North West Coast 2016-03-05 008w

Explore : North West Coast Tasmania

North West Coast 2016-03-04 027w

 

With only two days left before we had to head back to Devonport, we raced from Cradle Mountain to Arthur River so that we could get a head start on the north west coast.

 

We were starting to get crabby with each other because we were so stinky and exhausted from our hike on the mountain, and our camping location had fallen through. We just wanted to find somewhere to stop so we could rinse the film of dried sweat from our bodies and have dinner. We heard of a place near Marrawah but on arrival, it was clear that overnight camping was not permitted. We stopped anyway to clean up.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-04 036w

 

What started off as a deserted location soon filled up as beach bums arrived for a final surf and construction workers appeared to lay out some gravel over the car park. Privacy while we bathed became an awkward dance to stay out of sight but we managed to finish the task with our dignity intact.

 

We had a brief chat with the tradies before they packed up, and we were relieved when they reassured us that we would be able to get away with staying the night.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-05 008w

 

Arthur River

A small holiday and fishing village with a long, single-lane bridge over the river, Arthur River is Tasmania’s most westerly town. We crossed the bridge to the southern side of the river and headed to the lookout at Gardiner Point. The point is nick-named “The Edge of the World” because if you were to head directly west, you’d miss the southernmost point of Africa.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-05 021w

 

Marrawah

Marrawah Tavern

We decided we were due for a pub meal, so we headed to the westernmost pub in Tassie. The Marrawah Tavern was really busy because it was a Friday night, but also because the local cricket club was having a bit of a shindig.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-04 042w

 

The tavern made state-wide news headlines back in 2013, when a man was shot dead outside the pub just after closing time. Police believe the gunman was a local but, as yet, has never been caught. The pub has since changed owners, business seems to be good and the events of 2013 are just a thing of the past that nobody talks about.

 

We grabbed some drinks and found a table in the bistro area. Dave settled on the $24 schnitzel with mushroom sauce, and Juz went with the $28 chicken parma – both with chips and salad. The schnitzel with fresh, thick and juicy and the chips were ok, but they needed seasoning. The sauce tasted like packet gravy with mushrooms in it and was nice for the saltless chips. The salad was really interesting – it had rice, diced capsicum and onion, beetroot, cheese and half a boiled egg in a lettuce cup.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-04 048w

 

The parmi was also a thick chicken schnitzel with thick ham, salsa sauce and generic cheese. It came with the same chips and salad as the schnitty. Overall, the meals weren’t worth $24 and $28, but we were willing to pay because we were hungry, tired and remote.

 

Green Point

Just a few minutes down the road from Marrawah, Green Point offers a gorgeous coastline and a perfect place to enjoy sunset.  We chatted with some guys from the council who were laying down a new layer of gravel, as we watched some surfers catching waves in the Southern Ocean.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-04 041w

 

Stanley

About 20kms up the road from Smithton, we stopped at Stanley to see The Nut. We pulled over at a lookout on the way into town for our first glimpse of The Nut, which is actually an old volcanic plug.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-05 027w

 

Originally named Circular Head by Bass and Flinders in 1798, the name was changed to The Nut in the 1950s. There’s a chairlift that goes up to the top, and a walking track that we would have done if we had time.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-05 034w

 

Burnie

Our stop in Burnie was brief. We swung past the Makers Workshop at the Visitor Information Centre, a display of local crafts – leather goods, paper making, paper sculptures, wood crafts, jewellery, and souvenirs. There’s also a cafe with cheese and whisky tasting.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-05 037w

 

Only 20 minutes south of Burnie is Guide Falls, a little picnic area with BBQs and a great place to cool off on a hot day.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-05 058w

 

West of Burnie is Wynard, a little town known for its annual tulip festival in Spring. Yes, it sounds riveting, we know.  If you’re craving a lookout, check out Table Cape lookout – the view goes for miles.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-04 010w

 

Penguin

You won’t believe it but the town of Penguin is mad about penguins. It’s the home of the Big Penguin – a 3 metre tall cement penguin that was built to commemorate the centenary of the proclamation of the town in 1975.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-05 060w

 

The Big Penguin isn’t the only penguin in town – the street bins are also decorated with penguins, and there’s a huge penguin collection in the information centre.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-05 065w

 

Other than all the penguin stuff, Penguin is a picturesque little town with pubs, cafes, a quaint church, beaches, parkland, and a bakery that looked like it made awesome pies.

 

North West Coast 2016-03-05 073w

 

 

Lake Pedder 2016-03-01 090w

Camping : Lake Pedder

Lake Pedder 2016-03-01 078w

 

Our time in Hobart was over and it was time to leave the congestion of the city for something a little slower. We made our way to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

 

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was formally listed in 1982 and satisfies more criteria than any other world heritage property in the world. Covering 1.58 million hectares, it is one of the largest reserves in Australia and makes up about 20% of Tasmania’s total area. It’s home to one of the last temperate rainforests in the world.

 

Russell Falls

We drove through Mount Field National Park and stopped to see Russell Falls – a must do tip from Juz’s sister. It was an easy 25 minute walk to the waterfall, and if you have the energy and time, you can go further to Horseshoe Falls. However, it was the end of the day for us and we only had enough energy to see Russell Falls.

 

This truly is a beautiful part of Tasmania and has been reserved as a treasured location since 1885. The two-tiered waterfall showered amongst the ferns and moss. The national park was included in the World Heritage Area in 2013 – don’t forget, you need a Park Pass just to enter the national park.

 

Lake Pedder 2016-03-01 038w

 

Lake Pedder

We were getting into dangerous territory as the recent bushfires were a threat to this area. The road to Strathgordon was closed, which didn’t affect us really because we were heading south to Edgar’s Dam Campground. Still, some park rangers took our details down just in case the wind changed.

