Thursday, 15 November 2012

More news from Cairns

Since our last blog over a month ago we have been out to Fitzroy again, had the pleasure of the visit of Hamish and Sara (from Whangarei) and experienced the wonder of the total solar eclipse on Nov. 14th.
We had a good sail out to Fitzroy beating all the way against the perpetual SE, but we had all day as we had left Bluewater earlyish as the tide was around 8 am. So we decided for once to sail come what may, with 5 tacks to get there. On the way we went close to Green Is. which is a tourist destination out near the Barrier Reef. We spent 3 days out there during which we went ashore and alternately swam or sat on the beach or visited the local bar for Happy Hour! Such a decadent lifestyle.
Since we came back we have bought 2 push bikes (near new), but cheap basic bikes which we can ride locally. Jim to the local pool for some much needed swimming exercise and Jean to the local gym. Also the local beaches just to the north of us - Trinity, Palm Cove and Kewarra.
Then Hamish and Sara visited a few days ago having driven their camper van from a wedding they attended on the Sunshine Coast. They've had an extensive trip with visits to friends and relatives from Gladstone to inland NSW. We had wanted to take them out to Fitzroy but the weather wasn't friendly with the usual high winds. One day they took us up to Port Douglas which is a highly "touristified" coastal town about 40 miles north of Cairns. We must be getting very jaded as regards the tourist circuit because it immediately turns us off - probably because during our travels we've seen such remote places and suddenly getting on the tourist trail is such a contrast.
Another day we went with Hamish and Sara on the train to Kuranda up on the tablelands inland from Cairns. This is a very historic railway which was constructed in the late 1880's as access from Cairns to the inland goldfields. It was an engineering feat similar to the Spiral in the central north island in NZ but on a larger scale. Many workers died during the construction process from accident or illness. The train itself is a wonderfully refurbished collection of old carriages, although disappointingly pulled by 2 diesel electric locomotives - each 1,000 h.p. A very scenic trip with precipitous dropoffs very close to the edge of the track.
Kuranda itself is very leafy and pretty and elevated some 300 metres above sea level. However, again full of tourists with indifferent food at outrageous prices. We returned on what they call Skyrail but it is really a series of gondolas suspended by cable high above the rain forest canopy. There are two stops on the way down to view the scenery and to enjoy some brief walks through the rain forest on very well built and maintained board walks. Jim, being somewhat indifferent to heights, was a little apprehensive but by sitting facing aft the dizzying and swooping rises and falls were a little more muted and now he could face it with aplomb!! All very dramatic and really spectacular scenery.
Then on the 14th. a highlight - the total 100% solar eclipse. 70 kms. each side of Cairns and extending in a path NW to the Gulf of Carpentaria provided the only place in the world where the eclipse was 100% so very special. We didn't know how best to view the eclipse - we'd thought about going out on the boat but as the eclipse was occurring at about 6.30 am we would have had to go out the night before to get out on the high tide. But there was a gale warning in force (!) so we decided to view it from the local beach. Accordingly we set out at 0445 and by torchlight found our way down to the beach. More and more people arrived as the time drew nearer but unfortunately a black cloud sat very annoyingly over the sun just as the 2 minute eclipse was happening. However, we experienced daylight from first light at 0510 and then had the rare experience of near darkness as the eclipse passed. During the eclipse the light level would have been equivalent to full moonlight. We think eerie is the best word to describe it and as it will be some 400 years before this event occurs again in this part of the world we consider ourselves to have been very privileged to have experienced such a rare and spectacular event. Hamish and Sara were fortunate that they were flying back home later the same day so they were able to also witness the event.
Next happening is the visit next week of Jean's son Perry and his girlfriend Tracie. Hopefully the weather will be a little more kind and our plans for Fitzroy will eventuate.
More from us later..............
P.S. Stop press news - we are paying a quick visit to NZ for a fortnight from mid December so we hope to see many of you during that time.

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