Australia Day 13

Today was reef recovery day. It was another good sleep and be lazy in the morning day – surprisingly the weather was good too! By the time we headed out of the hotel, the free continental brekkie was over. We headed over to the Reef Hotel and Casino (convieniently located across the street from our hotel) to get some food and check it out. One of the things that drew us inside was the Rainforest Dome at the top. It turned out to be a zoological garden with all sorts of Australian animals. Since we had seen most of them in the bush, we decided to not pay the AUS$22. After a quite good steak sandwich in the lounge, we headed into the Casino to check it out. Most of the slot machines were bizarre in that there were no normal 3 line slots, instead all of them could play up to 20 different lines. I decided to try my hand at one of my favorite machines – Wheel of Fortune. A quick AUS$20 later and my streak of no luck in Vegas continues down under.

We went back to the hotel and decided since the weather was holding out – actual sunshine today – that we would try the Skyrail up to the village of Kuranda and to get a fly over the rainforest. The Skyrail as well as the Kuranda Scenic railway is one of the tourist trips that everyone does in Cairns (other than the Great Barrier Reef). Unfortunately due to our laziness, we were stuck only doing the Skyrail roundtrip since the train departure did not leave any time to get off at the Skyrail stations along the route and see the waterfalls and the rainforest or even see the town of Karunda. We timed it just right so that we only had to wait 30 minutes for the bus to collect us and head out. Gary was a bit nervous especially due to the gusts of wind that were still blowing, but the ride actually turned out to be a pretty good one. The cable car system must be well manufactured because even in 25-30km/hr gusts there was not much movement. The scenery was spectacular looking out into the Coral Sea as well as looking down into the rain forest and out at Barron Falls.

Kuranda was just another typical tourist town up in the rain forest. I had imagined that it would look like it was a bit more isolated, but it just looked like a random town with a bunch of souvenir shops. I am glad we didn’t have to spend too much time there before it was time to head back down the mountain. Coming back, we stopped at the overlook to the Barron Falls instead of just looking at it from the tramway. Thanks to the abundance of rain yesterday – 230cm in 24 hours, the falls were at full flood stage and made a deafening roar. It was difficult to get a good shot of the falls since there were some Chinese and Italian groups pushing everyone else out of the way, but I managed to get a good shot. The other stop at the rainforest boardwalk was a bit disappointing. I thought the rainforest walk in Sydney was more entertaining, more informative, and most importantly longer. The rest of the trip was uneventful, but the whole experience was certainly worthwhile. We talked with people who had did the train portion and they thought that it completed the experience and made it better so I would certainly recommend if you are in Cairns, you should do both.

Back in town, we vegged out a bit in the hotel room and then headed out to dinner. We found an outback style restaurant and each had more steak to eat. I had a fillet, which was quite good, and my first Aussie baked potato. If I closed my eyes, I would be back at the Outback Steakhouse back home. We then did some souvenir shopping on the way back to the hotel. I picked up a good chunk of what I needed to get. I only have a few more people to buy for and I think I can get it wrapped up tomorrow before our flight to Brisbane.

I am staring out the window of the lobby of our hotel and I am reflecting on what an incredible experience the whole trip has been. I am a bit weary after all the traveling, but I do feel like I have a bit of inner peace being away from the stresses of my life back home and that is what vacations are all about. I am very happy with this vacation – it certainly has been one of the best I have ever had. Hopefully I can squeeze in some more memories in the last day.