We stayed about 30km out of Cairns in Kuranda, a very touristy, hippie town, within the rainforest. It had great markets and walks through the rainforest and along the Barron River. We camped a week in the Rainforest Caravan Park and other than the permanents we had the place just about to ourselves. The park was very quiet, except for a few nights over Easter when it was overflowing for the John Butler Trio concert that was performing in Kuranda. Mike and I would have loved to have gone and dreamed that it would only be a few years before we would have taken the boys to it.
The weather was great for the first 6 days with only a few showers now and then that kept it quite steamy in the rainforest, but that made it all the more fun to have a swim in the rain.
We visited Port Douglas and swam in the stinger nets with no stinger suits!! What was I just saying about the tourists being blasé hmmm? I can’t say I was completely relaxed with thoughts of stingers in the back of my mind. I was quite happy that Tom didn’t want to come in, and I discouraged Bryce from getting too close to the outer net! But anyhow, it was lovely in the water and amazingly warm and best of all, no stings. Phew!
Making felt eggs
Kuranda put on a Big Easter fun day with music, jumping castles, face painting and Easter egg hunts. The weather was superb and it seemed that half of Cains was there. Thankfully the boys preferred to stand back and watch, rather than get amongst the mayhem of kids screaming for chocolate eggs and waiting in the massive line ups. This may have had more to do with receiving one of Grandma’s famous surprise packages when we had first arrived, and it was full of Easter goodies! So we instead hung out in the markets and made felt eggs, ate sugar free yogurt, drank organic smoothies and did the rainforest walk. Perfect!
kids self guided tour
Easter morning started early with the boys excitedly looking for any surprises the Easter Bunny may have left, consisting of a chocolate bunny and a few small eggs, they were both very happy. Then we headed off to pick up Kirsty (family friend that had moved to Cairns a few months earlier) and drove to the Daintree. Kristy hadn’t had much time for sight-seeing so it was great that it was a first for all of us. We found our way to the Daintree Discovery Centre and spent a few hours wandering the walk ways and up the tower to which looked out over the top of the rainforest canopy. And despite my optimism the elusive cassowary was nowhere to be seen.
very crowded Mosman Gorge
On our way back we stopped at Mosman Gorge, a beautiful water fall and swimming spot on the edge of the Daintree. It was so busy that we wondered if would be able to get the car back out! I would suggest not coming on the weekend especially not a long weekend! It was worth it though; the water was crystal clear and refreshingly cold! After watching a local show us a jump off the rocks Bryce and I decided to give it a go! You jumped with knees tucked up into the edge of the waterfall, the force of the falls then rushed you over the smooth rocks that you could feel under your feet. Then the current sent you rushing into the main swimming hole. It was quite hair-raising and Kirsty wisely watched instead of jumping. It was all a bit much for Tom with so many people and we didn’t stay long, the walk back through the forest to the car park was great. Kristy and I looked at each other and at the same time said “didn’t we just pay to do this walk”(at the Discovery Centre) lol.
boat trip to Green Island
We took a trip out to Green Island for a day, it was wonderful. The kids did an amazing job. At one time we all went snorkelling for over an hour, the water was so warm and inviting. We swam out quite a long way and saw Turtles, which were so close we could have touched them. Also there were lots of giant clams and stingrays, one ray was bigger than Bryce! Heaps of fish and coral, and a few reef sharks when we were in the submarine boat. It was a great day!
We walked along the esplanade, swam in the Lagoon and caught up some old family friends of Mikes. Decided to stay one more day to get the car serviced. By this time the rain had set in but we decided to catch the train up though the forest to Kuranda despite the weather. We didn’t stay in Kuranda long it was wet, stormy and it made Mike tense! The Sky rail had been slowed down due to the weather conditions which we thought was great as we got a longer ride. The strong winds made the carriages sway which gave the whole trip extra excitement and fun, as long as you are not scared of heights.
Cardwell was a magic spot, it seemed only a stone’s throw away from Hinchinbrook Island. The largest Island National Park in Australia, and one of the 90 islands that make up the Whitsundays. Mike had us up early to get to the beach for sunrise, but as much as we tried we could not budge Tommy (not exactly a morning person). So we left him to sleep while we watched the most magical sunrise from behind the islands, it was so peaceful. I felt even more appreciation for this moment after listening to a local we met talk about Cyclone Yasi and what he and his family had been through. Cardwell, Bowen and many other towns were devastated by Yasi, the park we stayed at had just been reopened only 2 weeks earlier after being destroyed 1 year ago. It was inspiring to see how positive and friendly everyone seemed as you could see that many were/are still rebuilding their lives.
Made our way back to the coast, via Banana (no big Banana?) and Gympie (to check out a possible house-sit), to Hervey Bay. Back on the coast the weather had mainly cleared and this was our last chance to swim without fear of stingers and crocs (well just about). The beach was lovely but there is definitely no surf from here on. I think it was actually calmer than Adelaide beaches but there were still flags up which seemed almost comical. Mike has been quite taken by Hervey Bay and was examining the real estate; he had taken an interest in it even before we started our travels. Hervey Bay seemed like an idyllic spot for yoga but despite my best efforts I was unable to find a class (hmm.. methinks an opportunity).
