Sunday, February 01, 2015

Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef

After Sydney, we hopped a plane for Cairns.  Cairns is a small tropical city on the northeastern shores of Australia.  It serves as little more than a jumping off spot for Daintree National Forest and the Great Barrier Reef.  This fit us perfectly.

 We only scheduled two days for Cairns, as there are really only the two things to do.  On day one, we rented a little car and drove up the coast to Daintree Rainforest, the oldest tropical rainforest in the world.  Appropriate for our visit to the rainforest, we had a cloudy and wet day.  We wore our rain boots but managed to stay fairly dry - much of the rain falling in a rain forest stays up in the canopy.  We began our exploration on the aerial walkways through the Daintree Discovery Centre and finished off with a beachside restaurant and a boardwalk hike through a mangrove swamp.  Everything was gorgeous, and surprisingly prehistoric.  We did see a cassowary - the modern world's closest approximation of a dinosaur.  It didn't stand still long enough for a photograph, so we posed with a life size statue instead.  Breathtakingly large or delicately small, I had so much fun take photographs in Daintree, and began wishing for a macro lens.

I loved so many things about our holiday in Australia.  But my favorite part must be how well everyone got along the entire time.  By the end of our three weeks together, the girls were close friends, playing intricate games and caring for each other in truly lovely ways.  

The next day was less rainy, but still pretty miserable.  We boarded a boat set for the reef at 7:30 in the morning, and spent the next 2 hours slicing through waves until we dropped anchor in the choppy and murky section of the Great Barrier Reef.

We all felt pretty woozy, but we all powered through and jumped into the water with our snorkels on.  Lilly, Sophia and Annika were out again in less than a minute.  The waves pushed them against the boat and scared them.  I lasted closer to ten minutes, but the murky views did not beat out my nausea from the lying on top of the choppy water.   Dave powered through, and came back onto the boat feeling disappointed in our choice.  This boat ride was pricey, and he was the only one to snorkel for more than 10 minutes.  And even he saw precious little.

While I spent most of the rest of the day with my head between my knees and my face in a bag, Dave and the girls rallied a bit over lunch.  The boat moved to a clearer section and the water became smooth.  Lilly and Sophia joined Dave for another try at snorkeling in the afternoon, and were amazed.  They saw sharks and brightly colored coral and spent well over an hour staring at the reef beneath their floating bodies.  They loved it.

The day on the boat was our last day of vacation.  The next day we flew to Darwin for an extended layover.  We went ahead and explored what is a very small and sleepy city, the highlight of which was a family of flying foxes napping in a nearby tree.

The flying foxes closed out our holiday.  After three weeks away from home and routines, we were all happy to board our flight back to Jakarta and spend the next few days opening Christmas presents, reading books and sleeping a lot more than normal.

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