COOOEE : A long, loud call used to attract attention when at a distance, mainly done in the Australian bush
OZ : Australia!

31 October 2011


The Birthday Week Visit

We had booked in to a Spa Apartment at the All Seasons ... but after one night we beat a hasty retreat! The room had an overpowering smell of mould and the contant thrum of the air con generators on the roof was headache inducing.

Thank goodness for the last minute internet specials!!! We got a great room at a good price at the Sebel. Bliss. An enormous room with a great view. They even let us check in early (and thank goodness for that because it was soooo hot wandering around in the beautiful Botanic Gardens). It was a major plus that it was right across the road from the Reef Casino ... home of Tamarind, the restaurant where we were going for my birthday dinner! Ahhh ... Penang Duck Curry ... Yum!

We had enjoyed our day out on the reef so much that we decided to drive back up to Port Douglas and go on the more intense 3-dive-sites trip. But, having got up early and driven back to Port, the wind had picked up, the sea was choppy and we decided to save it for another time.

28 October 2011

Port Douglas ~ Reef

The Birthday Week Visit

When we were up here in Far North Queensland on our There & Back Again Tour, the Fates were against us and through a string of bad luck and bad weather we missed out on going out on the Great Barrier Reef. Our snorkel trip out of Airlie Beach had been a disappointment and hadn't lived up to Alphie's promise that the GBR was the "benchmark".

This was worth coming back for!

We ummed and arrred about what reef trip to take ... small boat, big boat, snorkel only boat, island trip, too touristy, too advanced ... but in the end we went with what just about everyone does ... the Quicksilver boat out to the pontoon. Absolutely no complaints!! We had a great day. We were blessed with great weather and a boat that was not filled to capacity. We thought the marine biologist who lead the small group tours was a jackass (just don't say "Nemo" to me!) and glad we didn't waste money on that add on.

Once out on the reef there was plenty of snorkel time. Visibility was terrific. The tides were just right. Fish were plentiful. Coral was colourful. BLISS. (In fact, the only shortcoming was having to share the underwater camera ... love that Canon!!! ... so this will be remedied for next time). There was a buffet lunch included and an open bar.

Maybe, just maybe, in hindsight ... the snorkel at different sites with a smaller group MIGHT have been better ... but this was a great day out.

25 October 2011

Port Douglas ~ Daintree

The Birthday Week Visit

As we had missed out on going out for our planned snorkel, we decided (while we were still away on the There & Back Again Tour) to fly back up here for my birthday. What a princess!!

It gave us the chance to do some more of the same and some things that were new.

We stayed for the first 4 nights at the Rendezvous Reef Resort in Port Douglas (excellent value ... a 2 bedroom villa for $100 a night). Port Douglas was not what we expected and we would be back here in a flash.

The first morning of our stay we went on an early-morning, bird-spotting river cruise on the Daintree River. Can't say that we saw a quantity of birds ... but apparently we saw quality (we had a couple of serious "twitchers" on the boat) : Papuan Frogmouth, Large Billed Heron, Kingfishers, Wampoo Fruit Dove .....

After that we took the river ferry across to our green utopia. We drove up to Cape Tribulation and then had lunch at Whet (scene of the awesome Cauliflower & Scallop Soup from our last visit). This was a "find" through the Lonely Planet guide ... and it really is a find ... a great deck surrounded by rainforest and delicious food.