The esplanade had a fantastic bike and fitness track which Bryce and I rode a few times. The boys had a ball at the Whale Water Park and Mike was in heaven as the park had a car wash bay with a high pressure hose, even Bryce joined the ritual. Tom hit a milestone, after less than a week of practicing riding without training wheels, I was able to let go and he was riding by himself, albeit a little shaky. By the end of the day he told me to stop running next to him. Yay!! He was so proud of himself.
A short hike to explore the bunkers
Some of the best spots we have found are through word of mouth, just like this one! We pulled into the town of Miles for supplies and to stop for the night. With its 2 caravan parks wedged between the railway line and HWY it was far from inviting. As we got talking to the IGA manager he told us to drive out 20km to Possum Park. It was great! A quite park in the bush with over 20 ammunition bunks from WW2. Some had been converted into cabins, the first one was the owner's house and park office. The games room was literary like taking a step back in time while others were left open just to have a gander.
Our view every morning
Narrabri was our next stop, apparently known as the sportiest town in Australia because it has more sport clubs and ovals per head of population than anywhere else in Australia! Not that we actually saw much being played....?? We enjoyed a few nights at the showgrounds where we met a lovely family from the sunshine coast with boys the same age as ours (bonus), watched horses being trained in the mornings and amazing colourful sunsets in the evenings. We visited the “Compact Array of Radio Telescopes”; while the telescopes were impressive the centre was very tired and out-dated. So what we had thought may be a day event, disappointingly turned into an hour stop -Oh well!
Sunshine coast number plate...?
Something I have found quite interesting through NSW, due to their large population comes much larger towns and with this, heaps of fast food outlets. Where the west coast had a roadhouse; NSW has MACAS. The amount of signage for fast food outlets between the large outback towns and along the coast is amazing. The advertising telling you how many kms to the next KFC or Macas in the coming town, were enough for the Highways not to bother with theirs! And even I, who never touch the stuff, found myself thinking “a burger might be nice?!?” The evil power of advertising!
We travelled along the coast, first stop was gorgeous Port
Stephens and we camped in Fingal Bay for a few nights. It easy to see why this is a popular weekend getaway for those in Sydney. We swam at many of the beautiful beaches, ran through the huge sand dunes at Stockton Beach, I went to a great Yoga class and we ate ice-cream at the Nelson Bay marina as we watched the world go by.
Our next sea-side town was Nambucca Heads, it had the most incredible art along the break water, more beautiful beaches and great surf. It was here the weather came in and the forecast looked a bit dreary for the next week. So instead of getting wetter, we decided to change our route from following the coast to driving inland over the Great Dividing Range. With so much rain it was slow going and we passed a few landslides, but once on the other side the sun was shining. Yay!!
great flying fox
We left Canberra in the rain, driving on the main hwy, which was on the only road open due to flooding, as we neared Sydney the rain finally relented. We stayed with friends George and Sue and their sons (now young men) Ben and Steven. It was wonderful to see you guys and thanks heaps for making us feel so welcome in your home. Ben and Steven were so patient and happy to give their time to the boys, it was wonderful to watch. Steven’s pet Python, Sparky, was beautiful and a huge hit, for Bryce and I. After a week of handling Sparky he had virtually stopped biting!! After 2 months of working with and handling snakes in Darwin and only now I get my first snake bite! The girls back at Croc Cove would be so proud! Bryce was bitten as well but disappointed that there was no blood! That’s my boy!
We managed a day trip out to the Blue Mountains just before the flood water rose and the roads were blocked off again! And Tom finally lost one of his two front teeth, but was a bit shy to show anyone for a few days. The other one is very wobbly.
We stay and caught up with my cousin Amanda, her hubby Peter and their son Lachlan; it had been years since we had last seen them. We enjoyed a few nights chatting over dinner and many wines together. Lachlan had a morning off of school allowing the boy’s time to play together before they flew to Adelaide for the weekend. We stayed in their home and were able to make the most of being so close to the city. Thanks so much guys it was great to see you.
After living in Sydney for a few years it was a very nostalgic coming back 10 years later, it still felt like I had come home as we sat in Milson Point and looked over the harbor. We wondered the rocks and climb the Harbor Bridge Pylon which had an incredible view over this amazingly beautiful harbor and city. Mike enjoyed reminiscing to, but we lost track of time and got caught in peak hour trying to get back over the bridge!! After 30minutes of not moving more than a car length his blood pressure was at boiling point and he said “now I remember why we left this F@**ing place.” And that was the short version!! After a bit of reasoning we turned around and ended up in Double Bay where we stopped for pizza at an Italian café, it was extremely expensive and I remember why we only came out this way for very special occasions, I think this was one of those occasions.
