September 2014 Archives
So the final dinner went a bit late last night so didn't get to bed til 10:30pm *shock*
Then I woke up at 5:30am needing to go to the loo. So pretty tired today.
Breakfast today was decent enough, but I was kinda of over it.
After breakfast we headed off and drove around Toowoomba for a while, but most of the good stuff was on the other side of the coach. Went up to Picnic Point to see the lookout and some of the flowers there.
Then down into Marburg where I said goodbye to everyone and got picked up by David. We did a bit of shopping then headed "home".
I've done a whole lot of *nothing* this afternoon which was been wonderful after such a go-go-go trip.
Another long driving day today.
Slept ok last night, pillow was definitely better.
Breakfast was pretty much the same as yesterday.
Then off we went.
Had morning tea at Injune.
Got to Roma and went through the Big Rig museum. Ok if you're into mining and stuff but I wasn't hugely interested.
Lunch (pies!) at Roma outside the museum.
As we were driving through Yuleba, someone shouted "camels!" Then there was actually a real life camel train walking down the road. This couple from Gympie were just walking around the country with their caravan of camels. Super cool.
Toily stop at Chinchilla.
Then finally into Toowoomba early evening.
Just had time to dump our stuff and go hack a few portals for dinner.
Dinner was nice enough, but I was feeling a bit blah and pretty anxious to be with friends, so didn't enjoy dinner as much as I could have.
Also, super tired now.
Think I slept fairly well last night. Although I finally remembered to run sleep cycle which indicated I was somewhat restless till quite late (but that's pretty normal). The pillow was a bit thick for my liking, but then I realised this morning there's another one that's squishy so will use that tonight.
Breakfast was ok this morning.
After breakfast we headed up into Carnarvon Gorge.
We walked up with the rest of the group and the guide for a while, but mum wanted to show me the Amphitheatre, so we made a break with one of the other guys and walked up to it. It was quite spectacular and well worth the hour's extra walk.
Then we met up with others back at the Moss Garden.
So we ended up walking for over three hours, which is the healthiest day we've had so far.
Lunch was back at the lodge area. I had battered bassa and chips and that was quite nice.
After lunch we went on a helicopter ride!! I'd never actually been on a helicopter before (neither had Cutie, so she came with me). So it was pretty awesome. We went up to Moolayember Gorge and was appropriately spectacular. Shameless plug to Heli-Central :)
Came back to the room via kangaroos and echidnas and did photo stuff for a while.
Then out again to the sunset at Bandana (sp?) which is a cattle property near the gorge which run evening sunset drinks and nibbles. I thought it was a *tad* overpriced (they're only allowed to serve two drinks without a liquor licence) but after one of mum's glasses of wine I felt better and enjoyed the old farmer's stories and song.
Then back for dinner (I had steak tonight which was a little tough on the ends but nice in the middle, and chocolate pudding which was very nice) and suddenly it's 9pm ..
Had some trouble getting to sleep last night. After getting back to our room quite late, the airconditioning didn't work very well, so the room was very warm and I had the itchies.
We got to breakfast fifteen minutes earlier than yesterday, so that worked a lot better.
Then we headed off. Very long driving day today - 668 kilometres.
Morning tea stop was at Barcaldine. Saw the remains of the "Tree of Knowledge" - an old Ghost Gum that stood as a silent witness to shearer's strikes, formation of the labour union movement and establishment of the Australian Labor Party. Sadly it was poisoned by some bu++plug in 2006.
Had a toilet pitstop in Alpha, which had a series of nice murals a local artist had painted.
Lunch was at Emerald. Quite a large town with the world's largest artwork on an easel.
Had another toilet pitstop at Rolleston before losing Optus.
The countryside resembled New South Wales much more closely around here. It probably helped that they'd just had some rain, so the place was looking a lot greener than the tour guide and driver had ever seen it.
Finally arrived in Carnarvon in time for dinner. We have these super cute little cabins, that are part cabin, part tent, but they have ensuites. No locks on the doors though (but then, anyone with a knife could break in if they wanted to heh).
Dinner was quite delicious. I had "porkbelly bites" for entree, then slow cooked lamb rump, then apple crumble. Yum!
Wow, full on day today. 9:30pm and only just got back to our room..
So started with breakfast. It was pretty good, but a bit of a shamozzle. Another big tour group is staying here too, and they'd descended on the place just before us, which meant quite a few things had run out by the time we got there. They did eventually replenish things but it was a bit annoying.
