Diary for 2001 GO BUSH Safaris Tropical Reef and Rainforest

Day 1

Saturday, 14 July

Cairns to Mission Beach

 

After leaving Tropicana Lodge with John at 8am. we collected various members of the group - Valerie rather later than the others!

Fog had caused havoc in our ranks and  most had had to wait for hours fogbound in Sydney the day before. We all felt slightly hung over.

After leaving Cairns we travelled to Babinda Boulders. It was fascinating to watch the water disappearing from sight into tunnels which we were told they claimed many lives. 

Endless sugar plantations and banana plantations on either hand along with fruit and vege stalls, one of which provided a pumpkin for our evening meal. 

We made our way to Josephine Falls for lunch where we were joined by Felix and Enid at the end of their $140.00 taxi ride from Cairns - they'll never chance it with Ansett again. 

After lunch we all walked to the falls  - well worthwhile. 

Later in the afternoon we went to Lacey Creek - rain forest, walking and saw water turtles and fish in the creek. 

At last arrived at our luxurious accommodation.

John had no sheets

Marie had no pillow

Lida in a campbed

Oh! what a thrilla.

 

Day 2

Sunday, 15 July

Mission Beach — "River Rat"

 

Another glorious, warm and sunny day full of varied delights.  

Some started the day with a walk on the beach, while others enjoyed a dip and walk before lunch. Several joind John in a 2 hour walk from South Mission Beach to Tam O'Shanter Point while others enjoyed relaxing at the resort in the cool leafy shade, with a chance to further enjoy the beach or sketch nearby Dunk Island. The walkers

 had some interesting sightings: a spotted stone  curlew, a sacred kingfisher, some interesting worm castings in an assortment of curls, sand dollar shells and a moving sand dollar, lots of mud skippers, on the tidal flats and a 'moving' mangrove. A sand-covered slug, with its 2 feelers protruding, bulldozed its way through the sand. Interesting plants included the collophyllum, which produces marble-like fruit and yellow hibiscus flowers. 

After lunch we had a short visit to C4. This group, after much effort, has been successul in obaining a grant  from the Qld Casino Trust to extend their nursery which raises casssowary food plants for revegetation projects. Things which caught people's attention included the rainforest diorama (the red-eyed bats, the long, thin elongated nest belonging to the sun bird, and the rather large golden awb spider), the distinctive blue-black Ulysses butterflies, and the reclaimed school playground now covered in tropical vegetation, and known as the arboretium, planted by C4. 

Another fruit stop (along Bingil Bay Road): paw-paws $1 each, sapote, pomelo and more cheap tasty bananas. 

A stop at Clump Mountain National Park allowed some to enjoy the nearby beach while others took a short walk up Bicton Hill, offering views north along the coast - a colourful pitta bird was spotted fossicking on the forest floor. 

The day finished on the Hull River. We were rewarded with: one two metre croc who obviously knows the sound of the "River Rat", two sea eagles and a Brahmany kite who spectacularly swooped down and gracefully picked up the  offered fish scraps, and mirror reflections - even with torch light! Homeward bound the friendly crock reappeared in the torchlight, while others enjoyed the star filled sky and extensive and clear Milky Way. 

 

HULL RIVER CRUISE

Wendy Rainbird

Thickly mangrove-lined,

The muddy water reflected

The leaves in rhythms

Of pale green,and blue sky.

A crocodile cruised the surface

And was fed to show

Its snapping jaws.

Two white-breasted sea eagles

Soared over the boat,

Then swooped,

Legs extended,

Talons snatching the fish-heads

Thrown overboard.

At the river’s mouth

A sand bar stretched

Golden in the late sun

Mid-ground to the gentle curves

Of islands, Dunk, Bedarra and more,

Which, after sunset, turned

The softest lavender-grey,

While the sea was silvery blue.

 

Later in the evening,

Returning up the river,

While searching for crocodile eyes,

Some hunters became gazers:

Upwards, stars in multitudes,

Light years away:

Downwards, the dark river waters

Reflected the brightest

In apparent movement

Besides us, an illusion

And momentariness

Contrasting with

Incomprehensibly long

Distances in time and space.