29 July 2011

And Back Again

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

We are home! Sorry about the lack of postings! Once the word “Home” came into the conversation we were off and running! We actually did the drive from Cairns to Coffs in 3 days! And I even did some of the driving! We had planned to stay at Agnes Waters but decided that it as going to bee too cold to snorkel anyway (at least without a wetsuit and that is just tooo scary a visual!). And we had planned to stay at Poona near Hervey Bay ... And we had planned to stay at Byron Bay (but when we turned up they said there was a mistake in the caravan info book and they no longer took pets .... So it was home!
We left the lovely Malanda Caravan Park without spotting a tree kangaroo but having seen plenty of birdlife. We spent the first night in Bowen in a caravan park that was the icing on the cake as far as our attitude to caravan parks goes! But then the next night we stayed at a very small park at Bororen and wished “if only there could be more like this!”
So the decision has been made :
Caravanning is NOT FOR US! We will be taking it up to Byron Bay next weekend for the Writers Festival but then we are selling it. There are many and varied reasons (ask me if you are interested). We still want to travel so we are researching our options!

22 July 2011

Atherton Tableland 2

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

The picture of the cow just about says it all about this area ... a little bit of this ... a little bit of that ... a little bit funky ... a little bit country ... a little bit arty ...a little bit agricultural.
Today we changed caravan parks. We have moved about 15km from Lake Tinaroo to Malanda. The van park at Tinaroo was really well situated .... right next to the lake (very enormous! great for any boating activity). There was a very dog friendly park just across the road. BUT our van site totally lacked privacy and we would have had to change sites today anyway to make way for a previous booking.
This caravan park is right next to Malanda Falls and is surrounded by rainforest. Tree Kangaroos abound ... it would be great to get a pic!

17 July 2011

Atherton Tableland

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

This is just a quick update on our location. We haven’t even downloaded any photos yet! It is not that we are “photoed” out ... I think it is just that the Daintree rainforest is sooooo visually stunning that we need to take a deep breath and change our focus (unintentional camera pun!).
This area is very interesting. We are a little over an hour from Cairns and not much more to the Daintree but we are now inland.
It is a fertile area with volcanic soil and an interesting mix of crops .... from tropical (bananas, mangoes, pineapples) to cool climate (citrus) with potatoes, peanuts, zucchini, etc etc. And coffee. And tea. And dairy. And barra fishing.
Boutique produce shopping abounds (Coffee World - “Disneyland for coffee lovers”) with artisan cheese, or ice cream, or roasted peanuts, or tropical wines and spirits.
As well as the varied produce there is a great variety of scenery .... so I will have to start taking pics again to show it.
Was a bit gobsmacked by this statue in Milla Milla. It is part of a series around the area on the “pioneering spirit”. It is actually a man pushing his cow out of a bog but it looked more like something from “All Creatures Great And Small” with his arm disappearing inside the cow. It is all in the angle of viewing .... but the picture shows how it looks as you approach it down the main street. Charming!
The area was used for basic training of the Australian forces in WW2. Dad was in camp near here before being shipped out to New Guinea. It would be his birthday tomorrow so we are going in search of the memorial to the First Aus Corp. There were also bases for the US Air Force and Army so there are many memorials and museums in the small towns.
So ... artisan farming, fishing, wineries, distilleries, history, scenery, .... hmmmm, this could be our Triffid Refuge

13 July 2011

Be Wary Of The Cassowary

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

OK ... hidden in the picture is a cassowary who was beside the road with its baby, well, youngster really. Cool.
We went to Mossman Gorge yesterday. Basically “nice” but that’s about it ... maybe it suffices for Port Douglas holidaymakers who don’t want to venture further into the Daintree. Not in the same box as the rainforest we have been living in for the past two weeks.
Our time here is about to come to an end so we crammed a lot into today. We started with a repeat visit to the Discovery Centre where Alphie was determined to go to the top of the Observation Tower. After that we went to check out Noah Beach before lunch.
We had lunch at Whet .... excellent ... cauliflower and scallop soup, seared tuna, crab tagliatelle, lime-and-coconut cake, a crisp bottle of Capel Vale verdello,a charming Scottish backpacker waitress ... all in a rainforest setting. No wonder it is highly recommended by Lonely Planet.
We then picked up Mac and went for another beach walk at Cow Bay. Tomorrow we start packing up camp ready to head out on Friday to the Atherton Tableland.