 

The road down to Lake Pedder was fantastic and quite possibly the best gravel road we have travelled on – period! The surrounding scenery was also stunning, and as the sun moved across the sky, various mountain tops were illuminated or cast into shadow, making for an ever-changing backdrop.

 

Lake Pedder 2016-03-01 086w

 

Our evening started off fairly standard – we found a great spot in the spacious campground right next to the still waters of the dam. We had never seen water to still, and the way it reflected the sky and the dam wall, it was quite the illusion to the eye.

 

Lake Pedder 2016-03-01 090w

 

Just as we were preparing to offload the bag of Geeveston Fannies we had purchased on our way back from Cockle Creek to a pair of French travellers, our campsite was visited by two of the cutest cuties we have ever seen!

 

Lake Pedder 2016-03-01 145w

 

Eastern quolls are the smaller, cuter cousin of the Spotted Tail Quoll. The pair that visited us varied in colour – one being a fair, tan colour and the other far darker, like chocolate, but both had spots and thin tails. There were also a few wallabies scattered around the campground as well.

 

Lake Pedder 2016-03-01 144w

 

In the morning, we packed up as usual and made our way north towards the West Coast Wilderness.

 

Lake Pedder 2016-03-02 006w

 

Flavour Trail 2016-02-21 018w - Copy

Flavour Trail : Between Devonport and Launceston

Flavour Trail 2016-02-21 082 - Copy

 

The drive from Devonport to Launceston is a tasty trip – make sure you stop at every location to get a true feel of the local produce of the region. Each place is worth a visit, and there is something that caters for everyone.

 

House of Anvers

This was our first stop out of Devonport and we were thoroughly impressed. The House of Anvers Chocolate Factory was established in 1931 and resides within a Californian bungalow on 1.1 hectares of gardens. The site offers chocolate tasting, viewing of factory operations, a museum about the origins of chocolate, and a delightful cafe.

 

Flavour Trail 2016-02-21 007 - Copy

 

We went straight to the tasting station and tried the hazelnut truffle, rum and raisin truffle and cappuccino fudge. But the real treat was walking away with a block of Fortunato No. 4 chocolate – the rarest chocolate in the world.

 

Thought to be extinct since 1916, the Pure Nacional cacao plant was rediscovered in Peru in 2008 and is ultimate single origin source of chocolate. Believed to be the mother of cacao, the cacao pods contain white beans that are shipped to Switzerland to be transformed into couverture chocolate. House of Anvers is the only place in Australia that has the right to sell it.

 

Flavour Trail 2016-02-21 006 - Copy

 

Cherry Shed

The Cherry Shed sells all things cherry – liqueur and port, ice cream, jams, chutney, cake, gifts and chocolate. There is also a huge tree made of cherry pips inside the cafe. Tastings are available and there are plenty of cherry themed things everywhere – including Cherry Ripe!

 

If you’re not going to stop for the cherry delights inside, at least stop for the Big Cherries outside. They’re so big, you can go inside.

 

Flavour Trail 2016-02-21 018w - Copy

 

Seven Sheds Brewery

Seven Sheds Brewery has been open since 2008 and is located in Railton – the Topiary Capital of Australia.

 

 

We tasted five beers during our visit. Juz liked the Paradise Pale but her favourite was the Razzamatazz (5.2%), a light, tart and dry beer flavoured with local raspberries and blackberries.

 

3b1f1176-988b-4319-9a5d-5b8f014e0e3c

 

Dave’s faves were the Black Inca (5.8%) – infused with Peruvian Fortunato chocolate, toasted quinoa and oats – and the Kentish Ale (5.2%), a flavoursome, full bodied ale with a great balance of hops and malted barley.

 

Seven Sheds also grow their own hops – Fuggle, Goldings and others – and you can see the hops garden from the bar.

 

Flavour Trail 2016-02-21 072 - Copy

 

Ashgrove Cheese

A must for any cheese lover – there’s a fabulous selection of plain and flavoured cheeses like cheddar and feta, even lavender cheese! They also sell a bunch of local produce like jams and chocolates, and there is a great display of colourful cows outside.

 

Flavour Trail 2016-02-21 085 - Copy

 

Christmas Hill Raspberry Farm & Van Deimans Land Ice Creamery

A nice place to stop for some chocolate covered raspberries and interesting ice cream flavours.

 

Liffey Falls

About 30 minutes south of Deloraine, with a few kilometres of gravel road, Liffey Falls is definitely worth the detour.

 

IMG_20160221_200725

 

Stretch your legs on the 20 minute walk to the falls. There are a few stops along the way where the water cascades down shelves of rock, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a lizard or snake.

 

Flavour Trail 2016-02-21 116 - Copyw

 

If you still have energy, there’s a really short walk just behind the toilet to the Big Tree.  As the name suggests, it’s pretty big.

 

Flavour Trail 2016-02-21 119 - Copy

 

Bracknell River Reserve

A great place to stop for the night, the Bracknell River Reserve on the western banks of the Liffey River offers free camping, toilets and a BBQ area.

 

If you enjoy fishing, drop a line in the river and you might just pull out a trout.

 

Blue Mountains 2015-07-13 041w

Explore : The Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains 2015-07-13 041w

 

The Blue Mountains are about 50km west of Sydney and form a part of the Great Dividing Range. They get their name from a blue haze caused by the sunlight mixing with tiny droplets of oil that are released by the eucalyptus trees.  The highest elevation is 1,189m, so it can get pretty cold in the wintertime.  Regardless, it’s a beautiful part of the world, with plenty of lookouts so you can enjoy the view.

 

Towns of the Blue Mountains

Katoomba

This is the main town of the Blue Mountains, located just over a kilometre above sea level.  Because tourism is the town’s main industry, it accommodates guests with tonnes of hotels and guest houses, the most well known being the Carrington Hotel, which was established in 1882.  It sits on the highest point in Katoomba and even though we weren’t staying there, we still stuck our heads in for a sticky beak.

