Day 20- Dec 4/22-Scenic World in Blue Mountains

Leura is the area where our accommodation is. Katoomba is the town where we go to “ScenicWorld” and where we went for lunch. Scenic World has the steepest railway in the world (a 52 degree incline… check the pictures. I would say it was a funicular instead of a railway but that’s what they are calling it. Getting in and sitting down was interesting. The seat was in the form of an open “V”.

Walking through the rainforest we heard a Lyrebird… a cool chirping sound but we didn’t could not see one. There are vines that are so strong they can hold up the family car.

The cableway is 240 meters … breathtaking!

Another cable car skyway 270 meters is the highest in Australia ……where we see the 3 Sisters …spectacular scenery. The view reminds me of God’s Window in South Africa only better. There was really tall waterfall called Katoomba Falls that we could see on the way across the open span

On walk to a lookout to be closer to the 3 Sisters there were plants that resembled Protea but were called Bancksia.

Now off to a hike to a waterfall and another lookout. My right leg is not liking this climbing up and down stairs/inclines.

After we had lunch in town in Katoomba, we wandered through an alley with some pretty awesome street art. I would prefer it if instead of the tagging that is done at home, they did stuff like this. While on the main street I noticed a “strange looking dude” with blond dreadlocks, explanation-mark like face paint, a knitted torque with earflaps, wearing a ruffled black skirt over jogging pants. I’m now wondering if he was one of the artists!

One thing we have found was that many of the hotels have no one on their front desk beyond say 4pm. They leave a key in a lock box or leave the keys in the open room.

10,712 steps.

If there are no pictures someone let me know and I will send them separately. I seem to have them up and then I don’t.

Day 19-Dec 3/22-Wauchope to the Blue Mountains

We left for town to grab breakfast just after 8 and were to leave by 9 with our next stop to be the koala hospital/sanctuary for the victims of the fires a couple of years ago. We all piled back into the bus only to have it not start. Our bus driver/ CEO Sam hunted down the battery (not easily found) but didn’t have hardly any tools. First he went to a mechanic’s shop for ideas on how to fix it cuz we didn’t have trouble starting it in the morning. He came back and tried to fix it but was lacking a proper sized wrench so then had to go and purchase one. 2 hours later he turned the key, it started, everyone cheered and we were off to see the koalas.there is a wealth of information that might find interesting if you read the info boards…

I was mistaken that these koalas are there only because of the fires. Mostly they are there because they’ve been hit by vehicles. Of course drivers don’t stop for pedestrians so why would they stop for koalas. Also they are losing their natural habitat and will not hesitate to cross a road in order to find another tree. We saw a momma and a baby Joey (just like a baby kangaroo… because they are both marsupials…. they both keep their baby in a pouch). The Joey was under a year, had been born in the sanctuary. There was another a bit older. The momma had been found wandering in the middle of town so they don’t know where her area was to release her back to. Other koalas have eye injuries, another has no pads on its feet and hands because of fires so can never climb again. Damn they are so cute and cuddly looking. Did you know they sleep 20 hours a day….. it’s kinda hard to get a. Picture if one awake and moving. I have a video but unable to send.

We all go back to the bus only to find we have the problem again. It wasn’t long before Sam got it going again but then he decided it would be good to get a new battery so back to Port Macquarrie we went to spend several more hours hanging around the beautiful waterfront. I watched a group of young teens jump into the water from posts on the wharf. We left just after 3pm.

Blue mountains get the name from the blue haze that the eucalyptus trees give off.

Stopped at Lake Macquarrie on the north side of Sydney…just for a break. Saw some birds in the trees…. Looked like parrots.

Arrived at our destination at 11pm….knackered!

Only 6526…. Not surprising!!!

Day 18-Dec. 2/22-Byron Bay to Port Macquarrie

I awoke to pouring torrential rains….again! It’s relentless!!!

After getting breaky at bakery (they make fabulous pies in Oz) we went from jungle and relentless rain to rolling hills and sun (and cloud) in under 10 minutes…… amazing!

Passed through an area just around Ballinas, that obviously have had fires in the eucalyptus trees. They seem to have regrown the leaves on most. I missed it but there was a ladder that crossed over the highway so that the koalas can safely cross the highway.

Stopped at Coffs Harbour at the”Big Banana”, an amusement /theme park, etc.

From there to Port Macquarrie, and Wauchole where we are spending the night.

January 25, Australia Day the day the British came ashore and massacred the aboriginals. For the natives it’s a day of mourning. Also called the “Hottest Day when they hear the hottest music, bbq and drink too much beer.

