Friday, July 08, 2011

Day Eight: Bonus Day

On the plane to Perth. For those of you wondering how big Australia is, it's a FIVE HOUR flight from Cairns, and we cross two time zones. It's also a really small plane with no video screens. Luckily, the flight is not full, and we just snagged another row. David and Jarrah are now watching The Empire Strikes Back while I blog. We had a surprisingly nice time at Cairns Airport—they have an outdoor terrace after security where you can eat a fairly decent bowl of spaghetti bolognese. So I'm feeling pretty okay even though they don't feed you on this plane.

Today was a very different day than we expected. It was supposed to begin with a 5:00 a.m. trip to the airport, followed by two long-ish flights with a four-hour layover in Ayers Rock. We were curious about that layover, but four hours was not going to be enough time to travel to Uluru itself (if you don't know, it's a giant red rock in the middle of the central desert that is sacred to the aboriginals) and I was over it hanging out with both a six-year-old and a sickee. I know David couldn't help being miserable, but I was getting exhausted picking up the slack. And a tiny empathetic part of me didn't think he should be spending the entire day on planes nauseated, either.

So we changed our flight, getting a non-stop to Perth that didn't leave until 6:15 p.m. Which gave us a whole bonus day in the Cairns area. We decided to return to Kuranda, since we knew it wasn't that far, and we'd had no opportunity to see it on our last jaunt. And of course we wanted to revisit the Skyway, just for the sheer fabulousness of it.

After a blissful nine-hour sleep (I was so tired when I hit the pillow I felt like it was spinning) we rose to the sunniest, brightest day yet, and headed out to breakfast at the Apres Beach Grill attached to our hotel, which has become our fave. It's got a great shaded terrace in front from which you have a commanding view of the beach and the little park (the latter has convinced Jarrah it's the best hotel in the world) so we were able to relax while Jarrah made yet more friends only a few feet away. Also during the typical lag time, I scooted a few more feet away to our hotel's excursion booker, who told me we could book a Skyway return to Kuranda in tandem with an airport transfer that would hold our luggage all day, which pretty much took care of everything. I returned to my perfect flat white and strangely delicious Australian yogurt (I hate yogurt at home) and fruit, the pounding waves, the sun twinkling through the palms, and hundreds of butterflies delighting in such a warm morning, a little wistful about leaving it all. I was also gratified to see David smiling again, and even eating a bit of banana pancake, though it will no doubt be days before he can eat more than a few bites.

It was a bit of a scramble to shower and pack up, but we did it, and minutes later a sweet, loquacious gal was driving us to the Skyway in a tiny van containing only us. She even purchased our tickets and handed us maps! Jarrah was pleased that we could continue our search for Christmas, and I dutifully found and visited the offices of lost property for the skyway, only to confirm that Christmas was still among the missing. The staff couldn't have been sweeter—they radioed ahead to each tram stop to search, and greeted us as we swung through “Are you the people with the little girl who's lost the koala?” We even retraced our steps on the rainforest trail, but alas, no. Jarrah cried again, and said the only thing that would console her would be a stuffed loggerhead turtle she'd seen in the gift shop. I'm so terrible—I really could barely restrain my laughter with every rolling tear. But when one of the staff (rather cheekily, and out of Jarrah's earshot) suggested we buy another one, plant it during the night, and claim he was home as a Christmas miracle, I laughed but knew I'd never do it. For one thing, my kid is suspicious. And for another, I can't lie to her.

The trip up was as glorious as I remembered. This time we got to slow down and almost stop a couple times, which was so pretty. Also, we saw a Blue Ulysses butterfly and some white cockatoos among the treetops. All too soon we were landing in Kuranda, and this time I knew we'd have time for everything. Ha—nope. But we did a lot more strolling and exploring, visited the Rainforest Craft Markets where they did have some cool stuff that seemed less touristy than the main drag, and even made a few purchases—a pot of local honey, matching bracelets for J and me, and a voodoo doll (J was very attracted to the idea of sticking pins in it.) We had lunch at a little counter serving nothing but Aussie meat pies, Anzac biscuits and Lamingtons, and J loved her sausage roll but was negs on the Lamington—WHAT? For those of you who don't know, it's a cube of vanilla sponge that's rolled in dark chocolate and then coconut flake.

I had wanted to take the rainforest trail, and a few other things, but once again we somehow ran out of time. We did make it to Bird World, which was quite a thrill, as you can see from the photos. It's a huge tropical aviary jam-packed with hundreds of birds of all varieties, and as we quickly learned, they like to ride on you. David had the darndest time getting rid of his little friend—I think there was a love connection there. I have often observed that birds are strangely partial to David. I didn't much care for the scalp massage I got from my little hitchhikers, and Jarrah freaked out when one landed on her shoulder and ran for the exit. Still, though, the place was super-cool.

There was a moment of stress when we learned that the Skyway, for the first time in our experience, had a long line, and we were already late for our transfer. They started just cramming various strangers together in the cars, which I didn't much care for, but what can you do? We rode with some stoically silent men and made the best of it. And it turned out we still beat our bus driver by about one minute. I banged my head something fierce getting into the van, right before he said he was going to drive a couple other people into Cairns City first, and I did everything but howl “Oh noooo, you don't. I'm not going back to that fish n' chips horror three days in a row.” Whatever I said, he quickly changed his tune and offered to take us to the airport first. Harumph. That's more like it.

It will be late when we arrive, and we'll be met by David's parents and staying at their place. I'll write more tomorrow.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Hoping by now that David is all better. Sorry he was ill.

Love the bird photos!