So it took me *hours* to get to sleep last night. Spent too many hours stressed and upset :( And woke up several times during the night as well. *yay*
Breakfast was much the same as yesterday.
Our first stop this morning was Riversleigh. I'd first heard about the place in 1992 - first year biology lectures with Mike Archer. So it was great to finally see the place. Well. A tiny fraction that the tourists are allowed to see. Actually I'm sure I came super close to many of the fossils taken from Riversleigh when I was working at uni - the basement had compactus after compactus of bags of dirt and rock, probably from here. Anyway, had a short walk around the tourist loop then headed off.
Had morning tea at the Gregory River crossing.
Then onto lunch on the Barkly Highway.
And finally into Mt Isa mid afternoon.
Our room here is quite nice. The lighting is a bit dim, and we have a view of a wall one metre opposite, but it has a desk! First desk I've had to use in days. Although there's not actually a power point anywhere near the desk, so I don't know where you're meant to plug in the kettle. The floor over by the wall? Bedside table? Bathroom? hrmm.
Mum and I headed out for a bit of a walk. It was pretty hot, and the flies were super annoying. And the GPS on Stu's phone was playing up, so I was having difficulty hacking portals. And checked the intel map and there was lots of blue goo west of Cairns, so I couldn't link from here across to there. Oh well. I put some link amps on the eastern-end portals, in case someone else can use them.
Walked up to the lookout to have a look down on the town and the mines.
Had a nice shower before heading down to dinner. I had slow-cooked pork cheek which was super tender and tasty, a huge steak that was a tad overdone on the edges but not too bad in the middle, and a lovely poached pear. All very nice, and I am *very* full now!
Oh, we heard the 8pm mine blasts go off too, at 8:10pm.
Also, static electricity is back with all the carpets and the super dry air here.
Slept really well last night. Only woke up once briefly at 4:30 then went straight back to sleep. This room has a few little foibles. Like there's no toilet roll holder on the walls, just one on the floor. And no hand towels and no mirrors. Odd.
Today had a much better day.
After breakfast we headed into Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park.
We did a couple of walks. The first was to the falls and then up to Indarri Lookout. Spectacular colours, a really pretty spot.
Then after some morning tea we walked over to the island and a little way down to see the creekside that gets flooded regularly.
Then came back to Adels for lunch - sausages and salad.
After lunch we went back into the park and took a little electric boat up the gorge. Again, the scenery was spectacular, and we even saw a crocodile and some tortoises (sadly no barramundi). For $35 as an optional extra I think it was worth it.
Back at Adels we went and jumped in the creek for a super refreshing swim.
Ok so skip an hour or two. After backing up my photos, we went down to the bar for a couple of drinks before dinner.
Dinner was King Salmon. Which wasn't pink. I know, spun me out. I'm looking at it, going, but what is it? But there you go.
After dinner they had a dude singing some songs, although most of them were a bit too old for me (suited the demographic I suppose). We think it was actually one of the tour guides that took us round the park today. It was all a bit of fun.
Then I remembered I wanted a cane toad photo, so went to find one. As I was in the corner showing someone that had never seen a cane toad before, the tour guide told me off for being rude to the guy singing. *blink* I didn't think this was the theatre where people were expected to sit quietly and listen. No this was a pub show, where people were expected to sing and dance and have a good time. So if I'm showing a cane toad to someone in the corner and not bothering anyone, why should I be told off?? And then the toad jumped out of my hand so I squealed before grabbing it (as you do) but then I got told off again. So I left in disgust. So pissed off right now.
Slept really well last night. Well at least until 5am when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. Woke up in a somewhat better mood.
Breakfast was pretty simple.
Then I got Optus ever so briefly at the entrance to the motel. But not really enough to do anything with.
Piled into the coach then headed into Karumba for a quick drive through the town.
And then into the countryside. Well, stopping at Normanton for an early morning tea, and a chance for me to recharge all my portals. Found out I finally got my gold guardian too, so all I need to get to level 10 is a bit of AP now. Super tempted to ditch Optus when my contract is up - their coverage is *crap*.