 

Blue Mountains 2015-07-13 069w

 

While Katoomba has a lot of regular and mundane shops and streetscapes, it also has a few special things, like the Street Art Walk, tucked away in an alley behind the main street shops.  It is an incredible display of street art, where any surface becomes a canvas.

 

Blue Mountains 2015-07-13 105w

 

At the end of the main road is Echo Point, the best place to see the famous Three Sisters.  Be prepared to drown in tourists and get whacked with their selfie sticks.  If you want to get a little closer to the Three Sisters, take the walk to Honeymoon Bridge.  Other great lookouts nearby include Princes Rock Lookout at Wentworth Falls and the incredible Sublime Point Lookout with fantastic 360° views and wind speeds just short of a hurricane.

 

Blue Mountains 2015-07-13 046w

 

If you’re looking for a place to stay in the Blue Mountains, book yourself in at the Blue Mountains YHA.  The big, historic building has a great story to tell, there is lots of space and warmth, and it’s right in the heart of Katoomba.

 

Blue Mountains 2015-07-14 024w

 

Blackheath        

A 20 minute drive inland and a little more elevation brings you to Blackhead, another cute and colourful town in the mountains.  If you’re passing through with an empty stomach, make sure you pop in to the Bakehouse on Wentworth and smash one of their fine pies.  We had the beef, bacon and cheese pie, and the lamb, rosemary and garlic pie.  Both scored A++ for flavour, with the only sin being a poor base with little structural integrity – definitely a knife and fork job.

 

Blue Mountains 2015-07-19 017w

 

In true Blue Mountains fashion, there are some ripper lookouts around, such as Govetts Leap Lookout and Mount Piddington at Mount Victoria.  It was here that we saw snow for the first time – people had stopped on side of road to play.

 

Blue Mountains 2015-07-14 043w

Blue Mountains 2015-07-13 008w

 

 

Central Highlands 2015-05-05 004w

Explore : The Central Highlands

Central Highlands 2015-05-05 005w

 

Just below the Isaac Region is the Central Highlands of Queensland.  It’s a new region that was created in 2008 and encompasses Capella in the north, Duaringa in the east, Rolleston in the south and the Gemfields to the west.

 

We entered the Central Highlands from the north after spending the night at Lake Elphinstone.  We breezed through Capella, Rubyvale and Sapphire before arriving in Emerald to set up camp for the night.

 

Emerald

The capital of the Central Highlands, Emerald is a friendly town that was named after the lush green pastures that used to surround the town.  Established in 1879 as a base for the building of the western railway, it’s a clean and tidy town that services the surrounding coal mines and is also involved in agricultural activities such as growing cotton and sorghum.

 

The Visitor Information Centre is the best place to stop when you get to town – they will tell you what to see, where to stay the night, and even give you vouchers for a free coffee at the local bakery!  Near the info centre is The Big Easel – one of the most impressive Big Things we have come across.

 

We stayed in the free overnight area next to the botanic gardens.  There were picnic benches, a BBQ, power points and even a tap, but what were really special were the rainbow lorikeets.  Hundreds of them flocked around the gardens, chatting noisily, wrestling each other, and picking at scraps that were left behind by a mysterious old man with a long white beard that visits the park at night.  The overnight area was relatively quiet during the night, until about 5:30am when trains cross the overhead bridge.  This is good because then you don’t need to set your alarm to wake you up in the morning.

 

Central Highlands 2015-05-06 006w

 

Egerton Street is the main strip through town.  There are various art installations down the street, as well as pubs, cafes and at the eastern end, there’s a shopping centre with a major supermarket.  Nearby on the Capricorn Highway is the Old Railway Station that was built in 1900.  It has a beautiful façade with wrought iron lacework and is worth a look.

 

Central Highlands 2015-05-05 037w

 

Rubyvale & Sapphire

Rubyvale is a small country town with a scant population of around 500 people.  Fossicking is big in the area, but the biggest thing is the Big Miner outside Bobby Dazzler’s Sapphire Mine Tours.

 

Down the road is Sapphire, which is about the same size as Rubyvale, and as the name suggestions, you can find sapphires in the area.  Outside the roadhouse on the main road is the Big Pick, Shovel and Sieve, and we also passed a Big Sapphire and a Big Spanner.

 

Central Highlands 2015-05-05 013w

 

Capella

A small town that services the surrounding coal mines, it’s a great place to stop, have a picnic and walk through the war memorial park that runs alongside the railway line.  It touches on the story of the Australian Light Horse Emu Plume, which became a tradition amongst troopers in the area.

 

Central Highlands 2015-05-05 004w

 

Blackwater

Considered to be the coal mining capital of Australia, Blackwater is a small town with a few fast food outlets and a Lions Park with a martini glass shaped water tower and tired-looking display of 30-something tattered, international flags – we think we saw Italy, Hungary, Ireland, India or Mexico.  The coal mining museum is the main attraction in town, with a café, cinema, and an adjacent Japanese garden.

 

Central Highlands 2015-05-06 028w

 

Nearby is the Bedford Weir, a great place for people who like to fish.  Free camping for 7 days is available, with hot showers in the toilet cubicle, but it’s not recommended to swim in the water.

 

The turnoff for Blackdown Tableland is about 30 minutes east of Blackwater and if you enjoy camping, 4WDing and great views, then we recommended ducking in for the night.  To book a campsite, call 13 QGOV.

 

Blackdown Tableland 2015-05-07 035w

 

Blackdown Tableland 2015-05-07 035w

Camping & 4WDing : Blackdown Tableland

Blackdown Tableland 2015-05-06 019w

 

We were supposed to go to Carnarvon National Park to camp and explore the gorge but when the time came to book our campsite, we found that the park was booked out… for whole month!  We had to change our plans and chose to go to Blackdown Tableland instead.  We’re glad that we did because it was quiet and we practically had the place to ourselves.

