down to the car park, I headed back through the park towards the Cape Tourville circuit. A really easy walk with gentle slopes and no steps, the walk provided sweeping views of the Freycinet Peninsula, Wineglass Bay, the Tasman Sea, the Nuggets and Friendly Beaches. Stood looking for whales and other marine life for a while until a (very) loud American woman came and choose, despite the entire empty boardwalk, to stand right next to me to have a conversation with her husband about the lack of wild koalas in Australia. Seeing that I had just over an hour before I needed to collect Jayne from the dive centre and I only needed 45mins to drive there, I decided to do one more walk to Sleepy Bay. I followed the gently graded steps leading to the rocky shoreline of Sleepy Bay which, despite its name, often experiences wild and rough seas. Didn’t make it all the way to the sandy bay itself as, being conscious of time, I turned around about half way and headed back to the car. Arrived at the dive centre just before 1pm (as promised) only to have to wait for three quarters of an hour for my lovely wife to turn up – typical!! Chatted to one of the women who works in the dive centre who told me all fantastic places she has been diving in the world… I’m not jealous, not jealous at all.

Helped Jayne rinse her gear before we jumped in the car and drove to the dock where Jayne did her shore dive so she could point out where they went down and saw all the weedy sea dragons. Stopped off at the bakery on the edge of town to grab a couple of hot chocolates to warm us both up and may have, accidentally, purchased a chicken and camembert pie and a couple of caramel slices too… Oops!
An easy drive back to Hobart, stopping at Spiky Bridge on the way. As the name suggests, it’s just a bridge but it’s pretty cool. Built by convicts in 1843, this bridge abruptly pops out of the landscape to baffle passers-by with its odd design. The bridge was made from field stones laid without mortar or cement and the parapet features field stones laid vertically, giving the bridge a spiky appearance. It’s claimed that the spikes were designed to prevent cattle falling over the sides of the bridge, though no one really knows if this is true. There are also the remains of the Governor’s cottage on the hill overlooking the unusual bridge.Back in the car, we cruised back to Hobart, stopping in a nearby town to waste away time in Coles buying dinner supplies as we can’t park outside the hostel before 6pm. Back at the hostel, I got busy with a much needed load of laundry whilst Jayne tackled the mess in the tiny kitchen to make us some dinner. The lovely lady at reception had put us in a dorm room on our own so we were able to snuggle up in bed, watching a film at the end of the day and looking at Jayne’s photos from the dives. 