Our first stop was the Longreach School of Distance Education (aka, school of the air). Radios are really not used anymore these days - everything is done over the internet or phone (or in print). Apparently 95% of station kids have access to the internet. It was school holidays so couldn't see any remote classes going on. They have a pretty good setup there and our tours help fund it.
Next up was the Stockman's Hall of Fame. You could easily spend all day there reading all the information that's there. We had an hour, because we're on a tour and all. There was also the horse/dog/sheep demo out the back which was a lot of fun. And I finally got to pat a brahman bull (after seeing them in the outback for the past week and a half). His name was Jigsaw and the dude rode in on him. So cool :)
Then a quick lunch in the park, and I submitted a few portals.
Then onto the whole (well, main) reason I came on this trip - the Qantas Founders Museum. We all did the plane tour, but sadly just the basic one, not the full "wing walk" and avionics tour the little brother did a few years ago. Oh well, I might just have to come back one day :) Then we had a nice chunk of time in the museum. Again you could easily spend a lot more time there if you read through all the info boards. I read some of them, but took photos of most of them to read later, since we were running out of time.
Raced back to the motel to do our hair, go to the loo etc, then out again. Our evening was a series of events put on by some locals (Kinnon & Co) to try and make ends meet. On account of farming being somewhat of a disaster at the moment, with the drought going on.
So there was a cruise in a paddle boat up and down the Thompson River for a while, with nibbles on board. And a possum and her baby in the toilet sink. Because that's where possums like to hang out apparently. Took entirely too many photos of the sunset. Because it was super pretty.
Then up for some hearty beef stew for dinner and entertainment provided by "Scottie" who recited some funny poems and told some jokes. It was all quite a lot of fun.
Then onto the river bank to watch a "sound and light" show (a dramatisation of Harry Readford and his infamous theft of some cattle).
And finally back up for some damper and billy tea (I didn't have any tea).
It was a fun night, and was good to support some of the locals who are doing it pretty tough here at the moment. They're probably making a lot more money out of us tourists than they would be on the land!
Had a pretty good night's sleep last night. Woke up about five past six and debated for about thirty seconds whether or not I should get up for the sunrise. In the end decided I would, and it was quite pretty.
Breakfast was pretty decent, but I restrained myself from eating too much of it.
After breakfast we headed south-west to the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument. Had a little walk around the place before going in for the 10am "tour". It's actually just a big shed protecting a large bed of dinosaur footprints. Very very cool thing to see.
Then back into town for lunch (it's an hour and half drive each way out to the stampede).
After lunch went to the Age of Dinosaurs museum. This is a "working" museum where they not only have some super cool original dinosaur bones, but also people working to extract the bones from the rock. Our guide, Kathrine, was super enthusiastic about the work going on there (and life in general actually).
Then onto Longreach. On the way we had another round of Bobs and Dollys, which we won rather convincingly. Also saw lots of emus.
Arrived at the motel in Longreach, raced to get our laundry put on, then went across the road to see the PLANES!! I might have squeed a lot. Seeing the planes was my main reason for even coming on this trip.
Back to the motel for a very yummy dinner of roast pork and lamb and veggies.
Then across to see the planes by night. Well, the 747 anyway.
And finally back to download everything and type this up.
Slept fairly well until hurty at 4am.
Breakfast was a lot better this morning (scrambled eggs, not the vinegary nastiness of yesterday's poached eggs (that were very firm in the middle), and I also asked for hash browns and got them! Win! Except mum pinched one heh).
Headed out of Mount Isa after breakfast.
Didn't get to stop at the monument to the Kalkadoon aboriginals who were massacred on "Battle Mountain", or see a Burke and Wills monument, because, you know, we're on a tour and don't have time to do that sort of thing.
But did stop at a lookout over Cloncurry to see the town.
In Cloncurry we went to the John Flynn Place museum in town, which was quite an intersting museum for John Flynn and the RFDS. Could easily have spent a lot more time there.
Kept on driving, and stopped at the Walkabout Creek Hotel, as used in Crocodile Dundee (although it's been moved from its original location to the main highway). It would have been nice to support the pub by having a beer there, but we didn't have time, because, you know, we're on a tour.
So kept going a bit further up the road to the Blue Heeler Hotel for lunch. They did some very nice locally-made quiches and sandwiches.
Then kept on driving.
The countryside was *very* dry and in some places looked to be overgrazed, and saw some dead cattle too :(
During the long drive we had a game of Bobs and Dollys which was a bit of fun. We were up the back so didn't get much of a look-in. But I did get a couple that noone else did.