12 July 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

To anyone still reading this blog you will need to click on “Go to Archive” to check out all the recent entries. With very limited internet access I had a whole lot loaded and ready to post and so some are already “archived”.

10 July 2011

This and That

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

This morning we drove into Port Douglas. We had breakfast at the Mecure Resort ...beautiful surroundings and a rather nice buffet breakfast. Then on to the Port Douglas Beachfront Markets. OMG ... I think we have been out of civilisation too long. It was a chaotic confusion of stalls with ambling tyre kickers and mobile chicanes ... gentle push-and-shove and duck-and-weave. And really, for the most part, the merchandise for sale was not “special” to Port Douglas.
We consoled ourselves on the way home with yet another stop at Daintree Ice Cream (gosh ... sooooo regular that the other day the girl gave us the “local’s discount”). They make their own ice cream from fruits that they grow on their orchard. You don’t get a choice ... it comes as four scoops of four different flavours that change each day ... such as, banana, mango, pineapple, passionfruit, soursop, wattleseed, blueberry, black sapote, coconut. Yum ... not too creamy and great natural fruity flavours. All this and a wonderful view of Thornton’s Peak.

09 July 2011

D'Arcy of Daintree

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

We booked a tour with “D’Arcy of Daintree 4WD Tours” to go up the Bloomfield Track to Cooktown. There is an inland Highway but this is a 4-wheel-drive dirt road that follows the coast for much of the way. There were a few river/creek crossings, some bumpy bits but nothing too bone shaking.
Alphie & I were the only two booked on the tour so we had very personal (and personable) attention from Mike D’Arcy. While we could probably have done this on our own, it was great to have an informed guide who knew the road and the area. Mike knew all the best photo op stops and made it a most interesting trip.
There were many “favourites” for the day ... the beach stop, Black Mountain, Grassy Hill Lookout, the croc-on-the rock, the Bloomfield (Wujal Wujal) Falls, ... but, kitsch-loving lush that I am ... I think the winner was : the Lion’s Den Hotel (quaint & quirky).
Big plus was having a cassowary cross the road in front of us.
Big minus was that the replica “Endeavour” had been in port and left just as we arrived.

08 July 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

I’ve always wanted to be a fan dancer!
I think I have become addicted to taking photos of these palms ... they are so striking.
This boardwalk was a little drier than the Marrja Boardwalk but its groves of Fan Palms were a photographers delight.
Alphie had been going really well using his “Canadian” crutches. He is so much more confident and therefore so much more active. This boardwalk wasn’t particularly long (1.2km) but it took us about 2 hours because we take so many photos (sorry all you power-walking fanatics). One of the big payoffs at the end of the walk (or I guess at the beginning if you went the other way) was Myall Beach. And today the Coral Sea was a stunning tropical blue fringing a long palm fronded stretch of golden sand.
Ahhhh ... where the rainforest meets the reef. Just idyllic.

07 July 2011

Daintree Discovery Centre

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

Awesome! This was a great informative and educational centre. It is also great value as your entry fee covers you for 7 days ... and I know we will be back again before we leave
We did the Aerial Walkway to the Interpretive Display Centre and will go back and do the Cassowary Circuit and the Bush Tucker Trail ... and Alphie is determined to do the Canopy Tower.
There was an audio guide as well as an interpretive booklet and many bright, informative information posters. The Interpretive Display Centre was very well done - for both adults and children (I couldn’t get Alphie out of there!)
So now as we do our boardwalks, bushwalks and beachwalks we will know what to look out for (but we still haven’t seen a cassowary!)