Tuesday 30th August 2016

Kings Canyon – day 319/9

The usual morning routine (incl. breakfast) takes about two hours for the three of us. But, once everything was in order we had a final farewell up at the lookout to Uluru. Still looking like a prop at a pantomime, we couldn’t believe we were here or how beautiful a solitary rock could be. It was a striking image growing further away in distance as we drove back down the highway. 
We stopped at the service station near Mt. Conner lookout. The view from the yard was pretty awesome as we waited for the attendant to come out and unlock the handles. Not connected to the tills inside the shop, the whole transaction is carried out at the pump and we were on our way after more extortionately priced fuel would safely get us to Kings Canyon. At the only other stop en route for the bathroom, there was the most beautiful pet cockatoo in the tree outside the restaurant. Charlie was able to say ‘Hello’ and we contemplated stuffing him under a t-shirt and taking him with us. But, we arrived at Kings Canyon Resort, without our feathered friend and without a booking on the system. Ninjas sorted the whole situation out as I stayed in the car, nobody wanted to unleash the Kraken. 
A breather and a spot of lunch in the room and we headed off for the afternoon. The yawning chasm of Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park is one of the most spectacular sights in central Australia. Despite the map depicting a steep climb at the beginning of the trail and several AED’s, Emergency Call Radios and First Aid boxes dotted along the route we knew we could do it. The steep climb was the start of the 6km loop of the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. The canyon delivered better views the higher we climbed to the top of the cliff and we weren’t expecting it to get much better than that… but it did. Meandering through the beehive sandstone formations, over plains of rippled sandstone, past trees scorched and twisted from fire and through sections alive with vegetation the walk itself was slow going because we were taking so many photos. Then, we emerged from the honeycomb maze to start viewing the canyon from the middle of a cliff wall and the sheer drop.We traversed the new (and not burned down) metal bridge to Cotterills Lookout. It gave the most impressive view down the canyon with the height giving an eagle view of the creek below. It was also, when viewed from the other side of the rim, undercut and sticking out precariously with very little rock supporting it underneath. That wasn’t a very comforting thought to find out later on. However, until then, ignorance was bliss and the Garden of Eden, down a fleet of stairs was equally blissful. A lush pocket of ferns, prehistoric cycads (plants that have survived from the time of the dinosaurs) and red leaf gum trees surround a tranquil pool. Pooling on top of an impermeable layer of slate, giving life to plants and animals in the area, the pocket of serenity was worth the extra walk down. Tracey and I returned up the stairs to catch up with Katherine who was still recovering from over-doing it with what I think is a cold. We didn’t take as many photos on the last stretch of the walk. Namely we were filling up our memory cards with very similar photos of orange stone, also because it was slowing us down and we could see the storm clouds rolling in on the horizon. Not sure if it was going to hit us or not, the rumbling thunder echoed through the paths and the wind howled, giving a careful warning of what could happen if one was not prepared or cautious. So when we passed a family where the son had twisted his ankle we were eager to help and make sure everyone was down off the walk before any bad weather hit. I had a Panadol in my purse which was greatly appreciated and we caught up with the girls and told them to wait for mum and dad. When everyone was together we promised to wait at the car park until they were down safely. We didn’t do much in the end, but when the rain came and went and they came strolling (and hopping) towards the shaded hut in the car park they were grateful that we waited for them. 

The viewing area for the sunset behind the lodges was cramped and lacking the promised pop-up bar. Everyone milled around watching the canyons in the distance change slowly to a deep red. I have lost the ingenuity to describe the colours in different ways, but imagine that today’s scene was the transformation of an element in a toaster turning from a dull black to a warm orange. These hills changed from a pale yellowy orange with trees and bushes dotted along the slopes to one alive and vibrant, an intoxicating reddy orange that captivated the soul. It was a rare occasion where I was more transfixed with the view cast by the sunset rather than watch the sun set behind the hills and a bright sky. Plus, I didn’t even take a single photo and lived in the moment. Fortunately, Tracey did…Over to the ‘Thristy Dingo’, it was amazing to see how busy the dinner service was. The Ninjas enjoyed their first bottle of wine and I sipped a bit at the fruit cider before taking it back to the room and enjoying it with a film. Roll forward two hours when they stumbled back to the room, ‘Shitfaced’, and regaling tales of heckling the singer and kids coming up to give them goodnight kisses. I don’t know what antics happened and to be honest, what happens in the outback stays in the outback. Kat and I had some noodles and watched poor Tracey convince herself she could watch a film, passing out with Chicken Crimpys and the iPad on her bed. I should have taken it as a sign that Katherine would be the same with her passing out only a few minutes in to an episode of Friends.  

Sunday 21st August 2016

Travelling & Uluru – day 317/7

Having been woken up by the noisy Dutch family in the room opposite and surprisingly not by the night owl Italian man in our dorm room, we were up and ready to start our 400km plus long drive to Uluru. Managed to be out and on the road by 8am, with a quick stop for an ATM, coffee and petrol fill-up, we were on the open road keeping our eyes open for any kangaroo’s that might need rescuing (let’s be honest, we were hoping to find an orphan kangaroo to become our new road trip buddy!!). Tracey drove for the first two hours, enjoying the 130km speed limit on the ‘highway’ (in the red centre – it is a two lane road with no barriers anywhere…). Tracey and I continued singing along to our ‘Australia Road Trip 2016’ playlist whilst Jayne sat in the back, ignoring the sound of the drowning cats, and got on with catching up with blog writing – she is totally my heroine!!

