Exploring Northern Australia - Kuranda
By Frenzied Femme
The first stop on our journey to Australia was Cairns which is in the North of the country. Yes, it took over a whole day of flying to get there. But, I anticipated the exhaustion we would feel, so planned on a couple of extra days there. The first thing to know about Cairns is that the locals don't say the "r". They pronounce it like Cannes (as in Cannes film festival). It is a rather harsh sounding name for such a beautiful place.
We actually stayed just north of the city in Trinity Beach. Because it is tropical, the temperature remains pleasant year round. Their winter is no exception. The weather was beautiful. It rained frequently... short and light showers. But, that is what should be expected for the area.... it has many different rainforests.
I had intended to relax for at least a day. But, because my body was all turned around, I found myself awake at 3:30 am. I started exploring local activities online. When the kids woke up, I had some suggestions of what we could do for the day. We agreed to take the Sky Rail to and from Kuranda. Going up, we had a glass bottom vessel. It was beautiful to look over the canopy of the Rainforest. And, I was very proud of my oldest. She is deathly afraid of heights. To look down through a glass bottom was challenging for her.
Kuranda is a beautiful area. It is touristy. We went to several of the tourist traps... the bird house, the butterfly house, the little zoo (where the girls held a koala), but not the spider house <ew>. But, it was also charming in it's local appeal. And because it was fairly close to Trinity Beach, we ended up going there on more than one occasion. In terms of souvenir costs, this was the most economical. So, we bought more than we should have. I bought a didgeridoo for friends. Because I have not seen them since we returned, the didgeridoo is currently residing in my closet. If you aren't familiar with this, it is an Australian instrument.... kind of a monotonous horn. The kids loved it. We also bought boomerangs. Plus, people gave us things for free... stickers, local maps, key chains made from kangaroo, and perhaps the oddest... a teenish man gave my 5 year old a CD of Tupak.
We bought some opals in Kuranda... many more than I had anticipated buying. But, they were beautiful and not too expensive. The most expensive opals are red. But, I prefer the greens and blues (and white). This worked out in my favor. I wasn't buying them as investments. They are pretty objects that I enjoy wearing. The owner of the Opal store goes to the area of opal mines a few months every year. Because he finds them and finishes them, he is able to keep costs down.
There was also some really good hiking at Kuranda. There is a hidden trail behind the tourist traps. The locals alerted us to this. To get to the path, we passed a "plane crash". It wasn't really a crashed plane, but rather a plane that had been altered to appear as though it had crashed. The story on it was that it had been used in a movie. My 5 year old son could not understand how it could look like that without ever crashing. We spent a fair amount of the hike trying to explain it to him.
Coming back down on the Sky Rail, we noticed something odd. They had a waterski pond. There was apparently a rope mechanism to power the skiers. There were no boats, just skiers and ramps. It was interesting to watch. There are also a couple of stops on the route. On the way up, we stopped to hike the rainforest. On the way back, we stopped to look at the local falls. There was an abundance of wildlife on these stops. The animals seemed to have no fear of humans. This allowed us a more intimate experience.
The only real bad part of Kuranda was the drive (when we returned to Kuranda but didn't take the Sky Rail). You need to take a windy, twisty road straight up (or down). The people who are familiar with the road travel way too fast. And those not familiar (but going the speed limit) end up with these people riding their bumper. I'm glad that we never traveled this road when it was raining.
Next week, I will talk about the local food experiences. Don't worry, I will also talk about the Great Barrier Reef, and Cape Tribulation. But, those are stories for another day.