When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Cairns’ Area

We left Millaa Millaa and took the Gillies Hwy to Cairns. As you can see, we are no longer in the Outback!

Hooray, the roads have curves and hills!

 

We arrive in Cairns and setup camp near where our friends Skip and Rachel live.  But they are touring the USA, currently at the Grand Canyon, and have given us the names of their neighbors and friends Graeme and Vera.  We need a tune-up and oil change on the van and have messaged them and they suggested a shop.  We went to the shop on the way into town and set up an appointment for 0800 the next day.  When we arrive for the appointment he says we can’t wait there while he does the work. We tell him that is our only transportation and we have to wait. He is extremely insistent and we end up going to a shop two doors down and making an appointment for 0800 the next morning.  That night Graeme and Vera invited us to their house for a very, very good dinner.  Thanks go out to our new friends.

Because we now have a free day we limp up a nearby mountain to the village of Karunda.  It is an arts/crafts village with a strong “hippie” influence.  We wandered the shops and museum, bought a couple souvenirs and had a beer at the hotel.  The “hippie” part of town was a warren of narrow paths/stairs/ramps leading here and there.

 

 

 

 

 

But there was also a main street with more standard businesses and shops.  Spaced down the street were these islands with trees that had aerial root systems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nearby is a waterfall/power house that has an excellent viewpoint. The viewpoint is accessed by walking an elevated pathway through the upper sections of the trees eventually coming to ground about a kilometer down the hill. The waterfall is nearly all consumed by the power house at this time of year.

There are three ways to get to Karunda. One, is an aerial gondola system that is 8 km. (5 mi) long. Two, is a scenic railroad the runs past the falls lookout. Three, is self-drive.  I had planned to take the gondola up and the train down but with the change in van repairs we opted to self drive.

 

It is a good thing that we did, the train wasn’t running for some reason and we would have had to take the gondola back down. The 3:30 PM train I had planned to take had wine and food for the passengers (at extra cost). This truck full of workers went by, backwards, on the tracks, while we were at the viewpoint. I have no idea what the problem was but these are the guys to fix it. And by not taking the gondola/train package we saved $150 but missed the thrill of the two rides.

 

 

The following day we were again at a mechanic shop at 0800 but this time the mechanic suggested that instead of waiting for the 3-4 hours in his hot office he would take us to the air conditioned mall where we could have food and sit in comfort.  We agreed and had an enjoyable wait.  I think the other  mechanic had decided to not do the job but didn’t have the honesty to tell us and suggest an alternative place.  The van had been running very ragged with a misfire in its running.  It turns out that the #2 spark plug’s gap was set too close and a piece of carbon has shorted it out.  It now runs very smoothly.

With the van fixed we were free of worry and did a Great Barrier Reef dive/snorkel trip. That is not our boat, but it looks very similar and was following us out.  We booked our trip on Compass Cruises at the suggestion of Skip and Rachel.  It was $110 per person and a very good value. Thanks guys. We had an all day trip, breakfast and lunch as well as wine and cheese on the way back.  That is on top of them providing all equipment and the trip out and back.

 

 

 

We had several safety briefings.  This one is for people going diving.  I had signed up for a “tourist dive”, which is an escorted dive with the tank.  I have no dive license so going on my own was not an option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The boat had platforms that lowered down on the back and two sides.  The back was for divers and the sides for snorkelers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got my turn at the diving too.  I have a Garmin VIRB action camera (like a GoPRO) and I’m taking a picture of him taking a picture of me.

 

I was disappointed in the quantity and variety of the fish. When I snorkeled the reef off Key West it was much better. Now we are talking about two small spots on two large reefs, but the spot at Key West was much better.

 

 

 

I also did some snorkeling, that’s me in the middle in black.

On the way out Kathy was violently seasick.  The ride out was an hour and a half and she was miserable the whole way.  The way back was much smoother and she survived without much difficulty.  But then she had nothing left to throw up either.  We had had breakfast before boarding and skipped it on board.  We skipped lunch because she wasn’t hungry and neither was I.  I wasn’t really seasick just not hungry.

 

 

Now seasickness goes away quickly when the motion stops.  So when we landed we were quite hungry and headed to a Mexican themed brewpub I had heard about.  We had a very good fajitas and some of their beer.  The Green Ant Cantina was colorful and good.

Tomorrow we head south again to see more sights, Paronella Park and other things.