A quick toilet stop at Desert Oaks services which also claims to be ‘The centre of the centre’. Supposedly the closest one can get to the centre of Australia, although even the sign admitted that there are several places across Australia which are also the centre of the centre. Turns out that this service station also had an emu farm with at least half a dozen huge birds milling around in the enclosed area. You could buy food to feed them in the shop so the moment we came close to the edge of the enclosure, we were ambushed by a pack of fierce looking birds with goggly eyes. We were a bit intimidated until we realised that there was a fence between us!! Back on the road, I was now in the driving seat, much to Tracey’s pleasure as the speed limit had dropped to 110km at the most… It felt painfully slow and I caught myself several times creeping towards the 120 on the speedo. It is so easy to lose track of your speed when the road is so straight and the scenery is the same for miles. Tried to be good and follow the Aussie rule of lifting your index finger to acknowledge oncoming vehicles but I missed quite a few. Getting into the stride of things, I managed to finger a police officer before I was promptly ignored by every other motorist on the rest of the journey. 

Arriving at Yulara Resort (the ‘town’ closest to the Uluru and Kata Tjuta rock formations) and tried to check in. Unable to do so until 3pm, we had a picnic lunch in the courtyard of our hotel and then headed over to Uluru to do the base walk. 
Passing through the ranger station to buy our park permits, we drove down the road and were all blown away by the magnificent red rock in front of us. UNESCO site number 53 of our gap year, the sacred rock lies in the traditional lands of the Western Desert Aboriginal people, locally known as Aṉangu. Aṉangu are part of one of the oldest human societies in the world. Uluru is 9.4 km in circumference and rises to a relatively flat top that is more than 340 m above the shallow, red sandy dunes around it. It is truly spectacular, in fact, it looked like it had been superimposed onto a blue sky – it didn’t look real at all as it loomed amongst the desert vegetation.Arriving at the rock, we saw some people climbing it. It seems incredible that despite all the signs and information available about why people shouldn’t climb it, that people still decide to climb this sacred place. Not only do they climb it but they also seem totally inadequately prepared and we saw several people slipping and sliding their way down on the sheer cliff edge. Would have served them right if they had fallen – it’s so disrespectful of the aboriginal culture to this area. 

Starting from the Mala carpark, we escaped the crowds and took the meandering journey through acacia woodlands and grassed claypans. There were plenty of signs to teach us along the way about the diverse plants, animals and geological features of the park. From Kuniya Piti, we followed the snake-like grooves at the base of the rock which were left when the ancestral being Kuniya journey to Mutitjulu waterhole, where we were inundated with people off the day tour from Alice Springs so we didn’t linger to long. I don’t think any of our photos do Uluru justice. We spent about 3.5 hours waking the 10.7km around the the base, although the sections where we weren’t allowed to take photos passed significantly quicker than the sections where we could. Each angle gave us a different glow and perspective on the enormous rock, with its many caves of different sizes and the blackened marks on the rock from algae when the waterfalls cascade during the wet season. Heading back to the resort, Jayne quickly whipped up some dinner for us as we had an early shuttle bus to the ‘Field of Lights’. The art installation is by artist Bruce Munro and consists of more than 50,000 slender stems topped with frosted glass spheres that glow in the darkness. We walked around the pathways that wind through the middle of the installation, which were even more captivating under the dark sky littered with stars and a full moon. Getting advice from the security guard, we headed up to the view point and looked at the installation from above, the moon casting a glow over Uluru – it was spectacular and it is easy to understand why people lose track of time up there and miss there last shuttle bus back to the resort. 

