Cairns, Australia part 1 February 17 – 22 2016

Cairns  ( don’t pronounce the r)  is very hot & humid (98 degrees f. compared to our recent trip to Melbourne where it was only 84 degrees f).  The locals were just as shocked as we are with the unexpected heat.
We wandered the town & saw a fig tree filled with flying foxes.
We   reminded  ourselves to come back at sunset to watch them take off into the evening sky. These are huge fruit bats. Shelley got a haircut & we bought groceries for breakfast. Later we walked past mud flats full of white Australian Pelicans.
We had  dinner along the marina and then had foot massages at the night market. Hank sat on the patio smoking a cigar watching the flying foxes swoop around.
We were up early and had breakfast on the patio watching a pair of doves eat the palm fruit.DSCF3139
We had a brisk walk  to catch the 2 hr train ride to the mountain village of Karunda in the morning. DSCF3143
The Karunda railroad was built between 1882 & 1891. The  train carriages were built between 1909 & 1913. The train is pulled by two model 1720 locomotives built between 1966&  1970.  The track is a narrow gauge (3 ft 6 in) and travels 37 kilometers (23 miles ) and reaches an elevation of 327 meters( (1,073 ft) above sea level. Building it took 1,500 men working by hand to carve a route out of the mountain.
 We rode past sugar cane fields , coconut trees,  saw mountains and the Coral Sea. We stopped for a lookout at Barron Falls station and wandered around.
In the small village we had lunch and
listened to a few street buskers playing their didgeridoos. We posted a video of one of them on Facebook.
               We took the sky rail back where we were able to get a birds eye view of the rain forest.
We stopped for a lookout of Barron falls & a rain forest walk with a nature guide. The guide pointed out a golden orb spider , beautiful basket ferns and the characteristics of flora & fauna in a tropical rain forest. There are over 1800 species of both.
 We swam in the morning and then set off to wander the town & find out about a fishing trip for Hank. We decided on leasing a boat that Hank would skipper & fish the local estuary & Shelley would come along.  Life is full of surprises that Shelley agreed to go fishing with Hank!
Well, they call it fishing, not catching, but we had a lovely boat ride in a pontoon skiff about three miles up the estuary through the mangroves. We were looking for crocodiles or other exotica and we were rewarded with a sea snake. It was  very impressive, about 5′ long and swimming without concern for us or anyone else. It was a lovely way to spend the morning, and Shelley was able to avoid any ethical concerns about Hank catching dinner.
THE FLYING FOXES at sunset were amazing to watch. We sat by the tree where we’d seen these amazing creatures waiting for them to take their sunset flight. We posted a video of them in flight on Facebook.
Next to that tree was a tree full of  noisy parrots. There’s a video of them on Facebook too.
We were up early the next morning for our 2 day sailing trip to the Great Barrier Reef on Coral Sea Dreaming.
There were 12 of us on this sailboat. it was a  4 hr sail to our first snorkel reef dive.
We anchored at Flynn Reef for 3 hours and snorkeled there. We saw parrot fish , schools  of sweet lips, snappers, wrasses, & amazing coral
Some people were diving but we only snorkeled.
We wore full body jellyfish stinger proof suits for protection. We looked like we were wearing giant spanx.
Point break was the next reef spot. there were fewer fish though we did see cerulean blue coral that was breathtakingly beautiful.
We watched the sun set, had dinner &
we went to sleep early. We awoke a pretty sunrise. after breakfast we were ready for more snorkeling.
One of the reefs was called 3 sisters. We saw more parrot fish , white tipped sharks and so many colorful little fish.
Someone  was throwing bread off the boat that attracted red bass and parrot fish.
On the return to Cairns Harbor we were followed by a school of dolphins.We posted a video of the dolphins  on Facebook.
We arrived at the marina and took our skipper’s recommendation to have dinner from a trawler in the marina that serve very fresh seafood. We had prawns & mud bug which is a small rock lobster.
We retrieved our luggage afterwards and made our way to our next Air B&B. We were to be here for two nights before heading to the beachside area of Yorkeys Knob.  We arrived to an accommodation that was the bottom half of a family home. It was a bit dank & buggy and had a mediocre air conditioning system.We were less than pleased with the environment, but it was already 7:30 pm so another evening choice was unrealistic. We contacted our Beach side Air B&B hosts and asked if we could come a day earlier. They were okay with that and made a wonderful offer to pick us up the next day.We were able  to avoid the hassle of two buses so we were thrilled with the offer.
To be continued: