down the east coast
after the rain forest, i headed back to cairns and then took the bus to townsville. the reason ppl go to townsville is to go to magnetic island(cook had problems with his compass in the vicinity of the island and name the island that way). so the next day i headed there for the day. in the morning, i did a walk to a gorgeous lookout point and enjoyed the views of the surrounding water. the water was a beautiful blue ( i tried uploading photos but the computer doesn't want to today). and then i walked down to the beach in horsehoe bay and went for a swim. the water was very cloudy so instead i just went to sleep under the palm trees. the cool thing about this time of year is the fact that it's spring so thing are in bloom, and the bushes are different from the ones at home. since the climate is much warmer, you get huge colourful blossoms, photos will come at some point.
in the evening i went back to townsville and the was a guy who showed up with a python that anyone who wanted to could hold. of course, not having the opportunity to do so everyday, i got my photo taken with a blackheaded python. the next day was a bus trip down to airlie beach, next to the whitsundays, islands that apparently are very beautiful. ppl usually do a 3 day 2 night trip on a sailing boat. i didn't really have time to do that so instead i did half a day of sea kayaking. we had a snack on a tiny island were the beach was made of coral. it had been blached by the time if made it to the beach but it looked really cool. then we did a little snorkelling but the water was very cloudy and i only saw one fish(but most ppl in the group saw only coral and water). the cool thing was to get the stinger suits on. they are like wetsuits but thinner and are supposed to protect you from the sting of the box jellyfish (one of the many dangers in the australian waters). on the way back did some sailing by putting 3 kayaks together and then putting up a sail. it was really cool. so i did some sailing in the whitsundays. the next day i was suppose to do a day trip and do some more snorkelling but the winds picked up(waves of 3 meters) and the trip was cancelled so i spent the day hanging around airlie beach. there isn't much to do there other than shop, swim and go sailing so it was pretty relaxed. that was good because i caught the night bus down to rainbow beach that evening. luckily there were few ppl on the bus and everyone had 2 seats to sleep in that night.
rainbow beach is absolutely tiny. you pretty much get off the bus and walk across the street to the hostel and then walk about 3 minutes down the street to the beach. the beach is beautiful, but the waves are really big so you can't go swimming in the ocean. from rainbow beach, i was going to leave on a 3 day selfdrive 4 wd trip. it's pretty much a bunch of backpackers that pile into a landrover and driver all over the big sand island in the world. it was cool. update about fraser island soon. but wildlife highlights were seeing turtles in the ocean and they would come up to breath, seeing a wild dingo(although that was a bit scary at first cause you only see a shadow until you shine a light at it) and then on the ferry trip back, we saw a pod of dolphins (it's a pod for whales, is it the same for dolphins?) and one was jumping around a bit so that was really cool. tomorow i'm heading to brisbane and will be in sydney by next weekend. suggestion for anyone doing the east coast of australia: take you time, a month is not enough, there is so much to see and do and things are far apart (you would think i would know that coming from canada! not be like the tourist who wants to see the rockies and drive to niagara falls the same day).
cairns and cape tribulation
after alice springs, i flew to cairns on the north east coast of australia. from the desert, i landed in the middle of the rain forest. the weather was very tropical, very humid and warm and it rained a little bit, but not much. i spent 2 days in cairns just hanging around, shopping, going to the lagoon, a sort of outdoor swimming pool since the beach in a mud flat infested with crocodiles and sometimes box jellyfish.
i then went on a 2 day tour up to cape tribulation in the north. we saw a wildlife sanctuary with cassowaries, kangaroos and wallabies that you could feed, koalas (the first ones i have seen other than on postcards), crocs and all sorts of birds.
this is a cassowary, very nasty bird: it bites
we also went on a cruise down the daintree river and saw tree snakes and crocs of various sizes and a frog that had decided to spend the night on the boat, so it had to go up and down the river all day.
we then got dropped off at our respective hostels and the evening was spent enjoying a beer with other ppl in the room. it poured that evening, but the next morning was absolutely gorgeous. it's really cool to actually be in a rain forest since the only ones i'd ever experienced are in botanical gardens or conservatories. and it's so much more humid that you expect. the second day for me involved going snorkelling on the great barrier reef. that was absolutely gorgeous, like better than anything you can imagine. the water was really clear and there were so many fish. mostly parrot fish that grind up the coral with their mouths and produce sand. it's amazing how many colours they come in. and there were blue starfish and i saw a ray. some ppl in the group saw turtles (lucky them). and the coral is completely different in all the shapes and sizes and colours. in the afternoon, the tide was lower so the coral was closer and you could touch it (if you were stupid enough to do so) but the colours were much more beautiful and bright, i guess there was more light that reached it. sorry no photos cause they are still on my underwater camera. so for anyone heading to australia, snorkelling is a must! and make sure you cover your back somehow cause mine was completely red at the end of the day!
red center part 2
after kings canyon we visited ocher pits where the aboriginals use the rocks for ceremonies. the colours were amazing: yellow, white, red, orange and a range of colours in between. and the rock had been puched up in a way that the layers were vertical so it looked like a rainbow.
