Friday 22nd February 2013
The people of Cairns live on the doorstep of an awe-inspiring phenomenon and one of the natural wonders of the world – The Great Barrier Reef.
This two thousand kilometre (1200 mile) palette of turquoise, emerald and aquamarine dotted with coral islands and fringed with a white plumage of breakers, shelters an ancient realm of petrified gardens inhabited by an unbelievable range of creatures. Cairns is often called the unofficial capital of northern Queensland and was founded in 1876.
Today we took the Kuranda Culture tour where we transferred from the ship to Freshwater Station to board the Kuranda Scenic Railway for a picturesque ride through Barron Gorge.
Built between 1882 and 1891 the twenty one mile railway is considered to be a marvellous engineering feat. Although the train journey was interesting it was very hot and humid (no air-conditioning you just keep the windows open) – a lot of the views of the gorge were obscured by the fast growing trees and bushes of the rainforest. On the journey up of 1076 feet we passed magnificent waterfalls, travelled through fifteen tunnels and crossed forty bridges.
At the top of the gorge is the little turn of the century town of Kuranda which is known for its colourful markets, its artists and nature orientated activities. We could have visited the Butterfly Sanctuary, Bird World or the Koala Gardens but we were all so hot that we made a beeline for the Rainforest Restaurant and it was cold Coronas all round. As the place was air conditioned we stayed for lunch which used up most of the free time we had in Kuranda.
After lunch Irene & Alan and Vance & me boarded a gondola of the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to glide over the rainforest canopy on our way back down to the coast a total of 7.5 kilometres. We made a quick stop at Red Peak Station to explore the rainforest up close from the boardwalk circular trail before boarding another gondola for the trip back.
It was a long six hour day so it was back to the pool for some R & R. Irene & Alan joined us for dinner with Suzie & Lance in the main restaurant.
It has been decided that we are not going to Thursday Island because of possible docking problems so we will stay another half a day in Cairns…brilliant (and it will be a welcome overnight for the staff and crew who will no doubt take full advantage)
Techie bits: On the 22nd of February 6:30am we were:
17° south and 145° east
Travelling on a compass course 201°
Speed = 1 knot
Wind speed = 4 knots
Air temperature = 24°c (77°f)
Total nautical miles sailed = 12679
Depth = 6 metres
Sunrise = 6:14am Sunset = 6:46pm