Then drove and drove. Got somewhat annoyed that we didn't stop at Burke and Wills camp 119 which was *right there* off the road. And then super annoyed that we didn't stop at Leichardt Falls. Ok so the falls weren't really falling but it was a super pretty spot and would have been nice to take some photos there. Which put me in a grumpy mood about the whole trip again.
Stopped in Burketown for a lunch of sandwiches made by the local bakery. They were quite nice but at 37C and a strong breeze we had to eat them quickly before they dried out.
Kept on driving, arriving in Adels Grove late in the afternoon.
We have demountable cabins, which are nice enough, except for the minor detail that they have a useless back door which doesn't actually lock. ?!? Seriously, what the?? It also doesn't have any sort of table or chair inside for typing on, or much in the way of hooky things for hanging stuff. But it does have aircon. Win!
So we went for a little wander around the place. It's certainly very pretty here, with a lot of exotic plants and a nice little creek.
Back to the bar for a beer and then dinner of some very yummy pork chops. I might have gone back for seconds :)
Also caught a cane toad to show around to people (although didn't actually get a photo - oh well - tomorrow night!)
Then back to the room to do photos and stuff.
So my grumpiness started last night. I was feeling quite stressed about not getting enough down time. We didn't get back to our room after dinner til nearly 9pm, and by the time I have to blog and download photos and download and backup the GPS track and get to bed in time to give me enough hours sleep before I wake up at 6am .. well.. yeah .. the lack of evening time is getting to me.
Then this morning I was stressing about the cost of this trip. This trip is more expensive per day than any other holiday I've ever done. And if you start comparing it with something like our Turkey trip which was a similar time period but less expensive, but on that trip we were staying in nice hotels every night, and having restaurant quality meals for every meal, and going into a lot of paid attractions as well as having the driver, guide, coach and international air fares.. well it does make this trip *seem* overpriced. And I found out that I paid $65 dollars for the box of crap they sent me... hrmm!!
The other thing that's been stressing me is the lack of Optus. I had Optus coverage at Ravenshoe. Then we went inland. We got to Undara which was in the middle of nowhere so that was ok (the resort wanted $15/day for wifi so I thought I could wait). But then there was no coverage at Georgetown. And no coverage at Cobbold Gorge (again in the middle of nowhere). Internet there was about $3/day which was reasonable but I thought I'd get internet again the next day so I didn't worry.
So today we left Cobbold Gorge, headed back north and then west.
Stopped at a lake outside Georgetown for morning tea which was very pretty.
Then onto Croydon. Again, no Optus.
Our driver suggested where we could go for a little walk before we met the rest of the group for lunch. Which was actually quite nice. They've turned a bunch of the old buildings into little museums which were quite interesting. We could have easily spent a couple of hours wandering through them all. But alas. No time.
So powered out to Ellavale to wait for the Gulflander train. Well, rail motor. As the driver said, a bus on rails, which it really was. The track was mostly all straight so after about five minutes the novelty was somewhat over ;) But really, it was fun. And we didn't hit any kangaroos, even though lots of them jumped in front of us!
Then we had a couple of hour trip west. I tried to listen to podcasts, but succommbed to sleepiness and dozed for about half an hour or so. Maybe closer to an hour.
Just before Normanton my phone suddenly bleeped. And I was so excited! Internet! So messaged the sweetie and downloaded internet and it was all good. Ever so briefly. Outside of town it went away, but it never came back at Karumba :(:( I was *soooo* pissed off by the time we arrived at our motel room. You don't understand. I was *counting* on internet at Karumba. So that made me super grumpy.
Anyway, I washed my pants and got changed and redid my hair but I was still grumpy.
So we piled onto the coach for a 200m drive to the water. !? ok whatevs. The boat ride out into the Gulf was quite pleasant. Slow but pleasant. Eventually we ended up at a sandbar in the gulf where we disembarked.