Friday 19th August 2016

Kakadu – day 313/3

The name ‘Kakadu’ comes from the Gagudju language, spoken by Aboriginal people in the north of the park. Today, the three main languages spoken in the park are Gundjeihmi, Kunwinjku and Jawoyn. Rock shelters, stone tools, grindstones and ochre quarries in Kakadu are reminders that Aboriginal people have lived in this area for over 50,000 years. We don’t speak any of these languages and we only stayed one night at an Aboriginal-owned park. But, what a tough night it was! Woken at 03:00 by the bats in the trees above our ‘tent’, we were exhausted and a bit grumpy when we finally gave up the pretence of sleep and had our first coffee of the morning. The Rangers were out and about washing down cars from all the bat guano and piss and the smell was pretty horrific. Second coffee in our systems, we filled up with petrol, chose the biggest pastries at the bakery and headed down the highway to the first stop. 

Arriving at Nourlangie the sight of this looming outlier of the Arnhem Land escarpment makes it easy to understand its ancient importance to Aboriginal people. Its long red-sandstone bulk, striped in places with orange, white and black, slopes up from surrounding woodland to fall away at one end in stepped cliffs. I planned a walk around the billabong for us before going over to the main site. However, in the car park we saw a trail map that led up the hill to Nawurlandja Lookout so we decided to break up the morning with lookout, lake walk and then main site. Wow, what a view!Sitting on an outcrop of sandstone, finding some unmarked paintings on the way to this viewpoint, we sat as long as possible in the morning sun gazing out at the impressive views. The shade in the trees around the Anbangbang Billabong Walk were lovely and provided a perfect spot to enjoy the pastries from the bakery. The track circles the receding water, with signs showing how close the crocs can get to tourists along the route without them realising. We passed through the paperbark swamp with no hassle and enjoyed the multitude of birds, both native and migratory, that habituate this picturesque area.The name Nourlangie is a corruption of nawulandja, an Aboriginal word that refers to an area bigger than the rock itself. The 2km looped walking track takes you past some of Kakadu’s best-known collection of rock art. With the majority of sites off limits or inaccessible we started at the Anbangbang Shelter, used for 20,000 years as a refuge and canvas. Next was the Anbangbang Gallery, featuring Dreaming characters repainted in the 1960s. The information board at this gallery made it incredibly easy to locate Nabulwinjbulwinj, a dangerous spirit who likes to eat females after banging them on the head with a yam. From there it was a short walk around the base of the cliff and up the hill to Gunwarddehwarde Lookout. Spoiled once again for incredible views of the Arnhem Land escarpment we had to leave again due to the blistering heat. We didn’t see any signs of the wandering buffalo bull that lurks in the area… we like to live dangerously. Tracey at the wheel, we were down to Cooinda and Yellow Water before long, i.e. – blink and we were there. But, it didn’t seem like anyone else was having a picnic in the area so we asked some bus drivers who were waiting for a cruise boat to return. They must have thought us mad for thinking to eat in the area, it is apparently littered with crocs, not just the shy freshies, but the big salties. So, food in the bag, we went looking for ’em. Katherine spotted one off the end of the jetty hanging around for the boat too, possibly for an unruly brat that may be easy pickings (or thrown overboard). The end of the walkway was bloody noisy with a massive flock of Little Corrolla’s perched in every single branch of about three trees (not thirty trees, just three trees). Down the road a bit further we enjoyed lunch in the picnic area of the campground and an ice cream from the shop.  We’re not sure if we were meant to bring our own sheets, they had forgotten to leave them in the dorm room or perhaps a combination of the above. We forgot to ask and went for a swim in the pool instead. Complete nonsense, hysterics and good fun for maybe half an hour and we we cooled off and refreshed. Plus, it washed the feet for the two ninjas who continue to walk in the bush with flip-flops. With little choice available for dinner options in the shop, we treated ourselves to Chicken Snitty. A lovely meal in the bar area, with the Olympics on in the background, the two amigos enjoyed buckets of white wine and I topped up on electrolytes. In the end I payed the piper for needing the loo and traversing the camp ground to pee, praying that I didn’t spot a snake. Anyway, we enjoyed our evening, teased the baby croc in the aquarium with a wooden replica of itself and headed to bed. An assortment of clothes, nod-pods, taking the fourth mattress, sheet and pillow and we tried to get some sleep as we were frozen but exhausted. Monday 15th August 2016

