The sun was beating down and the humidity was well over 90per cent. Doing anything was hot, hard work. They say girls don’t sweat they just perspire or glow. Well I can say, not being a girl, I was sweating buckets and even a short walk had me soaked to the skin.
As we had headed north up the Queensland coast we had noticed that the humidity had started to rise and rise. Not that it was particularly hot (only low 30s) but just that the humidity and the heat from the sun made certain times of the day particularly unpleasant and it was not cooling down much at night either.
We were parked at beautiful Mission Beach from where the beach stretched for Kms in each direction. It was a picture postcard tropical beach and the sea was very calm and inviting. The only problem was that it was still stinger season so swimming was not recommended as a sting from a jelly fish could put you in hospital. That was so frustrating, like putting chocolate in front of a child and telling them not to eat it. We did eventually find a place to swim, in an area enclosed by a stinger net but whilst refreshing the water was really warm like a bath.
Mission Beach is famed for being an area where two world heritage sites meet; the wet tropical rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. It is also a keen skydiving centre and we kept seeing the skydivers landing on the beach after jumping out of a plane from 14,000 feet. We were not tempted. We were though keen to see the rainforest and in particular to see a Cassowary. The Cassowary is Australia’s largest bird and can grow to almost 2 metres in height. It is very rare but the Mission Beach area is one of the best places to see them. We did two short walks to try and see one but without success. The walks were short because of the heat and also the number of biting insects once you got into the forest.
We also did one very hot job while we were there. We decided to change one of our wheels to put a better tyre on the front. We have changed tyres a couple of times but there had always been people to help so this time as we had lots of time, Gilly and I decided to see if we could do it by ourselves. You need to understand that our wheels weigh 120kgs, so changing them is quite a job. Well anyway we learnt we can not do it easily without help. We were able to get the wheel off, the spare off the rack and to change the wheel but we needed help (due to the weight) to get the wheel back in the spare wheel rack so let’s hope we don’t need to do this somewhere remote although I have some ideas if we need to do this.
The rest of the time we just sat on the beach in the shade as there was often a nice cooling breeze. In fact the best time was once it had got dark. It was full moon time and the moon reflected beautifully off the sea. Sitting there with a glass of wine in hand, with the gentle sound of the ocean and a breeze taking away the heat was wonderful. Life felt pretty good.
On our way up to Mission Beach we had spent a couple of nights in Paluma National Park. This was just inland from the coast and there was some lovely swimming holes that you could swim in. Not that swimming in rivers here is risk free as we are now in Saltwater Crocodile country. However the swimming hole we chose was a popular one and was known to be crocodile free. It was the weekend when we were there so was quite busy with families enjoying the cool refreshing water.
After Mission Beach we drove up to Cairns where we decide to do one last trip out to the reef. We boarded a large Catamaran for the 60km trip to one of the outer reefs. Once we were out there we had to swim about 50 to 100 metres from the boat to be able to snorkel over the top of the reef. There was a bit of a swell so swimming was not the easiest so we were really impressed that Lucy bravely swam out with us. The swim was worth it as the corals below were amazing and as it was a sunny day the colours really lit up the ocean. The fish were also every shade of colour darting in and out of the corals.
We have now been fortunate to do three trips out to the reef. It is undoubtably spectacular but as much of it is quite a way out in the ocean it is not the easiest trip and you have to work hard to see its beauty. For us the best trip was on Solway Lass around the Whitsundays as here the reef is close to islands and in lagoons and this makes the snorkelling much easier.
Cairns is the last town of any size (population about 150,000) we will be visiting for quite some time so we thought we had better stock up with everything we may need. Alisha had also been suffering with a bad ear for about a week so we thought it made sense for her to visit the doctors. We have been fortunate that in 32 months of travelling this is the first time any of us have had to go to the doctors. As suspected, she had an ear infection so no swimming for Alisha for a week.
There is not a lot else to do in Cairns itself. The town is set up for a large influx of tourists who go out to the reef and various other nearby sights. It does not have its own beach but it does have a very pleasant esplanade. This is made more attractive for the girls as there are various playgrounds along the way to enjoy. Also as dusk approaches masses of fruit bats take to the sky creating quite a sight.
It was also Easter while we were here in Cairns which was good news for the kids. The caravan park where we were staying put on an Easter party so the girls loved playing games, winning chocolate prizes and going on an Easter egg hunt.