Spent an extra couple of days in Cairns and then travelled to Cape Tribulation. (16th – 20th October 2002)
Archive for October, 2002
Today is Great Barrier Reef day! I spent the morning wandering around some parts of Cairns that we had not yet explored. The time came to get my lift out to the helicopter pad. 12.30 came and past. At 12.45 I asked the hotel to phone the tour company. They called and told me that the transport was on its way. I was given a lift to the helicopter pad close to Cairns Airport. On arrival I was weighed and asked to fill out a medical form. Whilst waiting to go out to the helicopter I saw a Qantas flight go past the window- literally! The time came to board the helicopter. I sat in the front and a French couple sat in the back. We journeyed to the coastline and then travelled out to the reef. On the way we dropped the French couple off at the Sandy Cay complete with umbrella and picnic box. This was a small sandy island in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. We continued on again, viewing the fantastic colours int he water as blue turned to green and back to vivid blue again.
The aim today was to book a trip out to the barrier reef and also to arrange car hire for the following few days. We booked with Down Under and I booked a helicopter ride both out to and back from the reef. This departs tomorrow afternoong at 1.00 with a 12.30 collection from the hotel. We also booked car hire for three days from Wednesday morning. Later we took a walk along the Promenade stopping to view the pelicans at the waters edge on the way. We had planned to attend a reef lecture in the centre of Cairns this evening but during our stroll we had totally lost track of time and with only twenty minutes and a long walk back we decided to ‘power walk’ just like the locals. We arrived back for the reef talk at 6.15, just in time. We learnt about all the fish life and corals that we would see out on the reef.
Made a fairly early start from Leura and headed back to Sydney for the next stage of the journey. We returned the hire car to the airport and boarded the flight to Cairns. Upon arrival in Cairns we found somewhere to stay – our cheapest yet at AUS$85. We booked in for two nights at the Great Northern with a provisional booking for a third night. The evening was spent walking around Cairns including the marina.
The Echo Park Motor Inn that we stayed at the previous evening was fully booked for tonight so the first job of the day was finding somewhere else to stay. We walked to the tourist information centre where the available accommodation for the day was just being posted on the noticeboard. We selected Leura House in Leura. We headed there after visiting the Three Sisters in dayl;ight this time! We descended the 900 steps into the rainforest. The steps had been carved out of stone by a park ranger. Having taken the steps down we made our way back up on the scenic railway. This was a very steep climb in what claims to be the steepest climb in the world. At the top we took the trolley bus back to Echo Point. we located Leura House which was a grand house located in fantastic gardens. We were shown our room which was complete with balcony overlooking the gardens.
The morning was spent visiting local wineries in the Hunter Valley. These included the Small Winemakers Centre, Hunter Valley Cheesemakers Centre, McGuiggans and Tyrells. During the early afternoon we did the tour at Tyrells. We learnt about the fermentation process and the various stages involved from the grape to the bottle. After leaving the Hunter Valley we drove to Katoomba. We walked to the Three Sisters expecting to be able to photograph them under floodlight. Unfortunately during installation of new wiring, the old circuitry had been broken and we were unable to view the Three Sisters in darkness. In the evening we dined at a Thai restaurant. It seems very common to have BYO ‘Bring Your Own’ restaurants in Australia. so we sampled a selection of beers from the bottle shop around the corner. Amongst these was a Tasmanian beer called Cascade. This was a very nice beer.
It was time to check out of the Westin and continue our travels. The concierge at the hotel very efficiently booked us an Avis hire car. Before continuing, we completed the Opera House tour. We were able to view a couple of Theatres. The Opera House was designed by a Danish architect who designed all of the roof sections to have the curvature of a sphere. Inside was a lot of concrete and golden coloured wood. After collecting the hire car from the hotel we headed off to the Hunter Valley. We crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the way out of Sydney. We stayed at the Pokolbin Chateau Resort for the night.
We took the ferry in the afternoon to Manly. This journey took about 30 minutes. In Manly we met up with Sarah Liebenberg (Dalton) to catch up with her life in Australia. We also met her new daughter – Sienna Rose. We took the ferry back from Manly and tried to do the Opera House tour but it was fully booked. The evening was spent in a marquee at the bottom of the Fleet Steps. Entertainment was provided by Vanessa Amorosi who played from a floating stage on the water. Fireworks also accompanied the start of the entertainment as the stage floated slowly towards us out of the darkness.
Had breakfast at the Obolisk Cafe in Macquarie Place. Completed the Harbour Bridge climb with spectacular views of Sydney. Wandered around The Rocks. The evening was spent at the Town Hall gala reception. We dressed in opur finery – evening dress and black tie. On arrival at the Town Hall we were greeted by a town crier.
Spent the morning sailing yachts around Sydney Harbour. I operated the main sail which involved pulling ropes and turning a handle to change the position of the sail. This was an excellent experience. Had a huge lunch at Nicks restaurant in Darling Harbour. Walked through the botanic gardens and saw hundreds of flying foxes suspended in the trees. Fed cockatoos in the botanic gardens with monkey nuts. The evening was spent at the Palacades Hotel. Four different types of beer were sampled. This was Labour Day in Australia and we saw fireworks from the roof of the Palacades Hotel.