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Camping : Lake Pedder

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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

 

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Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

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Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is more than just a place to meet some local animals – it’s a sanctuary and rehabilitation facility for injured wildlife, as well as an education centre for the public and for future animal handlers who want to care for these beautiful creatures.

 

The Park

The sanctuary started around 30 years ago when a family began to raise and take care of injured and orphaned animals. It turned into a wildlife park where people could pay to see the animals. Bonorong’s turning point was when ownership changed over to the hands of Greg Irons. He changed the focus of the park from a money making venture to a place where animals can be rehabilitated, people can be educated, and whatever else he can achieve in between.

 

Bonorong became a park where injured animals can recover, where orphaned animals can grow up safely, and where disabled animals can live out the rest of their days. They run a 24 hour rescue service and receive up to 30 calls per day. They offer an internship for animal handling, which has been a great initiative because until recently, there was only one person in Tasmania with experience in seabird rehabilitation.

 

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A recent project that the sanctuary has been working on is establishing an animal hospital. After jumping through the necessary bureaucratic hoops, it’s nearly ready to be built but they’re still relying on donations and visitors to the park to make it happen.

 

General entry gives you access to all the animals in the park, including the stars of the show – the Tasmanian Devils. Bonorong also offer public and private tours, as well as a feeding frenzy tour and night tour – which would be great because a lot of the animals at the sanctuary are nocturnal.

 

 

The Animals

There are all sorts of unique Aussie animals at Bonorong.  we got to meet a 100 year old cockatoo named Fred, who received a birthday letter from Buckingham Palace with their best wishes.

 

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We also got acquainted with one of the success stories of the sanctuary – Fisher the bare-nosed wombat. He was rescued from an untimely death when his mother, who was infected with a parasite that disrupted her balance, had fallen into a dam and could not get out. While she was not able to be saved, Fisher was rescued from her pouch – and look at him today! Bonorong have released 10 wombats back into the wild over the last 6 years.

 

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As well as all the cute kangaroos lounging around the sanctuary, there are also koalas and galahs, bettongs and quolls, emus and echidnas, blue-tongue lizards and snakes. But what we were really there to see were the little devils.

 

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Tasmanian Devils

The animal we were anticipating to see the most was the Tasmanian Devil and we are so happy that our first encounter was at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

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Tassie Devils are about the size of a small dog and are mainly black with a white strip across their hind legs and chest. Females can grow up to 7kg while males can be up to 10kg, and they live for about 4-5 years in the wild. Their scientific name Sarcophilus harrisii, means Harris’s meat lover, named after the guy who first published a description of the Tassie Devil in 1807.

 

Because their legs are a bit short and stumpy, they don’t move particularly fast and can only run as fast as a chicken. While they can manage to catch small animals like frogs and lizards, they’re great scavengers and rely on their sharp teeth that can chew through bones. They also have powerful feet and claws, perfect for digging a den where they hang out for the most of the day.

 

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Contrary to their reputation, they are timid and shy. In fact, when rangers check on them in the wild, the Devils freeze or play dead. The name Tasmanian Devil name comes from the settlers, who were mortified by the sounds that came from the forest at night. Back then, they were also named Beelzebub’s pup or “satanic meatlover”.

 

We got to meet Prince, a Tassie Devil that was born in the park. He’s about 5 years old and he loves treats (aka wallaby morsels). Lucky for him, wallabies are considered a pest in Tasmania so he’s never short on treats!

 

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The population of wallabies has exploded in Tasmania, particularly because their main predator, the thylacine, has been extinct for over 80 years. Also, farmers have inadvertently provided them with an easy supply of food so they never go hungry. To control the population, farmers are encouraged to cull a quota of wallabies, but the other unintended method of control is by road kill. After all, Tasmania is the road kill capital of the world!

 

Unfortunately, the population of Tasmanian Devils is not booming. There’s a constant uphill battle to ensure that this endangered species does not become extinct. They have battled a fatal facial tumour, but just as the disease was beginning to come under control, a new strain has appeared. This contagious tumour is spread when the Devils bite each other, whether it be playfully or aggressively.

 

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The Essentials

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Brighton, about 30 minutes north of Hobart.

 

They’re open every day from 9am to 5pm and an adult ticket is $26 and includes a free wildlife tour and complimentary kangaroo food, so you can easily break the ice with some of the resident macropods.

 

For more details, check out their website http://bonorong.com.au/

 

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Tour : Seahorse World

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If you’re looking for something to do that is unique and a little left of centre, then visit Seahorse World. Located on Inspection Head Wharf at Beauty Point along the Tamar River, Seahorse World offers an experience like no other.

 

The World

The facility was originally used as a research facility, but it soon adopted another purpose – to supply seahorses to pet shops and aquariums around the world for ornamental purposes. Seahorse World is currently the only Australian seahorse farm allowed to breed and export live seahorses. Some of their exported specimens are on display in the largest indoor aquarium in the world at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

 

Apart from breeding seahorses, they are also dedicated to their conservation through education. Comprehensive and engaging tours run daily and give you the opportunity to see seahorses like you have never seen them before.

 

Sure, there are plenty of aquariums full of these little equine fish, and you get a glimpse into seahorse farming, but to actually be able to hold one was something we never thought we would get to do in our lifetime.

 

Because they are fish, they’re a little squirmy in the hand but to feel their tail wrap around your finger is adorable.

 

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You can also come face to face with a giant hermit crab and watch it pop in and out of its shell.

 

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The Seahorses

Of the 50 breeds of seahorse worldwide, 22 of them live in Australia. Seahorses are part of the syngnathid family, which also include sea dragons, pipe horses and pipe fish. Yes – seahorses are classified as fish because they have fins and gills.

 

To feed, they can’t open their mouth as their jaw is fused together. Instead, they suck food in through their snouts. They have a long fin on their back for propulsion and two pectoral fins on either side of their head for steering. Their eyes move independently, like a chameleon’s eyes, and they have the ability to change colour to match their surroundings. Oddly enough, they can transition to any colour except for blue or green – probably the two most useful colours to change to in terms of camouflage.