 

Day 3

Monday, 16 July

Mission Beach to Cardwell

 After remarkably organised chaos and negotiating an auto sprinkler system right next to the bus, the 13 of us departed Wongalinga. We had a delightful short walk in Licuala park among the fan palms. No cassowaries, only a nest to be admired by children with concrete eggs. We later stopped at a banana barn, where hands of bananas were washed, sorted and packed by an assembly line of hard workers - a fruit box full cost $5.00. 

We proceeded on to Tully, the town of Australia's highest rainfall, although you'd never guess. Morning tea in the park next to a group of idle unemployed but friendly Aboriginal people. 

We took an inland road to Murray Falls where some walked up the forest track to the top and the lame or lazy were instead entranced with the lower view of the falls. Some did both! There were abundant splendid Ulysses butterflies. We thought we lost Enid! FL said not. She turned up as he'd predicted. Lunch was by the rock hole swimming pool adorned by bikini clad young female campers. This was braved by Wendy but Diana chickened out - the water was too cold. 

We drove past Jumbun Aboriginal Community, neat houses, not a sign of adult life and nobody working on the neglected banana plantations. 

A highlight was visiting the remarkable Margaret Thorsburne at her bush haven buried deep in the forest, flanked by "wren haven", the 2 walled guest bedroom. It was a charming and unusual house, open to nature ande birds. We saw a colouful noisy pitta splashing in the birdbath, also grey and rufous fantails, yellow spotted honey eaters, silver eyes and others. Margaret is saintly says FL; She is renowned for her environmental activities on behalf of Hinchinbrook island which she and John discussed. She entertained all of us to a lovely homemade afternoon tea, then escorted us on her magic forest walk among the melaleucas. 

The day finished by unpacking at the Cardwell Beachside Motel looking over the pacific, towards Hinchinbrook Island.

Day 4

Tuesday, 17 July

Edmund Kennedy-Dalrymple Track

 Starting with a visit to the Cardwell "Rainforest and Reef Centre" we looked at displays, posters, maps and brochures. Many of us admired the carved wooden eel with its information on wildlife. John had a lively discussion with the ranger Max about problems with the Port Hichinbrook marina and the possible location of the National Parks Visitor Cenre at such a place, which has ecologically destructive aspects. 

Our next visit was to the Edmund Kennedy Reserve National Park and after a cuppa we walked slapping mozzies in the melaleuca swamp forest. Huge jungle fowl mounds abounded. We saw large basket ferns, with their lower brown fern fronds and upper fronds green. 

We saw the Burdekin plum tree. Cassowaries and fruit bats love the fruit, which is edible for humans. The Aborigines collected them and would bury them to extend their life and improve their quality. Sometimes the trees can be found in groves or surrounding a ceremonial area as a result of seeds discarded by the Aborigines. 

We saw a vigorous king orchid, which had two long stems of curly yellow and gold flowers. We also saw a hoya plant. Bandicoots dig for truffles which form on rootlets of trees. 

Lovely casuarinas edged the sand dune beside the beach with its low tidal flats and view to Hinchinbrook Island. 

We were stopped in our tracks by the track evidence of crocodiles, possibly in a fight where tail swishng marks swept the sand. We noticed many fresh crocodile tracks to the sea. We saw a Brahminy kite, white necked herons, reef herons, an oyster catcher, the rare beach stone curlew and a flock of russet thrush. 

After lunch a group of us visited Keith Williams' "Port Hinchinbrook development", and saw the total change of former mangrove wetlands into expensive subdivisions and marinas. Quietly we invaded the sales office for their brochures, which contained development details for which no approval has yet been given. We drove around to see the drag-line dredge scooping salty mud onto the properties for sale beside the new marina. 

A few kilometres further on we saw another example of ecologically unsustainable development of a prawn farm; the main problem being the discharge of nutrient rich water likely to cause algal blooms into the Hinchinbrook Channel, which is part of the World Heritage Area of the Great Barrier Reef. 

