Cockatoo's lunch

We arrived at our apartment in Trinity Beach, a small village just north of Cairns (pronounced "Cahns"). There are some nice little resturaunts and our apartment was less than 2 minutes from the beach. Cairns is at the base of the northern tip of Queensland, nestled between the rainforest and the mountains, with the barrier reef offshore to the north.

We spent about half our time here just laying on the beach and swimming in the jellyfish net. This time of year the conditions are just right for box jellyfish (which give nasty stings), so many of the local beaches string nets from shore to anchor points in the bays to keep areas safe for swimming.

Our apartment also had a small pool just outside, and we usually took a dip in that after returning from a day of exploring.

The Rainforest

Termite mound

We took several trips through the rainforest. Our first started in the afternoon with a visit to some medium-sized termite mounds (they can get 5 yards high and 30 yards across!). We then went to a platypus' warren and watched her play in the water. After dinner, we went to several places in the forest and 'spotlighted' the animals (with red-lensed searchlights) until midnight. See:

Feeding the 'roos Another trip started out with a cruise on a river where we saw some baby crocodiles. When we reached the rainforest we visited an animal shelter and got to feed the kangaroos.

While at a small resturant for a BBQ steak lunch, a cockatoo wandered in and perched on the seat next to us. Someone cut the end off a sausage and handed it to the bird, who held it in one claw and munched away with everyone else. Yippee-ki-yay, etc.

On Monday we went horseback riding in the rainforest, along the coast.

The Great Barrier Reef

Sunday we went to one of the Frankland Islands, a small nature reserve on the Great Barrier Reef. The beach was golden sand covered with small (blunt) pieces of coral and the rest of the island was covered in palms and mangrove trees. The reef ran by a few hundred feet offshore.

Raquel and I went scuba diving and saw some incredible coral up close (and touched what was safe to touch -- some coral felt like bone, some like fur, some like pasta).

Snorkling When Georgie and I were snorkling, we saw a big turtle swim underneath us and I dove down and swam alongside it. The turtle slowly turned his head, gave me a nonchalant look and (after whatever the turtle equivalent is to "beep, beep!") zipped away, leaving me feeling like Wyle E. Coyote.

Raquel took this picture by diving under while Georgie and I snorkled overhead.

On Tuesday we went back to the reef, this time by jet catamaran to a platform anchored at sea. Unfortunately, the trip took longer than the time we had on the reef. Georgie got in some more snorkling and Raquel and I got to scuba dive again, and then it was already time to head back.

(Alice Springs/Ayers Rock)