 

We got to see a few varieties of seahorse, including the Barbour’s Seahorse, known for the spikes that cover its whole body. This makes them less appealing for eating by predators because they’re too hard to swallow.

 

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White’s Seahorse isn’t actually white, it’s simply named after the person who discovered them. These seahorses are unique because once they have found a mate, they’re monogamous for life.

 

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The most common seahorse at Seahorse World is the Tasmanian Potbelly Seahorse, because they’re local! They can grow up to 32 cm long and vary in colour from white to brown and spotty.

 

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Potbelly seahorses get their name because the males have a big belly, perfect for storing little baby seahorses. Male pregnancy and birth is what separates seahorses from all other animals, their cousins – sea dragons and pipe fish – carry their eggs externally on their tail and underside.

 

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After the mama seahorse and papa seahorse do a little courting dance for about 8 hours, the mama seahorse tickles the papa seahorse and he gets excited and opens up his belly. She dumps her eggs in there to be fertilised, and then she does a runner. The papa seahorse then carries the fertilised eggs for around 2-4 weeks. On average, the number of babies that are born from the papa seahorse’s belly is 50-400 but the record at Seahorse World is a whopping 1116 babies!

 

Approximately 50% of baby seahorses survive in the wild, and one of their natural predators is other seahorses! Considering what seahorses eat, and how small seahorses are when they’re born, there’s no wonder that they get sucked up if there’s a hungry seahorse nearby.

 

At Seahorse World, the tiny seahorse babies are fed newly hatched brine shrimp – you might know them as “Sea Monkeys” – while the adult seahorses eat a larger variety of shrimp. The babies stay in the nursery for about a month before being moved into the primary tank with some adolescent seahorses. Here, they’re weaned off the Sea Monkeys and learn how to eat the adult food from the older seahorses.

 

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After 6 months, they’re moved to the secondary tank where they hang out with other adolescent seahorses and have fun. Once they reach 12 months of age, the seahorses are distributed all around the world to be displayed in tanks– they’re not sold to be used for Chinese medicine.

 

The consumption of dried seahorse for the treatment of impotence, wheezing, pain and labour induction has met with some controversy as there are no definitive studies that show any health benefits. As a result of this ‘medicinal’ use, some species of seahorses are now endangered.

 

The Essentials

Seahorse World is located in Shed 1A on Inspection Head Wharf at Beauty Point, and is open 7 days a week all year round, except for Christmas Day. You can contact them on 03 6383 4111 to discuss tour times and bookings.

 

Website: http://seahorseworld.com.au/

 

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Wildlife : Taronga Western Plains Zoo

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located in Dubbo and features a beautiful range of animals, including many native to Africa.  You might wonder whether the climate in Dubbo is the same to that in Africa, and we certainly wondered that when we visited the zoo on a cold July day.  It turns out that the climate at the zoo is similar to where the animals would usually live, except our winters are a little longer.  To make the animals as comfortable as possible during the cooler months, the zoo has heaters installed in the enclosures to keep the animals warm. How lovely!

 

The Zoo

Opened in 1977, Taronga Western Plains Zoo was the first open plain zoo in Australia and started out with only 35 animals.  Over the years, the zoo has expanded to house over 1000 animals and is renowned for its breeding programs and conservation efforts. In fact, Taronga is not only a fantastic tourist attraction but a non-profit organisation!

 

The Taronga Western Plains Zoo covers three square kilometres of land and the 6km loop that weaves throughout the zoo can be explored on foot or in your car, but you can also hire bikes or electric carts.  It’s a unique setup – the fenceless enclosures and open plains make it seem more natural.

 

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The Animals

There are approximately 800 animals living at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.  There’s a strong focus on African animals, especially in breeding and conserving them, especially endangered ones.  There are various talks and feedings throughout the day, and they’re a great opportunity to learn about these beautiful animals.

 

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One of our favourite animals at the zoo were the hippopotamuses, especially the mother-daughter team.  The little calf was so cute following her mum around.  We also enjoyed the playful meerkats, friendly camels, jousting Barbary sheep, majestic elephants and fearsome tigers.  On an exclusive tour of the zoo, we also got to meet the fastest animal on the planet, the cheetah.  They can go from 0-100km in three seconds and the fastest speed recorded is 117km.  The cheetahs at Taronga were very playful and curious, but perhaps a little too big and wild to take home.

 

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Rhinos

We learnt a lot about rhinos at Taronga.  Rhinos are poached for their horns, because it’s believed that the horns have medicinal properties.  If only the poachers knew that scientific tests show that there are no health benefits within the horns.  The main component of the horn is the keratin, which is the same stuff that our hair and nails are made of.  Unfortunately, a few species of rhino have already been made extinct, including the western black rhino in 2011.

 

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Another interesting fact about rhinos is how they use their poo.  Rhinos create dung piles, or middens, not to be clean and tidy but to send messages.  The smell of their own poop can communicate age, sex, whether they’re ready to have babies or if they already have a bun in the oven, and it can also mark territory.  Visiting rhinos will sniff and shuffle through the poo before adding their own message to the pile.  Pee-yew!

 

The zoo has both black rhinos and white rhinos – black rhinos are solitary animals with a pointier mouth, while white rhinos are bigger, enjoy social interaction and have square lips.  They even have a gorgeous black rhino calf on display.  Dafari is his name and he was born in April 2015.

 

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While Taronga has only three black rhinos on display, altogether there are nine onsite for breeding purposes.  Taronga Zoo is set up to breed for several generations and any rhinos that arrive at the zoo are conditioned and trained so that animals don’t get spooked by the guests and various noises of the zoo.

 

Bongo

The bongo is one of the largest species of antelope and has been categorised as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  They’re auburn or chestnut brown in colour, and when they get wet, the oily pigment of their coat seems to run.  When they were hunted for their meat, if the hunter found that they were covered in this oily residue, they believed they’d get leprosy.  While this isn’t true, it’s not exactly advertised because bongos are near threatened and if this myth keeps them alive, then so be it.