 

The Blackdown Tableland is south east of Blackwater and covers approximately 47,950 hectares.  The elevation is nearly a kilometre above sea level, which makes the towering escarpment cooler and moister than the surrounding plains.  It’s a steep climb to the top that rewards you with great views of the surrounding areas, and smoke from a bushfire in a nearby valley wafted through the trees.

 

Blackdown Tableland 2015-05-06 025w

 

We set up camp, cooked dinner, and once the sun had gone down we started to feel the cold.  They weren’t kidding about that cooler climate.  In the morning, we set off just after sunrise to explore the various walking and 4WD tracks.

 

Mook Mook Lookout is a short 1.2km one way track to a lookout.  The path passes massive sandstone formations, one that we named Mummy Rock because it looked like the head of a bandaged mummy.  There was a trickling creek, and a nearby waterfall to explore, and once we got to the lookout, we saw the source of the surrounding smoke.

 

Blackdown Tableland 2015-05-06 016w

 

The next track was Goon Goon Dina, a 2.5km loop that weaved through the trees and told the story of the traditional owners of the land.  Stepping stones lead us over creeks, there was a rock art gallery, and charcoaled tree trunks hinted of a recent fire.

 

Blackdown Tableland 2015-05-06 041w

 

These two tracks were near the campground so once they were completed, we packed up and headed south to Guddo Gumoo, which is also known as Rainbow Waters.  There is a 2km track that leads to the water fall, with a pool of clear water at the bottom, ferns growing from the rocks and colourful stripes on the overhead cliff.  It was a really beautiful spot.

 

Blackdown Tableland 2015-05-07 035w

 

From here, we took the 4WD track back to the entrance of the park.  It started off relatively smooth, with the occasional fallen tree that caused the need for an alternative route, but there are some steep rocky sections that definitely need 4WD and full attention.

 

Blackdown Tableland 2015-05-07 073w

 

 

Ingham 2015-04-28 049w

Things To Do In And Around Ingham

Don’t be fooled – this is not the place where all the chicken comes from!  Ingham isn’t really famous for anything other than the Tyto Wetlands and the ‘Pub with No Beer’.

 

Back in 1943, a pub called the Day Dawn Hotel in Ingham was visited by a group of American servicemen who drank the place dry.  The next day, local sugar farmer Dan Sheahan rode his horse 30km to have a beer at the pub and was so disappointed, he wrote a poem about it.  Fourteen year later, Slim Dusty turned it into a song and it was Australia’s first worldwide number one hit – ‘The Pub With No Beer’.  In 1960, the pub was renamed Lee’s Hotel and they have plenty of beer.

 

 

Tyto Wetlands

The Tyto Wetlands are named after and home to the Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris), and 230 other species of birds.  The track around the lagoon is about 3kms (4.5km round trip from the car park) so it’s ideal to visit the Tyto Wetlands early in the day or in the late afternoon.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any grass owls, simply because we didn’t have the patience to quietly birdwatch.

 

Ingham 2015-04-28 009w

 

Lucinda

This little sugar-exporting town is where all the sugar goes to be sent off as bulk raw sugar to the Asia-Pacific area.  To handle the load, Lucinda has a jetty that is 5.76km long that actually follows the curve of the earth.  It’s the world’s longest offshore sugar loading facility and service jetty.

 

Ingham 2015-04-27 006w

 

Not far away is Victoria Mill, home to the largest sugar mill in the southern hemisphere.  The mill recycles the waste into energy through an electricity generation plant that feeds power back into the grid.

 

Hinchinbrook Lookout

About 16km north of Ingham is a fantastic view of Hinchinbrook Island National Park with the surrounding mountains and river below – one of the best lookouts we have seen on our trip.

 

Cassowary Coast 2015-04-27 079w

 

Jarouma Falls

Located within the Paluma Range National Park, Jarouma Falls is a nice place to stop for a swim and a picnic. What’s beautiful about Jarouma Falls is the rock – there are huge stripes of blue rock amongst the grey. Camping, toilets, showers, picnic facilities are available and there are a few creek crossings on the way in.  Please be careful during the wet season as these creek crossings can swell and be dangerous.

 

Ingham 2015-04-28 049w

 

Wallaman Falls

Just under an hour away is Australia’s highest permanent single drop water fall – Wallaman Falls.  The view from the top is gorgeous and there’s a path leads down to bottom pool.

 

Ingham 2015-04-28 018w

 

Crystal Creek 2015-04-28 083w

Natural Wonders : Crystal Creek

Crystal Creek 2015-04-28 003w

 

Just over an hour’s drive north of Townsville is Paluma Range National Park and Crystal Creek, a mandatory stop for anyone travelling between Ingham and Townsville.

 

We visited Big Crystal Creek first and had tonnes of fun on the rock slides.  The water was surprisingly mild too.  You can get a permit to camp near Big Crystal Creek by calling 13 QGOV.

 

Crystal Creek 2015-04-28 046 Crystal Creek 2015-04-28 009

 

Just before the sun set, we got to Little Crystal Creek near Paluma.  Stairs lead down to the water and as we hopped from one rock to another, we admired the waterfalls and beautiful Roman Arch stone bridge that was built in the 1930s.

 

Crystal Creek 2015-04-28 083w Crystal Creek 2015-04-28 108w

 

 

 

Cairns

City Profile : Cairns

Cairns

 

Cairns is a city in tropical north Queensland and is a major tourism destination for both Australians and Internationals.  We were here for around 7 months and really got to know Cairns – we even got to meet a fellow blogger, Kate Richards (AdventureMumma).

 

Outdoor fitness is a big focus in Cairns, with a timetable of free activities on offer along the Esplanade, like yoga, Zumba and tai chi.  The Lagoon is also popular with everyone.  Many locals also run along the Promenade or work out at one of the fitness stations.

