Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cairns to Port Douglas – Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sunrise Through the Clouds

Today we began driving north of Cairns to the town of Port Douglas.  It was a beautiful drive along the coast.  We stopped at several seaside villages that had great beaches, and at numerous pull-out areas overlooking the coastline. Beautiful drive!!

Palm Cove

Palm Cove Beach

Walking on the Beach

Coastal Highway to Port Douglas - Later Ironman Bike Ride Route

It was great our motel reservations in Port Douglas for tonight allowed early check-in. Port Douglas is part of an Ironman Marathon tomorrow, so getting around Port Douglas tomorrow will be a challenge.  In fact, the road we drove today will be closed due to the event. It has been well publicized for which we are glad – when we rented the car, it was part of the info we received.  We had to arrive in Port Douglas today as no one can travel north of Cairns until at 5:30pm Sunday night. For tomorrow we have booked a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, keeping us out of the congestion.  We just hope the weather cooperates! 
After settling into our room we took off toward the Mossman Gorge. This is a Gorge/river in the rainforest area.  Instead of taking a shuttle bus we walked the whole way to the gorge overlooks.  The plant life is so interesting - of course lots of ferns, but it is interesting the way they grow on the trees; palms like plants that are huge; large ‘bird nest ferns’ growing on trees; ‘basket ferns’ high up in the tree tops – look like eagle nests, but they are fern plants that form a basket like shape; large ‘staghorn ferns’ clinging to trees. There are lots of vines growing, and certain ones attach to trees which eventually strangle the trees that are supporting them.  It was an interesting walk and it was surprising what we saw on our way back that we did not see on our way up mountain!  There was not much wild life – just lizards types, but we saw a kookaburra bird.  Do you know the kookaburra song? 

Road we walked into the Rain Forest

Large Fern Tree

Rachel with smaller Fern Tree - Half the size of the other one

Rain Forest River

Trail through the Rain Forest

Staghorn (Elkhorn) Fern in a tree

“Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bush is he, laugh kookaburra laugh, kookaburra gay your life must be.”  The kookaburra call sounds like he is laughing at you! And the eucalyptus tree is also called a ‘gum’ tree, due to the sappy gum released from a broken branch.
On our way back to the motel we diverted into Mossman to see the Sugar Cane processing plant.  The sugar cane is brought to the plant by rail as can be seen in the photo.  Notice the narrow gauge of the rail.  The rail went all the way back to Port Douglas, which is nearly 10 miles.
Sugar Cane Train

Notice the small wheels

Narrow gauge track

Sugar Cane Harvester

I haven’t said much about the early darkness – this is winter time in Australia and they are approaching their shortest day of the year, June 21, when we are having the longest day of daylight. It is dark around 5:00 pm.  Cairns is actually very comfortable temperature wise, but being near a rainforest area, it is very humid. 

We will see what tomorrow brings!

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