In a grove of Melaleuca viridiflora, with its deep pink flower heads were some strange ant plants. These formed a symbiotic relationship between fierce black ants and the larvae of a butterfly. The ant plant looked rather like an orchid growing on trees.  The trees also had pale yellow button plants. 

Off the Bruce Highway the Dalrymple track starts and goes over the gap of the Cardwell ranges to the Valley of the Lagoons. 

As we walked through varying forests at one stage we saw tiny claw marks on the smooth bark of a eucalypt made by a mahogany glider. These little gliders are endangered due to habitat loss. 

An unusual little fungus looking root parasitic plant was found on the track. These are Balanophora. A balanophora pushes its flowers borne on cones through the leaf litter in winter. The cone knobs were yellowish pink and are composed of millions of female flowers, surrounded by a ring of male flowers. 

The rest of the group (the ones who were not so energetic) made their way along the beachfront towards Cardwell, going out along the jetty on the way and generally taking in the splendid views. So a good day was had by all. 

 

Day 5

Wednesday, 18 July

Hinchinbrook - Wallaman Falls

An early morning start with a bacon and cheese omelette. It sustained us until lunch time.

We  drove to Lucinda and there we were met with Bill and his boat. All aboard and up the Hinchinbrook Channel listening to Bill's interpretation of the area's history, geology and changing topography.

The weather was glorious and the island showed us its best and other boats in the area added to the pleasant relaxed scenery. The return trip was eventful as we saw a small crocodile basking on a mud bank before it slipped into the water. No swimming here, folk. 

After lunch in Ingham we were off to the fabulous Wallaman Falls. 

On the way we saw a jabiru which stood to attention while most of us took a photograph. Several people caught sight of a spoonbill a little later on down the road.We came to an abrupt halt to watch a brown snake cross the road. 

After ascending a dappled dirt road for over ten kilometers we finally arrived. 

Unfortunately it was too late for those among us who would have liked to walk the very steep track to the  bottom of the falls. 

We all did a short walk to a panoramic view of the gorge. 

We then viewed the highest single drop fall in Australia - 305m falling into a pool 20m deep. WOW! 

Home to stirfry with some catching a nap on the way home.

 

Day 6

Thursday, 19 July

Cardwell to Ravenshoe

Enid rose early to photograph another sunrise - This one looking out towards Hinchinbrook Island.

Alida had another postcard to send.

Fearless Leader missed the turn-off

For the forest road over Kirrama Range -

His attention diverted while giving his spiel on Ravenshoe.

Marion, up front, was watchful for road signs.

 

What a rocky, bouncing, rattling drive

Along this unsealed, non-touristy road!

Palms of all types along the roadside and filling gullies.

Some free standing, others curling and clinging to majestic trunks -

Like the rattan, referred to as the hitch-hiker palm.

Over old bridges along this strategic war-time road - land mines long gone.

Time to look at a trickling waterfall, slowly scaling a long descent

Before disappearing under rocks and stones in stream bed.

Here Wendy chatted to a Victorian driver.

His "Gutsy Gerty" van had taken him all over.

Ferns and few flowering flora,

Foliage arching over the roadway with the sun streaming through.

1940s road markers and monuments to an engineer, surveyor, deputy premier and shire chairman.

What of the road workers who put up with the mud, leeches and the rain?

 

At Society Flats, time to gaze  

At the grand old trees of the forest -

Majestic kauri pines and six-frond Kauri seedlings.

Richard encouraged Enid to photograph one of the many white trunk eucalyptus grandis -

The best shot was captured by lying on her back.

How many ferns and epiphytes up that tree?

Six.

Two chow chowchillas - not forthcoming with their melodious bird song.

Through savannah woodland, with rainforest nearby.

Grazing scrubbers pausing to look at us.

While a scurrying brush turkey couldn't get away fast enough!

 

Upstream of Blencoe Falls

Chop, chop, slice, slice.

Lunch laid out so nice.

No more succulent leg ham - Woollies of course!

But more sweet pineapple,

And Sharan's wonderful honey fruit cake.

Bernice enjoyed her lunch down by the water -

Rocks, cascades, white caps, reflections, sandbars and dragon flies.