we got up early the next morning to go for a walk and have a chance to see black footed rock wallabies(sort of like kangaroos but smaller). it was really cool cause you would be walking along a creek bed and then everyone would stop and stare and there would be 2 or 3 of them just standing in the rocks. they were hard to spot if they didn't twitch their ears. there was also a water hole where you could swim in the area but we had more to do so we skipped the swimming.
we went for a 4WD to palm valley. i've never actually been off road and this was so cool. imagine how much you would jump at the back of a school bus and then imaging jumping that much with a seat belt on. it was great! and most of the photos i tried to take during that time have a very weird horizon. there were wild horses on the drive to the valley and we were going along the river bed. it was once again amazing to see all the colours. and of course we went for a walk along palm valley. the plants were really gorgeous and if you didn't know better you would think that you were at the beach. even though the closest ocean if about a 2 hour flight away.
one of the girls on the tour was from the kangaroo rescue center( joeys that are saved from their dead mothers pouches) so we went there at the end of the tour because we had problems opening a door with most of the luggage in there. so we got to see the kangaroos up close and see a feeding (just like babies, bottle and lactose free milk). this one is a red kangaroo.
we all went back to our respective hotels and hostels and then met up in the evening at melankas, one of the bars in town for some drinks and food. it was nice to sit around and talk with everyone over a few beers. so that is a basic summary of the red center tour. i saw so much more but i can't remember the nmes of all the places and there are so many photos about 450. so these ones are the better ones. and being in the middle of nowhere, we saw a lot of wildlife: emus, camels, horses, galahs (parrots with pink stomach and grey back) and of course wallabies. australia is great!
i got back from a 4 day tour of the red center: uluru (ayers rock), the olgas, kings canyon, palm valley and many more. it was just incredible!
we went to the olgas on the first day and walked in the valley of winds. the scenery looked like a painting.
this is me at the first lookout on the walk, while the previous photo is from the second lookout. the sun was really intense!
in the evening we say the sunset at ayres rock and then the next morning saw the sunrise. they weren't very impressive, at least not like they could be, probably due to a lack of moisture in the air or because it was so windy that there was too much dut in the air. if anyone knows which of the two theories makes more sense, please enlighten me. so we walked around the base of the rock because the wind speeds were so high, the climb to the top was closed. this is a different view of uluru than you usually see on postcards.
of course being in the outback we slept in swag (it's like a canvas sleeping bag with a mat inside that you put your sleeping bag into and than it can protect you from the wind and dust). and the stars were absolutely gorgeous. you could really see the milky way. and of course i couldn't recognize a single constellation (although i think i saw orion one of the mornings). there were about 5 aussies on the tour (the others were german, korean, french and english) and they couldn't point out the southern cross to me so it's a bit reassuring not to know anything more about the stars than the locals :) in the evenings, we would have a camp fire, and had to collect the wood for it in the afternoon. so here we are in the middle of nowhere in the 35 degree heat putting the wood on the truck.
the third day we went for a walk at kings canyon. it use to be under the sea so in places you could see the fossilized ripples in the sand. it was really cool to see and the landscape sort of reminded me of the badlands cause there were different layers in the rock.
australia in photos
so here are some photos from australia so far. it's great how at the internet cafes here you can actually put cd's in the computer.
so this is me getting over jetlag on the first day (the flight arrived at 6:30 am.)and the bird is a king parrot. the feeder is just outside the back door at the relatives place.
these birds were also in the feeder. the one in the feeder is a king parrot and the one in the tree is a rosella. the birds are the spots of colour on the photo that don't seem to belong (in case you have a hard time finding them in the photo)
tomorow bright and early i'm heading to uluru/ayers rock on a 4 day tour. the bus comes at 6:15 in the morning! should be very interesting and gorgeous.
so it's been just over a week in australia and i am heading to alice springs in a few hours. so far it's been great and crazy and gorgeous. so as mentioned in the previous post, i was staying with my aunt's brother(my dad's brother's wife's brother) and we spoke a lot of french which was great because living in australia he does really have a chance to do that too often. we went bushwalking on a nice track just near his place. the blue moutains (completely covered by eucalyptus trees) is really just a plateau that has been eroded by the water so you drive and live on the top of the mountains and then when you start a walk, you go downhill and the hard part is on the way up at the end when you are completely exhausted! but the view is incredible and there is so much wildlife. king parrots, rosellas (another type of bird that looks like a parrot), lyre birds (sort of like a peacock but not as colourful), lizards, snakes, cockatoos and a lot of diverse vegetation.
we headed into katoomba, 2 villages over (biggest one in the blue moutains), and saw the three sisters, a rock formation with 3 peaks, you can actually walk to the first one by taking the giant stair case, a stair case of about 1000 steps that is incredibly steep. to get to the three sisters, you don't actually go down the entire way, but it's far enough down that your legs totally hurt when you go up the stairs again. time is running out, so will post later and try and get so photos up of the birds in the feeder.