 

Cairns 2014-10-17 003

 

One thing you’ll notice about Cairns is the smelly bats.  They hang around in the trees near the library and Cairns City bus terminal during the day and once the sun starts to set, they get active and take flight to find their dinner.  If you’re looking for a car park and don’t mind a bit of poop on your car, there is usually a spot or two available next to the library.

 

Cairns 2015-03-06 002sm

 

Fast Facts

  • Cairns is one of the fastest growing towns in Queensland, with a population of over 151,000 people and is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
  • Over 2 million Aussie and international tourists visit Cairns every year.
  • The region is home to the world’s most dangerous bird – the cassowary – and the world’s largest moth – the Hercules moth.
  • Queensland’s highest mountain Mount Bartle Frere (1622m) is 51km to the south.
  • Cairns has the highest youth unemployment rate in Queensland with over 21% of 15 to 24 year olds not working (December 2014)

 

History

Cairns, like many other towns in Australia, was founded after the discovery of gold.  The city was named after Sir William Wellington Cairns, an Irish fellow who was appointed the governor of Queensland in 1875, one year before Cairns was founded.

 

Cairns started off as an uninhabitable swamp with nothing much to offer until a railway was built to connect the coast to the Tablelands.  After nearly 30 years of settlement, Cairns finally became a town in 1903 with a population of 3,500.  Once the gold rush died down, the railway was used for agricultural purposes to transport fruit and dairy to the coastal flats, where the sugar cane grew and still grows to this day.

 

Being in the tropics isn’t all sunshine and coconuts – cyclones can sweep through at any time during the wet season and cause some serious damage.  Cairns met Cyclone Willis in 1927 and Cyclone Agnes in 1956, and while both were fairly destructive, Cairns recovered.

 

Tourism in Cairns became a major industry in the 1980s with the opening of the international airport and listing of World Heritage areas in the surrounding rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.  It is still a major tourism city that attracts visitors from all over the world who want to see the reef and explore the Daintree.

 

Great Barrier Reef - Justine snorkling

 

Places of Interest

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

This awesome place is located in the dome on top of the Casino.  Meet some cute Aussie animals and brave the zip line and rope course above, all in one day!

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

The Esplanade & Marina

Cairns may be a major tourism centre but for the locals, outdoor fitness and activities make up a big part of the culture.  The Esplanade is reclaimed land that has been renovated into a wonderful outdoor venue for everyone.  Have a picnic on the grass, go for a run along the promenade, or have a splash in the lagoon.  There are free fitness activities on every week, like yoga, volleyball or Zumba, and there is also a Saturday morning market.

 

The marina is just around the corner and is a great place to buy some fresh seafood straight from the fishing boats.  The Pier Shopping Centre nearby has a variety of bars, restaurants and retail shops.

 

 

Rusty’s Markets

Rusty’s is open on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, but the best time to go for cheap fruit and vegetable is between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday.  There’s a huge variety of tropical fruits, Asian greens and unusual produce.  There’s also a few food trucks and stalls selling bags, bibs and bobs.

 

The Night Markets

On every night from 4:30pm, the night markets are accessible from the Esplanade and feature a variety of stalls from jewellery and lanolin creams to massage and souvenirs galore.  The food court on the Esplanade side is a good place for a cheap feed.  For $14.90, purchase an extra large tub and fill it with ALL THE FOODS – octopus, battered fish, fried prawns, omelette, everything…

 

Centenary Lakes Botanic Garden

A few clicks out of town you’ll find the Cairns botanic gardens.  There is a beautiful rainforest section, bamboo gardens, lakes with turtles and a variety of birds and for the fabulously fit, the Red Arrow Walk will reward you with great views over the airport.

 

Nearby is the Tanks Art Centre, which holds monthly markets during the dry season, and the Flecker Gardens display a diverse range of tropical plants and pretty flowers – keep your eyes open for the White Bat Flower – amazing.

 

Cairns Botanic Gardens

 

Palm Cove

About 27km north of Cairns is Palm Cove – a little beach community that is popular with holiday makers and weddings.  The esplanade is choc-a-block with fancy and award-winning restaurants, hotels and tourist outlets that are built around old Melaleuca trees, while the long white beach lined with palm trees is perfect for wedding photos or a great holiday snap.

 

We rocked up to Palm Cove just in time for the Reef Feast festival, and sampled some of the food on offer from some of the best restaurants in the village.

 

Palm Cove, Cairns

 

Behana Gorge & Walsh’s Pyramid

Walsh’s Pyramid is visible from the top of the Casino in Cairns, but it is about 28km south along the A1 highway.  At 922m, it is believed to be the highest freestanding pyramid in the world, and is a part of the same mountain range as Queensland’s two highest mountains, Mount Bartle Frere (1622 m) and Mount Bellenden Ker (1593 m).

 

Nestled in between the peaks is Behana Gorge.  Be prepared for the long walk but it’s worth it once you get to explore the gorge and cool off in the waters that make up Cairns’ water supply.

 

Behana Gorge Cairns

 

Crystal Cascades

A little closer to town is a secluded swimming hole that is quite the local hotspot.  Crystal Cascades is about 5km south of Redlynch and is popular during the summer months as visitors cool off in the fresh water pools.

 

Cairns 2014-11-17 057

 

Big Captain Cook & Big Marlin

Cairns has two Big Things – one can be seen as you drive along the Cook Highway while the other is near Stockland Shopping Centre in Earlville.

 

Food & Drink

Our first visit to Cairns started with a pub crawl through town, and from that venture, we can say that the Union Jack and the Courthouse Hotel are great pubs for a Sunday sesh, while the Croc Bar at the Grand Hotel is a sight to see.  If you prefer to party, check out Gilligan’s.

