Day 1: Travelling North

Where Else But Queensland?

Day 1: Travelling North

In 2010, Chris and I said “let’s go see the Daintree” and it’s good to know our plans only take twelve years to manifest, pandemics notwithstanding.

We sill haven’t made it to New Zealand, although that’s definitely still in the pipeline, and when our trip to Uluru (the one we booked after the NZ bubble burst a month before our re-booked trip) was also cancelled a week before take off due to border closures, the extra flight credits seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit the Daintree. Finger, toes and eyes crossed.

So just like the two baked beans who travelled around Australia, we’ve ended up in Cairns (note: to get the joke, you need to pronounce it like a local).

I found a nice little place an hour and a (big) bit up the coast in a place called Wonga Beach. It’s a B&B and although having to clarify “yes, we’re sharing the same bed” we weren’t compelled to upgrade to a 2-bed suite Woomera-style, so we’re one up already!

Here’s a fun fact about Adelaide: it’s about 6 degrees at 4am. That’s what time we had to get up so we could get to the airport in plenty of time to check in, but the morning light from the plane makes all of that worth it.

We bundled ourselves into the mini bus from the parking station, surrounded by polite throat-clearers, to scared to have a good morning cough in case others thought they had the pox that shan’t be named. We got through airport check in pretty quickly and headed for the coffee place.

It’s about 3 years since I last flew, despite all of the flights I’ve booked that never took off. In that time a lot of work has gone on down at the airport, with a more interesting flow as you wander through the terminal, more retailers and a much better use of space overall. They haven’t found a way to stop people mashing the keys on the grand piano, but maybe that’s coming in the next stage of the upgrade.

We still needed to get to Wonga, and it was an hour and a half away (!)

I don’t know why I expected a dual carriage, 110KM per hour road, but that’s not what separates Cairns from Wonga Beach, and that’s a good thing.

Queenslanders love a good roundabout, more than Canberrans do, I feel at this point, and there was no shortage of them making our way out of Cairns. Siri kept saying “take the first exit onto the Cook Highway” which really meant “go straight through the roundabout” as we snaked our way along the coastline.

The mountain ranges to the west are striking, their emerald-green pyramids jutting skywards. I’m pretty sure I saw a croc sitting under the water in one of the rivers we crossed, although at 100 k’s behind the wheel ten hours into a day that started before even the cat could be bothered waking me for food, it could just as easily have been a rock, but croc sounds more adventurous, no?

The afternoon sun pierced through random clouds against a backdrop of mountains and cane fields, inspiring Chris to command me to pull over so he could take some shots, which didn’t disappoint.

We had initially planned to hop on the train to Kuranda tomorrow, but a three-hour return drive is best saved for another day, after a day in transit, so we’ve bumped that further down the itinerary.

A posh breakfast in Port Douglas and a nosey around the locality doesn’t sound too onerous though.

Night night!

Sunrise in the sky ooking out a plane window departing Adelaide

We bade farewell to our luggage in Adelaide, wishing it a happy holiday and sincerely hoping it joined us on our trip at the other end. The hour and a half we left ourselves evaporated very quickly, and we were soon in the air, on our way to Brisbane to catch our connecting flight. Conditions were good, and I finished reading my novel, not prepared for the sad ending and having to wipe away tears on the plane (The Family String by Denise Picton… grab a copy, it’s fantastic!)

The second leg to Cairns was an unexpected additional TWO hours form Brisbane (I really need to pay attention to times zones travelling east) but another smooth flight, hugging the Queensland coast as we crept way, way up into the north. I don’t know whether it’s anticipation of tropical delights or fact, but it seemed like the water started to get lighter along the coast the further we flew. The sun seemed to grow stronger as well, although I wonder if it was a more intense heat I was feeling through the pesrpex or heat coming from behind my face mask. Let’s go with tropical warmth.

We landed at half past one, picked up the hire care and headed where any self-respecting tourist would go… Cairns Central. Yes, the shopping centre. We were hungry!

As it turns out, the pigeons are ravenous, and work in extremely efficient cleaning teams that basically dive-bomb tables as soon as diners get up to leave. We witnessed many a scrap over scraps, with things getting a little bit serious when one pigeon ripped feathers from underneath a team mate’s wing. I mean, the food was good, but I don’t know if I’d rip a mate apart if he got in the way of me and my plate.


Timing is everything, and I’m grateful Chris timed his return from across the road to allow time to get out of the way of the approaching cane-sugar train (which have got the narrowest tracks I’ve ever seen, by the way!)

We got to Wonga and were greeted by our Air BnB hosts, a friendly couple who moved from Victoria about a year ago to live their retirement dream on the edge of the Daintree. Their trusty guard dog, Frank, really gave us what-for through the lounge room window, so be warned. Pictures to follow, Frank permitting.

The beaches are all very inviting, and sadly, there are crocs who would love for you to accept that invitation for a nice swim, so the beaches are for walking and appreciating the sound of the waves. That said, our accommodation backs right onto Wonga Beach. Lush!


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