Australia is the smallest continent in the world, but it is extremely vast, and many other countries can fit inside. You can drive for hours upon hours in vast nothingness before you arrive in a city or town.
When we spent three and a half weeks traipsing through Australia. Of the seven different states/territories (Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania) we were only able to visit four (New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia). More specifically, we visited Sydney, Cairns, Melbourne, back to Sydney for Vivid Sydney, and then finally Perth. We plan on returning for round two with a camper van to explore the natural beauty we were unable to see during this trip. Flying around via Tigerair Australia, Australia’s budget airline, which we found out later, was reputed to be the worst airline to fly with since they received the most logged complaints, 1000 in 12 month span. Tigerair got us from point A to point B and one time charged us $80 AUD for extra baggage fee for being over the weight limit and of the four flights we had, two flights were delayed. But we have to admit if it wasn’t for the two-day sale we came across, we wouldn’t have been able to fly all over Australia
Our first stay here was in Neutral Bay, North Sydney, at the Neutral Bay Motor Lodge where we caught a ferry across the harbor fromCircular Quay. The 15-minute scenic ferry ride gave us splendid views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Sydney is a walkable city and most of Australia is known for their cafe culture and shopping (which we weren’t too interested in). On our second day in Sydney, we met Steven, from South Africa, while we were having lunch in one of the many Chinatown food courts. We ended up spending the rest of the day walking around with each other through the CBD, Sydney Opera House, and the Royal Botanic Gardens where we came across wild yellow-crested cockatoos squawking extremely loudly while feasting on grass. The next day we flew to Cairns, pronounced Cannes.
Sydney Opera House made up of ceramic tiles.
Sydney Opera House from the ferry boat.
Yellow Crested Cockatoo at the Sydney Royal Botanical Garden.
Yellow Crested Cockatoo enjoying dinner of grass.
While Sydney was cold, the weather was similar to San Francisco, Cairns was hot and humid. We stayed at the Travellers Oasis, enjoyed a BBQ party with emu, kangaroo, crocodile, Australia sausage and other treats, also visited Kuranda to see later decided to rent a campervan with Spaceships to head north to Daintree Rainforest and later explore the tablelands down south. Our first day we saw Mossman’s Gorge and arrived at night and saw a bat fluttering around the camp kitchen. In the morning, we woke up to the sounds of the jungle, including bats, cockatoos, insects. We decided to take the trail at where we were staying and in the lush green rainforest filled with palm trees, vines, and many other plants the aboriginals may have used as natural herbs for healing, we also saw a wild rat?. We drove through Daintree and stopped at the boardwalks to walk through the different habitats. One boardwalk, we were so lucky to see a wild cassowary which we didn’t get a clear picture of because he moved too fast!
Great Barrier Reef.
After having a lot of fun exploring the Queensland, we flew down to Melbourne to experience Australia’s most diverse city. Melbourne is known for its culture, whether that is laneways lined with cafes or it’s streets filled with art. Not knowing what to expect of Melbourne, we spent our days wondering around the streets of the city taking in all the street art. With so many alleys and laneways to explore, we didn’t have time to visit the museums we had planned on going to. Getting around the city is easy, there is a free tram that makes a loop around the city centre where the main sights and street art are located. Like we do in every city we visit, we made our first stop at the visitors center. The staff was very friendly and helped us plan our route for touring the laneways and street art alleys. Besides art, the city has many good places to eat due to large Greek and Chinese populations, there is a variety of dishes to choose from. We ate pirozhkis while touring street art and kebabs while visiting the Queen Victoria market. Every meal we had was from a different ethnic dish.
For a side trip, we decided to go down to see the Brighton Beach Boxes. Since it was winter they weren’t in use. It was very nice to wander down the beach and look at the colorful boxes. The boxes are all painted different colors and have different themes. If you like outdoor art, Melbourne is the place to go.
Sydney – Vivid Sydney
We returned to Sydney for the start of the Vivid Sydney Festival. Experiencing the Vivid Sydney festival was an exciting experience. Not only did we get to see all of the 3D projection mapping on the buildings around the harbour, we also climbed the harbour bridge at night to get a different view of the festival. As we climbed the bridge, we wore vests that lit up so we could also be a part of the festivities. If you are planning to come to Sydney in April, you should try and see this festival.