Ok so the last time I had to shell my own crab meat was in Japan in 2009. In a completely controlled environment I found it an awful lot of work. But tonight we were perched on itty bitty seats, with camera bags hanging off the shoulders, and the wind blowing, and our drinks in the sand, and trying to shell crabs and prawns without the whole lot falling off into the sand... well it was all super stressful. In fact I had to take a couple of breaks to compose myself. And even then it didn't really work. After I struggled my way through half a crab and three prawns I took my glass of bubbly and headed off into the sunset to have a moment. Yeap. The most stressful experience of the trip so far. Even though it was really pretty. But. *so stressful*.
So I think I'm going to be hungry later, because all I managed to eat tonight was three prawns and half a crab. Not even any fruit for dessert. By the time I was ready to eat something, they were taking everything away. Oh well.
So had another few moments on the boat on the way back. But there were stars. And being on the water was nice.
So was still quite grumpy, but we started talking stars, and the tour leader lent me her phone so I could call the sweetie, then a whole bunch of people headed to the motel pub so I brought the laptop to type up today, and now I'm feeling a whole lot better.
Didn't sleep all that well. While the pillows at the Shangri-La were very soft and squishy and turned into nothing, the pillows at Undara were super thick and quite uncomfortable on my neck.
Breakfast was cool though - the "bush breakfast" out in the bush. Quite lovely.
Then we piled on a small coach which took us out to a couple of caves in the lava tubes. Those things are really quite spectacular. Thoroughly enjoyed those.
Then hopped back into our main coach and drove for a couple of hours, stopping in Georgetown for lunch. Sadly Georgetown doesn't have an Optus repeater, so I messaged the sweetie from someone else's phone to let him know.
After lunch we headed for Cobbold Gorge. Our room is nice enough, however they turned the only useable table into a luggage rack. Fail. So I'm typing this standing up on the bed head. Hrmm.
Anyway, after dumping our stuff we piled into another coach to go out to the Cobbold Gorge to go on a little boat cruise. They use really quiet little electric boats and the gorge is spectacular. Such a peaceful trip up and back. And we got to see some freshies :)
Got back and had a bit of a swim in the inifity pool which was lovely.
Then some bubbly and cheese before dinner.
Dinner was much like a home-cooked affair. But again, after three courses plus cheese I am completely stuffed. I think I've put on like five kilos in two days :/
After dinner they put on a video of the family from Big Country filmed in the late seventies or early eighties. It was ok but it was nearly 8:30 and I was uncomfortable from dinner and have I ever mentioned I hate how little down time you get from trips like this? I'm always exhausted by the time I get a chance to write up the day's events and download my photos, that often these writeups skip things I've thought of because it's just too hard and I want to get it over and done with .. hrmm...
At least there's aircon...
So woke up at 5am. The mother type person wanted to get up but I said too early and went back to sleep for nearly an hour.
Went for a bit of a walk before breakfast, then had another big breakfast at the hotel. Then I realised I'd lost my name tag (it was hanging off my camera bag) and so went to go find it. Fortunately I lost it at the very beginning of the walk so found it very quickly.
All on the bus by 8am, but then we sat in the car park for half an hour while they went through housekeeping.
Headed off to the south-west and up onto the Atherton tablelands through some very pretty scenery.
We stopped for morning tea at Lake Eacham, where there were super cute tortoises in a pretty crater lake.
Then we backtracked a little to see the Cathedral Fig Tree - a spectacular Green Fig tree that is *huge*! Quite a spectacular tree.
Our next stop was Millaa Millaa falls which were also very pretty.
Had a brief stop at McHugh lookout near Millaa Millaa.
And then another brief stop at the Windy Hill (very appropriately named) wind farm.
The we finally made it into Ravenshoe for lunch. For a picnic lunch it was quite impressive, with lots of salads and meats etc.
After lunch was quite a long(ish) drive out to Undara. Arrived there about 4:30, then went for a walk up to the lookout and around the campsite. Unfortunately no mobile reception here (although I think Telstra might work), and they want $15/day for internet. So no contact with the sweetie tonight.. sorry sweetie!