 

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The Accommodation

Did you know that you can stay at Taronga Western Plains Zoo?  There is a great selection of accommodation options, from camping, cabins and luxury safari lodges that overlook the savannah.

 

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The Billabong Camp is great for large groups and school excursions.  The bush camping experience includes a night in a canvas tent, meals and refreshments, admission to the Zoo for two days and a range of animal encounters and tours.

 

Zoofari Lodges started in 1995 and consist of 15 luxury tented lodges.  The Animal View lodges look out over the African Savannah and have an African-inspired décor.  Each lodge has an ensuite and mini bar facilities and exclusive tours of the zoo are included in the experience.  Guests also have access to a main house that features an African style restaurant, full bar with local and African wine, as well as a lounge and TV room.

 

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The Savannah Cabins are perfect for families.  All fifteen self-contained cabins can sleep up to 6 people and have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, air conditioning, a full kitchen, BBQs on the deck, free WiFi and Foxtel.

 

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The Essentials

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is open from 9am to 4pm daily and entry includes two consecutive days to explore the zoo.  The Zoo Shop stocks some great souvenirs, from plush toys to stylish knick knacks for the home.  While you can bring in your own picnic lunch or BBQ gear, you can buy food at Bakhita’s Café at the Savannah Visitor Plaza and the Midway Kiosk (only on weekends).

 

If you would like a closer encounter with the animals, why not book yourself in for a tour.  Go for a guided morning walk behind the scenes or get a photo of yourself feeding the giraffes.  Bookings are essential.

 

Visit the zoo at Obley Rd in Dubbo, a five hour drive from Sydney.  Flights from Sydney to Dubbo are available through Qantas and Rex.  For more information about the zoo, please call 02 6881 1400 or visit their website.

 

You can also support their conservation efforts by making a donation at this website.

 

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Rockhampton (79)w

City Profile : Rockhampton

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We had the pleasure of having nearly two days to spend in Rockhampton.  Located along the Fitzroy River in the Capricorn Coast region, Rockhampton has a laid back atmosphere, friendly hospitality and gorgeous buildings.  It has a moderate population of around 120,000 people and gets approximately 300 days of sunshine a year.

 

Our first stop was a book exchange, where we dumped a bunch of books that we had finished reading, and exchanged them for new ones.  We then strolled around town to see the sights.

 

History

The Rockhampton region was discovered by the Archer Brothers, Charles and William, who were out looking for grazing lands in 1853.  Two years later, a settlement grew alongside the Fitzroy River, which was used to ship in supplies.  Further up the river was a rock bar that prevented further exploration of the river, and that’s how Rockhampton got its name.

 

The settlement grew fast and Rockhampton was declared a town in 1858.   One year later, gold was discovered in Canoona and miners rushed over from far and wide to find their fortune.  Once the rush had died down, many people chose to stay in Rockhampton, adding to its already blooming population, and by the 1870s, Rockhampton had become the main port for the central Queensland hinterland.  By 1902, Rockhampton had become a city.  In 1909, a passenger tramway started operating, but because riding steam trams in the tropics was an uncomfortably hot and humid experience, they were replaced with a bus network 30 years later.

 

These days, Rockhampton’s main industry is still grazing, particularly cattle, and it is considered to be the Beef Capital of Australia.  Every three years, Beef Week happens – a major event that brings cowboys in from far and wide to showcase their beef and share ideas.  There are several life-sized bull statues around the city that represent the various breeds that graze in the surrounding area.  The one at the southern entrance of Rockhampton is the Brahman Bull and was erected in 2000.

 

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For people who aren’t as enthusiastic about cattle as the folks wearing cowboy hats, jeans and leather boots – like us – scoring a $5 Thursday special steak at Giddy Goat Bar suits just fine.  You get a 300g scotch fillet steak for $5 plus $1 for sides, which include salad, coleslaw, chips, onion rings or the sauce of your choice.  While it isn’t the most amazing steak you’ll ever eat, we were seriously impressed with this value.

 

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Things to See and Do

Tropic of Capricorn

As you enter Rockhampton from the south, you’ll pass the Spire Visitor Information Centre that sits on the Tropic of Capricorn.  Once you’ve got all your maps and brochures, stand by the big silver spire for a photo.

 

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Rockhampton Zoo

The botanic gardens in Rockhampton are 145 years old and have recently been awarded heritage listing.  Within them is a free zoo full of native and exotic animals.  Apart from wombats, crocodiles and dingoes, we also saw chimpanzees and otters.  The best time to go is at feeding time, which is between 2:45pm and 3:20pm.  You might even get the chance to pat a koala.

 

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While we were at the dingo enclosure, we noticed only one dingo.  A family arrived, mum was pushing a pram and dad was holding his little daughter’s hand.  Suddenly, two more dingos appear from the bushes and they all eagerly come up to the fence at full attention.  Dave says, “Here they come. They must have smelt the baby.”  After a small pause, he added, “Sorry about the inappropriate joke.”  “That’s ok,” says mum with a guffaw, “it was funny.”

 

Capricorn Caves

Just over 20km north of Rockhampton are the Capricorn Caves.  Queensland’s oldest tourist attraction, the limestone caves formed from an ancient coral reef around 400 million years ago. Tours through the caves run regularly throughout the day, but they have a certain twist to them that is unique to the Capricorn Caves.  Go and check them out!

 

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Coastal Drive

This is a drive that will take you to the coastal towns about 40km east of Rockhampton.  Yeppoon is the biggest town along the drive, and when we were there, there was still evidence of Cyclone Marcia, which blew through just three months earlier in February 2015.

 

 

We had a quick stroll along the Esplanade that overlooks Main Beach and poked our heads through the ‘Spirit of Yeppoon’, which is more affectionately known by locals as the Arsehole of Yeppoon.