While most visitors to Australia tend to stay on the more populated East Coast, we decided to venture out West and spend some time in the isolated West Australia capital of Perth. While spending a few days there, we were able to see the world’s largest gold coin, weighing in at 1 tonne, at the Perth Mint and tour the tunnels underneath Fremantle Prison. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Perth, but enough time to make us excited about exploring the West coast of Australia on a future trip. Though Perth is remote, it has lots to offer and makes a great starting point for exploring Australias vast West coast.
Heading Towards the Left Coast
Having spent three weeks flying around the Eastern part of Australia, we headed west to visit Perth, the capital of Western Australia and the only major city on the left coast. When we met people in Eastern Australia and mentioned we were going to visit Perth they would ask us why and proceed to tell us there is nothing there and it’s really expensive. Well, we thought, why not! It may be one of the most isolated major cities in the world, but it also right on the edge of the outback and home to the world’s largest gold coin.
So with some left coast exploration ahead of us, we caught an overnight flight from Sydney and landed in the middle of the night. Because we were catching a redeye flight, we booked a place near the airport via Airbnb so we could get a few hours sleep before heading to our hotel near the city center. The major industry in Perth is mining, so most of the miners fly-in for the week and fly-out for the weekend or FIFO, fly-in fly-out. This makes hotels cheaper on the weekend than during the weekdays, so to save money we planned our stay around a weekend.
Having gotten just enough sleep, well enough that we could function properly, we walked over to the bus stop down from the house we had rented a room from for the night on Airbnb. Hopping on the bus and heading towards the city we could see that Perth was different than other places we had visited. As we drove through the suburbs, we knew we were in the outback or bush. In the course of a month, we had gone from the tropical rainforest to the cool harbor side cities and now the edge of the desert outback. After what seemed like a short bus ride to the main bus terminal, we got in a taxi and made our way to the hotel we would call home for the next couple of days.
Since we didn’t get much sleep during the night, we took it easy and just rested and planned for the next couple of days at Sullivans Hotel. Besides, spending five hours in a cramped budget airline seat with little to no leg room, didn’t do us any good and left us feeling a little drained. The only way we could afford flying around Australia was because we bought cheap tickets during a two-day sale from Tigerair Australia. For short flights, it wasn’t that bad, but flying for five hours with my knees digging into the back of the seat in front of me didn’t provide for any comfort to take a nap during the flight. Perth is not known for its tourist attractions since most people just spend a couple of days there and then either drive through the vast expanses up the West Coast or go South towards the wine-producing valleys. We decided we would just visit Fremantle Prison and take a tour of the Perth Mint.
Australia’s Only Active Mint
Founded in 1889, the Perth Mint is the only active mint in Australia with both Sydney and Melbourne closed. It is where all the medals for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney were produced. They are on display in the Perth Mint museum. We decided to go the gold pour tour, but since it is still an active mint, we couldn’t take any pictures inside.
Holding the World’s Largest Gold Nugget, a Replica
We met on the front lawn for our tour to begin where our guide gave us a brief history of some of the largest gold nuggets found in Australia. We were able to see and hold some of the replicas discovered and admire at its sheer size after the tour. We even discussed if we should try our luck on becoming amateur gold miners in Western Australia because the Hand of Faith nugget which weighed in at 876 troy ounces (27.2 kg or 61 pounds and 11 ounces) was found less than 12 inches below the surface while an amateur gold miner casually swept his metal detector around his trailer in Victoria, Australia. This same nugget was sold to a casino called to the aptly named, Gold Nugget Casino in Las Vegas where it is prominently displayed. Source: “Worlds Biggest Gold Nuggets” The “Welcome Stranger” nugget is the world’s largest alluvial nugget and was discovered only 1.2 inches below the surface.