The ferry rides around the harbor and out to manly for a swim were a highlight and Taronga Zoo's bird show was a very entertaining, check out the pics.
We caught up for BBQ lunch in Cronulla with old friends, Bridget and Greg, and their gorgeous little girl, Evie. Bridget (a fellow yoga teacher) and I did a yoga class together which I loved. Bridget and her teacher gave me some great adjustments and pointers on the one pose I seem to dread shoulder stand. Thanks Bridge
one very happy 10yr old
We finished Sydney with a bang, celebrating Bryce's 10th Birthday
and another package from Grandma and the family full of surprises. He received just what he wished for, one to be in Sydney and two for Grandmas cake which he decorated it himself. It was extra special to be among friends to share the occasion and Tom got extra birthday wishes. What a wonderful way to finish our time in Sydney.
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Left the coast and headed to our nation’s capital to visit our travel mate Margie. With rain forecast over the whole east coast of Australia it was quite fortuitous to be in Canberra visiting museums and parliament house. We camped out the front of Margie’s house for a week and had a great catch up with her; the boys loved playing with her gorgeous dogs Jack and Bundy (some favourite drinks from younger days in Bredbo!). We were in Canberra at the time of Julia Gillard’s leadership challenge and it made for quite interesting discussions, explaining to the boys about the world of politics. It was very interesting to listen to ourselves and how cynical we are of our government and polies. We went to see question time and the boys got to see them in all their glory!!
The war museum was truly amazing and with heaps of interactive stuff for kids and adults it was easy to get lost in there for the day and still not see everything.
Tommy's 8th Birthday was on Saturday and he was lucky to receive many Birthday phone calls. He particularly enjoyed the Happy Birthday sung to him on Skype by his Auntie's and cousin Amy, they had a candle and cake that she blew out for him. He had received a package a few days earlier from Grandma full of goodies including cake and was quite insistent that it wasn't to be cut till his Birthday. We had a Birthday breakfast and went toy shopping and he spent some of his Birthday money on Lego and Mighty Beans.
Thanks heaps Margie we will see you in Adelaide! Pet friendly accommodation.
Eager to get back to the coast we drove to Lakes Entrance. The clear and beautiful water combined with the many bays and inlet made for great swimming and surfing. The kids quickly made friends with some boys, Billy and James and we soon met their parents Steve and Michelle. They had just started their holiday around Australia from Queensland. Michelle was a keen surfer and we hooked up for an early morning session together, we had a ball.
Click on pic to view slide show
Traveling up the sapphire coast was beautiful, the mountains and forest meet the sea making it extremely picturesque and brings kangaroos onto the beaches! This lush coastline is such a contrast from the west.
It has had an impact on Mike like no other place we have seen so far; I suspect the green rolling hills remind him of home. But for those of you that know Mike would have heard it often said that he’s is happiest when grumbling, a self-confessed grumpy old man and with the hills creating bad fuel economy it gave him something to grumble about.
watching the boats on Naroona Bar wall
We stopped for a week in Tathra where, we swam, did yoga (well I did), we surfed and did day trips up the coast. We tried fishing but between the seals and the dolphins we like many other struggled to get our catch onto the wharf!
We tried our luck one night, but instead we arrived to find some local’s had caught two hammerhead sharks and were fileting them. Quite fascinating yet I would have preferred to see them in the water. They generously gave us some flake but it was all a bit too traumatic for Bryce and so we gave it away!
We sat out a huge thunderstorm in the van that at times was so loud we all were covering our ears. It was deafening and too much for Tom, so we put on some headphones and he listened to ACDC at full volume, strangely it seemed to help (So soothing!!!!).
We put Jackaroo in storage and stayed with Mike’s sister Bronwyn and fiancé Brendon in Armadale. This is a beautiful area of Melbourne and only a short tram ride to the city. They were in Adelaide for the majority of the time we were in Melbourne – typical- never the less we had dinner with them the night before they left. Thanks for the inner suburban pad, it was great!
So I discovered that the saying for Melbourne's weather is ‘4 seasons in 1 day’ and that is exactly what it was like. One minute you needed an umbrella and the next sunburn cream and shorts! Actually that would pretty much sum up the weather ever since we hit Victoria!
Melbourne Zoo was very impressive, the humid butterfly house was
magic, Bryce had many land on him and his chocolate milk. Mike loved the Thai theme area around the elephants and I think my favourite was the Gorillas, magnificent creatures that I could have watched for hours.
Mike and Greg
I had no idea how well Melbourne caters for tourist, with free trams and buses around and though the city and I tourist guide on every corner. We went to the Victoria markets and then did a self-guided walked through the city’s hidden lanes ways and arcades. Mike was unsure when we started and I took them off the main thoroughfare and down what at first seemed like muggers ally, but around the next corner it all burst into life with tiny café’s, shops and tightly squashed in restaurants, it was very cool and for me seem like the heart of Melbourne. I would highly recommend this.
It was great to be able to catch up with old friends, wander along South Bank and do few yoga classes.
click on pics below for slide show