 

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Rosslyn Bay is south of Yeppoon and is home to one of the largest marinas in Northern Queensland, the Keppel Bay Marina.  Overlooking the marina is Double Head, a volcanic plug formed by lava around 70 million years ago and exposed as the rock around it was worn away over time.  As we cruised along, we crossed the bridge over Causeway Lake, a shallow lake that’s good for fishing and photo opportunities at sunset.

 

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Another great stop is Emu Park.  Go and see the Singing Ship – a commemoration of the explorations of Captain James Cook.  It’s a sculpture that stands on a hill and overlooks the ocean, which is the perfect place for it to be.  As the ocean breezes reach the ship, fluted pipes make pretty sounds.

 

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Information & Accommodation

The Spire Visitor Information Centre is located on the Tropic of Capricorn and is open daily from 9am to 5pm.

 

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Quality budget accommodation is available at Rockhampton YHA.  For more information or to book yourself a bed, visit their website.

 

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

Wildlife : Southern Cassowary

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Name: Southern Cassowary

Scientific Classification: Casuarius casuarius

Alternative Names: double-wattled cassowary, Australian cassowary, two-wattled cassowary

Location: they are found in dense tropical rainforests of Indonesia, New Guinea and northeast Australia, but the casuarius casuarius johnsonii is exclusive to Australia.

 

Fast Facts

  • The term cassowary comes from the Papuan term kasu weri, meaning horned head, and this refers to the large crest on its head, which is called a casque.
  • Southern cassowaries are large flightless birds that are related to emus, Africa’s ostrich and New Zealand’s kiwi.
  • They have a large body covered in black feathers and strong legs with three toes, with the middle one wielding a dagger-like claw. If they feel threatened, they will kick out with both feet at once, and have been known to disembowel people.  This is rare though, as they prefer to run off into the safety of the dense rainforest – they can do short sprints of 40km/h.
  • Their featherless neck and head are colourful with hues of purple and blue with bright red wattles, and these change colour depending on their mood.
  • They can stand up to 170 centimetres tall and the female is Australia’s heaviest bird at 85kg compared to the smaller 40kg male.
  • Cassowaries forage on the forest floor, digging around with their feet and casque to find fallen fruit, snails, fungi and small animals. Cassowaries are important for the survival of rainforests as their droppings spread seeds around.
  • During the dry winter months, the male builds a nest on the forest floor that the female lays three to five eggs into. The male then sits on the eggs for 50 days until the eggs hatch.  The stripy chicks stick with dad for around 9 months and become sexually mature at 2-3 years.  Cassowaries can live to 40 years of age.
  • They are endangered and at risk of extinction due to road kills, dog attacks and habitat destruction.

 

A Cassowarry... up close and personal!

 

Our Encounter

We’ve seen plenty of cassowaries in wildlife parks like Urimbirra Wildlife Park in Victor Harbour and Birdworld in Kuranda, but the real treat is to see them in the wild.  Even then, they are very shy and quickly disappear into the thick undergrowth.  We saw two cassowaries on our way to Cairns from Cooktown, and another at the Ma:mu Tropical Skywalk near Innisfail.

 

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If you are lucky enough to see one foraging for food in the undergrowth, observe it quietly and don’t approach or feed it.  If you’re driving in your car, slow down to avoid hitting them.  If they become defensive, their attack can be very dangerous and even deadly.  Do not turn your back and run.  Hide behind a tree or use your backpack as a shield.

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

Port Douglas

Wildlife : Sand Bubbler Crab

Port Douglas

 

Name: Sand Bubbler Crab

Scientific Subfamily: Scopimera inflata

Distribution:  tropical beaches

 

If you ever find yourself walking along a beach and you see little sand balls arranged in pretty patterns, then you are in the vicinity of a sand bubbler.

 

Sand Bubbler Crab - Port Douglas

 

These tiny little crabs are around 1cm wide across the carapace, and live in little burrows in the sand.  Those little balls you see are a byproduct of their dinner.  Once the high tide is over, they spend a few hours digging themselves out of their collapsed burrow and clean it up before feeding time starts.  They use their claws to scoop sand towards their mouth and once all the nutrients have been sucked away, the sand balls are discarded about 20-30cm away from the burrow’s entrance.  This is repeated until there is a beautiful pattern of balls around the burrow.

 

Sand Bubbler Crab - Port Douglas

 

Our Encounter:

The first time we saw these little beach balls was in Broome.  We were absolutely fascinated by the little works of art. We didn’t see them again until we got to Cape Tribulation on the east coast.

 

Cable Beach
Cable Beach

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.

 

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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.

 

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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
 

Cairns

$100 Day : Cairns by Kate Richards (aka AdventureMumma)

$100 Day

 

We’d like to introduce a local blogger in Cairns – Kate Richards.  She is a mum to 2 very active kids, prefers the great outdoors to crafting or cooking any day. She is also an adventure and social media junkie, photographer & videographer. A true local of Tropical North Queensland and love sharing family adventures.

 

Cairns

 

We asked her, if she has $100 and a day to spend in Cairns with a friend, what would she do?  Here are her suggestions…

 

1. Start down on the Cairns Esplanade & take advantage of the free activities on offer – Aqua Aerobics at 8.30am or join the 5km Park Run from 7am.

Free

2. Check out the Esplanade Markets that run Saturday from 8am-4pm right next to the Lagoon.  If you need to have a shower after your workout, there are facilities next to the lagoon.

Free

3. Catch the 131 bus from the Cairns City bus station on Lake Street to the Botanic Gardens.  Single paper tickets are $4.80 per person and are valid for two hours. On Saturdays, the 131 bus leaves the Cairns City bus station every hour on the hour and takes 15 mins to get too the Botanic Gardens.

$9.60

4. Explore the Botanic Gardens, climb Red Arrow for views of Cairns and the Northern Beaches, then check out the Tanks Art Centre for local Art Exhibitions (10-2pm).

Free

5.Catch the bus back to the Cairns City bus station and head to Rusty’s Fruit Market for lunch at one of the Rusty’s Food Trucks on the Sheridan St side.

approx. $20

 

 

From here there are two options – the relaxing option and the adventurous option.