We Found Gold, Replica Gold That Is
Left: May with both the “Welcome Stranger” (top) and “Golden Eagle” (bottom)
Right: Josh trying to eat the “Welcome Stranger,” largest alluvial gold nugget
They Found Gold, Just Like Josh
Left: Statue of Prospectors in Front of the Perth Mint
Right: Josh with the “Golden Eagle”
World’s Largest Gold Coin
Next on the tour was viewing the largest gold coin in the world; the one-tonne gold kangaroo coin. It is made of 99.99% pure gold with a diameter measuring 80cm and a thickness of 35cm; it is massive. The coolest part is that it is Australian legal tender. You can use this coin when you purchase something. Can you imagine pulling out this coin to make a purchase? There were no security guards or other security measures for this gold coin, worth over a million dollars. It is so large you would have to be superman to pick it up and run with it and if you are that strong, there is no way they could stop you anyway. The video below explains the great feat on the effort it took for the Perth Mint to create this coin.
Largest Gold Coin in the World, the Australian Kangaroo 1 Tonne Gold Coin minted in 2012. Photo credit: The Perth Mint.
Gold Pour. Photo credit: Tourism Western Australia
Watching the gold pour was really nice. They have been pouring the same gold bar for years now. Heating the gold to its molten form and then pouring it in the mold. It is amazing how quickly it cools down, not mention how heavy it is. We all got to hold the bar briefly before exiting to the museum and looking at the nuggets they had on display.
Weighing Ourselves, What Was Our Gold Value?
After the gold pour, you exit into the museum. On display the second largest gold nugget in the world still in existence which the discoverer attempted to sell at auction. The government of Australia had something else in mind and wouldn’t let it leave the country. It is owned by a mining company and loaned to the Perth Mint for display. Also in the museum, there is a scale that you can use to figure out what your weight in gold is. It will then take your weight and give you a value based on the day’s price in gold. What was our worth?
Over 4 million, we are some valuable people, or we just have some extra weight. Now that we were done finding our value, we decided to strike a souvenir Perth Mint coin. Not being satisfied with a generic Perth Mint coin to commemorate our trip, we needed a custom made coin. Our very own version of the kangaroo coin, it may not be worth a million dollars or be legal tender, but it is priceless to us.
Our custom coin to remember our Australia trip from the Perth Mint
Our custom coin to remember our Australia trip from the Perth Mint
Souvenir coin from the Perth Mint
Eating a Gold Bar
With our coins in hand and feeling a little hungry, we made our way over to the cafe and consumed a gold covered snack before going outside and taking silly pictures of ourselves with the replica gold nuggets. It is always good to not take oneself so seriously. Go out and have fun and let your inner goofball loose. The Perth Mint was one our favorite tours we went on in Australia and a great way to end our magical trip.
Our edible gold bar filled with chocolate at the Perth Mint
Saying Goodbye to Australia
After visiting the different parts of Australia, we could understand why East Coast residents wouldn’t want to visit Perth. It was just easier to visit other countries. As we would learn, it was quicker to fly from Sydney to Bali than from Sydney to Perth. Australia is huge but a great place to explore.
UNESCO Site #11
Australian Convict Sites (Fremantle Prison)
Fremantle Prison is a UNESCO Heritage Site, part of Australia’s convict prison sites and the only building listed in Western Australia. Being the most intact convict-built prison in Australia, it was in continuous use for almost 140 years until 1991. Opting for a more adventurous tour, we decided on the tunnel tour. Slipping into our coveralls and putting on our hard-hats, we had to descend down a 22-meter ladder where we would eventually go under the walls of the prison and underneath the city Fremantle itself.
May and Josh giving their thumbs up at the end of the tour.
A Brief History
The tunnel system began in 1888 with prisoners completing the system in 1894. Used as a catchment area for water draining through the limestone formation to provide water for the commercial and domestic needs of the city of Fremantle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1910, the prison and Fremantle were connected to the metropolitan water scheme and the tunnels were no longer needed to supply water for the prison or city of Fremantle. They were still used to provide water for the lawn and gardens of the prison though.
The Tunnel Tour
Descending down the ladder. Photo credit: Fremantle Prison.
