Queensland

Two weeks in QLD started in Cairns, a bit of a forced town stay due to arriving the day before a public holiday. We’d also managed to arrive the day after the Cairns Ironman competition so lots of very muscly people hobbling about town!

 

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Collected our second camper first thing on Tuesday morning. Not quite as plush as the previous one, but the only hire company that would allow us to collect in Cairns and drop off in Airlie Beach was Camperman. So ‘Scruffy’ (a Toyota Hiace that had seen better days, or perhaps not considering some of the dubious stains) was to be our home on wheels for the next fortnight. Ah well, we’ll just spend more time on the beach!
 

Queensland - Australia

First stop, Port Douglas. Weather not great, but we were convinced that Wednesday was to be the best of the week so booked a trip out the low isles for some snorkelling.
 

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Chilly waters (well, it was winter) out at the Low Isles but beautiful coral and so many amazing fish. Plus giant clams and reef sharks – yikes!
 

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The waters got more and more tranquil during the day, this was the scene as we departed.
 

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View from the hill in Port Douglas – just daft. Took a stroll along that beach too, such a hardship.
 

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Stopped at Mossman Gorge on the way north, lovely walks though ancient forests – spotted this fella hanging out on a tree trunk.
 

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Excellent jungly looking trees plus some lovely fresh water pools to take a dip in.
 

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Lunch stop at Wonga Beach – it’s more deserted and more tropical by the minute. Good campervan butties on the beach.
 

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Spent two nights in Cape Tribulation and the Daintree National Forest. Decided we needed a challenge after too much beach lounging so tackled the Mount Sorrow ‘walk’. The clue was in the name really, imagine clambering uphill over slippery tree roots and loose rock for 3 hours… in the tropics. But the view from the top was quite stunning.
 

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Someone decided this part of the ‘walk’ needed a rope, we ached for 3 days after this! Though we did have a soothing swim in the Masons Creek swimming hole after, in the company of lots of big, black fish. (No swimming in the sea in these parts – crocodiles abound!)
 

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Pretty tree canopy.
 

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A well deserved pizza at the wonderful Cape Trib Camp Ground Sandbar Cafe. I can recommend the Reef pizza and the Mangrove – fresh from the wood burning stove. Delicious.
 

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Complex crab excavation patterns on Myall Beach.
 

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Pub decorations.
 

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Mangroves.
 

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Barraclough and the Giant Barramundi of Daintree Village.
 

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The far north is full of sugar cane fields as far as the eye can see, the annual ‘crush’ began while we were there and the little trains full of cane were darting about everywhere. The smell of sugar fills the air whenever you pass a refinery.
 

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Madame Crocodile in the Daintree River (a salty one – the rather scary sort).
 

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Wasp husband in Kurranda – very odd town absolutely full of tourist tat shops. We drove up but you can get there by cable car.
 

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The Curtain Fig tree up in the tablelands.
 

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A one night stop at teeny tiny Etty Bay. What a great spot for a bbq!
 

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Next stop: Mission Beach – and what a beach. Recovering amazingly after cyclone Yasi gave it a beating in 2011.
 

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The beach was so nice we were even inspired to go running on it !!
 

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Scruffy the camper parked up at another idyllic camp ground at Mission Beach
 
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Booked ourselves a sea kayaking excursion to Dunk Island with Coral Sea Kayaking. Totally brilliant day, great kayaks, lovely guide, delicious picnic lunch, some decent snorkelling and even home made granola bars after a tough paddle back to the mainland against the wind. It’s just beautiful up there.
 

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Silly drive up to Paluma Village. Not much there but the road is nuts.
 

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Monster at Townsville
 

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One night at Horseshoe Bay near Bowen. Brekky on the beach followed by a stroll over to the next few bays
 

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Last stop: Airlie Beach. A sunset and a marina view you say?
This calls for wine
 

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Time for one last excursion, so we’d better make it a good one. We took a seaplane trip out over the Whitsundays to the proper Great Barrier Reef. Just astonishing from the air – so massive and so beautiful. We landed at an enclosed lagoon and snorkelled along the towering walls of the reef for an hour watching as the vast forests of stag coral changed colour before our eyes. Never seen so many huge shoals of fish. And to finish the experience, just as we were swimming back to the boat a reef shark swam straight towards us and then past off into the blue. Shiver! Bubbles and cheese and a flight back in a tiny 7 seater De Havilland as the sun set. If you’re ever up that way check out Air Whitsundays
 

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A cheeky one night stay in Sydney and then…
 

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…farewell Australia – we’ll be back one day I’m sure.
Next stop California!
 

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