Renee spotted a small, slithering green snake.

While Helen photographed the orange fern-leaf grevilla flowers.

Honeyeaters came to drink their sweet nectar.

Nearby, yellow wattle tassles in profusion - bushes all about.

 

Onward down the track.

A recent random control -

A smouldering log, scorched shrubs and,

Green grass shoots emerging through the ashes.

A few grazing cattle sitting there - good foraging at hand.

Breathtaking Blencoe Falls all to ourselves.

Worth the rock hopping and ducking the hoop pine.

Well done Felix.

He made it to 'Vertigo Point', to see

Rivulets plunging down a sheer drop

Then gushing down a narrow chute

Before converging with the Herbert River.

As we were leaving -

"Ooo, ahh, a quail! Two of them!"

Soft landing in the kangaroo grass.

 

Cattle grids, cattle fences, cattle properties.

Tree clearing on some.

Fauna and flora protection on another.

Abandoned cattle-yards now overgrown with vines.

Derelict buffalo fly shelters, with tales of yester-year.  

"BEWARE, cattle on road," the Goshen sign read.

Though one placid lonesome roadside sitting bull

Just nodded its huge head.

Bright-eye, cute looking Brahman calves, stayed close to mother.

Cattle trucks (2) threw up red dust,

Loading tomorrow, then to market in Townsville, I trust.

 

Australian fauna treat for Marie, from across the Tasman.

Two emus darting across our path.

One deftly hopping under the fence.

Magpies.

Termite mounds: white, red and cream.

A bounding kangaroo quickly disappeared.

Later, a small mob grazing on golf links.

One wedge-tailed eagle soaring high.

And a graceful white-necked heron in flight.

A pair of pretty face wallabies atop a red mound -

Took one look at us and were bush bound.

Laughing kookaburras at the end of the day.

Hopefully, we'll get to see a platypus, or two,

And even possums,

During our Ravenshoe stay.

 

Mt Garnett: ice-cream and a welcomed comfort stop.

Reindeer and Santa Claus lights - ready for next Christmas.

And Valerie, in blue and white, coming up the rear.

Remember her Harley Davidson tale - yeah, yeah, yeah!

No time to stop at Innot Hot Springs

To dig a hole and wallow

In its therapeutic waters.

Gliding along the bitumen of the Kennedy Highway

Peace at last!

Along the AIF encampment corridor, and ahead

A grand vista of timebered range.

Long shadows fingering across the landscape.

Looking forward to a shower and a change.

 

The Old Convent, freshly painted cream with  green and white trim,

Port wine magnolias and camellias in bloom.

Diana, wine glass in hand, admiring the open fire.

Lace curtains and lace tablecloth.

Dining in former chapel, with

Old Stafford fine bone china teacups.

Chinese Checkers by the fireside

Before retiring.

Another interesting day. 

Day 7

Friday, 20 July

Atherton Tableland - Lakes & Falls

The old Convent, a lighthouse in the loo! Who's cell did you awake in - a novices or the mother superior's boudoir with the ormolu clock, the bishop's bedroom with a bronze fish? 

It was a restless night for some on soft matrasses. Then a keen few went platypus spotting at dawn, cold and 6.30. Wendy, Valerie, Marie, Helen and Diana peered into rocky pools expectantly, then later were directed by FL to a larger, tranquil pool but nary a sight of a platypus. A catered breakfast was appreciated with fresh milk from the 30 cows which Daryl had milked before we surfaced. 

We set forth at 9 am under a mackerel sky, portent of bad weather. Across rolling hills we reached the Crater at Mout Hypipamee, a suicide spot covered with yucky duckweed. 

We were pleased to hear the good news about tree regeneration by volunteers and farmers, creating corridors for wildlife between patches of forest.

At the Crater, a Leeuwin honeyeater bonded with us perchig on the rearvision mirror and siging joyously. 

To Atherton: Felix and Enid hunted for Whiskey, FL had his watch fixed and the rest of the mob hunted for suitable postcards with local views rather than the Blue Mountains or Kakadu. 

