Monday – Kuranda

April 13, 2006 at 4:07 am (Australia)

With the car, we went a short distance out of Port Douglas for "Breakfast with the birds" – there's a small zoo that specialises in the wetland and rainforest birds, along with the obligatory koalas, kangaroos and crocodiles.

Breakfast is a large hot & cold buffet, but it is located in a large aviary, with a lot of birds flying & walking around. The most persistent ones will jump or fly onto the tables to grab their breakfast – with the egrets being the most daring. The rainbow lorikeets are the cutest, and can be tempted by leaving a glass of orange juice at the end of the table.

One girl had one of the lorikeets perched on her arm, pecking at a pack of honey. Sam wasn't that brave, but she was fine with the birds flying around, and with the lorikeets on the table- but less so with the egrets.

After breakfast, it was time to see the koalas. Sleepy as ever, these were the shorter – haired variety & Sam managed to stroke one of the more tame ones.

Then it was on to the crocodiles – which were even more sleepy – and feeding the kangaroos and the wallabies. we were amazed at Sam… she was fine at doing the feeding!

There was more there than we expected, and we left without having seen it all, as we needed to move on to the next thing. As we left, we discovered that April's special offer was to allow free entry again – wish we knew at the start!

Next stop was at the Kuranda Sky-rail – back down towards Cairns. This is a 5-mile cablecar, with lots of small cars seating 6 or so. I have been In these when skiing, so I was worried how hot a glass-fibre bubble would get in 30' heat. No worries there in the end – plenty of ventilation. See http://www.cairnsattractions.com/a_skyrail.html

The sky-rail took us up a long way. All over the top of 50m-high trees in the rainforest. The first stop-off point was for a board- walk through the rainforest. And I must say- the Aussie's are good at these boardwalks. lt makes for an easy wander, across ground that would be pretty soft and muddy in the wet season.

The second stop-off point was for a view of Barron falls, which is a decent drop for the water, through a gorge. a good view, accessible via (what else) a decent boardwalk.

The last stop took us up to Kuranda village, which probably counts as tourist-hell. Its extremely tourist – probably very different from when Sue first visited maybe 15 years ago. We only had time to do one thing, so went along to the Butterfly sanctuary. This was excellent (but hot… imagine being in a greenhouse in the tropics!), with some huge butterflies wandering around (and landing on people). Sam didn't like them though – isn't it strange the things she copes with, and the things she doesn't? – so it's probably good that we couldn't stay long because the train was due to leave.

The next stop of the day was for the train – the Kuranda Scenic Railway – to take us back down again. This was a narrow-guage railway, originally built over 100 years ago to supply the gold-miners further back in the outback. See http://www.cairnsattractions.com/a_kuranda-railway.html

Back down at sea level, we transferred back to our car, and decided to get food. A Pizza-Hut across the road looked tempting – if only for the convenience. When we got there, it turned out to be a take-away only, so we headed back to Port Douglas instead. Cruising up the main street led us to "Mango Jam" – an interesting-looking restaurant. Indeed the food was great, but the service was better. Everyone was great with Samantha, especially the owner. 5 stars for the approach to the family there – and so glad we didn't end up at Pizza-Hut.

And guess what – we got sat down at the restaurant about 2 minutes before the rain started. Yup, it was heavy… but as regular as clockwork!

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