 

The Relaxing Option

 

6. While you’re at Rusty’s, grab some fresh fruit & vegetables (for a BBQ later) from the market stalls.

approx. $10.00

7. Walk back to the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon & take a dip in the lagoon. Listen to some live music on the lawns (2-5pm).

Free

8. Visit Prawn Star at the Cairns Marina for some Fresh Local Seafood for dinner.  Purchase a kilo of Banana Prawns for $25 with lemon.  Ask for a tub of their special Prawn Star Sauce.

$25

9. Cook dinner on the BBQs on the Cairns Esplanade.

Free

10. Use your leftover to enjoy a cocktail and schooner of Little Creatures at the Salthouse.

$23

TOTAL SPEND

approx $87.60

 

 

The Wildlife Option

 

6. After lunch, head to the Cairns Wildlife Dome for an interactive experience with some native animals.

$48.00

7. Share a large pizza from Oasis Kebab for dinner.

$15

8. Head to the Salthouse for a pair of Great Northern schooners to wrap up the day.

$14

TOTAL SPEND

approx $106.60

 

 

You can find Adventure Mumma at: www.adventuremumma.com

twitter.com/AdventureMumma

instagram.com/adventuremumma/

facebook.com/adventuremummaoz

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

Attraction : Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Imagine a place where you can walk amongst the animals, climb above the treetops and feel on top of the world before floating back to earth.  You can experience all of these things at one place – Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome.

 

You won’t believe it until you see it for yourself, but that ornate dome atop the Reef Casino in Cairns is home to an open wildlife exhibit with various rope courses, zip lines and the opportunity to get the best view in town.

 

Wildlife Dome

Animal lovers don’t need to travel far from Cairns to get their fix.  The Cairns Wildlife Dome is essentially a small tropical zoo within a 20 metre high glass dome that showcases native Australian animals.  Built within the surroundings is Cairns ZOOm, an elaborate rope course with zip lines, a spiral staircase and a platform at the top to soak in the views of the region.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

There are various talks throughout the day so that you can learn and interact with animals such as crocodiles, snakes, koalas and various birds.  The animals are all fairly used to the presence of people so you can get up close without startling them.  One of the best presentations is the crocodile feeding, where you can see and hear Goliath the saltwater crocodile snap at morsels of meat.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

While many of the animals have their own separate enclosures, birds and small marsupials roam free in the rainforest environment.  Kookaburras, frogmouths, curlews and cockatoos are easily spotted from the ground while parrots, herons and doves fly above and can be accessed from a circular boardwalk.  There are over 400 animals within the dome, including an albino kookaburra that can turn the day into a game of hide and seek.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

While many of the animals are visible during the day, such as the turtles, crocodiles and lizards, if you stick around after sunset, the nocturnal animals come out to play.  Bettongs can be seen visiting the feeding stations, the mahogany gliders leave their cosy log for breakfast and curious pademelons are ready to meet the visitors.  While we were in the pademelon section, they were so friendly, one even hopped into Dave’s lap for a kiss.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

ZOOm Courses & Ziplines

When you enter the Wildlife Dome, the overhead ZOOm course is not hard to miss.  It is the world’s first rope course set up in a wildlife exhibit and has over 65 different crossings, including ziplines, ladders, tyre bridges, rope webs and small platforms.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

There are two ZOOm levels – the mid level course is great for beginners, kids and those who may be afraid of heights.  Once you’ve completed the Mid-ZOOm, you’re ready for the Hi-ZOOm.  This course is twice as long, with more crossings and climbs to nearly 10 metres above the floor of the dome.  The view is amazing and dizzying at the very top.  On the way down, there are three ziplines, with one that goes directly over Goliath’s pond.  Don’t worry – there’s no chance he can jump high enough to get you, and there’s even a camera set up so you can take a cool photo souvenir home.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

We were excited about getting up in the air, and the harnessing and safety processes by the friendly staff was nice and quick.  The Mid-ZOOm course was a great introduction into what we were in for with the Hi-ZOOm, and we certainly worked up a sweat.  It’s a great workout for your arms and core, trying to stay stable on wobbly bridges and holding onto ropes and rails.  For the Hi-ZOOm course, we opted for a GoPro helmet for Dave.  We are so happy to have video of the experience, especially the narrow beams at the top of the course that provide nothing to hold on to.  They reminded Juz of the photos from the 1930s of the Rockefeller building construction workers sitting on beams up in the sky.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Dome Climb

After the Zoom courses, we ducked out for lunch before returning just before sunset for the Dome Climb.  We ascended the spiral staircase that takes you up to the top of the dome and were connected to a belay system before stepping through an opening to get outside.  A tour guide was with us and she gave us a great run down on the history and geography of Cairns.

 

Needless to say, this is THE BEST VIEW OF CAIRNS, and it was even more magical at sunset.  We dangled ourselves off the edge, walked all the way around the Dome and took heaps of pictures before climbing back inside.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Power Jump

After soaking in the great views of Cairns from the Dome Climb, we had no intention of walking back down the spiral staircase, so we chose to jump down… or POWERJUMP down! The PowerJump involves stepping off a platform 13 metres high and falling at a speed of about 30km/h to land safely at the bottom.  The descent is controlled by a special fan that dissipates the potential energy and allows for a fast fall and soft landing.

 

Dave suggested Juz go first so he could film her with the GoPro.  He probably could’ve filmed from the bottom, but then you wouldn’t be able to see the expression of her face at the edge of the platform before she jumped – or to be more accurate, crumbled – and let out a nice scream on her way down.  HAHAHA!  After she landed, she promptly curled up into the foetal position.  Dave went next and owned it.  He didn’t even make a noise.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

After de-harnessing, the Dome was dark so we did another lap to meet some of the critters that come out at night.

