|Arriving in Cairns was a bit of a shock to the system. Having decided to by pass the Northern Territory due to rainy season we were surprised to find Cairns.......in the rainy season.
After much deliberation and more planning we decided to do a live aboard dive boat out on the reef for one night. The weather was dreadful in Cairns, it hadn't stopped raining since we arrived so when Saturday morning rolled around and we looked out of the window we were pleasantly suprised to see that it was dark grey clouds, but no rain. After a very choppy 3 hour boat journey out to the reef the weather had changed completely and the sun come out. Following transfers to the reef encounter(our home for the night)we had a spo0t of lunch and donned our diving gear. Mrs. P opted for an introductory dive whilst Mr. P. joined up with dive group for a reef dive. As Mr. P. was without a dive buddy Marge and Bart kindly volunteered to buddy up with him and rechristened Simon Homer, so the dive group from that part on was known as the simpsons.
After a spectacular dive on the reef we returned for a spot of afternoon tea, how very civilised. Unfortunately Mrs. P.'s dive didn't go that well and the recurring ear problem surfaced again, still she could still snorkel over the reef.
Following dinner in the evening Mr. P.'s first night dive loomed. The Ocean blackened, the day workers of the reef clocked off and the night workers clocked on! this mean't the sharks and big fishes came out to play. Thankfully, as we only had torches we could only see what was lit by the beam. Green dots were bad(sharks) red dots(crustaceans) were good!. Mr. P. thought he did see a couple of green dots down there but lost them rather quickly.
Next day, we were up at 6:00 am for the first morning dive(well Mr. P. was, Mrs. P. decided she would like a lie in.) First dive of the morning was good, visability not fantastic and some sleepy fish about. The 8:00am dive was without doubt the best dive Mr. P. has ever done. Abandoned by the Simpson family(you cna only do 4 dives a day and they were staying on for another night) he went out with a guide. Diving with the guide was excellent, as soon as we hit the bottom a huge(2 metre) Napolean Maori wrasse appeared. He was just like a little puppy dog, following us around, letting us pet him and making him do sommersaults and weave between our legs. We even got to see giant clams, a couple of sharks and some of the most colourful and spectacular coral and marine life he has ever seen.
Checking out of the luxury reef encounter and back on to the transfer boat for the journey back to the port saw us arrive back about 5:00pm. After such hard work diving we treated ourselves to a ruby murrey for dinner and booked up our next tours.
The next day we decided to take the cable car from cairns to Karrunda in the mountains. This travels over the rainforest canopy allowing you to get off at various stations for different rainforest experiences. Evwentually reaching Karrunda we hopped onto the transfer bus to the town. Imagine our surprise when the bus left the cable car station, travelled around the corner about 100yards and dropped us off in the centre of town. Intrepid travellers.....hardly! All the shops were heavily tourist orientated, as you are half way up a mountain with nothing else to do they seem to have captures the tourist dollar successfully. There was one shop we went into, a gallery really was had on display some of the most amazing photographs of Austalia, apparently this guy is realy famous. Mrs. P. took a real shine to one of the pictures on display and made some tentative enquiries as to how much it was. This one photo was a limited edition retailing for $9000 Australian. Whilst Mrs. P. was playing it cool and trying not to look so surprised Mr. P. was happliy snapping away with his digital camera taking picutures of all the photo's he liked. It was only when Mrs. P. pointed out ALL of the signs striclty prohibiting photography that we decided to make a sharp exit.
Returning to Cairns on a narrow gauge steam train that was over 100 years old was quite an experience. Travelling down through the rainforest and passing of the most amazing waterfalls was an unforgettable experience.....well for about the first 30 minutes anyway. The train was travelling so slowly and rocking so gently that most of the carriage fell asleep on the big comfy seats. The Japanese were the biggest offenders, dropping like fly's within the first 10 minutes followed by the Italians and Swedes. Still...it did mean we could snap away with the camera and get some great piccies without the standard japanese poses!
Ps - there are new piccies on teh 'ALice in WOnderland' entry.