 

 

We also went to a few trivia nights throughout the week.  Thursday nights was at the Salthouse – meals and drinks are expensive but the pork belly pizza is delicious, and there are plenty of prizes to be won.  Sunday nights at the Serpent Bar at Nomads on Lake Street is a very cheap night in terms of meals and drinks, but there is only one prize – a round of drinks for the winning team.  Monday nights at the Red Beret in Redlynch was our favourite trivia spot – not only because it was close to home and the trivia format was good, but the chicken fajitas won Juz over.  Don’t try the pizza though – Roscoe’s across the road is much better.

 

Here are a few other eateries worth mentioning…

 

Asian Delights

If you love noodle soup and dumplings, there are two locations that are perfect.  Rest assured that if the wait for a table at Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum is too long, you can wander around the corner to Tokyo Dumpling and still be satisfied with a great value meal.  Another great Asian place is BaMien Vietnamese Cafe.  We had visitors from Melbourne and took them here for lunch.  It was a fluke that this place turned out to be fantastic.  The dishes were well priced, well portioned and absolutely delicious.

 

Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum Cairns

 

Great Cafes

Coffee lovers can head to two locations in the city – Caffiend and Smith Street Cafe.  Both offer great coffee in a funky environment.  If you’re after a tasty breakfast, try the Lillipad Cafe or Ozmosis near the Botanic Gardens.  Lillipad has some great vegetarian options while Ozmosis gets you out of the city with their scrumptious Eggs Benedict.

 

Cairns 2014-11-09 009

 

Ochre Restaurant

Having won multiple awards, Ochre Restaurant is considered to be the best restaurant in Cairns. Juz’s awesome sister got us an Ochre gift voucher for Christmas so we got to indulge in a bit of modern Australian cuisine, like wallaby steak, Davidson plum jam and lemon myrtle sweet chilli sauce.

 

Cairns 2015-04-07 008sm

 

Pizza Quest

We were in Cairns for around 6 months and took it upon ourselves to find the best pizza.  Some pizzas were too soggy, lacked flavour or were overpriced.  All in all, we found some great pizzas

 

Information & Accommodation

Cairns Tourist Information Centre – Cnr Alplin St & The Esplanade, Cairns.  Ph: (07) 4031 1751

Public transport in Cairns is mainly a bus network operated by SunBus.  For information about ticketing and timetables, go here: http://www.sunbus.com.au/sit_cairns.htm

 

Cairns Central YHA is conveniently located in the city at 20-26 McLeod Street.  To make a booking, call (07) 4051 0772 or visit their website. 

 

Cairns
 

Lorella Springs

Experience Paradise : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park – #1

Lorella Springs

 

The world is divided into two kinds of people – those who have been to Lorella Springs Wilderness Park, and those who haven’t been to Lorella Springs… yet.

 

We caught wind of Lorella Springs not long before we got to Darwin.  While we were only supposed to stay in Darwin for two months max, it was drawn out to 11 months and for the whole time, we had Lorella in the back of our minds.

 

Lorella Springs offers a remote wilderness for campers, hikers, 4WDing enthusiasts and everyone in between.  The property is so huge, there could be 100s of people in the park but you’d never know, and you could easily spend weeks exploring all the natural features.  The owner, Rhett Walker, has spent the last 30 years exploring Lorella Springs and says that he’s only explored about 20% of the ONE MILLION acres his property covers – his land is bigger than 29 countries!

 

Lorella is Rhett’s everlasting project – his labour of love.  He opened the wilderness park to the public in around 1998 and he has put so much work in to creating over 1000km of tracks that access hot springs, swimming holes, waterfalls, rivers and gorges so that everyone else can enjoy the beauty of his country.  Back in the early days, Rhett and his family pushed tracks through the bush with a couple of modified 4WDs.  It would sometimes take them weeks at a time to reach the new areas and make the waterfalls and swimming holes accessible.   Nowadays though, they’ve got a backhoe, but they still have to spend some time at the start of the each Dry Season re-clearing the old tracks.
The central campground sports a bar that offers delicious meals and Happy Hour between 5 and 6pm, a kiosk, laundry facilities and a book exchange. There is also Crusty Dick’s Bakery, which offers huge loaves of soft fresh bread, perfect for dipping into stews or with butter and jam.  A recent addition to Lorella’s attractions is a selection of helicopter flights to meet every budget.  Lorella Springs is closed during the Wet Season and reopens every year from the 1st of March until October.

 


Find the best deal and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

DAY 1

After 30km of shitty corrugated road that is owned by the council, we opened the gate to Lorella Springs and were greeted warmly by Marie, Rhett’s partner.  After we got a rundown of the park and were given a few maps, we sat down and had a well-deserved drink at the bar.  Dave spoke to Marie about park attractions and facilities while Juz chatted with Tim, one of the chopper pilots, about geckos and Lord of the Rings.  The day was still young so we pre-ordered our dinner and decided to go and check out some of the features that were close by.

 

On our way to a series of pools, we crossed Crocodile Springs, a pretty creek crossing with a small lagoon filled with waterlilies.  The turnoff for the pools was a few kilometres up and we decided to go all the way to the end of the track and work our way back to the campgrounds.

 

Lorella Springs

 

After crawling along in low range 4WD over the last 600m of very rocky and rough track, our first stop was Tawallah Pool.  We both jumped in for some fast refreshment, and Juz put her snorkel on to check out the little fishies.  We rock-hopped further down the gorge before heading back to the Troopy.

 

 

The next two pools were Fossil Fern and Emerald Pool.  Fossil Fern is so called because some of the rocks by the side of the pool have fossilised ferns in them.  While Juz was snorkelling in the water, Dave was trying to find the fossils.  Eventually he called out to Juz, “I can’t find the fossils!”, and she said, “That’s because you’re standing on them!”

 

 

Emerald Pool was a crystal clear pool with a white carpet of sand between the hairy water weeds, and plenty of little fishies.

 

We continued on to Wildfire Gorge & Tristan Pool.  The walk to Tristan Pool was along a rocky creek bed and marked with tape in the trees.  Wildfire Gorge was further on and the reflection of red rock in the still pool was beautiful.