8512 steps

Day 17-Dec 1/22-Byron Bay

Irukandji jellyfish is the name of the little stinger buggers in Australia. They are little…..the size of your thumbnail. You cannot see them in the water but they can kill you. The other day while snorkeling, I felt a little bite on my upper pec, realizing the zipper on my suit wasn’t pulled all the way up…,.. no lasting effects. Others felt them too.

The weather is very nasty (winds and torrential rains) so some activities were cancelled…. Skydiving and ocean kayaking but some brave souls got going at 7:10 to have a bite and then went to learn to surf. Since stuff was cancelled our CEO Sam is touring us around. Sorry cannot send videos.

Stone and Wood is the brewery pub where we went for lunch. The company said it would hold out on any buyout by Coopers but caved too. There are only 1% of all craft breweries left that are independent

Next to another brewery for most people trying a “flight”. From there we went to the Byron Lighthouse, the most easterly point in Australia.

It is most powerful light, strongest in Australia with the light having 760 prisms weighing 8 tonnes. We just about got blown away and I lost my yellow “Sou’wester hat” that I got in Nova Scotia 😢. I am hoping that I won’t need it ever again…. Yah right!

6850 steps

Day 16-Nov 30/22- Airlie Beach to Byron Bay

I was going to mention before but kept forgetting to but OMG the room/suite numbering is weird. For example, there were several rooms booked for us on the same door as us….,on Level “3” that was above level L-street level, B-car park level & level 1… reception and restaurant. We were on the next level but our room number was 7H, others were 9F and others were 10 something or other. Insane!!! Anyone ever heard of that kind of numbering?

We don’t actually have to leave here before 4 today so since we could leave our luggage in the lobby, we took a walk into town…..for me to get fridge magnets. I also ended up buying a top. On the way I spotted a Masked Lapwing. We all picked up some food and drinks & Sam bought more food (at the park by the beach) & a cake in celebration of Alan’s birthday.

I am not, I am not, I am not complaining about the heat and humidity but it is f..n stinking uncomfortable ….. makes me quite ill.

At 4 we head to the airport for a 7:10pm flight to Brisbane followed by a bus ride to Byron Bay, arriving around midnight….. yuk! Actually we arrived at 1am New South Wales time (time change) in the pouring rain.

We have been upgraded to a 5 star hotel in Byron Bay called Crystalbrook

8528 steps

Day 15-Nov 29/22- Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays

We are to go out on a sailboat for the day, to snorkel the reefs and such… meet the CEO for 7:15 for it bus ride to the marina. ….that was late and now we sit waiting at the marina…. for what I don’t know….. the deckhands to show up.

First full moon in November the coral spawns… catch it nets to replant.

Tricadesmia-coral spawn

10:40at spot. ….Hook Island …Cockatoo Point where we snorkelled for an hour, then lunch on board. We got lots of videos (that are impossible to load on this site. Sorry but only a few stills.

Hayman Island (was a 6 star… the help is never seen cuz they use tunnels… now a 5 star because of the damage) and Hamilton Island – cyclone Debbie destroyed much of the vegetation (some still has not recovered) and a good number of homes.

Only 5123 step although some of us walked up to the lookout on the island, into town for dinner and back. We had quite the workout and are all exhausted. The day was supposed to be terrible with rain and lightning but instead had a beautiful day…. Too beautiful. We all got burn regardless of wearing sunscreen.

Day 14-Nov 28-driving to Airlie Beach

It’s an all-day bus ride.

First stop will be at Tully…… the town has a big boot on the side of the road. It is 8 metres high to show the highest amount of rainfall they have ever recorded in Australia, was here in 1950. The mill is spewing black smoke that we were told yesterday, is not bad for the environment. The air smells like sweet corn.

I noticed big stainless bumpers on the big rigs driving by that I believe Luigi had mentioned before. Instead of cow plows like we have at home, we have here kangaroo plows cuz “if you’ve ever hit one before, you know they will make your vehicle incapacitated”. Along the way we noticed some sugar fields burning….. in the distance.

We arrived after about 11 hours with a few stops along the way …. Bathroom breaks and lunch in Townsville. The street along the waterfront there is quite lovely with a beautiful little park where J and I have had our lunch. It is extremely hot…29C “but feels like 34”.