 

We had an incredible time at Cairns ZOOm and Wildlife Dome.  The open plan of the zoo provides the opportunity to interact with some the animals, while the rope courses above are a great way to get an active thrill.  If the physical aspect of the rope course is not your cup of tea, then the Dome Climb is certainly a must do activity because those views are absolutely magnificent.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome from Our Naked Australia on Vimeo.

Kuranda

The Tablelands – Part 2 : Kuranda

Kuranda

 

Nestled in rainforest just 25km from Cairns, Kuranda is an adorable “Village in the Rainforest” with plenty of bohemian character.  Check out the colourful craft markets, indulge in some delicious coffee at one of the many cafes, or get closer to nature by visiting the nearby waterfalls or local animals.

 

The rainforest around Kuranda was the home of the Djaybugay people for thousands of years, before the white settlers turned up in 1885.  The construction of a railway to connect Cairns with Herberton went through Kuranda in 1891 and it was around this time that the Kuranda Post office opened.  Timber was the town’s primary industry for a long time, until it turned into the tourist destination that it is today.  It uses the railway to receive thousands of tourists who travel from Cairns on the Kuranda Scenic Railway.  Other ways to get to Kuranda are by coach or the Skyrail.

 

During our stay in Cairns, we had both Juz’s mum and dad visit on separate occasions, and we took them both to Kuranda.  If you have a day to spare while you’re in the Cairns/Port Douglas region, it would be worth spending some or all of that day in Kuranda.

 

Kuranda

 

Points of Interest

Kuranda Markets

There are two markets in Kuranda.

The Heritage Market started around 20 years ago and is an undercover market nestled between the Wildlife Experience destinations.  The main things on offer are various Australiana products, like didgeridoos, vests and wallets made from kangaroo fur, handmade jewellery, crafts and leather goods.  There is also a nice cafe with a deck that overlooks lush rainforest.

 

 

The original Kuranda Market is located across the road, behind the shops and was established in 1978.  It’s laid out over a sloped landscape with little pathways winding around colourful huts that host the stalls.  This market has a very hippy, colourful, free-spirited feel to it, and the stalls vary from health smoothies and rainbow dresses to dreadlocking and a mini golf course!  The highlights of the original market are the hippy photo op and Petit Cafe…

 

Petit Café

A popular destination for locals and visitors, Petit Cafe offers an entire menu of various crepes with delicious coffee.  During busy times, you might have to wait to get a table, but it is worth it.  The kangaroo prosciutto and goats cheese crepe is heaven.  We took Juz’s mum here when she visited and we all had a savoury crepe each, and a dessert crepe to share.  Scrumptious.

 

 

Kuranda Beer

One of the cafes in Kuranda offers Kuranda Draught, a beer made by Red Dragon Brewery in Cairns.  We stopped in to sample and found that this beer was really nice.  The banana and other fruity aromas gave it a real ‘breakfast beer’ taste.  It was crisp and lightly bubbly with a delicate hops aftertaste that left a pleasant lingering bitterness and dryness in the mouth. YUMMO!

 

German Tucker

If you don’t mind a bit of sausage, these guys claim to have the best German sausages in Australia.  Yes, they’re delicious, and come with a variety of sides like caramelised onion, sauerkraut and potato salad, but surely there are other ‘best German sausages’ in Australia… right?

 

Kuranda

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

If you have at least 6 hours to spare, we highly recommend treating yourself to the Kuranda Wildlife Experience.  This package includes three destinations – the Kuranda Koala Gardens, Birdworld Kuranda and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.  You’ll get to meet a whole range of animals, from koalas, wallabies and gliders to lizards, turtles and cheeky parrots.  Check out our post about the Kuranda Wildlife Experience here…

 

 

Barron River Falls

The best time to visit the Barron Falls is once the Wet Season has started (around January), because at this time, the torrent of white water that falls over the Barron Falls Weir is more fierce and really impressive. We visited just before the wet and while we weren’t expecting much, it was still a pretty sight.

 

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Animal Attraction : Kuranda Wildlife Experience

Despite the rain, we drove the Troopy over the Macalister Range and arrived in Kuranda village for a very special day with the local wildlife.  The Kuranda Wildlife Experience is the ultimate ticket for animal lovers and is a fantastic way to meet unique, beautiful and interesting animals from Australia and around the world!

 

Kuranda Koala Gardens

Our first stop was the Kuranda Koala Gardens, but don’t be fooled by the name – they have much more than just those cute, cuddly balls of sleeping fur.  They had a variety of turtles, bearded dragons, kangaroos, pythons, and even freshwater crocodiles!

 

 

The first highlight was watching the wombats – the fussy female was paired with her second potential mate, who was on heat that morning.  We had never heard such a strange hissing/growling noise come from a wombat before!  She was resisting all advances and as she scurried away, the male wombat was hot on her heels.  Later that day, we mentioned it to one of the keepers and she said that the female brings it upon herself, because she often tries to get his attention, and then runs away!  What a tease!

 

The wombats at Kuranda Koala Gardens from Our Naked Australia on Vimeo.

 

The second highlight was feeding the swamp wallabies.  These creatures were absolutely adorable and very friendly.  As you offer food, their little paws reach up and hold onto your hand.

 

 

The third highlight was visiting the new glider enclosure at feeding time.  There are two varieties on display, the squirrel glider and mahogany glider.  Both are just as cute as the other, but their feeding habits are a little different.  While squirrel gliders prefer to munch of fresh fruit and vegetables with only a little sip of nectar, mahogany gliders prefer their sweet cocktail over fruit and veg.  Another interesting fact that we learnt was that mahogany gliders were thought to be extinct for over 100 years and were only rediscovered in 1989.

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

 

Just before moving on to the next experience, we decided to cuddle a koala and get a souvenir photo.  Alternatively, if koalas aren’t your thing, you can hold a snake instead, but with our fabulous reptile experiences in Alice Springs and Darwin, we thought the koala was the right choice… although he doesn’t seem to understand what ‘happier and with your mouth open’ means.

