This post should really be titled The Animal Post. You’ll see.
We landed in Cairns around 10am, after another really early morning at the airport. It was about 29 degrees (84ish) and amazing. We tried not to be too annoyed when the rental car company took over an hour to pick us up from the airport (looking at you Ace Rental Cars). Then we checked in to the hotel and I saw that the room I had really been looking forward to was on the second floor, had a weird kid’s bed next to the normal one, and overlooked the parking lot and roof. And all of this is where I’d be spending my 3rd wedding anniversary. How disappointing.
So after a little encouragement from Scott (who knows me all too well), I bothered the concierge who cheerfully upgraded our room for $20/night. I didn’t even tell him it was our anniversary, not that I’m sure that would help… anyways, we went from scummy parking-lot viewing porchless weird kid-bed room to this:
Needless to stay, I became quite impressed with the Mercure, and would highly recommend it only if you upgrade to a 7th (top) floor room. The new room had high ceilings, was way bigger, had the balcony overlooking pool and ocean, and even had a Nespresso. And had a sofa instead of a weird little kid bed. Worth every penny of 20 bucks! See my Trip Advisor review here.
Anyways, day one was spent exploring the city and the botanical gardens. I think that’s also the night we both slept 12 hours! A bit of recovery was in order.
|Massive spider in the botanical gardens. They should warn you about those…|
|A gecko being shy…|
|Up in the trees we saw this bizarre ladder… it crosses the road, and we can only assume is the safe way for possums to cross. They’re protected in Australia! (Hunted with enthusiasm in NZ.)|
Cairns was kind of your typical touristy city. A massive hotel to actual population ratio, lots of beachy stores and gelato stands. One unexpected sight though, was the thousands of bats that inhabited the trees right down town. They were very noisy in the mornings and evenings, very active at night, and there was a certain musk around certain parts of the city, under certain trees. Scott loved ’em.
|These basket ferns were everywhere. Im still not sure I like them.|
After the hike we made it to the tablelands… home of kangaroos, wallabies, and my new favorite animal.
The platypus! Move over orca, you aren’t nearly as weird and cool as the platypus.
Did you know that the platypus is a mammal? Sure it has a bill, lives in the water, and lays eggs… but it is a mammal because the young drink mom’s milk. It is one of 5 animal species like this- known as monotremes. It is also one of the few venomous mammals. The males have a pocket of poison tucked into their hind leg, and can resort to it when warding off predators. So cool.
Also… they swim and hunt with their eyes, ears, and nose closed! They have a “high tech bill” which uses electrolocation to detect electric fields- which are put off by the muscles contracting in their prey. Lastly, that big ‘ol tail they have is just a big storage of fat. Their legs do all the swimming and steering. The fat pad in females is for mom to live off of while the little ones are feeding. I’m not sure what dad’s fat tail is for- but I imagine it’s for bapping baby platypus on the head when they misbehave.
Right- that’s the most technical information I learned on my holiday. Back to your regularly programmed information-free photo stream:
|Termite mounds everywhere. Kind of gross.|
|Ok I know this looks like nothing but that dark lump in the middle/ left is a black cockatoo and he is very noisy.|
While at an information booth somewhere, we got a coupon for a free tasting at “Australia’s Only Craft Distillery”. And since it was about 5 minutes out of the way, we decided to check it out.
|Clearly very fierce animals.|
|Scenery at Granite Gorge|
|Mama and joey! Watching her bounce around with him in there was pretty cute!|
|Wild and dangerous animals. We are very brave.|
On our way out of the gorge we saw our first and last kangaroos. They’re pretty hard to spot in the picture… thankfully we had binoculars so we could get a good look at them.
|You can’t see those kangaroos? Look harder! Hint: there’s 2.|
The next day we went out to the Great Barrier Reef (my other favorite day). This is by far the most under-documented part of our trip, because we didn’t cough up the money for an underwater camera. Google the Great Barrier Reef, and you’ll see exactly what we saw. Coral, fish, anemones… all different shapes and colors and sizes. It was overwhelmingly beautiful.
|Sailing back to Cairns|