We detoured to an amazing tree called the curtain fig where Renee missed a step and fell on her nose.

Our lunchstop at Lake Eacham, another crater filled with amazing green water, turtles and many different fish. Most circumavigated the lake after lunch, seing pretty birds and another curtain fig.

Birds we saw were: Rufus thrush, emerald dove, pale yellow robin, broad-billed scrub wren, and we heard rifle bird, cat bird and rose crown pidgon. Bright green fig parrots were feasting on figs.

The circuit of three splendid waterfalls, Millaa Millaa, Zillie, and Elingaa was completed, most opting out of the steep walk to see Elingaa Falls.

After a lasagne dinner Charlie and Adrian took us on a possum spotting trip. Wendy, Marion, Alida, Bernice, Renee, Marie and Val peered into the darkness looking for the bright red eyes that give away the possum's presence. We managed to find a brushtail feeding, several black and white Herbert River possums and even a fat brown lemuroid possum. Back home, after a hot drink, we collapsed into bed at 10 p.m.

 

Day 8

Saturday, 21 July

Atherton Tableland - Tinaroo

Off in the bus from Ravenshoe, we visited the nearby Windy Hill Wind Farm, with its twenty wind turbines gracefully powering enough electricity for 3,500 homes. There are plans for 22 more wind turbines to be erected as phase two.

We drove on through the lush countryside, past tree kangaroo road signs and on to the old former tin mining town of Herberton, with its vernacular Queensland timber and metal architecture. The wooden framework is often external to the tongue and groove walls. Some window shades are of decorated metal and often there is fretwork around verandah posts. Where verandahs were added to the original simple transportable structure, some verandahs have been enclosed and coloured dimpled glass windows added.

In Herberton there is a mural about the prospectors who arrived in 1880 and found tin, causing a tin rush. The local Djurribal people became increasingly dispossessed of their land. Young aboriginal women were taken as domestic servants and frequently used for sex and young men as workers. Children were removed to missions. There were massacres and prospectors were known to have left poisoned flour.

After leaving Herberton we drove to Hasties Swamp (national park), where we went into a bird hide to watch lots of magpie geese, thousands of whistling ducks, some grebes, egrets, swamp hens and bald coots (not shiny pated men). Just as John was getting out the morning tea, two park rangers appeared and complained about John not having a specific permit, despite it not being clear that one was needed, nor did the road signs indicate that it was a national park!

Just out of Atherton, when some of us were commenting that we hadn't see any brolgas, suddenly we saw some in a ploughed field. There would have been about thirty. We watched the graceful flight as some flew away.

We drove on to Malanda to visit the Malanda Hotel to see the beautiful woodwork in the ballroom, whch also had theatre posters and prints. The publican, Tom English, showed Diana, Richard and Wendy around the pub, proudly showing us the silky oak wood bar that his father had made. Chairs and wall panelling were of silky oak wood too. His grandfathers were the first settlers in Malanda and generations ran bullock teams. As a boy Tom would take the bullocks to be fed before going to school.

As we drove through the farmland, John told us about TREAT, which is a group of volunteers who gather rain forest seed, propogate and plant rain forest trees to establish wildlife corridors. We saw such plantings between Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine National Parks. TREAT and C4 have applied for a grant to finalise a corridor from the mountains to the sea. At Lake Barrine we had lunch and walked to see the twin kauri trees. When Val stood up from where she had been eating lunch, she discovered she had been sitting where the ducks had been!!

The next stop was at the huge cathedral fig. This enormous tree standing about 50 metres high and containing massive bird nest ferns and other epiphytes has descending roots that look like the columns in cathedrals. This tree has a root system which covers a hectare.

The road wound through more rain forest until we came to Lake Euramoo, which is a volcanic crater. Actually it is a double crater with a central mound. It is a maar, which is a volcanic formation caused when hot magma was breaking through the rocks and met a water table, the steam from which burst through the upper layers of rock in a violent explosion. We enjoyed a short walk in the rain forest, which included spiralling strangler vines.