 

http://www.koalagardens.com/

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

 

Birdworld Kuranda

All feelings of anticipation and excitement were replaced with angst and trepidation when we were shown the “stolen property” tub on the reception desk at Birdworld Kuranda.  It was full of bracelets, buttons, ear rings, Barmah Hat badges and anything else small and shiny that the birds can pry off you with their burly beaks.   Juz promptly de-accessorised…

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

 

Once we walked through the door we were presented with an aviary large enough to house trees, a small waterfall and a pond.  We walked out onto a platform at the top of the aviary and were greeted with the pleasant aromas of tropical fruit that had been served to the birds for breakfast.  There were three colourful macaws perched nearby, as well as a couple of Alexandrine Parrots and Eclectus parrots having a morning meal.

 

As we did a lap of the aviary, we got to know the inhabitants – there was a small aviary full of little finches, huddles of green-cheeked conures, a white-faced heron in the trees, streaks of colour as rainbow lorikeets sped past, a few mandarin ducks and black swans in the pond, and even an intimidating cassowary.  Despite their danger factor, these huge birds are endangered due to being hit by cars and the destruction of their habitat.

 

 

Once we returned to the platform, the Alexandrine Parrots set their sights on our poor, defenceless pen.  With a big red beak, the parrot effortless cracked the shaft and deformed the push button, and we knew that if Dave let go of the pen, it would never survive.  At this point, Juz spotted a juvenile fig parrot sitting on the wire of the fence surrounding the platform and gave it a brief rub on the back of its neck before a sharp peck said it was time to go.

 

On our way out, we got to meet Cobbler the Cockatoo and then swung past the Troopy for a new pen before hitting up our next destination.

 

http://www.birdworldkuranda.com/

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

 

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Established in 1985, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary works to increase butterfly numbers by protecting the offspring.  In the wild, only 1 or 2% of eggs laid survive to adulthood while at the Sanctuary, their success rate is 60-80%.

 

Copy of Kuranda Wildlife Experience 2015-02-09 416

 

There are 8 species of butterfly in the aviary, as well as the Hercules moth – the world’s largest moth.  All of them are native rainforest species which is why the aviary has been designed to replicate their habitat.  With 1500 beautiful butterflies, including the iridescent blue Ulysses butterfly and the big Cairns Birdwing with its bright green and yellow colours, it was easy to stop and become mesmerised by the quiet fluttering of colour all around.

 

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There are several stations around the aviary that function as both a feeding platform and a place to lay eggs.  Each station has a few dishes that are filled with a special nectar formula and topped with a white lid to attract the butterflies.  They used to put honey in the dishes before they realised that the honey was fermenting in the heat and causing the butterflies to get drunk!  The stations also have particular plant clippings which act as hosts for the butterfly eggs.  Each butterfly has a particular plant they lay their eggs on to ensure the survival of their caterpillars, and having these particular plants at designated stations makes collecting the butterfly eggs much easier.

 

The eggs are taken to the laboratory where they are cared for until the caterpillar hatches, grows up and turns into a butterfly.  Depending on the species, the caterpillar munches for around 20-30 days before they transform into a chrysalis (cocoon) and stew for between 10 and 30 days, before a butterfly emerges and is released into the main aviary to live a short life that lasts between 10 days and a few months.  The more they flutter, the shorter they live – that’s why some of our photos are a bit blurry – butterflies don’t live long and have to get sh*t done!

 

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http://www.australianbutterflies.com/

 

 

Our Kuranda Wildlife Experience was absolutely magical.  We got to see a wide range of animals, from mammals and reptiles to insects and arachnids.  Each experience was interactive as we got up close and personal to koalas, wallabies, parrots and lacewing butterflies.  We even got to meet some fellow Melbournians – Rob and Belinda – who were visiting Cairns on holiday.

 

Tickets for the Kuranda Wildlife Experience are $46 dollars for adults, $23 for children.  They can be purchased from any of the three attractions.

 

 

Cape York

Experience : Cape York – Part 2

For Experience : Cape York – Part 1 – click here!

 

Bamaga Tavern

 

Day 5

Bamaga

We completed the rest of the 5 Beaches Track and made our way back to Bamaga.  When we took the Troopy out of 4WD, Dave noticed that one of the front spring mounts had snapped. Afraid that the other mount would snap too, we crawled to Bamaga and went straight to the wreckers.  A new mount was an easy $10 and Dave installed it in about 30 minutes.  We then met an inquisitive local named Mark, who worked in one of the aboriginal communities and was interested in hearing about Our Naked Australia.

 

Cape York 2014-09-22 013

 

It was about lunchtime so we lingered around the Bamaga Tavern for a drink and a meal at the northernmost pub in Australia.

 

Seisia

To be honest, there isn’t much to see other than the wharf and jetty.  Fishermen of various ages were trying their luck with the massive schools of fish hanging about below the surface of the water.  One man was even spear fishing.

 

Cape York

 

DC3 Plane Crash Site

On the 5th of May 1945, a DC-3 VH-CXD aircraft that was operated by the RAAF, was flying from Brisbane to Port Moresby to deliver meat to troops.  It needed to refuel in Bamaga but due to foggy conditions, it clipped some trees and crashed about 3km short of its target.  All on board perished.

 

Cape York

 

If you have a chance to swing past and see this crash site, then definitely do.

 

Muttee Head

This was a great place to camp.  It’s right next to the beach, the camping permit is included with the ferry pass, and the sweet scent of fig trees perfumed the breeze.  It looked like someone thought it was a great place to live because there was a campsite with a makeshift sink and little garden.  Perhaps a recent bushfire had chased the beachside hermit away.

 

Cape York

 

Day 6

In the morning, we headed straight to the Jardine Ferry, but the ferryman hadn’t turned up yet.  It was still early so we hung around for 45 minutes with a bunch of other people waiting for the ferry to open.  The guy eventually turned up at 8:15am and got to work straight away.

