We camped in Cairns for four nights, managing to stay dry and to not have our tent blow away. Cyclone Debbie really had little effect here other than stirring up the water. We had plenty of time to check out Cairns.
A few things about Cairns:
🔹It is located on the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula between the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range
🔹The population is about 150,000.
🔹It is AU's 4th ranked international tourist sight behind Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane
🔹It is where most tourists come to go out on the Great Barrier Reef.
The center of activity in Cairns is on the Esplanade that runs along the foreshore. The area in front of the Esplanade that was once a sandy beach, has for more years than locals can remember, been a muddy tidal swamp. It is believed that when a channel was dredged for shipping purposes, it resulted in the mud completely covering the old beach. Evidently the sediment was dumped offshore, and it quickly swept back, covering the esplanade beach. Developers would like to cover it with sand, and they claim that it is an artificial ecosystem that is not important to the mangrove forests. Environmentalists disagree, they feel that the area has been in it's current form too long to disturb all the mud-dwelling creatures that make their homes here. To the north of town there are several nice beaches, so it seems unlikely that these mudflats will be disturbed.
From morning to night, there is a lot of activity here.
On our visit at sunset, the tide was coming in to fill up the mudflats along the Esplanade.
This urban park was built to showcase the indigenous culture, and to link the Esplanade with a popular shopping area.
Different colors of lighting are featured in the bunyan trees around the pool (lagoon) area.
The Reef Casino had music to entertain us, and a reef feature to entertain the kids, young and old.
The evening sky in Cairns was filled with flying foxes.
In croc and stinger country, it is always nice to have the option of a saltwater lagoon.
The parks along the Esplanade are filled with these (mostly young) backpackers. Despite the fact that there are several of these large BBQ grills along the Esplanade, they are full from morning until night. I think the Aussies deserve the rep they have for their "barbies"; these impressive grills are everywhere throughout AU. .
There are too many kinds of palm trees here for me to guess the name of this one...i just think it is one of the prettiest.
This is a view of Trinity Harbor; it is where we departed for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef.
🌴 On our travels both north and south between Townsville and Cairns, we detoured to see some of the following:
Cardwell is a small coastal town that was devasted by Cyclone Yadira in 2011. It sits about 125 miles south of Cairns and it is considered to be the gateway to Hinchinbrook Island, and the Cassowary Coastline. It was our first and last stop as we travelled both directions between Townsville and Cairns.
This was our first view of a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park; more specifically, Hinchinbrook Island, which is the largest island national park in AU. The name of this lookout, south of Cardwell , is Panjoo. Panjoo means "beautiful place" in Banjin-the traditional owners of the Hinchinbrook area.
"A symbol of reconciliation, this flame tree sculpture was designed to stand over 8m high, with water flowing from points along the branches during the day and gas fueled flames that lit up the tree at night." As Cyclone Yasi devastated Cardwell in 2011, the copper flame tree was bent over at a severe angle, but it did not break. It was restored, and is now also a symbol of the communities ability to bounce back from this disaster. The flame tree is a common rainforest tree in this area.
The new foreshore at Cardwell, looks out toward a small portion of Hinchinbrook Island.
Green, green and more green, is how I describe the land, in this northern part of QLD. As far as you can see, there are sugar cane fields that stretch to rolling hills and then to the green mountains.
The Atherton Tablelands
The Atherton Tablelands, is really just another name for the highlands region that is located about 55 miles SW of Cairns. It is known for its dairy farms, waterfall circuit, volcanic lakes, and for being cooler, and less humid than the coast. After climbing up through the mountains, we stopped at small village of Millaa Millaa which sits nestled in the rolling hills of the Southern Tablelands. This was the start of our the Waterfall Circuit, which included: Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls, and Ellinjaa Falls. These 3 waterfalls are within a 10 mile radius, and the only ones we stopped at, but there are several others a little further away.
Upon leaving Cairns, we drove up into some of these green mountains, looking for waterfalls. This is a view of the Lamb Mountains in Gadgarra NP.
This is the Millaa Millaa Waterfall, a part of what they call the "waterfall circuit."
We stopped at Millaa Millaa ( I just like saying the name) which is probably named for a vine that grows in the area. As this scene depicts, this area is dairy farm country.
This statue, in a Millaa Millaa Park, is of Christie Palmerston and the Aboriginal guide Pompo. Palmerston was a northern QLD explorer who discovered several routes to places like Port Douglas, and to the Tablelands. As we travelled the Palmerston Highway back to the coast, we basically followed the same route that Palmerston explored in 1882.
Mission Beach is about nine miles long; it is made up of four villages that grew together and essentially, are considered to be one town. The area is part of what is called the Cassowary Coastline. Like the Daintree area, the cassowaries here are also endangered. Here, they run a greater risk of being killed, than up north, because the area is more populated. They can be seen not only in the rainforest, but also out in the numerous banana and cane plantations that surround the Mission Beach area. Or so I'm told, we did not see one here!
On a much needed break from camping, we stayed at this Mission Beach cabin.
Our cabin at Wongaling Beach, faced Dunk Island.
The sunrise in front of our cabin at Mission Beach.