We drove around the shores of Lake Tinaroo, which was formed by damming the Barron River and drowning the rain forest. Tinaroo Dam diverts water from the Barron River into the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation scheme. The dam wall had lacy curtains of water plunging over it. Nearby were two stone curlews out-staring each other.

On our return to Ravenshoe, we saw more than a hundred brolgas in an open ploughed field.

And so the curtain falls on another exciting, fun-filled, exhausting day.

 

Day 9

Sunday, 22 July

Millstream Falls to Undara

We set off slightly later than usual and visited the Little Millstream Falls and a short distance away the Millstream Falls.

The Little Millstream flowed over rounded  granite rocks, in contrast, though only a short distance apart the Millstream Falls flow over pillars of sharp basalt rock. The latter falls are reputed to be the widest in Australia.

We decided to have lunch prior to climbing to the top of Kalkani - a volcanic crater. Numerous volcanic hills surrounded the area and were clearly visible humps on  the horizon.

Off to the lava tubes at Undara. Only one person on board had seen them previously, the remaining members of the group were full of anticipation.

We split into two groups and after a short bus trip were guided through the huge lava caves which had been formed by slowly pouring river of lava over a hundred thousand years ago.

Only one bat was seen during our visit as it was the wrong season. A snake had been seen the day before but we were out of luck.

A lovely sunset and a didgeridoo accompanied our innovative evening meal - bean soup baked on an open fire. We were entertained by an extremely lively group of betongs.

The homeward trip was enlightened by various roadside  sightings  and the Test cricket.

Home to tea and raisin toast. 

 

Day 10

Monday, 23 July

 Ravenshoe to Daintree

 Fond farewell to Helen and Rachel after their wonderful and friendly hospitality at The Old Convent before departing Ravenshoe. Low mist hugging the ranges was a typical sight of this mountain top destination during our stay.

Abattoir Swamp can best be described as a sad place. It is now overgrown with weeds and pink jackweed, with little patches ow white flowers here and there. The birdlife here has been greatly affected by the encroaching sugar cane fields. A lonseome little pied cormorant surveyed the scene from its tree perch. Little chirping birds, were heard but not seen, and were somewhat drowned-out by the cicada-like noise.

Back at the morning tea shelter, a spangled drongo, in full song (Does it really sound like the introduction to Beethoven's 5th Symphony?) getting drunk on grevillia nectar.

A 20-25 minute hold-up, just north of Mossman, caused by a fatal road accident, necessitated a short re-routing. FL lead the northbound convoy through the Julatten back-blocks. We were assured that we had taken the correct side- road when we saw the approaching southbound convoy.

At Kuku Yalanji Dreamtime Centre, Mossman, it was fortuotous that Warren, a Kuku Yalanji guide, turned up. He gave us an interesting, comprehensive and entertaining one hour tour. We were shown a variety of homeopathic plants, one provided headache relief (Imagine rubbing one's forehead with a serrated edge of a pandanas leaf!), and another a cure for teething infants and gum boils.  A “women only” track leads to a birthing pond in the small stream. A range of coloured ochre was obtained from rocks and soap leaves used to wash it off we were assured that the bark hut was rainproof and would last 10-12 years!

Another sighting of balanophoria, the primitive plant which lives on the roots of other plant, and looks like a small toadstool.

The reproduction rock art is about 20 years old. The artist had to memorise the features of their sacred art site, which was located further up the ravine.

It was great to be heading north to Cape Tribulation. The ferry ride across the Daintree River took only 3 minutes 15 seconds. Maybe some of us will have the opportunity to taste two of the local products: Daintree Tea (plantation on either side of the road) and Daintree Icecream (made with tropical fruit).

At our rainforest accommodation, Annie, a cute-faced and friendly, 15-year old spectacled flying fox joined us during happy hour.

After our ablutions, which were very difficult, to say the least, and at last settled in our rainforest boudoir, some in rooms of two, one lot with two in beds and two on the floor (on mattresses of course!), that's when the trouble started.  Val's jokes made it difficult for peace to reign in the forest. Unfortunately, two of our members were not able to find their way home. Plaintiff voices and flashing lights heralded their approach through the rainforest.