 

Old Telegraph Track

Today we would complete the northern portion of the OTT, but because the road was closed from the Jardine River, we had to travel a few clicks before finding the side track in.  We checked out Eliot Falls, Twin Falls and Fruit Bat Falls, did a nerve-wrecking water crossing, and headed back to the southern portion of the OTT.  The Jardine Ferry ticket included camping at Bertie Creek so that’s where we spent the rest of the afternoon.

 

 

Day 7

After a quick wash in Bertie Creek, we decided to continue down the OTT instead of taking the Gunshot Bypass back to the main road. We usually avoid back tracking but we liked the OTT so much the first time, we were happy to do it again.

 

After a brief stop at Bramwell Junction Roadhouse to pump up the tyres and stock up on some more water, we went to Moreton Telegraph Station to book our campsite for that night in Iron Range National Park.  The lady at the station was really helpful and told us that Telstra customers can get a few bars of reception at Chilli Beach – if we wanted, we could book our site once we checked out the campgrounds.

 

Frenchmans Track

We took Frenchmans Track into Iron Range National Park, and found the track to be thoroughly unpleasant.  It alternated between unavoidable corrugations, soft sand and the occasional creek crossings.

 

 

There are two rivers that intersect with Frenchmans – Wenlock Crossing is fairly easy to navigate through but watch out for Pascoe Crossing.  It’s steep and rocky and you’ll definitely need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to get through.  Unfortunately, the Troopy got hung up on a rock and while trying to get free, the brake booster blew.  Highly inconvenient – Dave had only one shot at guiding the Troopy down the steep rocky path into the river and he did a bloody good job.

 

The great views that followed the Pascoe Crossing were besmirched by the brake booster busting.  And to make matters worse, our water goon bag had bounced around in the back and tore on a bracket holding the curtains in place.  We dealt with the goon, ate a banana to cheer us up, and made an effort to appreciate our surroundings before continuing on.

 

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Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park

Once off the Frenchmans Track, we followed the tarmac road through the ranges to suddenly be surrounded by rainforest.  We even saw a cassowary hurry off into the bushes!  The road alternated between paved and gravel road, and the rain made it easy for Dave to see pot holes.  The smell of the forest was wonderful, and we were amazed at how thick the foliage was.

 

There are two camping areas in Iron Range.  The rainforest campsites are nice and shaded right amongst the rainforest, but Cooks Hut is the only site that forbids generators.  It’s a large communal clearing with picnic benches and toilets.  Chilli Beach is the other camping area.  While reception is available on the beach, you can actually pick up a signal from the highroad on the way in.  This is where we made our first Queensland campsite booking.  The guy on the other end was really friendly, but we still have to wonder whether this micromanagement of parkland campsites is really the way to go.

 

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Chilli Beach

The sun had set by the time we got to our designated camping spot.  Dave was so frazzled from the day that when he opened the back of the Troopy to find that the goon water had leaked all over the bed, he refused to have anything to do with it and sat down to relax.

 

Juz sorted out the wet sheets and cooked a quick dinner of chicken and broccoli on rice cakes.  We both felt a lot better after a meal so we went to the adjacent campsite and met our neighbours.  Palm Cove locals, Symon & Robyne were holidaying with their kids and while we were on our way south, they were heading to the Tip.  We shared tips, exchanged details, and agreed that it would be good to meet up for a drink once we got to Palm Cove.

 

Cape York

 

Day 8

Juz crawled out of the Troopy in time to catch the sunrise on Chilli Beach.  After 4 days of overcast skies, the sun was finally out.  Eventually Dave woke up too and we went for a walk along the beach, picking up shells, spotting beached jellyfish and terrorising coconuts that were still hanging from the tree.   We also did the short forest walk behind the campgrounds and spotted lizards and butterflies amongst the undergrowth.

 

Cape York

 

Portland Roads

A short drive from Chilli Beach is Portland Roads, a cute little seaside spot with a few holiday houses and the Out of the Blue Café.  If you’re in the vicinity, stop by and get some seafood and chips – amazing!  We were also lucky enough to walk away with a big soursop fruit from the garden, compliments of the chef.

 

Cape York

 

Lockart River

If you need fuel, go to the local aboriginal community of Lockhart River.  It’s only $1.89 for diesel but remember – no photos while in the community. There isn’t much to photograph there anyway.

 

On the way out of Iron Range, we noticed rising smoke in the distance.  A bushfire was slowly burning through the dry scrub, and Juz told Dave to drive faster because the heat was too intense.

 

Cape York

 

Archer River Roadhouse

This was the last stop before the Quarantine checkpoint so we ate the entire soursop fruit for an afternoon snack.  Turns out, the quarantine checkpoint was closed anyway, but no matter – the fruit was delicious.  It was green and prickly on the outside with white flesh full of big black seeds like watermelon but five times bigger.  The flesh is stringy like pineapple or mango, and the flavour is slightly tart/sour.

 

Back in Coen

We got back to Coen just before dinnertime and had two long-awaited drinks at the SExchange.  We spend the night at the Bend again, and it was wonderful to have a wash in the fresh, croc-free water.

 

Day 9

We had another morning wash in the river before heading out to Lakefield National Park.  It was going to be a short day of driving because of the shot brake booster and poor quality fuel, so after swinging past Lotusbird Lodge, gazing at the flowers at Red Lily Lagoon and spying a kookaburra at White Lily Lagoon, we got to Kalpowar Crossing and relaxed.

 

 

Because of the croc-infested river, we had a cold shower in the toilet block and spent the rest of the afternoon reading.  Once the sun went down, we noticed that the ground was moving and found tiny little frogs everywhere… as well as big ugly cane toads.

 

Day 10

Because we didn’t have a boat for fishing on the river, there was nothing else to do at Kalpowar so we set off early for Cooktown.  This would be the final destination of our Cape York adventure, and what was supposed to be a two day stop ended up stretching to 10 days because of an unexpected Helpx invitation.

 

Overall, we enjoyed our time at Cape York.  The two biggest highlights were definitely being at the northern most point of mainland Australia and four-wheel driving along the Old Telegraph Track.

 

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