So we've started the next leg of our adventure and although the setting is not as luxurious as on Hamilton Island our new hotel is lovely and is a 20 second walk to the beach.
We had 1/2 a day to kill before starting our dive course (or so we thought more on that later) so we went for a walk. For some reason I expected it to be full of young people surfing and beach bars / shops to wander round. Oh how wrong we were, don't get me wrong its a lovely place to chill out but it's like we've stepped back in time 20 years! The signs and shops are so old school and there really is nothing about. But never mind we're only here as a base for the dive school.
So this morning we get up bright and early all excited about starting the course. After 20 mins of our bus not arriving I thought I better call up the dive school. To our horror they didn't have us booked on the course today but rather starting in 2 days time! So you know me I'm straight on the phone to the travel agent (who aren't around as it's the middle of the night UK time) leaving a stroppy message then calling up hotels, excursions trying to arrange something. Luckily for us this is the one time in the schedule we could rearrange so we are now swapping round part of our trip so we can still fit everything in. We are now going to Kuranda tomorrow and diving the next day so more on that later. For now I've managed to find an afternoon trip to Barron Gorge where we are off white water rafting.
The white water rafting was fun, spent an hour and a half coming down the river, bouncing off rocks and paddling like mad most of the time, luckily neither of us fell in, except for where we meant to, the last rapids were like a water slide and we just went through on our backs. There were some huge rocks in the gorge, one must have been a good 6 metres high, apparently during the rainy season (January till March/April) the water can rise enough to cover even this rock. The rest of the time the water in the river is pretty much constant as there is a hydro electric power station up on the Barron Falls (they actually guarantee the water level for the rafting). At the very end of the rafting you come out in Lake Placid where we had a bit of a swim, no, not the same lake as the movie, no giant alligator here. Although there are plenty of crocodiles in some of the rivers round here, they also swim out into the sea as well, a 2.5m one got caught in the stinger nets near us a couple of nights ago.
Yesterday we went up to the Kuranda Village, there is a cablecar that takes you there (although you could drive) it goes 7.5km over the top of the rainforest next to the Barron Gorge and Falls, gives you some amazing views and we took loads of photos.
There were also two stations on the way where you could get out and take a closer look at the flora and fauna of the rainforest, one of the most impressive trees was a something gigantus it was about 50m high (maybe) but there are no branches on the lower 4/5 of the tree and the trunk must be about 2m wide, looks incredible.
We got into Kuranda itself and you can see that it started out as a hippy commune, all the street signs there are handmade, there were benches made out of railway rails, just really different.
Lots of arty shops there as well, although unfortunately our schedule meant we didn't have much time to look around. First stop was a butterfly sanctuary, it's amazing the colours and sizes that butterflies come in, I had dressed up with some pink on as that's supposed to be the favourite colour of the ulysses blue butterfly, a quite big one with electric blue wings, but you'll have to google it to see properly as it was really hard to get a photo of, they flit around far too quickly to take a good photo of, anyway on the colour of clothing it seems Al’s blue hat attracted more butterflies than anything else!
From there we went to a small zoo of Australian animals, there were kangaroos and wallabies just bouncing round the open area and we could walk right up to them, they have fearsomely large claws, even though these were only about 4ft or so high, some of the big reds in the bush can get easily over 6ft! You really wouldn't want to mess with them.
We also got a picture of us taken with a koala here (another creature with really really sharp claws, although a lot cuter than a kangaroo).
Queensland is the apparently the only area in Australia where you are allowed to do this as other places the koalas are considered endangered.