 

Lorella Springs

 

The last stop of the day was Inkspot Pool.  While we didn’t go in, we could see how fun it would be to launch off the rocks.  Because it was so close to the track that leads to other locations within the park, we ended up visiting Inkspot Pool several times during our stay with other volunteers at the park.

 

We made it back to the campground just in time for Happy Hour.  Even though the drinks are marginally cheaper, it is a great social event and a perfect opportunity to mingle with staff and other campers.  The dinner we ordered earlier was served at 6:30pm and both dishes were welcomed with wide eyes and hungry bellies.  Dave’s T-Bone was satisfyingly good, tender with great flavour, while Juz’s stuffed chicken was big and juicy, and stuffed with cheese and garlic.  Both meals came with crunchy hot chips, coleslaw, pineapple and beetroot.  Super yum…

 

Lorella Springs

 

DAY 2

We started the day early and headed for the Waterslide.  We were initially hesitant (Juz was afraid she’d graze her bum), but Dave was brave enough to go first and it ended up being super fun!  We both went down the slide several times, giggling like schoolgirls. The rocky path continued beyond the slide to Indiana Falls.  While the trail was overgrown, we eventually got to the top pool and were rewarded with a refreshing swim.

 

 

Next was the Musterers Cave, one of our favourite locations.  It’s a short climb to the cave and inside it are old saddle parts from when the cave was used as storage during the wet season years and years ago.  If you take a few more steps into the cave, you’ll be surrounded by the sound of crunchy wings flapping, as massive dragonflies hover around you every time you move.  If you have a torch, you’ll be able to see the microbats too.  We exited the cave and checked out the rock art and amazing views around to the left.  We also saw a friendly Northern Spiny Tail Gecko with amazing eyes and a spiky tail.

 

 

Our next destination was the Arches, but the path disappeared in a dry creek bed and we got lost.  We ended up climbing an escarpment to the left instead of heading right.  Sure, we had nice views at the top, but it wasn’t the Arches, so we went back to the Troopy and started again.  We eventually found the Arches, and after a rest, we found the (now obvious) path that brought us back to the Troopy.

 

Lorella Springs

 

Our last stop was the Valley of the Springs.  Rhett told us great things about this place but we were so exhausted, we only got about 200m from the Troopy before we realised we didn’t have the energy to continue.  We turned back and ducked into Inkspot for a refreshing swim before returning to the campground.  When we got back and told Rhett, he said we only had to breach the hilltop and the amazing rock formations would have been there.  Bugger…

 


That afternoon, we had a therapeutic dip in the Magical Spring that is only 30 meters from the bar.  It’s a shaded, banana tree-lined pool with very friendly fish that will nibble on you if you give them the chance.

 

After we cleaned ourselves up, we went to the bar for a quick drink before attempting the Sunset Walk.  About halfway to the top of the escarpment, we saw a rainbow, and then the dark clouds dumped a bunch of rain on us.

 

Lorella Springs

 

By the time we got back to the bar, we were soaked through.  We did a quick costume change and returned for more socialising with the other campers.  We met two fellow travellers – Mel and Kell – who had just spent the last few nights at Nannies Retreat.  Mel is an entomologist and Juz loves critters so they had plenty to talk about, including that beautiful gecko that Juz spotted at Musterers Cave.

 

Lorella Springs

 

DAY 3

It was a rough start after the previous night’s revelry, but we were determined to complete another section of Lorella Springs and made our way towards Teardrop Falls.  It was slow going for most of the way because of the rocky track, and we even burst a tyre on the way.

 

Lorella Springs 2014-05-16 498

 

When we finally arrived, it was all worth it.  Water sprinkled into the lower pool and the sun cast a rainbow in the spray.  We climbed up the mountain to the top pools, one of which was down in a rocky basin.  We scaled the sheer wall and had a refreshing dip in the clear pool, and even saw the reason why it’s called Teardrop Falls.  This was definitely one of our favourite spots in Lorella, and is also a really popular destination for the chopper flights.

 

 

We checked out the Mountain on the Edge of the Clouds on the way back – a great lookout into Gateway Gorge and Little Rosie River below.   We continued along the track to where the river crosses the track and there was a canoe waiting for us.  Dave took control of the oar and paddled Juz down the river while trying to sing like a Venetian gondolier.  Juz told him to shut up so that she could enjoy the tranquillity of their surroundings.

 

 

We briefly stopped by Hidden Pools – three cascading swimming pools, before setting up camp at Snapping Handbag Billabong.  Juz cooked up some SPAM Turkey Burgers while Dave fished in the billabong.  As we got ready for sleep, we could hear splashing and sploshing, which were probably cane toads, fish and/or crocodiles, and these noises continued throughout the night.

 

A cane toad at Lorella Springs

 

Experience : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park #2
Volunteer at Lorella Springs

Edith Falls

Experience : Edith Falls (Leliyn)

Edith Falls

 

A part of Nitmiluk National Park, the turn off for Edith Falls is only 46km north of Katherine and is a must-see destination and a great place to camp for the night or week.

 

At only $10 per person per night to camp, we were more than happy with what we got.  It was a great camping ground that had plenty of access to drinking water, flushing toilets, clean showers, BBQs, and there were a great selection of shady spots with lush grass.  Another awesome thing about camping at Edith Falls is that no generators are allowed so it’s guaranteed that you’ll have a quiet night.  Having the water taps nearby was really convenient for refilling drink bottles, cooking and washing up. The women at the kiosk were absolutely lovely and the kiosk they ran had outdoor sitting area with buntings and Devonshire tea on offer.

 

Edith Falls

 

The biggest highlight of Edith Falls was only 150m from camp – a huge plunge pool of cool water, perfect to cool yourself off at the end of the day, with Edith Falls in the background.  Grab your snorkel and check out the various fish species that swim around, or watch the cliffs turn red at sunset.