This has to be one of the funniest tours we have been on. There was no photography allowed, due to safety precautions, so we can only share the photos Fremantle Prison has. Descending down the ladder was a bit scary at first but we both made it down with ease. It was reassuring that we were connected to the ladder with a safety harness. When we reached the bottom of the ladder, the first thing we were shown were the fossils of shellfish, indicated that we were standing on the bottom of the ocean. Well, what used to be the bottom of the ocean. As we were led down dry sections of tunnel, we noticed what looked like roots hanging down from the top of the tunnel. Indeed, they were from the trees growing outside the walls of the prison. We were now outside the prison, we had escaped, or so we thought. The tunnel system only had entrances and exits inside the prison, but it stretched out from the prison and under the city, there was no escaping the prison from the tunnels. After reaching the end of one of the tunnels we made our way to the few tunnels that had water in them, boarding our replica convict punts. This was the best part of the tour.
Paddling down the tunnels. Photo credit: Fremantle Prison.
Paddling down the knee-deep water of the narrow tunnel was a fun and exciting challenge. Keeping the punt from hitting the walls the hardest part, we both had to continuously put our hands out to brace ourselves and keep the punt from hitting and damaging the walls. The commentary from the other members of the tour had us laughing the whole time, especially when we floated under a beam with cockroaches on it and one lady started to freak out. Our guide told us that there were no officially reported deaths while the convicts constructed the tunnel, but it is hard to believe no one died in the construction of the tunnels. As we paddled our way down the tunnels we were aided by modern lights helping us to guide our way, but when he had the lights turned down to the level of what the convicts would have been working under, we could see very little. We think the reason no one was reported to have died was that officials did not want the general public to know that there were dead people contaminating their source of drinking water. At one point, we stopped the punts and could hear noise coming from above. It was hard to tell what the source was and we all guessed wrong as to the source. We happened to be under the main road in the city and heard cars driving by. Once again we had left the prison but could not escape. After paddling our way through the tunnel system, we had to go up the way we came down. This time, it was much easier going up than going down, concluding our being convicts for a day. A video of the tour by Destination WA.
Prison Art Gallery
Afterward, we toured the prisoner gallery which included art from the various prisons around Western Australia.
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Melbourne: A Street Art Capital
Melbourne calls itself as one the street art capitals of the world. Anywhere you go, you will find some form of unique expression of street art. This allows the city’s culture to be fully expressed in the streets of Melbourne. You will find it peeking out everywhere. It is hard to walk down an alleyway, laneway, or peer in a window without seeing some form of art. From being perched high up on the side of a building to laying on the ground, you will discover art that will grab your attention. No nook and cranny seems too small to be used.
The famous street art of Melbourne draws numerous visitors from around the world. Though mainly consisting of murals and stencil art, it also includes any other forms of art. As you walk along the alleyways you will find poster art, sticker art, wheat pasting, street installations and reverse graffiti. Each adding their own unique message to the street art culture. Many prominent international street artists have contributed to the bustling street art at the turn of the 21st century. Artists such as Banksy (UK), ABOVE (USA), Fafi (France), D*FACE (UK), Blek le Rat (France), Shepard Fairey (USA) and Invader (France) have all added to the street art culture in Melbourne. New artists pop up all the time to gain notoriety and showcase their work internationally. Not only is Melbourne a “street art capital” but it is also dubbed the “stencil capital of the world.” Embracing the style at an early stage.
Our Self-Guided Street Art Tour
Being lovers of artistic expression, we spent our days in Melbourne deliberately walking around to discover it. To get a better sense of where to go, we made our first stop the Tourist Information Center at Federation Square. Here we picked up some amazing and free walking maps along with transportation information. At the center, a clerk went over the self-guided map for “Arcades and Lanes.” Providing her choice of popular street art spots. Recommending places to see like Hosier Lane, Rutledge Lane, and Blender Lane and informing us which ones we should avoid. When we got hungry, she recommended a bar and restaurant that she particularly enjoyed, Ferdydurke. Here we would find a variety of wall to wall, floor to ceiling posters and stencil art. Besides art, Ferdydurke also offered up some tasty Pirozhkis and beer while we enjoyed a view of a beautiful mural from their balcony. With so much art to see, we couldn’t help but stray from the map. Deliberately getting lost in the city, we found the majority of our favorite art sprawled in random locations. Walking through alleyways near the Queen Victoria Market and in Chinatown gave us many pleasant surprises. An art student we came across mentioned the up and coming district of Fitzroy, where the street artists flock to since there are more unclaimed walls. So we headed over there to see what we could find. When we got tired, we just rode the tourist train or caught a tram in the CBD or Free zone.