06 July 2011

Ocean Safari ~ NOT

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

Today we had booked to go out onto the reef from Cape Tribulation.
Made our booking and paid our deposit with a booking agent on Monday for a morning reef trip on Wednesday.
Turned up for our tour this morning ... and they had screwed up the booking. I’m standing there with the paperwork and receipt saying WEDNESDAY and they said we should have come on Tuesday ... if fact, the @*$#@!* at the counter actually said “You were a NO SHOW, We should charge you!”. And I have the paperwork in my hand saying Wednesday!!!
We just wanted to rebook but they were flipping out about whose fault it was (and sure wasn’t ours) ... we weren’t looking to blame or complain ... just rebook for another morning. They were aggressive and obnoxious and just kept saying that they were tour operators and didn’t make mistakes.
Have to say if they can’t even take responsibility for a paperwork error then I am not sure of their level of responsibility looking after people on the reef.
Have since learnt that they are a newcomer business who put the local operators out of work ... shame ... as there is now no competition.
So a curse on OCEAN SAFARI (TripAdvisor report coming up!)

04 July 2011

Cooper Creek Wilderness tour

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

This tour was excellent.

It wasn't expensive. It only went for an hour. It wasn't tourist-hyped. It had just the right amount of information. AND ... there were CROCS!!! Crocs in the wild ... not in an enclosure, not in a zoo, not performing tricks.

There were two VERY large, old males, three females and a cute (?) baby.


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

I am blogging this on the ferry across the Daintree River. We have no mobile access (curse you Optus) and no WiFi access at the van park where we are staying. We are doing a quick trip across the river into the village of Daintee (checking out next van park, and getting some WiFi access).
Daintree rainforest is just awesome. I should have had this blog entry done in advance so that it was ready to post. It is too beautiful to rush the description.
So many photos to sort through. Booked in till next Friday but may stay longer. It has been drizzle, showers and rain. And this is the dry season.
Hoping we get some sunshine. Booked to go out on a crocodile safari river cruise this afternoon, the reef on Wednesday and a sea kayak planned for when the weather improves.

03 July 2011

Marrja Boardwalk

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

Don't you love this picture of Alphie in the rainforest! He looks like a little Lego Man in a giant forest!!!

This boardwalk was absolutely stunning.

The boardwalk covered mostly rainforest area with a mangrove section at the end. My favourites were the wonderful Fan Palms and the amazing Strangler Figs. The Daintree is among the oldest rainforest sections in the world.

I can't understand why people come here and stay in Luxury Lodges and have expensive spa treatments ... I feel TOTALLY cleansed ... physically, spiritually and mentally ... just walking and breathing in this green utopia.

Caravan Travel ~ 1 Month Anniversary

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

OK ... we have just had our “One Month Anniversary.
I had initially planned to take a photo at every stop but that proved to be too difficult. Basically it would have looked like I was a Misery Guts determined not to have a good time .... after all everyone said “You will love it”.
In hindsight I SHOULD have taken those photos ... because there are (like it or not you Van Dwellers) negative aspects of Life On The Road.
  • You give up a lot of your privacy -shoulder to shoulder with the next van.
  • You have to like the smell of shit-and-shampoo in the morning (sorry for those delicate readers ... I am just telling it like it is)
  • You have to like being a contortionist to enjoy showering in most of the amenities block cubicles.
You are maybe wondering about the picture??? As someone who like to “name” their car (ahhhh ... I miss you Scarlet O’Cara) I told Alphie that we should call the van “The Brunswick” (after my favourite brand of sardines) and the car “King Oscar” after another brand.
I still have that feeling of confinement ... not necessarily from being enclosed in the van but from the proximity of neighbours in the van park. And more than once our scenic view has been of the ablutions block!