Arrived in Winton mid-late afternoon and went to the Waltzing Matilda Centre. This was another interesting museum that was partly to do with the Waltzing Matilda song, a little bit on Qantas and the Flying Doctors, some on Winton itself, but a whole heap of stuff on old-style life in the country. Heaps and heaps of artifacts that gave me an urge to collect *everything* because it will be looked at in a hundred years time with nostalgia. Because how would we have old crap to look at today unless someone had hoarded it away for decades? hrmm :) Again, could have easily spent a *lot* longer there.
Then we went out to the Musical Fence on the outskirts of town which was all a bit of silliness.
And then finally back to the motel to dump our stuff and go have dinner. I had prawns, lamb, and a snickers brownie. It was all very good except the brownie which was a little dry.
Slept a lot better last night. Although I woke up at 4:52am and had some trouble getting back to sleep. I dreamt that straight after this trip I got off a plane in Sydney, then met Fran and we we had to rush to the next plane to go to America! Made it just in time. Had seats down the back of the plane. I thought they were aisle and middle seats, but the plane tapered right in at the back so I was near a window. I said I hadn't done any research for a trip to America so it was all going to have to be planned when we got there. Weird :)
Breakfast was pretty average this morning.
We spent the morning at the Hard Times mine, a tourist mine they've built in the middle of town. It's a bit disappointing that you can't see a "real" mine in Mount Isa, but for this one they've brought in a lot of actual equipment (older stuff of course) and some of the machinery still works and makes a lot of noise when they run it! Also, it means all the bits and pieces are quite close together so you don't have to walk too far to see everything. So it was a pretty cool tour.
Afterwards we had a bit of a wander through the museum there, and the Riversleigh museum made me all nostaligic for uni after watching a video of Mike Archer's work there. I realised tonight that I probably only recently threw out all my first year biology notes, including lecture timetables where I could have told you the first time I heard him talk.
Had some lunch (Subway platters, although no proper pizza subs) in the botanical park out the back.
After lunch we got taken up to the lookout again.
Then drove through the site of the main mine, and out to the powerstation that one of the guys on the tour had a part in building? Or working on in some capacity? Something like that.
And finally up to Moondarra Dam (which is *very* low at the moment).
Came back and after a quick wander (nothing is open on a Sunday here except a couple of things like Coffee Club and the bottle-o) we came back to the hotel. We were going to go for another wander but the museum we wanted to see was by appointment only and I was feeling pretty worn out, so I just stayed here and did computer stuff.
Went downstairs for dinner again. I had some "shrimp" for entree, which were quite tasty, veal for mains, which was beautiful and tender, and chocolate mousse for dinner, which was lovely as well.
Then back up to use up the remainder of the wifi time limit.
Oh, we heard both the 8am and 8pm blasts today too.
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.
I tried a new bus route today. The drop off is a little closer to home than the other indirect bus I sometimes get, which would make for about a 23 minute trip - still faster than taking the bus the whole way home, plus I get a fifteen minute walk up the hill. Although it took slightly longer today because I had to go kill a portal.
Here's some galahs we saw while out for a walk a few weeks ago.
This had to be smashed, so the sweetie and I killed it all
Here's a bus being towed (!!)
And here's a warm lamb Greek salad. There was leftover roast lamb that needed eating, so fried that up to get it scrumptious, then mixed it with greek seasoning, olives, fetta, capsicum and cucumber. It was delicious.
I first noticed this in 2007 and snapped a picture of Joe Tripodi on tv.
When Marc and Jo were down the other week I got a similar photo of Tim Curry.
Sorry, that's been bugging me for years :)
Just a couple.
The blue and middle of the tail we did in a day, the "eyes" on another day, and the rest took a week or two
Tuesday is disaster porn night. An episode of Air Crash Investigations I'd seen, and one I hadn't.
Put the time to good use, finishing off a jigsaw I started earlier in the year but never finished because it's too cold downstairs in winter. And I also started to tidy up a little downstairs (didn't make much progress, but every little bit helps, right?).
Much of today was spent prepping for some work I want to do on Friday. Who knew removing firewall rules was so much more work than creating them!? Mind you, if other people were as good at their doco as we were, it'd be a *lot* easier. *sigh*
Lined up all my holiday piles of paper tonight, dating back to 2008. It covers the length of the dining table. Some are better sorted than others.
But I did find the one million mark note that we bought in Germany on our honeymoon but then couldn't find. So that was good.
Then some tv and jigsaw.