 

 

In the morning, we set off to do the 2km hike to the upper pool. The walk starts with a climb up the mountain with a few spots to stop and enjoy the view.  Once you get to the top, there is another rocky and turbulent pool with a great waterfall.  While we couldn’t swim in the waters, we sat by the waterfall and had breakfast.

 

Juz went back to the plunge pool after our hike and snorkled.  She didn’t venture far from the stairs because she was there by herself and she was paranoid of being eaten by a crocodile, even though the chances were fairly slim.  Those warning signs had really left a mark on her psyche.

 

If we were in the area, we would definitely stay there again, and for longer.
Edith Falls

 
Find the best deal and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor
 

Robin Falls

Experience : Robin Falls

Robin Falls

 

You’ll find Robin Falls if you take Dorat Road from Adelaide River.  It’s a beautiful little spot that offers free camping with lush surroundings.  It’s a short walk to the cascading waterfall, which falls into a little pool before continuing down a little stream alongside the track.  The water is chilly and refreshing and if you’re game, you can climb up to the top.  The camp spots do fill up quickly though, so make sure you get there early!

 

 

Adelaide River

Adelaide River is a small town 200km north of Katherine and 115km south east of Darwin.  It was first settled by workers who were working on the Overland Telegraph Line, and the discovery of gold at Pine Creek assisted with its establishment.  It was officially proclaimed a town in 1962.

 

These days, Adelaide River only has a population of about 240 and is an important stop for travellers along the Stuart Highway.  There’s a petrol station and mechanic workshop, accommodation, a roadhouse and a general store.

 

Adelaide River
War Cemetery

The main thing to check out in town is the War Cemetery, which was established in 1942.  The landscaped gardens are a suitable resting place for the 63 civilians and 434 Aussie, British and Canadian service men and women who died in the NT during World War II, but whose remains were never found.

Butterfly Gorge & Douglas Hot Springs

The gorge is located within Butterfly Gorge National Park and there are two walks available – over the rim or in the gorge.  We decided to go into the gorge and it turned out to be quite an adventure.  Check out our post here.

 

Juz exploring Butterfly Gorge

 

If you’ve spent a long time on the road, Douglas Hot Springs is a wonderful place to stop and refresh yourself.  The piping hot water springs from a crack in the rock and flows down the river, but because of the direction that the water moves, you can have a cool dip on one side of the bank and a hot spa on the other.

 

Douglas Hot Springs

Miners Lookout and Park While we were in town, we also checked out the Miners Lookout and Miners Park, and learnt about

Experience : Kakadu National Park – Part 2

Continued from Experience : Kakadu National Park – Part 1

 

DAY 4

Bukbukluk Lookout

We got up early to check out Bukbukluk Lookout at sunrise.  It was a nice little lookout, and we later found out that bukbuk means pheasant coucal – a bird that we saw many times over the previous days.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Yurmikmik

Yurmikmik is within the Jawoyn people’s country and there are a few walking trails available.  We tried to do as much as we could but we were really tired from the day before.  We aimed to complete three walks – Motor Car Falls, Boulder Creek and the Lookout, which provided amazing 360° views of the surrounding sandstone cliffs.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

The 3.8km walk to Motor Car Falls started with a bouncy rope bridge that allowed only one person at a time.  It was the most entertaining part of the journey – the rest of the way was hot, rocky and dry.  Luckily, bush passionfruit was available along the way to fuel the long hike through grass and woodland.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Once we arrived at Motor Car Falls, we had refreshing dip in the pool before looking around.  We found some huge Golden Orb Spiders in massive webs that the butterflies skilfully dodged, and there were turtles and freshwater yabbies in the water.

 

 

On the way back, we went to Boulder Creek and it proved to be the best way to end the day.  We climbed the cascading falls and cooled off in the pretty pools.  We only went as far as the first tier, but two girls we met along the way went up even further.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Kambolgie

Because we were so exhausted from the last two days, we made our way to camp early.  When we arrived, there was smoke everywhere and fires surrounding the camp site.  As it turned out, the rangers were patch burning the area to clear the dry fodder, increase biodiversity of plants and create a firebreak to protect the campers from unexpected wildfires.  It was great to meet the rangers and watch the yellow grass burn and crackle as the flames grew.  We noticed hundreds of grasshoppers jumping around, doing their best to get away from the flames and asked the rangers about how the lizards and other critters deal with the controlled burning.  They advised us that they factor that into the path of the fire and ensure pockets of unburnt land for animals to flee to.  Before they left, the rangers also hosed down the toilets so we had clean utilities for our stay – WIN!

 

 

Kambolgie was the best camp spot, in our opinion.  There was heaps of space, drop toilets, picnic benches and fire places and while it only costs $5 per person per nights, they were not accepting payment.  Recycling bins were available at the entrance and there were NO MOSQUITOES after the sun went down.  This could have been from the back burning but it was lovely to sit by the fire and enjoy a nice glass of wine.

 

DAY 5

Ikoymarrwa

While this location isn’t marked on the map, we were given the heads up at the information centre a few days earlier.  We were unsure where the turn off was because it’s also unsigned but once we found the place, it’s just a short walk to waterfalls and swimming hole.  As you explore further down the creek, you’ll find plenty of St Andrews Cross spiders waiting for a meal.

 

Miners Lookout and Park While we were in town, we also checked out the Miners Lookout and Miners Park, and learnt about

 

Picnic facilities and a fireplace are also available – with the possibility of camping too.

 

 

We knew we had completed our Kakadu experience when we got to the Mary River Roadhouse.  Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Kakadu and our only regret is that we didn’t go in June, when all of the attractions are open.  While we only spent five days in Kakadu, but it’s so big that you could easily spend two weeks exploring the park.

 

Miners Lookout and Park While we were in town, we also checked out the Miners Lookout and Miners Park, and learnt about