26 June 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
I haven’t usually posted a blog entry till we have moved on to the next port-of-call but here we are still in Cairns. We had only booked in for a week and were supposed to be off today but the brakes have developed an ominous shudder so we have booked it in for a check-up - and the first available was on Monday.
Not that staying in Cairns extra time is any hardship ... we love it! Thinking of checking out the real estate on offer ... summer’s humidity would be daunting but what a place to spend winter.
Cairns is clean, spacious, verdant and set in front of an imposing mountain range. The roads are wide and it is easy to get around. There is a wonderful variety of dining options in Shield Street and at the Pier. We had a truly brilliant meal at “Tamarind” at the casino.
We enjoyed going up on the Kuranda Scenic Railway and coming down on the Skytrain ... but Kuranda itself was woeful (if you have been to the Carrara Markets at the Gold Coast then think about how much you would spend on your transport to get there!).
So far the weather has been a bit on the windy side so we haven’t been our on a snorkel trip ... not to worry ... we have decided that we will spend more time in Cairns after our visit to the Daintree and the Atherton Tableland.

25 June 2011

Travels With Mac

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY of "Dog Friendly Caravan Parks"
Fully believing that it is “All about me!”, we kind of think that we are part of that every growing tidal wave of Baby Boomers, Gray Nomads, Old Whatevers, that are hitting the road to Do the Tour. And many of us have dogs ... as old, or older than us in dog years, that come for the ride.
At home Mac was a dog who went by a timetable. He didn’t like change. On the road he is the most adaptable of the three of us! He travels well in the car and is (of course!!!) well behaved in the caravan parks. Mac, due to the dingo in his genetic makeup, very, very rarely barks. Because he has been “fixed” he is not a wanderer and not a fighter.
So far, the dog-friendly caravan parks have ranged between The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I know we are just beginners so these are beginners observations.
The GOOD : (Flametree Park at Airlie Beach) : they advertise themselves as “Pet Friendly” and they truly are. There are grassy areas to walk your dog. If you book a tour through the office, they will check on your dog during the day and take him for a walk. Signs encourage dog owners to be responsible - and they are! Dogs and owners interact in a friendly way.
The BAD : (Beachcomber at Cardwell) : Almost the exact opposite to the above. There were 2 labradors that wandered and pooed at will. There were NO signs up regarding pets and pet owners were laissez faire about their responsibilities. YUK.
The UGLY : (Lake Placid at Cairns) : My goodness they have rules for everything. Their Dog Rules say I am to walk the dog down the centre of the road till outside the front gate so he doesn’t pee on any of their trees and we are not to leave the dog unattended (so A & I can’t walk down to the no-dogs-allowed Lake Placid Reserve together; we can’t go together to the Camp Trivia Night or the Camp Asian Banquet; if we were to book to go out on a snorkel tour we would need to board Mac at doggie care for 2 or 3 days because of their opening hours; if we were to go out to dinner ....... well, you get the picture) And I am talking about an old dog who sleeps 80% of the day! I really, really can’t call that “Pet Friendly” ... it’s like booking into a “Clothing Optional Resort” and being handed rules that tell you that you can only remove your clothes when inside your van or outside the park!

19 June 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
Through no fault of its own, Cardwell won’t go down as one of the fondest memories.
The caravan park was a let down ... very,very dusty and vans parked close together. Part of our learning curve is finding out what “dog friendly” means in a caravan park. Flametree at Airlie Beach was perfect :they walked your dog for you when you went out for the day, dog owners were responsible, there were grassy areas for pets to roam. Cardwell was anything goes and there were doggy deposits here and there (yuk!) with no encouragement to clean up.
Cardwell is still very much showing the scars of Cyclone Yasi. Many shops were closed. Many houses being rebuilt but also many were empty shells. The waterfront park was awash with sand after the tidal surge. Trees were starting to show stubby regrowth after being stripped bare of leaves.
Another result of the Cyclone damage that never entered our heads ... so many people have told us how "lucky" we are to have been able to get into this dustbowl without a booking. It seems that winter is "high season" when all the Victorians head north for the warmer weather. This year, because of the cyclone damage, they have gone west ... and it seems that usually you have ti have an advance booking to get in to places like this.