Left: Hosier Lane signage
Right: Akid One (Malaysia)
Students visit Hosier Lane and admire Ganesh by Deb as part of their art studies.
Right: Monday Sucks!! by #MaizeOne
Left: Reflections of graffiti art.
Right: Chinese visitors are so hipster cool and color coordinated.
May and Mike from Monsters, Inc.
One of the more prestigious street art laneways was started by The Blender Studios. What started out as a street art collective has since evolved into an art complex and ideas factory. On Wednesday evenings from 5-10pm, the Blender Lane Artists Market comes alive with live with music and performance artists, food, stalls of crafts, fashion, and art for sale, and even the chance to preview open studios.
In and Around Melbourne
Left: ArtEquities’ Con Artist’s Profitable Con Art near the Queen Victoria Market
Right: Near the Queen Victoria Market
Monster trash cans near Ferdydurke
Left: Keep Your Coins, I Want Change near Queen Victoria Market
Right: Jacob Coopedge, student of Latrobe College Art and Design, painting his grayscale work to size on the gallery wall
Found near Chinatown
Found near Chinatown
Dragon spotted in Fitzeroy area.
If you are interested in street art, Rash (2005) a documentary directed by Nicholas Hansen explores urban street artists in Australia through public dialogue.
For the final few days of our visit to Cairns we decided to rent a campervan and visit the Daintree Rainforest which is located North of Cairns. From Cairns you can sign up for a day trip to the forest as part of a tour but since we are not really tour people as we wanted to rent a campervan and do our own tour, at our own pace. Daintree Rainforest is part of Australia’s Wet Tropics of Queensland, one of the oldest tropical rainforests in existence (it is thought to be over 135 million years old) and at 120,000 hectares it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We rented a campervan from Spaceships Campervan for $60 AUD (or $42 USD) a day including insurance. If you are very confident in your driving ability, you can choose to not get insurance, but we chose to get it just to be safe even if it doesn’t cover collisions with wildlife such as kangaroos who are most active at dusk and dawn. Our itinerary was to spend two days and one night in Daintree Rainforest and then head south towards the Atherton Tablelands to see waterfalls and hopefully get a glimpse of a platypus for three days and two nights, but ended up cutting it short due to bad weather to two days and one night instead.
After making a wrong turn and ending at Kuranda (with a GPS we rented) we got back on the highway towards Daintree with plans to stop at the various view points along the coast which our hosts at the Travellers Oasis Backpackers highlighted on a map for us. The major stopping points included Mossman Gorge, then crossing the river via cable ferry, and entering Daintree to find lodging. The view points along the way were nice and scenic, reminding us of the California coast, which made for a nice drive.
Our Spaceships Campervan rental was an Alpha 2 Berth model named “Ham the Chimp.” This was pretty much an automatic mini van that was modified to contain a platform bed where we stored our baggage, food in the fridge locker, and cookware underneath. It was May’s first time driving on the opposite side of the road and Josh’s second (his first being in Japan). We had to constantly remind ourselves to keep left as there were a few times we drove on the right (or wrong) side of the road. Bottom photo set courtesy Spaceships.
Our first stop in the Daintree Rainforest was Mossman Gorge where we hopped on the shuttle bus ($8.90 AUD) at the Visitor Center to the trailhead so we could hike the trail through the rainforest. The visitor center offers guided tours by aboriginal guides who explain how the local aboriginals use the forest for medicine and other aspects of their lives, but being short on time, we did a self guided tour. The loop trail has many informational signs and we were able to enjoy the experience without a guide, but we would have gotten more out of the experience with a guide during one of their Indigenous Tours or Dreamtime Walks.
