Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our trip to Australia: Daintree

By the time Max and I reached Cairns, I'd say we were pretty much over our jet lag. Sunshine and fun activities will do it every time! :) After we landed, our transfer took about an hour and a half, dropping off several passengers in Port Douglas on the way.

Silky Oaks Lodge is AMAZING. Absolutely the highlight of the trip for me! I wish we could have stayed there for a week. Wonderful staff, very friendly and warm. Our room was beautiful, as was the view of the Daintree Rainforest and Mossman River from the balcony. Private and well appointed. No TV in the room and limited wifi helps encourage you to let go and relax. Feels very exclusive. The owner, Paul, is very likable and definitely knows what he's doing. In fact, he's the one who drove us back into Port Douglas after we arrived so we could go to the Wildlife Habitat. Max really enjoyed talking to him along the way and we learned more about the area, like that the fields were mostly sugar cane; coffee and tear were only hobby crops.

The Wildlife Habitat was awesome. We were there for hours and a large part of it was spent feeding the kangaroos and wallabys in the Grasslands Habitat. They were so cute! Had to be careful of the birds though, some quite large, like the black swan, were very aggressive about getting the food I was trying to handfeed to the kangaroos. My hand got pecked twice actually but I was okay since they got the food and not my hand, thankfully! There were also crocodiles, emus, tree-kangaroos, birds that looked like owls (but blend into the tree perfectly) called the Papuan Frogmouth, several Southern Cassowarys (whose feathers look more like long hair), lots of parrots and a few koalas. Here I am with one of the smaller koalas, a six year old male who weighed 22 lbs.


Note the slight sunburn? I found out while I was in Australia that the hole in the ozone layer is over Australia. No wonder it's called a sunburnt country!

That night we had dinner at Silky Oaks Lodge. Their food is delicious and there's a separate vegetarian menu available. The exotic mushroom risotto was wonderful. So was the Silky Oaks cocktail!

The next day, we both woke up with the rainforest at 5:30am as light filtered through the trees, birds and bugs started to wake up. Max went off in the morning on an excursion by himself, Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours in Cape Tribulation. I lingered over breakfast, throughly enjoying the fresh tropical fruit, their most excellent birchers muesli, fresh baked croissants and wifi access. Uploaded some pictures, wrote a letter to some friends who live in Latvia, and checked my email until I was pretty sure that the room have been made up. Then laid in the hammock listening to the rain for a while until I went to get a massage at their Healing Waters Spa. Fantastic! Afterwards, Max and I had a later afternoon tea... quite large actually so it was really just an early dinner.

On January 5, we had an early breakfast and then a van came to pick us up for our snorkeling tour of the Great Barrier Reef. We spent three hours in the water, at three different locations. Much deeper water than when I first snorkeled in St. Thomas but after the hot air balloon ride in Melbourne, it didn't feel like it. The corals were huge and I saw several giant clams, a few clown fish, a parrot fish and lots that I didn't know what they were.

On the 6th, we started off the day with a yoga class at Silky Oaks Lodge. Very different than my usual class but afterwards I felt rejuvenated. After breakfast we went for a hike and ended up along the Mossman River. We saw a bunch of aboriginal kids played upstream, jumping off the bigger rocks into the water and laughing. Like kids anywhere else would do. Which is one of the things I notice when I travel, that people are in many ways the same and some things are just innate. It's a shame that we don't focus on that more.
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