15 June 2011

Red Rock Storm

We hope all our friends and neighbours in Red Rock are all right after that destructive storm. Fingers crossed that you are all safe and haven’t had much damage. Thoughts are with you. Thank you to Val who kindly looked in to check that all was ok in the Five Star Fibro and to Lesley who is sorting out a small problem caused by the inundation.

Airlie Beach

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
A picture-postcard day. Perfect weather. Not too hot, not too windy. We had decided to stay a few extra days to make up for the wet start we had here at Airlie. So we had our big reef splurge ~ the Panorama Tour with Air Whitsunday.

There were only four on the plane (plus the pilot) and we flew out to the Great Barrier Reef on a small sea plane. We landed on the water, transferred to a private semi submersible inside a coral ringed lagoon for some underwater viewing followed by snorkelling. Out in the middle of nowhere on the reef. Awesome! Then we returned to our seaplane and flew off for a picnic lunch on Whitehaven Beach - a long stretch of amazing, fine, white sand edged by aquamarine water.

I shall post a photo album soon! It was a great overall experience.

I fell in love with snorkelling in Maui ... and Alphie said that I HAD to snorkel the GBR to get the benchmark. Sadly our experience yesterday wasn’t up to his earlier memories or mine of Maui. Maybe the coral was suffering damage from Cyclone Yasi, but visibility wasn’t terrific, the coral wasn’t colourful and there were few fish.

And Alphie promises to post a blog entry from Cardwell ... where we hope to do some Barra fishing

11 June 2011

Airlie Beach

This is a composite of the scenic road trip ... a lot of long, long open stretches of highway ... a lot of sugar cane ... and not much else. There were some cute, quaint country towns along the way ... but towing LardArse behind you inhibits the photographic opportunities!!!

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

We arrived here on Thursday after a drive of around 400km. The caravan park is on the outskirts of Airlie Beach on the way to Shute Harbour. As it is a holiday weekend for the Queen’s Birthday we decided to have a break from the travelling and catch up on a few maintenance things.
We have already had 2 trips to Bunnings.
I’ve done 2 loads of washing.
I’ve been to the supermarket twice.
And we have only been here two days.
No problem ... there isn’t much else to do as it is quite cold and it is raining. Ahhhhh! Cabin Fever ... who said it couldn’t get much better.
But is has been a chance to do some maintenance on this website and get it reposted.
And it has been a chance to do some reading ... finished off “The Last Werewolf” (I liked it Michael. I obviously have lower taste than Alphie!)
At least on the afternoon we arrived the sun was shining so we had a teasing taste of the stunning seascape of the Whitsunday Islands. Fingers crossed for more sunshine before we move on.
So that’s this blog up to date.

08 June 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
Did I say yesterday’s drive was a long haul ... today’s was longer! Around 480km.
Maccie is loving it!
We had another drive-through-no-need-to-unhitch site so there was little hassle at the end of the day and little hassle to start the next.
Marlborough is a flyspeck on the map. As with most little towns the highway now bypasses it. The campground was dry and dusty and the amenities a bit on the sparse side. The motel attached had a Restaurant but it was more an old 60’s style Dining Room where we enjoyed prawn cutlets and steak dianne. Not saying that we would recommend it to fellow travellers ... but we loved it.

07 June 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
A long drive ... we crossed the border into Queensland, through the Gold Coast, through Brisbane, through the Sunshine Coast and on to Maryborough. A long haul ... around 460km. Alphie has done all the driving so far ... hey, why mess with perfection.
Just before we reached Maryborough the arm of my glasses suddenly went “boing” ... broken beyond repair. Cool! I needed that!
We only had an overnighter in Maryborough on a site where we didn’t have to unhitch the van. We think our plan is to head to the Far North rather quickly, taking note of where we would like to stay on our return trip (so if you are reading this and have any campground favourites then please Add A Comment).
We plan to stop at Poona on the coast a short distance from Maryborough on our return. Maryborough really deserves more time - such beautiful old houses!
Traffic noise got the better of a good night’s sleep again.