Our room is in an old train carriage! It's super cool. Such a lovely place. Went up for a drink before dinner. Which. Was. Huge!!! I had steak, potato and salad, but couldn't finish it all. I am still *very* full. Then back to the carriage to blog and download photos and try and charge all my devices (I *really* need another micro usb cable!)
So the day started just before six when mum noticed me stirring and asked if I was awake. Hrmm. So got up and organised photos and posted my blog and crap.
Went down to breakfast and ate lots of naughty things and a few bits of fruit to make it look like I was at least pretending to be healthy.
Went for a little walk around the marina while waiting for our bus pickup.
At 8:30 lots of people were waiting for pickups by lots of different tour companies. Several came and went before the correct one did.
So we go driven up to the Kuranda Skyway station where we took the Skyway (Sky Train?) up the Barren Gorge. It was quite spectacular! Got out at the appointed places to have a walk around the rainforest and look out at the lookouts. I'd love to see the falls during the rainy season - that would be amazing!
Arrived at Kuranda at around 11am. Walked along the waterfront up to the big road bridge, then up into the very hippy-ish markets. Found the Cassowary Cafe and had potato twisties and sat for a while and that took us up til about midday. Hrmm. Still three and a half hours to wait for our train back.
So walked through the tourist trap of stores and was a bit jaded by the whole thing. The Birdland would have been cool to go into, but they wanted $17 each which I thought was a bit steep.
So we just kept walking through the jungle. To be honest I was pretty tired from being hot and sweaty (have I ever mentioned how much I hate humidity?). So mum took me on a couple of jungle walks which were pleasant enough temperature-wise (if not humidity-wise) but ultimately a little boring.
Then we realised we'd be able to see the 2pm train going over a bridge, so went to go document that which was good.
Then back into town to look at the "main street" of tourist trap shops before *finally* getting onto the train at ~3:15pm.
The train ride was pretty cool. Some nice views of the spectacular gorge and a fairly leisurely trip down the hill.
Finally got picked up by the bus transfers a bit after 5pm, to take us back to our hotels.
Yeap. A super long, tiring day. I could easily have spent a couple of hours less in Kuranda and come back early (the 2pm train would have been ideal). Oh well.
Had a shower when I got back to the hotel (stoopid humidity) then we went down for dinner.
Met up with the rest of the people on the tour and had a lovely three course meal in the hotel restaurant. I had garlic prawns, pork belly and lemon meringue. It was all delicious. My only complaint was that the pork crackling wasn't crackling all over, only at the edges.
Then back up here to download photos, blog and wash my hair....
So I always forget *something*. This time I forgot all the paperwork for the trip. Not super critical, but annoying. And the map. But mum brought hers. I also wish I'd brought a bottle opener. How is one meant to kick back with a beer at the end of the day, sitting overlooking the marina and typing up the day's blog entry? Unless one makes sure to get twist tops or cans. But I digress.
So I was up at 5am. The sweetie kindly took me to the airport.
The first flight was in a 717 (really a rebadged MD-95). I'd only ever been in a 717 at the Canberra Airport Open Day, and never flown in one before (I think I've been in other MD planes though). I had seat 22F, which is up near the back of the plane, as I prefer. However the wings on a 717 are *way* back. And the engines are *just there*. In fact if I'd been any further back all would have been able to see would have been the engines. Note to self: next time flying on a 717, get seats up the front, further forward than rows 13/14 which are the exit rows.
We didn't get much in the way of breakfast, just a slice of banana bread. Qantas have also relaxed the PED (Personal Electronic Device) rules. If they're switched to flight mode you can leave them on the entire trip (except laptops, they still want you turn those off for takeoff/landing). And they had these little iPad minis that you could play movies, music and tv on. Sadly no games, which was a bit of a downer. Also the home button was disabled so didn't take you home which was a bit of a poo. Anyway I watched a doco - the Twitter Revolution, which I didn't quite finish because we landed.
Also there were clouds most of the way, so the view was pretty boring for most of it.