Others were kept awake by the sawing actions of a white-tailed rat. (Helen found out that his name is Whitman, and he lives in the roof of that particular hut. While Marie found out that it can saw through tin and aluminium.) The pounding early morning rain, on the tin roof, would surely have woken everybody.      

 

Day 11

Monday, 24 July

Cape Tribulation

Our stay at the Cape Tribulation Research Station was most interesting, and  the accommodation DIFFERENT. We were all very taken with Hugh Spencer, the dedicated Director who has devoted so much of his life to the rain forest. We believe he badly needs funding, to promote his research and to improve the station's facilities particularly the ablution block. During the first night, 13 mm of rain pelted down on tin roofs- our group was lucky to have rooms and not the tents into which the young research volunteers had very nobly moved in order to make room for us. Some of us had interrupted sleep from a white-tail rat or other rooftop creatures.

FL took us to the beach at Cape Trib at 8.15 am.  Some did a quick walk along the boardwalk while Renee made sure the "Rum Runner" wouldn't depart without us.

Helen, Marion and Bernice did not join the boat-trip and their comments follow:  Walked on Cape Trib Nth Beach near the mangroves, saw majestic beautiful old trees arching over the sand, some flowering trees, 5 varieties of butterflies including a triangular blue butterfly with gold stripes, 2 monitor lizards. After lunch at the Research Station, visited the Bat House, walked along the Dubuti Boardwalk - means place of spirits- magical! This walk explores 3 different habitats, rain forest, freshwater swamp and mangrove. There was more light, with a more open canopy,fan palms, brush turkeys scavenging, small turtles and fish in the stream.  Helen walked to Myall Beach and found a tourist mob horse-riding.

The majority of the group waded out to the aluminium tender which ferried us out to the big catamaran. There were 40 people of many different nationalities on board and after the usual safety talk we each introduced ourselves to the person next to us. After an hour of motoring out to Mackay.

Reef we tied up on a permanent buoy, donned wetsuits, flippers, mask and snorkel and slid into the somewhat cool water. The sun kept disappearing behind the clouds, and the sea was a bit choppy.

Once over the reef the sight was fantastic however, and everyone was quickly totally absorbed by the beautiful coral, fish and giant clams. Some returned to the boat for a rest after about half an hour, because it was rather tiring with the choppy conditions.

An excellent lunch was served at 12.30. Warren (Wayne?), the skipper, moved the catamaran to a new location and the sun came out in time for an afternoon snorkel. Most went back in and saw more of the wonderful underwater world including stingray, octopus, giant wrasse dragging away a large piece of dead coral, turtles, and a large assortment of different fish, small and large, one more colourful than the next.

The older members of the group were well looked after by the crew, who helped with snorkel-tutorials and later took some over the reef in the rubber-ducky with hand-held viewing boxes. At 3.15 the crew blew the whistle for everyone to return to the boat for the journey back to the beach. Wendy, who had been first in, was the last back on board, she couldn't wipe the smile off her face! After a head-count, the crew put sails up and sailed back to Cape Trib beach.

We arrived, quite exhausted, at 5.00 p.m, FL awaited us with the bus.

At the Station we met Brigitta, Hugh's ex-wife, who had arrived. There was also a beautiful carpet snake down from the ceiling of the kitchen block.

Most fell into bed at 8.30!

 

Day 12

Wednesday, 25th July

Last Day

Kaleidoscope of vivid memories

 

Wendy: The richness of diversity of life forms in the wonderful, green rainforests, and the myriad of shapes, forms, colours of the life of the coral reefs.

Marie: The huge range of leaf shapes, graceful ferns and associated plants with the myriad shades of green, large coloured fruits and interesting birds.

Bernice: Rainforests, waterfalls, water running over boulders, beaches, the Coral Sea, mountains with clouds sitting on top, birds, butterflies, bats, compost loos, and comerarderie. These are some of my most vivid memories.

Marion: Favourite accommodation: The old convent. Favourite trees: too wonderful to choose, but maybe the Kauris. Favourite waterfall: impossible to choose. Companions: You were great.

