Thursday, September 1, 2011

2 September 2011 - Cairns Sunland Leisure Park

Late afternoon, enjoying the wonderful birdlife in this lovely camping ground for the last time for a few weeks. We will no doubt return here when we arrive back in Cairns and pick the cruiser and caravan up. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t as they say.

Rain, real rain, fell during the night, and the day dawned overcast with the mountains behind the city shrouded in heavy cloud. Forever the optimist, I did a couple of loads of washing, then dodged intermittent showers to hang it all on the line.

We drove around to the storage yard’s office and filled in all the forms, crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s so that all we have to do tomorrow is turn up at the gateway, have Ben let us in and hope the two savage dogs (one who would lick you to death and the other who would gobble up the remains) are safely chained up when we set the caravan up for several weeks storage; the electrics such that the solar panels will look after all the batteries and the feet filled with talcum powder to deter any ant invaders.

Returning to camp, I relented and moved the laundry in to the driers, the first time I have done so in the seven and a bit months we have been here. After lunch the sun came out and it has been fine ever since. Moral of the story: if you want fine weather, waste your money using a clothes drier.

With everything pretty much under control, including the Sim card in my cellphone changed over and a late (11.30 am) check out sorted for tomorrow, we decided to visit the Cattana Wetlands north of Cairns. We had passed the signs several times and until now not had time, or rather, not made time, to visit. The turnoff is not far past the Cairns airport, and one turns toward Yorkey’s Point Beach. If like us, you miss the next turn, you end up along the esplanade at Yorkey’s Beach, a very pretty stretch of expensive housing set back across the road and a row of Leichardt trees from the beach. Several kite surfers were plying their rental trade and those mad enough to take to the sea were whizzing across the low waves at great speed.

We were directed back down toward the Captain Cook Highway and toward the Cattana Wetlands by one of these adventurers and soon found our way there, wondering how we had missed the sign.

The area is an 80 hectare manmade wetland with board walks and wide paths around the three small lakes filled with wildlife; swamp wallabies, jacanas, a variety of ducks and geese, willy wagtails, parrots, goannas and amethyst pythons; the latter two unseen. Apart from the occupants of one other car, we were alone and so the wildlife was relatively undisturbed by our presence, which was a bonus for us.

On the way back, we checked out the airport, racing in and out of the international terminal building under ten minutes thus not incurring any parking fee. We were suitably impressed by the size and facilities, and so are not too upset about the thought of hanging about there for hours and hours tomorrow until we fly out at 11 pm.

So on that note, let this sentence be my last in this blog until we return in about a month, to resume our travels in this great land of Oz.

1 September 2011 - Cairns Sunland Leisure Park, Queensland

We were away from Mossman soon after nine, stopping briefly in the metropolis to buy a newspaper and to post some mail.

Mossman was in weekday mode as we left; tradesman and shopkeepers all busy, children all at school and the local aboriginals still hanging about waiting for the bottle shops to open. We liked Mossman very much but Chris was not enamored by the bugs that have plagued him ever since we were in Weipa, and continue to do so here on the Wet Tropical east coast.

Within quarter of an hour, we were at Port Douglas, home to North Queensland’s most exclusive resorts, award winning restaurants, beautiful galleries and world class shopping. Promoting itself thus, I was not expecting to like it much and thought we would find it to be a pokey plastic resort town such as Noosa, totally out of sync with the likes of caravanners and those traveling in the same manner.

And so we were both delightfully surprised to find it utterly charming. The six kilometres of road from the Captain Cook Highway to the peninsula is indeed lined with golf courses, elegant hotels and mansions, all tastefully tucked back in to palms and gardens. We found our way down to the park at the inlet end of the main street, parked in a suitable long parking spot and walked up and down the streets, enjoying the vibrancy, colour and life of the boutiques, bars and cafes, then checked out the palm fringed golden sands of Four Mile Beach which even at 9.45 am was packed with sunseekers, swimmers and life guards. We could see why tourists flock to Port Douglas for their tropical sea experience.

Back on the highway, the road continued south along the rugged shoreline, twisting and turning, a slow but good road. We pulled over at Ellis Beach, the most northern Cairns beach we had visited about a month ago, and sat enjoying the breeze, the sound of the waves and the shade of the caravan until lunch time.

After lunch we continued on down to Cairns, the roads and suburbs now all familiar to us, making our way to the central Post Office. I hopped out and Chris circled the block as there was nowhere suitable to accommodate the vehicle and the caravan within coo-ee. And wonder of wonders!!!! The registration label for the land cruiser had arrived!!!! The woman behind the counter must have thought me quite potty because I was so excited and told her she had made our day. But then how could she have known the saga of the label and how miraculous this all was? We had in fact been stopped on the road up the Cape by police breathalising travelers and checking registrations. Fortunately the officer was very tolerant with us having an expired label, especially when we were able to produce the receipt for the registration paid all those months ago.  But we do understand we could have been prosecuted, even with evidence of it having been paid.

We are now settled back in to the camp we stayed last time we were here and will be here for the next couple of nights. Storage for the rig has been organized but just needs to be formalised tomorrow. We have stacked all the stuff we need to take back to New Zealand into shopping bags and weighed ourselves with it, knowing that we can only take 10 kilos each. Tomorrow we will buy a couple of bags, maybe of the kind we originally came to this country with, but smaller; the kind often described as Samoan Suitcases. We do not travel stylishly, that is for sure.

And so we will be back in New Zealand after having been away for seven months  and eleven days, and in that time will have travelled  15,140 kilometres, but barely touched this extensive land mass, having traveled no further south than Sydney, no further west than Boomi, but up to Thursday Island, and having explored the east coast of Queensland as well as one could reasonably expect.

There is still so much for us to see and do here and while other matters will distract us for a while, we will be eager once more to continue this great adventure.