Kuranda – day 308

Having done our research late last night after completing the census, we knew we needed to catch a shuttle bus at 8.30am. Getting up early, showering, eating our free pancake breakfast we headed over to the bus station. After a quick dash to Coles to grab some apples to go with lunch, we waited for our bus. Watched the Kuranda scenic railway train leave from the stations as the bus pulled up. Only to find out that it didn’t drop off passengers off at our stop – it only picked them up! After a conversation with the driver, we found out that we could catch a bus from just outside our hostel. Retracing our steps, we managed to catch a bus to the Smithfield Skyrail. Felt like it was the longest bus journey in the entire world as it went around the houses and up every little back alley possible. It took us over an hour to go the 15km to the Skyrail rainforest Cableway. At 7.5km long, it is one of the worlds longest gondola cableway, giving a birds-eye view over the tropical rainforest and our 51st UNESCO World Heritage Site. Finally arriving at the ticket counter, we organised our tickets to catch the cableway up and the train back down to Cairns. Only to find that my card didn’t work… Slightly strange as I had topped it up last night, we grabbed a purchase number and stepped out of the queue to allow others to be served whilst we tried to sort it out. The free wifi in the centre wasn’t working so I turned on data roaming to check accounts. With no reason for it not to work, other than a technical fault with the bank, I transferred some money into Jayne’s account and we kept our fingers crossed that her card would work. Fortunately it did, but it was a rather stressful 15 minutes! Fortunately, there was no wait for us to get into a gondola and we were above the rainforest before we knew it. The Barron Gorge National park is stunning. Spread almost as far as the eye can see, there are towering tall green trees with an occasional glimpse of the road that runs through the rainforest. Our first stop was Red Peak station, where the gondola descended through the canopy layers and took us deep in the forest. Red Peak Station (545m above sea level) is nestled amongst pristine rainforest with a 175 metre boardwalk providing a perfect opportunity to explore the forest from ground level. The Station is surrounded by towering trees, lush palms, giant ferns and a diverse array of plants and wildlife.

We managed to catch a free guided ranger talk where Ranger Rob pointed out various plants along the boardwalk, including our favourite ‘Strangler Fig’ and the interesting fern baskets that only disseminate sideways. We then continued on to the second station of Barron Falls, where we enjoyed spectacular views of the Barron Gorge, a deep chasm lined with dense rainforest vegetation at a couple of different lookouts. Having explored the three lookouts, which provided breathtaking views of the Gorge and Falls, we headed off to the toilet area where Ranger Rob had told us that a wild cassowary had been spotted over the last few days. Walking quietly and peering around, we must have looked quite odd staring out into the vegetation trying to catch a glimpse of the worlds second largest bird. No such luck unfortunately so we headed to the information centre before catching the last section of the cableway to the Tableland village of Kuranda. Arriving in the village, we walked up to the main streets, looking into the aboriginal markets that are held here. Deciding to veto the zoos, we decided to compete a couple of the walking trails in the area. There are six walking trails around Kuranda from a walk through the village to a rainforest stroll through the undergrowth to a more strenuous hike back to the Barron Falls lookout. 

Conscious of the fact that we needed to get the train back to Cairns at 15.30, we opted to do the village walk and a couple of the rainforest ones. It was really nice having the trails mostly to ourselves as we explored the area. Our last walking tour dropped us straight outside the train station as we caught the Kuranda Scenic Railway back to Cairns. Winding 34km through picturesque mountains, the track was completed in 1891 by workers who had to bring their own tools or dig by hand, battling sickness, steep terrain and venomous creatures. The journey took just under 2 hours and had a running commentary throughout as well as slowing down at various significant points along the route to allow for photo opportunities. Back in Cairns, we popped into Coles to get some food for dinner before heading back to the YHA. Drinking far too much goon wine with our pasta, we headed off to bed deciding that tomorrow is going to be a rest day as we are both tired from our travels up east coast. Wednesday 10th August 2016