Later we motored on to Airlie Beach. We cannot see too much cuz it’s already dark. Our accommodation is really very nice… on about the 5th floor. It is an apartment with view. It is probably a mile to town. Okay if you have a car or bike, but in this heat we decided to just stay put in the AC.

5307 steps.

Day 13-Nov 27-back we go to Cairns

Once we cross the ferry over the Daintree River (didn’t see any crocs this time either), the topography and vegetation changed. On the north side it is jungle with winding roads. On the south side it is flat but ringed by mountains….. with nicer wider roads. The main crops seems to be sugar cane…. About a 2Billion dollar industry. We passed what looked like fish farm ponds… on land and white cows in one field….. not big on cattle.

First real stop is Port Douglas to wander and have lunch. It looks like a pretty nice place… palm lined road in. It just so happened that there was a market in town.

Sugar cane mills make electricity from the steam that comes off in the production of the sugar. The burning of the cane after harvest is quite spectacular. Apparently, there are lots of geckos around too.


Day 12-Nov 26/22-Cape Tribulation

We awoke to rain on the metal roof. Later this morning we are to go on an “Ocean Safari” out to the Great Barrier Reef….to a Mackay Reef…. One of over 2,500 reefs to Great Barrier Reef. I noticed a stick on the road near a little creek right after a sign saying the road was subject to flooding. The gauge on the stick read to 2 metres.

We swam in 29-30C water, checked out all the beautiful coral that seems be alive and well. There were of course the gorgeous tropical fishes including “Nemo”, giant clams that are a couple hundred years old and even a turtle or two. Because the waters are getting too hot for the coral, in places you see the algae being shed. It looks like yellow murky ink. Mackay Reef incidentally is a tiny sandy isle 30 minutes by speed boat from shore, surrounded by coral reefs. Before leaving to get on the boat we were issued stinging suits… to save us from being stung by tiny jellyfish…. so small you cannot see them. Even though the reef seems to be in great shape, I have seen a better display of fishes in other places.

10,542 steps today even with 4 hrs on a boat.

Day 11-Nov 25/22- Cairns to Cape Tribulation

8:15am start loading bags into the bus … left shortly before 9.

First photo op….Rex Lookout… they apparently do kite surfing but didn’t see any.

We see a sign “Water Restrictions” as it’s pouring rain. I’d swear the rain is following us.

10:15am Mosman Gorge, Indigenous Guided walk through the Daintree rainforest. Sugar cane to left as we start bus ride. It seems that sugar cane is the main crop in this area….. it’s huge. Oldest rainforest at 180M years old. 150 people live here in village. Guide said there are lots of roots on the trail. He said that “if you see it move, we’ll see if you can out run me”. The Melaleuca tree… paper, cloth & was burned as we walked around the little fire to be welcome to the forest.

“Wait-awhile” vines small has barbs natural version of “barb wire fence”….is used to build shelter, fishing nets and for climbing trees like linemen use to shinny.

Stinging plant— worst in Queensland… have to go to hospital for treatment or as the aboriginals do, urinate on the needles. They will come to the surface and then can be “raked” away.

Natural paints used as sunscreen, war paint & identification of tribe but best of all, it prevents the smell of human perspiration so is best for hunting … animals can’t smell you.

Soap tree plant…(kurrandal) antiseptic for sunburn, rash. Skinned branch (sassporella)

Raintree walnut looks like almond when pealed but tastes like coconut.

Cassowary nut very poisonous Good only for cassowary (there are only 7 in this area).

Rainforest Boyd Dragon in a tree.

12pm lunch at Mosman Gorge Cafe

1:30pm stop at the supermarket for supplies

2pm we’ll lose phone reception as we drive north and cross the Daintree River….. a cable ferry.

Climbing, climbing narrow twisty roads. Up to this point the roads have been so nice,wide and good condition. This reminds me of a cross between Finlayson Road and the road as you first enter the campground at Goldstream.

4pm to arrive at Cape Tribulation but we were a little delayed cuz we went to the wrong “Beach House”. The GPS I guess wasn’t giving great directions. There is no internet!!!

What a lovely place…cabins dispersed down a paved road through a tropical rainforest down toward the restaurant and a nice “cooler” (than yesterday) pool. Just beyond that is the gorgeous beach and ocean. We were told NOT to swim in the ocean, nor to try to walk along the tree-line when the tide is in cuz you’d have to walk in the water. There are CROCODILES in there.

6:30pm dinner at our accommodation. Our CEO bought a dish of kangaroo so that we could all get to try it. It was really quite good.

Only 7500 steps but we spent a lot of time on the bus.