Posts Tagged ‘granite gorge’

Finally, visitors!!!

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I know it’s been a while since I have posted anything, but life is pretty hectic in the Cairns Unlimited household and the days go by without us even realising. This post has been long due, and here it goes.

 After living in Australia for nearly two years, we finally had visitors from Spain visiting us. Well, we’re not counting my friend Jorge Rabadan and his wife, who came to Cairns on holidays, and since we were here already, met up with them a couple of times. We also booked a few tours for them. They were pretty happy with our service, as you can see in our referencias page. Since he now lives in LA, USA is much closer to Australia, so Jorge, you are welcome any time.

This time we have my very good friend Amaya with her family: her husband Luis and their two gorgeous girls, Sara and Ainhoa. They are the living proof that life doesn’t end when you become a parent. They are travelling around the world for a whole year. And since we threatened them that if they didn’t include Cairns in their schedule we would never talk to them again, they didn’t have any other option but visiting. They arrived on March 2nd!!!

Some of you may not think anything of it, but some of you will remember that we were looking for another home. And we found it, of course, but only two days before they got here. We packed everything as quickly as possible, rented UTE and moved houses ourselves. Gladly this time Steve didn’t pretend he was suffering from back pain, like he did when we moved to Yorkeys Knob, and I had to do most of the move myself .

We worked like maniacs for a couple of days, assembling furniture, buying what we didn’t have, which was actually many things, such a sofa, outside table or crockery but still had time to sit down and have a beer before going to the airport to pick them up.

I don’t know how long for Amaya and myself hugged each other. It was unbelivable to see them all in Australia. They were going to stay with us for a couple of weeks, which at the time seemed like we would have time to do many things together, but it just went so quickly…

The girls were happy just playing in the swimming pool and we seemed to be happy just sitting around the table, chatting and drinking wine. Remember three out of the four adults were Spanish, so sipping wine and going to be late was common those days. The neighbours on both sides were champions and not once did they complain about the noise.

One of the days they were staying with us we all went to Fitzroy Island. We had never been to Fitzroy Island before so we thought it was the perfect opportunity for every one to discover one of the many tropical islands off the coast of Cairns. And off we went, loaded with our fantastic digital underwater cameras. We practically had Nudey Beach to ourselves, a couple of times we saw someone else walking around, but most of the time it was just us snorkelling, sunbathing or eating. It is a beautiful island, the water is crystal clear and great snorkel. Luis and the girls even saw two turtles and a mantaray. In the evening, just before boarding the ferry to go back to Cairns we went to the hotel in the island (now closed until further notice) and saw this beautiful swimming pool, with a couple of fountains, so we had a swimm there. Again we were the only ones, but we soon found out that it was only a fountain and not a swimming pool.

Another day we all went to the Atherton Tablelands for the day. Apart from visiting some of the Tropical Wineries that are found in the area. Amaya and myself had already tried some of them at the Cairns Nightmarkets and since we both liked them, we decided to get some from one of the wineries.

Next stop was the termite nests close to one of the coffee plantations near Mareeba. They are absolutely impressive. The girls weren’t that impressed, though, so we thought they might like to see wild wallabies at Granite Gorge. We weren’t very lucky, it was a rainy day and all the wallabies decided to stay under cover. Nevermind, we made our way to Atherton because Amaya and the girls were very interested in minerals and the sort. And what better place than the Crystal Caves? Steve and myself had been there before and thought it was a pretty decent display of minerals, fossils, etc. But since we were there, Rene, the owner, now display the biggest geode in Earth. It reaches two metres easily and it’s very impressive. While amaya and the girls explored the museum, Luis, Steve and myself went for a coffee at a nearby cafeteria. That night they decided to make their way to Yungaburra and, with a bit of luck, see platypus. A shame we couldn’t go with them, but we were busy that same night and had to give it a miss. They were lucky and spotted platypus, one of the rare native Australian animals.

Another day Luis and Amaya went to visit Cape Tribulation and Port Douglas on their own, as we had offered to look after Sara and Ainhoa while they had a second, and short, honeymoon. You won’t believe how wonderfully behaved those two princesses are, it was actually a pleasure to have them with us. We took them to Toys RUS and when I offered to buy them a little present they refused. Later we took them to the Cairns Lagoon and not once I had to look for them, they were always where I told them to be.

Luis is a very keen diver and has dived all over the world. Since Steve is more of a dry man and I don’t have too many chances of going diving, we both decided to leave our partners at home and go on a Cairns liveaboard. The trip to the reef was very rough and half the passengers were seasick, even ourselves. But once we got to the first stop and got ready to jump, we all forgot our pains and enjoyed ourselves. The visibility wasn’t great during the whole trip, however, we still managed to see sharks, turtles and many different species of fish, including cute Nemo. It was also the first time I tried a night dive and even though I was a bit dissapointed I will try again, maybe the conditions will be better next time. It’s funny how some of the bigger fish have learnt that divers point their torches to other fish, so they follow divers all the way and as soon as they point their torches, these big fish whizz passed you towards the light and surprise, the cute little fish that was there a second ago is gone.