The trail starts off as an elevated boardwalk which gave us a different vantage point of the forest. As we continued to walk through the rainforest, we came across a popular swimming hole that looked very tempting to take a dip in, but because we didn’t have our swimming suits and were warned that there could be strong currents, we decided to walk through the rainforest path instead. We first crossed the Rex Creek Suspension Bridge, which shook with every step that we took and ascended to the Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi) Lookout point. Roughly translated, Manjal Dimbi means “mountain holding back.” According to Aboriginal dreamtime stories, the large humanoid rock represents Kubirri, who came to the aid of the Kuku Yalanji when they were persecuted by the evil spirit, Wurrumbu. Kubirri holds back the evil spirit, who is now confined to The Bluff above Mossman River, Manjal Dimbi has been anglicised to “Mt Demi” and Kubirri is known as the “Good Shepherd.” After descending from the lookout point we arrived at the junction for the Rainforest circuit track and decided to complete it in a clockwise fashion. This trek was clearly marked through the forest which contained many informational signage to explain the flora and fauna and history of the rainforest. After the rainforest circuit, we proceeded to the various scenic lookout points of Mossman Gorge to admire the large boulders there. After Mossman Gorge, we continued our journey North towards to the main part of the rainforest, but had to cross a river by driving our car onto a cable ferry.
A cassowary and totem poles displayed at the Mossman Gorge Visitor’s Center created by a local aboriginal
Large boulders at the Mossman Gorge
Left: Josh crossing the Rex Creek Suspedned Bridge which shook with every step he took.
Right: Wild medicinal mushrooms growing on a log at Mossman Gorge loop trail 2.4 km long.
Manjal Dimbi, a view from Mossman Gorge
Left: Beautiful tree bark naturally tinged pink at Mossman Gorge.
Right: A giant spider we saw hanging along the Mossman Gorge.
As we continued our journey up north for our 2D 1N (2 day, 1 night) self-guided tour through the rainforest, we stayed overnight at Lync-Haven Rainforest Retreat for the night to cook our spaghetti and marinara sauce dinner. We met another couple who have been traveling in a rental campervan for 4 weeks now. We shared our portable gas stove and propane with them so we could all dine together under the group camp shelter along with some unexpected guests, bats, while it rained. The first night we spent sleeping in the campervan was an uncomfortable experience as we are slightly above average in build and the campervan is not so above average in space. May was glad she did not have to use the toilet in the middle of the night because that would require some interesting maneuvers to get out from the side door on Josh’s side, the only exit at the time. If it weren’t for the heavy rain paired with lightning and thunder, we would have an alternate exit from the back, which would have popped open to provide extra space and ventilation as well. But, we managed to sleep decently and awoke to the roaring sounds of the rainforest where sounds from the bats flying overhead competed with the insects, birds, and other wildlife we may not have seen. That was a great morning and to top it off, we decided to hike the trails at the campervan park. The trails were a little hard to follow due to the overgrowth of the flora but it was a great experience seeing everything so up close and personal. We even spotted a musky rat-kangaroo running about in the forest. Afterwards, we took our campervan and stopped at boardwalks taking in the beautiful flora and fauna and managed to see and an endangered bird, the Southern Cassowary. We actually heard the movements before we saw the bird itself, and tried to take a photo of it, but it moved so quickly which made for an unbelievably magical experience.
We woke up from sleeping overnight in our campervan at the Lync-Haven Rainforest Retreat to numerous bats flying overhead.
Left: An overgrown trail we took at the Lync-Haven Rainforest Retreat, where we stayed overnight.
Right: One of the many boardwalks at Daintree Rainforest.
Left: Vine climbing on a tree. The Daintree Rainforest hosts a lot of symbiotic relationships.
Right: Strangler Fig tree taking over its host tree.
Left: A part of the rainforest we hiked
Right: A wavy branch
Left: The roots of trees poking out of the marshlands of Daintree Rainforest.
Right: A curly tree branch spotted at Daintree Rainforest.
