We left Sydney with a great feeling that Australia was going to be good to us, and that just continued. Northern Queensland was completely different than what we had seen in Sydney and the Blue Mountains. But it was just as much Australia.
Our first stop was Magnetic Island. We had debated a lot whether to bring our rental car or leave it on the mainland. We were so happy that we brought it! Despite only 20 km road on the island we ended up driving about 100 km 🙂 There was not really anything to do on the island, so we drove to the other end just to get coffee several times. We never really got excited about the island, but it being the only place on a 4 month trip that we could have left out is a pretty good success rate 🙂 Maybe it was too little Australia and too much retirement 😉
After Magnetic Island things got back to awesome. We went to the Atherton Tablelands and stayed in the rainforest. It was very outdoorsy and here we got a taste of the Australian wildlife. Just outside our porch were small kangaroos playing and one night coming back we drove over a snake. We started talking about whether a snake could climb up into the car when driven over. So we did what you shouldn’t do… We turned around to make sure there was a dead snake on the road (and not an angry snake under the car). But when we got back to the place it was gone…! What to do then?? Now we didn’t know if it was under the car… Luckily we never saw it again. But we kept our eyes out for snakes on the road after that!
Our place in the middle of the rainforest was called Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Resort, and it was really amazing sitting on the porch and listening to the animal sounds.
The Atherton Tablelands had some amazing vistas and nice waterfalls, and we spent a few days driving around and exploring the area. Some of the places here reminded us of our second home in Tennessee – adding to the enjoyment!
The small town we stayed close to – Yungaburra – had a fun ‘country-hippie’ feeling to it. Think rednecks combined with old 60’s hippies. It was not a place like this I had expected to find out here, but it was definitely worth a visit.
There was a nice playground for Carla where we had to come back 3 times on the same day before the swing was free…! But then her happiness was secured for a long time, and being allowed to hold her littlebrother on the swing made her SO proud! 🙂
But the highlight on this part of the trip was actually a trip into the outback to a town called Chillagoe. This was real Australia to me. Red earth. Dust. Cliffs. It was SO cool! And we were so excited that we went there despite a long drive back and forth. It was worth every mile! The town was just one street with only two places to eat. We chose the combined gas station, guest house and restaurant. A good choice, and what didn’t look like much actually ended up being one of the best burgers we had on the whole trip!
On our next stop we were back in the rainforest.
It is amazing how much the landscape changes as soon as you drive inland from the coast in Australia. In Daintree Rainforest National Park we stayed as far north as the road went – Cape Tribulation. From here it is only 4wd road further north. Cape Tribulation can hardly be classified as a town, rather a gathering of places to stay from where you can explore the rainforest. Here we stayed in the middle of bat world. I’ve never seen so many bats at one place before (that was before going to Katherine Gorge in Northern Territory, however…!). Luckily they don’t bother humans, the only annoyance is all their poo which were all over the place. And all over our car the first morning – then we learned to park under a tree with no bats!
At this place they had spiders so big that Carla thought they were crabs. Again we were lucky not to get too close to them. The horror stories of Australian wildlife are still just stories for us 🙂
We went on a crocodile cruise on Coopers Creek in Daintree Rainforest. For me it’s always a bit ambivalent doing these kinds of activities. There is nothing worse than chasing animals around and pretend they are not bothered. I think its cruel. But the guy taking us on this tour was actually very respectful to the animals. He was the only one allowed to sail in this part of the National Park (a big plus!), and when we encountered a [huge] croc, he slowly backed off. I guess it was both for our safety and for the respect of the animal. All in all it was actually a good and fascinating experience.
(NB: If you look closely there is a crocodile in all 3 pictures)
Northern Queensland beaches are both very beautiful and extremely uninviting at the same time. The waters have box jellyfish in the summertime, a very poisonous jellyfish which can be fatal for humans. Likewise there are saltwater crocodiles which are known to attack humans, and even last year a tourist lost her life at the beach in this area. So we were very cautious not to go close to the water, and despite one local who said that it was ok to swim in daylight because then we could see the crocodiles … ?! we chose not to swim in the ocean here 🙂
We went to another island in this part of Australia. This time with more luck. Fitzroy Island off of Cairns was actually very pleasant. Again there was nothing to do. It was just a resort. But we had a great apartment-style room, and it was nice with a couple of relaxing days after much exploring.
Next stop is a scratch in the surface of the Northern Territory, but something we have looked very much forward to. Another place which is to me also the definition of Australia.
I’m learning that Australia is so many things, and that all of it has an Australian feeling to it. And I really love that Aussie feeling! Just bring it all 🙂