The next morning we had to be up at 5.30am to go for our morning dive. Luis was too lazy to get up although he says that he didn’t sleep at all that night. Haha. This time I went for a deep dive. It was supposed to be at 30 metres down and again, I was a bit dissapointed, we only went to 20 metres. Anyway, it was all beautiful, and it was one of the ones I enjoyed most. This time the instructor wanted to show us how at such great depth our senses are not so acute. We were given a blackboard with numbers from 1 to 20 mixed. We had to first touch our nose and then point to the numbers in a correlative order. It took us ages to do so. But the funniest bit was when the instructor tried to crack an egg open for us to play with it. Due to the pressure, the egg stays together. At least that’s what we were told, there was a fish which managed to crack both eggs open and eat the inside before we could realise what was happening.

However, the best dive was the one we did nearly in the surface. We also managed to stay underwater much longer, about 90 minutes. Absolutely beautiful. But the highlight of our trip was when we got back to Cairns and Amaya and the girls were waiting for us at the finger.

The last night we all had a great time. They had bought a few presents for us, but instead of giving them to us, they hid them all over the place and we had to find them using “hot” and “cold” as directions. Steve got a barbie set, with a beautiful apron and I got lots of nice things for the house.

Those two weeks went extremely quickly and suddenly it was time for them to keep on travelling. Japan, Hong Kong, India, South Africa and many other places before they arrive back in Spain. I hope they come back to Australia again. But for the meantime, we keep in touch by email and phone calls. And I guess we will see them in Madrid in a few months. By the way, if you are interested in their travels, they have a very interesting website, in Spanish, with lots of photos, called “Our trip around the world“.

The Atherton Tablelands… again

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

I’m sure if you follow our adventures in Tropical North Queensland you will be thinking we visit the Atherton Tablelands way too much. Well, it’s Steve’s favourite part of the region, and since he’s the one who drives, he decides where to go. But I must admit that it’s nice to get away from the city for a few hours and enjoy a change in the scenery and weather as well.

Our first stop for the day was Tichum Creek Coffee Plantation, and, as we did a few months ago, we enjoyed a delicious coffee and a chat with Mario, the owner. After leaving this coffee plantation in the Atherton Tablelands, the road took us to De Brueys Winery, where Elaine and Bob showed us around and shared their future plans for their winery with us. Hopefully next time we visit them they will have finished the wine tasting room, which is already looking pretty good to us, and they will have started with their wine cellar tours.

Steve enjoying a capuccino at Tichum Creek Coffee Plantation.Bob and Elaine, owners of De Brueys Winery.

Granite Gorge is a must see place for everyone, an incredible family friendly activity in Tropical North Queensland. It’s a “natural reserve” where you can see wallabies in the wild and will have the unique opportunity to feed them. The wallabies are very friendly if you have food in your hands, otherwise they get tired of you pretty quickly. We tricked them a few times, but by the time we had been there for a while, other people had already come offering food and we were absolutely invisible for them from then on. However, we managed to take a photo of one of this gorgeous creatures (Colleen, the owner told us this specie of wallaby only lives in the part of the world) carrying a baby wallaby on its pouch. Soooooooooo cute.

That's me, patting a wallaby at Granite Gorge.Wallaby with its baby in its pouch, at Granite Gorge, Atherton Tablelands.

We also went for a walk there. Granite Gorge is pretty amazing (we always say this word is overused, but in this case is the word that best describes this corner of Tropical North Queensland). It combines massive rocks with sandy creeks and refreshing waterholes. If you feel energetic, you can go for a walk around the area and you will discover pretty unusual rock formations, some of them resembling different animals. Won’t spoil the surprise for you.

Boulders at Granite Gorge.Steve standing on massive footprints on the rock, at Granite Gorge.

A few minutes after leaving Granite Gorge we arrived to The Peanut Place, which we were really looking forward to exploring, since Steve is a big peanut fun. Too much of a coincidence that he finished the peanut butter this morning. I think he had everything planned. Of course, we couldn’t leave The Peanut Place without buying a few items. It was hard, everything looked really tasty. But after a while looking around, we bought their famous peanut butter, absolutely gorgeous lime and chilli peanuts and eucalyptus honey. And we took another photo us “our beast” in front of the Big Peanut (as we did a few months ago with our long gone friend the van).By that time we were already feeling hungry so we headed, as fast as we could, to Millaa Millaa, where we know of a fantastic place to have lunch or just a snack. And, according to Steve, they sell the most beautiful beef pies in Queensland. The place is called “The Falls Teahouse” and apart from delicious food and a fabulous view, they also offer accommodation.

Our Cairnsunlimitedmobile in front of The Big Peanut, near Tolga, in the Atherton Tablelands.The famous beef pies at The Falls Teahouse, in Millaa Millaa.

As you all should know by know if you read our blog regularly, the Atherton Tablelands is very well known in Australia for its Food and Wine Trail The weather in this part of Tropical North Queensland is perfect for the growing of different tropical fruits, coffee, tea and many restaurants and eateries take advantage of the local produce from the region. So if you love food and wine, the options are endless and we strongly recommend that you spend a couple of days of your tropical holidays following the self drive itinerary we have put together in our Tablelands Food Trail and discovering this area. And since we knew what was coming ahead of us, we didn’t order dessert at The Falls Teahouse, but waited until we got to Gallo Dairyland, where you can choose from a wide array of flavoured chocolates and local cheeses.

And that’s all we had time for today. You cannot believe how good it feels to be away from the computer for a few hours, even if we mean that tomorrow we will have a big day in front of us. But as the Spanish saying goes: “Tomorrow will be another day”.