As it turns out, the cheapest way for us to get from Bali to Cairns, Australia was to fly via Perth. Unfortunately, after an early morning flight from Bali to Perth we had the entire day to wait around in the airport for our overnight flight across the country to Cairns. And when I say overnight I mean arriving at 4am, which really felt like 2am. Luckily, we weren’t the only ones camped out and sleeping in the baggage area.
So, we set an alarm and roused ourselves in time to take advantage of the shower in the bathroom before we were collected by our hosts in a massive “outback style” pickup truck. After a quick tour of Cairns, we made our way away from the coast and up a windy mountain road to the Atherton Tablelands.
The rest of the day was very busy as our host family whisked us around to show us all of the nearby towns, neighbors and quirks of their home and property. We were soon introduced to the three cattle, five chickens (chooks), cat and lab that we would be caring for. Later that afternoon we had a different sort of introduction as they invited over many of their neighbors and relatives to meet us over tea. It was wonderful to spend the afternoon listening to local stories and gossip and we soon learned that one of the couples ran a self sustaining organic farm nearby where they held organic cheese making workshops. Bingo!
Our second truly local experience occurred during a tour of the immediate area at a local shop. While I was browsing inside Erik called to me, “You should come see this snake.” “Is it big?” I asked. He said, “Yeah, pretty big.” I should never underestimate Erik’s ability to be exceptionally blasé, but I did and misjudging his warning, I confidently strolled over to the door. Let me see if I can paint this picture for you (I cursed us later for not bringing our camera on what promised to be a tame tour of the town).
Two well bearded Australians stood relaxed with shit-eating grins on their faces in muddy work boots as each held an end of the hugest python I have ever seen when not peering through a very thick glass wall. Not only that, they nonchalantly and completely earnestly informed us that they guessed the very large lump in the middle of the python was the neighbor’s cat. They then proceed to scream for their grandmother to come and marvel at their catch of the day. It was all I could do not to stare.
After our experience at the store, I could only nod as our host explained about some of the other wildlife in the area. He explained about the ticks that carry a horrible paralyzing disease that claims several dogs a year, so watch out for that. Oh yeah, and you can’t swim in the ocean during this time of year because a sting from the jellyfish could kill you in less than three minutes. Oh and never swim in the rivers because of the crocodiles. Oh and a bite from some of the spiders you might die, but most aren’t that dangerous.
We spent our first days relaxing after months of traveling. We weren’t too hard on ourselves and allowed for lazy breakfasts out on the gorgeous patio where we could watch the many tropical birds go about their business.
We also drove to the next town over to see the famous curtain fig tree which is miraculously formed when a seed germinates on the branch of a host tree and then grows to the ground, all the while forming roots that eventually strangle the host tree.
The host tree then falls on to a neighboring tree as the curtain fig tree continues to grow roots to the ground. Ultimately, the original tree rots away and all that is left is the diagonal curtain fig tree.
The countryside is truly beautiful and a unique blend of soil and rain forest foliage. The earth is a beautiful deep red,
The weather has been quite rainy, but we hope to continue the relaxing trend while venturing out to some of the sights farther afield such as wallaby feeding in the outback, hikes in the rain forest and the tropical coast of Cairns. Oh, and it’s “caans” not “cairns”.