Felix:  Highlights were: Waterfalls, The Old Convent, Hugh and the Research Station, and Reef. John’s expertise in executing the safari, and his wide knowledge of the environment and plants. In fact I dubbed him Jack of all trades and master of all.

Val: Go Bush Reef & Rainforest is truly an R & R experience— both refreshing and rewarding. An evergreen memory.

Renee: Seeing the area again after 25 years: some places improved, others spoilt. Names floating back, old faces. Was good to see it again.

Enid:  Highlights for me: The Fig Parrot, the Crested Hawk, Ulysses butterflies,my first snorkelling experience at 79 years_fantastic! A blue starfish, lavender coral. Forest walk with Warren. Meeting Margaret Thorsburne. Handling the Mega Fruit Bat. The Old Convent. Freda’s paradise. Brolgas. Wonderful group to be with.

Diana:  One highlight was visiting Margaret Thorsburne and her out-of -this-world house. Another was the quick exploration of the river rocks at Blencoe Creek. Then_the rainforest walks, the waterfalls, the Daintree. the lovely people at the Old Convent. And more.

Richard: I like mountains, so, apart from the peace and bursting life of the coastal rainforest, I shall always remember the mountains, range on range towering up to 3 or 4000 feet almost from sea level and blue in the distance as far as one can see.

Helen: Travelling with a small group and having the opportunity to walk and learn and have a good look. Daintree (particularly Dubaji boardwalk, exploring and relaxing on North Cape Tribulation beach). Wildlife: brolgas, Hastie’s swamp birds, fig parrots, rainbow bee-eaters, and butterflies).  Lake Eacham walk, Atherton Tableland in general, including rural scenes. Waterfalls (particularly Blencoe  and Murray Falls, and those near Millaa Millaa). Travelling through savannah woodland (Day ), and seeing cattle and wildlife. Great companionship and laughs, and having John as leader.

Lida:  The walk with the Aboriginal man about the Dreaming and things they used to make a life. I liked the visit to Margaret and Freda. The surprise to see the curlews, the bettongs and the hawk at the Bat House. The walks on Mission beach. The pandanus ferns climbing on the trees. The trip to the Reef and the snorkelling.

 

Some Wet Tropics Reflections

Bernice Barboutis and Marion Carroll

 

We set off from Cairns with John

Out into the wild blue yon’

The phone gave a ring

That Saturday morning

For Val had been left, poor thing.

 

Ten gals and two blokes on a spree

The Babinda Boulders to see

We cried with delight

At the wondrous sight

Then off to a waterfall and tea. 

 

At Wongalinga we stayed for two nights

Where the sea was within all our sights

After shaking our heads

We crammed in the beds

At those units so swanky and bright.

 

The fan palms were a wondrous sight

We gazed at them with sheer delight

Then to Margaret’s for tea

We all trooped with glee

And she's fantastic, we all agree

 

Through the Hinchinbrook channel we sailed

Thc scenery and birds never failed

With a “How does that sound?" and “Right?”

Bill took us to see all the sights.

 

The sweep of a crocodile's tail

In the sand made the stoutest heart quail

John said they’d been fighting

No doubt they'd been biting

How's that for a crocodile tale?

 

On a Thursday evening we did go

To the old convent at Ravenshoe

With fires bright and food galore

We got to like it more and more

Our four night stay was sure a treat

I think it would be hard to beat

Rachel and He1en what a team

While Daryl brings home the milk and cream.

 

The windmills stately turning b1ades

Against the skyline eerie.

Repair men great ladders climb;

Gee they must get weary.

 

The lava tubes, an awesome sight

We viewed their depths with great delight

The whole group enjoyed the trip

But Felix's knees did creak a bit.

 

The pots were on the fire

A red sun was in the sky

Of these things we never tire

Whilst the didgeridoo's close by.

 

Malanda Hotel what a treat

In all its faded glory

Verandahs wide and ballroom grand

The owner told his story. 

 

The majesty of kauri trees

A humbling sight indeed

Stone column like they soared aloft

As nature had decreed

 


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