Well folks here it goes – the mother of all trip reports! Here is a quite lengthy and detailed trip report from our amazing trip to OZ! I am realizing this TR is quite an undertaking – so stay tuned for more as I get to it! I have linked all my reviews using tinyurl for easy access to more information on hotels, restaurants and tours we used.
Weds March 30
Thursday March 31 / Friday April 1
Saturday April 2
Inflight aboard a Boeing 757-400. The Qantas staff was all amazing, and the amenities on the flight were good. It was VERY bumpy though. I am not one to get airsick or seasick but it was pretty bad, especially at the times they were trying to serve us dinner and breakfast (of course!). The food was very nice for airplane food. I did pop a sleep aid which allowed me to get the much needed rest for our busy trip and not have too much jet lag.
Sunday April 3
We landed in Brisbane on schedule, were greeted by very nice customs workers and transferred to the domestic terminal to head up to Cairns. We ran around the airport in Brisbane trying to figure out which SIM card to buy. The retailers didn't have too much information, so we ended up going with the Optus $30 card which was 10 mins for $1 international. This worked out fine for a few quick calls home and we probably didn't even use all the balance. Had our first meal in OZ – Hungry Jacks! Sad I know, but it's an airport! Looks a lot like Burger King, mates! We do like that your ketchup has real sugar in it and not high fructose corn syrup. Same for coke too! Though I did not notice a lot of Pepsi in restaurants or shops.
Flight to Cairns was a little bumpy as well. Easy retrieval of our luggage (they had a sign with our name – cool!) and quick ride to Palm Cove. Checked in at the Sea Temple (http://tinyurl.com/44b7dpm) to our Studio room at 1:30pm. Great, we have the rest of the day if we can stay awake! We had drinks at the pool bar, took a walk around the hotel and used the pool. We walked out their pathway to the beach, and silly jetlagged us got "lost". We could not find the opening in the trees that led back to the Sea Temple! We could not have walked that far we thought. So we asked some locals who were walking and they pointed us to another opening, which this path led back to the street that Sea Temple was on. Can you tell our brains were fried from all the travel? Changed and had dinner at the Temple of Tastes (http://tinyurl.com/3nqr2t8) in the resort which was pretty good. In bed at 9:30pm – not bad for our first day!
Monday April 4
Awoke early to get ready for snorkel trip with Quicksilver on their SilverSeries to the Agincourt reefs. Unfortunately 5 mins before we headed downstairs they called to cancel, the winds were too high to go out. Determined to get out on the water we booked Great Adventures' Green Island trip (http://tinyurl.com/3sqwus3), but they probably should have cancelled too! They shuttled us to Cairns, where it started to pour. The ride out to Green Island was pretty rough, we took some ginger tablets. Upon arrival it poured, but then the sun came out. We stashed some stuff in a locked ($6 of course) and went to the beach. We had brought our own snorkel gear to OZ and had it with us. Of course visibility was pretty poor, so we just floated around a while. Got out to have some lunch at the restaurant on the island which was just okay (BLT sandwich and a salad). Then we changed into dry clothes and walked the national park boardwalk, which goes out to the southern facing part of the island (you can see Fitzroy Island). You can walk the beach from there around to the pier, but the winds were so strong we did not go further. Of course it poured again so we got soaked! The boat departed at 4:30pm, we had enough by then for sure. We were cold and wet on the boat, and the waves were rocking it back and forth even worse than the morning. Shuttled back to Palm Cove and a much needed hot soak in the tub! We had dinner at Vivo's (http://tinyurl.com/3gxxr8w) which was very nice, they had a 3 course special going on that seemed a better value than a la carte. A bit of a disappointing and WET first day. I wish the hotel would have told us not to go to Green Island, we would have been better off at Kuranda. Though touristy as well, it would have been some nice views and a neat experience. I would not recommend Green Island, but as you can see it was a last minute decision. This is why I do lots of research!
Tuesday April 5
Awoke early for our pickup by Down Under Tours (http://tinyurl.com/3dunqqt) to the Daintree Rainforst and Cape Tribulation. A few more pickups in Palm Cove and Port Douglas and we were on our way. Ricky our guide and driver narrated the drives and was full of interesting information about Australian history, geology, rainforests, pop culture, you name it! We crossed the Daintree River on the ferry (pretty neat thing they have there!), stopped at Alexandria Lookout for some photos. Were welcomed with tea and biscuits at the Discovery Center and had a brief tour and climbed up the viewing tower. Then on to Cape Tribulation where we had time to do a short walk on the boards to the lookout points and take some photos. Lunch was at a private BBQ spot, and a quick stop at the Daintree Ice Cream company topped it off. We then joined a river cruise to search for crocs (we saw a baby one, a 3 meter female and some interesting plants and birds). Tea and biscuits provided after than, and then made our way to Mossman Gorge for a few photos. This was the only spot the whole trip I got bitten by a mosquito! Reversed back through Port Douglas, Palm Cove (and they continued to Cairns – very long ride for those people!). We had dinner at Chok de in Peppers Beach Club which was tasty and something different. Caught our first AFL game on TV that night - looks fun but we had no idea what was going on!
Wednesday April 6
Early morning pickup by Quicksilver (http://tinyurl.com/3l4xgll)for our rescheduled Agincourt reef trip. The ride out was pretty rough still, I took ginger and the stronger stuff as well. Many were seasick but we managed to stick it out. The first stop was the "Three Sisters" but visibility was pretty low, the sun was not out and the currents were pulling you pretty badly. It was tough to swim away from the boat to get close to anything. I have a few snaps from our underwater digital but without the sunlight it's pretty blah. The second and third stops were about the same, rough water, poor visibility. The lunch they served was nice but with the boat rocking so badly I don't think anyone ate much. The scuba divers seemed to have a better time since they were below the waves. There were times the wind was blowing so hard it closed the top of my snorkel and I couldn't get air! So – I'm sure the great barrier reef is GREAT – it just wasn't for us. A reason to go back I suppose! The ride back was like being on a giant speedboat for 1.5 hours, pretty scary at times actually! We had dinner at Far Horizons in the Angsana Resort (http://tinyurl.com/3m5k3an) which was very modern (aka tiny portions!) but delicious and a nice experience. Our first time trying dukkah (with EVOO and balsamic of course) and we were hooked! On to Uluru tomorrow!