Funny speed bump sign we spotted at Daintree Rainforest to warn us of what happens since cassowaries often cross the road and are hit
Trees at Thornton Beach in Daintree Rainforest
Left: Giant fig tree Josh is standing by. Right: A “Columnar” fig tree is result of the host tree dying and leaving the Strangler Fig Tree with a hollow core.
A view of the “Columnar” fig tree from the center, inside where the host tree once stood
Buttress roots of a tree in Daintree Rainforest. The buttress is used to support the shallow roots of the trees.
Orange-footed scrubfowl we spotted along the coast
Orange plant we saw with the Daintree Rainforest where parts were neatly separated
Curtain Fig Tree
The Curtain Fig Tree is one of the largest trees in the Atherton Tablelands region. The Curtain Fig Tree is a Strangler Fig Tree whose seeds germinated at the top of the host tree while its roots grew towards the ground. These ariel roots drop 15 meters (49 feet) to the ground. After visiting the Curtain Fig Tree we stopped by the platypus viewing platform to try and get a glimpse of the elusive animal but to no avail. We stayed overnight at a local camervan park and were planning on seeing some of the many waterfalls located in the region but the weather did not cooperate, raining to entire day.
The Curtain Fig Tree and its ariel roots
Creation of the curtain fig tree
The Curtain Fig Tree and its ariel roots
We took a half-day trip up to Kuranda from Cairns to visit the Koala Gardens and Birdworld via the public bus that only runs several times a day. Kuranda is a small village located 25km from Cairns and surrounded by Heritage Rainforest. There is a scenic train that leaves from Cairns and travels through the forest. It makes a stop at Barron Gorge for a view of the large waterfall. There is also Skyrail Rainforest Cableway where you can ride in a gondola that runs above the forest. We thought about taking the train up and the Skyrail down but ultimately decided to take the bus as it was the cheapest. That allowed us to save some money in an otherwise very expensive country to visit. Kuranda Village opens and closes according to the tourist schedule. So the entire village shuts down by 4:00 pm. We had to make sure we departed Kuranda by 3:30 pm or else we would miss the last bus back and would have to sleep on the park bench.
Kuranda Koala Gardens
Visiting the Koala Gardens, we were able to hold a baby koala. He was so soft and light it felt like a stuffed animal. Rocco was his name, and he wasn’t really cooperative when it came time for May to get her picture taken with him. Like many other animals, he thought she was edible and decided to nibble on her arm. But overall it was well worth it. Quite the unforgettable experience. We were also able to see many other furry and not so furry creatures. These included a wombat during feeding time, many kangaroos and wallabies to interact with, crocodiles, reptiles and more. But since it was the middle of the day most of the animals mainly just laid around in the heat since they are most active during dusk and dawn.
Josh and May holding Rocco, a baby male koala who was a bit feisty because he wanted to sleep after being handled 26 times before us. Koala’s are only handled at most 28 times per day.
Koala getting ready to nap after repositioning
We really enjoyed the Koalas that were there and are excited to show you many photos of them
Kangaroo needs a little help scratching his back while the wallaby in the back sniffs on some grass
Kangaroo hanging out on the lawn and after several hours, during our second visit, he finally stood up.
Probably the same giant lizard who escaped his enclosure to hang out with the kangaroos
Having held the koala and interacted with kangaroos and wallabies, our furry marsupial friends, we decided to tour the Birdworld. If you tour both, you get a discount. We were warned that the birds like shiny objects. They will go after zippers on backpacks, earrings, and buttons on clothing, buttons on hats, or really just buttons. There was a display case of items they had found. Josh didn’t listen to the advice from the staff. As soon as he walked in, a bird landed on his hat and tore the button on top of it off. They weren’t kidding about the warnings! The same bird wasn’t finished with his task and later landed on May, attacking the zipper pulls on her backpack and hair clip. We decided to call it the psycho bird. It was a fun and interesting day trip, one we won’t forget.
We called this bird the psycho bird because he kept on attacking Josh’s hat to collect his button.
The same bird that landed on May’s shoulder to grab her hair clip and zipper from her backpack
Two Chattering Lorikeets mating at Birdworld Kuranda
Blue and Gold Macaw from Central & South America
Scaley Breasted Lorikeet