Anyway. Arrived in Sydney then went in search of a bit more substantial breakfast. They don't have a Maccas inside T3 so I had to have Hungry Jacks hash browns :(
Then went and met up with mum. We also saw a couple that had Outback Spirit bags as well, so chatted to them a bit too. They were doing a Cape York tour.
Our next flight was on a 767. Up the back again, as per my preference. Mum was happy that she didn't have to sit in the middle seat next to a random because of the 767's 2-3-2 seat configuration.
We took off to the south, but again the clouds made the take off pretty boring.
They gave us a more substantial breakfast this time, but being at the back of the plane it was quite late arriving, so I was glad I'd had something else to eat earlier.
Watched The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (on full iPads this time) which I quite enjoyed. Mum watched The Other Woman, which looked like it might have been fun. Sadly they didn't have Frozen. They didn't even have the Lego Movie on the iPads, although they had it on the minis on the short flight. Go figure.
After our movies finished we began our descent. Came in from the north but clouds prevented us seeing Cairns before we arrived.
So picked up our bags, checked the price of the shuttle ($28 for two people), then went and took a cab ($26).
Our hotel is lovely. We have a nice view of the marina and the mountains to the south.
Now if the sweetie had been here he would have flopped onto the bed and declared it a day. But it was only about midday, so mum and I decided to go for a wander. We got changed out of our winter clothes and into something more appropriate for the tropics and off we went.
After checking out the pool we meandered past the jetty, lagoon, war memorial etc, then headed through town up to the station. Stopped in Cairns Central for a *very* late lunch at Surf and Thai. Which was more like surf and western Chinese, but whatevs.
Then meandered back to the hotel to get changed to go for a swim in the lagoon! Mum has been to Cairns a couple of times but for one reason or another has never managed a swim in the lagoon. It turned out to be quite pleasant. So stayed in there for a little while, then came back to the hotel again.
So this is where I went on a little expedition to get beer, and sat down outside to type up what we've done so far today :)
It's been quite windy today actually. Which in the tropics is quite a blessing. I'd have been dying otherwise!
Moving on. So after typing up what we'd done so far we went out for another wander. Took some photos of the trees and the lagoon by night - very pretty.
Then battled the crowds in town. It had been the Amateurs day at the races, so there were a *lot* of short skirts, crazy high heels and fascinators. We had a quick wander through the Night Markets, Cairns attempt at an Asian-style market to keep the tourists happy. Then we ended up at Coffee Club for some calamari and chocolate cake.
The back to the hotel to crash.
It rained a lot last night.
Water streamed into the garage, but fortunately didn't do any damage this time.
Friday morning I cooked dinner.
But because I didn't have time to fry down the mushrooms, there was a *lot* of liquid in it. So it was very watery :(
Still, our dinner guests (EffanC) enjoyed it.
After dinner we watched Rocky Horror and then Frozen. Yeah same movies as we watched with Marc and Jo the other week! Silly really. Stayed up quite late chatting.
In the morning we all went out for breakfast to A Baker. The celeriac didn't work that well for me, but the whipped feta and bacon were great.
In the afternoon I did some organising of our filing. Still a long way to go though! In the evening we watched The Railway Man. I wasn't in the right mindset to begin with, so found it a little tough going at the beginning, but once I'd settled into it I thought it was pretty good.
Today was more organising of finances. We went for a walk to hack some portals and then got laughed at by the fairy wrens who wouldn't stay still to be documented.
Then had lunch at Fortune Box (a rather nice dish of pork, duck and more pork, with duck egg) before doing our food shopping.
George came by while we were cooking
This was dinner - a recipe out of my newest Women's Weekly cookbook - harissa roast chicken. It also included a stuffing of Stu's suggestion, of butter, mushroom, thyme, garlic, lemon zest, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
The harissa was a tad burnt, and a tad too spicy for me, and the stuffing didn't really add much. But the chicken and veggies were certainly yummy.
After dinner we went over to Annie's for a while to say hi and have some dessert.