Kangeroos!

We saw a lot of kangaroos in Australia, but the live ones were too fast to get a good picture of in the car, and the abundant dead ones were too sad. By far the most impressive one was this 20 foot animatronic kangaroo next to a gas station in Queensland. It moved its ears and eyes and Scott waited around for a long time to see if the pouch would open, but unfortunately we had no luck on that front.

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Strange Small Towns: Biggenden

While driving through the middle of nowhere we stumbled upon what might possibly the the best small town in all of Australia. Biggenden is definitely not on any tourist map or even on some regular maps, but we spent an amusing half an hour exploring the town.
 Among the highlights was this amazing blacksmith and funeral parlour, complete with the most incredible iron structure I have ever seen.

Here we have a devil of some kind holding a dragon. I can’t even begin to describe it further. I love road trips!

 

 

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Australia is beautiful

Somewhere south of Townsville, we noticed a sign for a scenic lookout, and decided to stop. The scenic lookout was actually a 3 km dirt road drive up a mound in the middle of nowhere, but it was insanely beautiful. We had the place to ourselves as we walked around just amazed at how far you could see, and how wonderfully unique the landscape of Australia is. As far as we could see in any direction were red dirt and farmers fields, except back in the direction of Townsville where another dirt mound rose over the ocean. An absolutely gorgeous place.

 

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Up to the Daintree

As we drove through New Zealand, Scott and I listened to Bill Bryson’s amazing book about travelling in Australia, “In a Sunburned Country”, and were inspired to make a trip north from Cairns to see the the rainforest and cape tribulation. After a few hours driving we reached the Daintree river, where we first realized how much money we were going to have to spend in Australia. The river is about 50m wide, an easily swimmable distance if it hadn’t been for the crocodiles, and is the only way into the national park. It costs $25 for a return ferry ticket.
 That said, it was the only thing we spent money on for the rest of the day, so it was worthwhile for the trip. The Daintree is an ancient rainforest, and going there really does feel like entering another world. We spend the day walking underneath giant trees, admiring waterfalls and keeping our eyes out for Cassowaries. We skipped the discovery centre in favour of the free walks near by, which I would definitely recommend.

We had planned to spend the night at the campground within the park, but it was full, and we were forced to cut our trip short. In a hurry to get back over the river before dark, we spent a little time for Cape Tribulation. It was named Tribulation by Captain Cook who ran aground near the cape in 1770.

We drove back out, managing not to hit any giant flightless birds, and to an amazing free campsite 30km south of the park.
We had a great day in the Daintree, and my only regret is not seeing any crocodiles. Well you have to save something for next time…

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Australasia’s Weird Food: Lamingtons

Popular in both New Zealand and Australia, lamingtons are sponge cakes covered in strawberry jam or chocolate sauce and coconut flakes. For some reason we never actually ate one in either country, but they sure do look delicious.

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The GREAT barrier reef

When I was teaching Travel and Tourism in Canada, I taught an entire unit on Australia. While the students were complaining, as they do, about the content, I was relishing the opportunity to learn more about a country I had always wanted to visit. All through this trip I have been stopping to marvel at the fact that I am actually in Australia, and no where were these thoughts as strong as at the great barrier reef. Similar to the Great Wall or Mount Fuji, it’s one of the places in the world where you can’t help but have a surreal moment. I can’t believe I’m actually here!
We booked a day trip to the reef on a snorkel and scuba diving boat for just over $100. They picked us up at our hostel in the morning and after getting our safety numbers and our snorkel gear we headed out to the reef. Our boat made two stops, at the Hastings reef in the morning and at Saxon reef in the afternoon.

The boat trip itself was wonderful, with coffee and cookies in the morning, an amazing lunch buffet, and really delicious muffins. Scott and I were two of the only non-divers, so we spent most of our time with a retired couple from Canberra, but we basically had the top of the reef to ourselves.
We purchased an underwater camera case, which served it’s purpose for three uses, and headed into the water. It was amazing!

We saw lots of amazing fish and other incredible underwater life. However, for me, the best part was the reef itself. It was about two feet below the surface and you could easily swim right over the top. It dramatically dropped off 20 feet at the edge, and it was an amazing feeling to swim from the reef to the open water and back again. I felt like I was in Finding Nemo.
The pictures are not great, but it was an amazing experience.

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