Today was really a check out the local area day. We just headed to Palm Cove which is about 5 mins away to check out the jetty, walk the main drag and have a coffee. It wasn’t amazing…lots of rich people live and holiday there as there are heaps of resorts on the main strip. It was a windy day so the water was rough. Not many on the jetty but a few fishermen. Enjoyed a coffee and cake for $8.90 (cheap for the area we thought) while the girls played on the playground across the road from our café. Headed to the Ellis beach Bar and Grill for Tea, which had kids eat free with a paying adult from 5:30- 6:30pm. This place is just a short walk from the caravan park. Ellis beach Caravan Park is just beautiful. The view from our site is amazing, my parents are next to us so the girls love heading there for brekky each morning and the showers are AWESOME… which is great cause we are here for 2 weeks.
From Matt’s previous trip around this area (28 years ago) he remembered doing a waterfall circuit and seeing in particular Millaa Millaa Falls and being able to walk behind the curtain of the waterfall and sit there. This waterfall circuit was in the Atherton Tablelands, about a1 hour drive from Ellis. We left by about 9am and headed around Cairns then turned off onto a very windy road to get over the rainforest and into the Tablelands. Our first stop was the Curtain Fig Tree. This was a very impressive sight to see. A strangler fig tree had totally taken over another huge tree. It’s too hard to explain so check out the photo and the explanation photo too. Apparently tree kangaroos live around there to, but just like the cassowary we recon they’re another mythical creature, as we didn’t see any!! We then checked out Malanda Falls, which was a very wide fall which fell into a swimming hole then meandered into to a cool looking stream. The girls enjoyed playing leaf races down under the bridge. Following on from here we found our way to the waterfall circuit. This little drive took us pass 3 waterfalls. The first one was Millaa Millaa, and it was just like Matt remembered it. We had a picnic lunch there too. Heaps of people were there swimming and making their way around the back of the waterfall. It was hard to take a photo just of the waterfall because so many people were either in the water swimming to the waterfall, or behind the waterfall sitting on the rocks.
Matt took Naomi and Emma behind the waterfall while Nanny, Grandpa Riggs and Lucy looked on from the grass. The girls also went for a swim…they said it was really cold, so didn’t last long at all. We also fed the catfish in the stream leaving the falls. The next two falls were ok to see, but Millaa Millaa was the standout. To finish off the day we chose to have a coffee and head home. It took us nearly 2 hours to get back to the caravan park. A long day but definitely worth the drive.
Today we had another rest day before two crazy busy days. We lazed around the pool, spent time walking on the beach collecting shells and making sandcastles. The biggest highlight came in around 2:00pm. Hayley and David along with their kids Abby, Charli, Jake and Max arrived to stay with us at Ellis for just over a week. These guys left about a week after us and went up to the birdsville track and beyond before making their way to Cape Tribulation then onto us. Our girls were stoked to have them here.
We were up early today to catch the Kuranda Scenic Railway train. We left the freshwater station at 8:55 and it took around 1 and a half hours to get to the village of Kuranda. We went through 16 hand carved tunnels and had such awesome views along the way. The girls loved holding their breath as we went through each tunnel. There wasn’t really much to do and see as we thought at Kuranda though. We were told there were heaps of markets to see. There were a few but most of them were shut. The only place we paid to go into was the Australian Butterfly house. This place was very cool. So many beautiful butterflies flying everywhere. If you stood still some would come and land on your arm, head or backpack. We did a guided tour, which really was fascinating.
The sole purpose of a butterflies life is reproduction. So male butterflies endlessly chase female butterflies to mate with them. They then lay eggs, which are collected and put in the egg hatchery. Once they are hatched the caterpillars are then left to fatten up on particular plants (certain butterflies like particular plants) and then are moved to become butterflies and then released back into the aviary. Naomi in particular was fascinated at the whole process. The blue Ulysses butterfly is just stunning.
Our journey home took place via the Skyrail!! Woohoo!! What an awesome way to travel. You are right above the canopy of the Rainforest. The girls delighted in saying hello to the “invisible passengers” as we passed the other carriages on the way up!! The last 15 mins was the most amazing. The view of the Cairns and the coastal beaches was stunning. Well worth the journey down. We all loved this part of the day the most.
BEST DAY EVER! Big call we know but it really was. We arrived at the reef terminal at 9:30 to get ready to board our boat, which was going to take us out to the Outer Barrier Reef. The girls and Felicity had been practicing their snorkeling in pools on the way up so they would be ready to do it when we got to the reef. Well we all took to it like a bull at the gate. We arrived at the pontoon at 12:30 and headed straight for the water. Lunch was being served from 1:00- 2:30, and the semi-submarine boat headed out only three times so we wanted to be able to get on that as well. We snorkeled till 1:30, then hopped on the first semi sub. This vessel was a boat on top and then we walked down some steps to a submarine like vessel which had bench seats which fitted two people and then windows either side to see the reef. What an amazing sight. The coral reef was incredible. We saw so many fish, one shark, giant clams and heaps of sea cucumbers. The girls loved every minute of it. This trip lasted about 20 mins. Once we were back on board we had a hot buffet lunch then headed back out snorkeling. Lulu didn’t last as long as before, but Emma was the dark horse…she outlasted us all. The girls and Felicity found the snorkeling quite easy as they got to wear life jackets which made them not get as tired swimming. Out of everyone, Felicity loved it the most…and even wanted to go again. The girls loved waving at the people who were scuba diving underneath you taking your photo. Naomi’s highlight was being able to touch a giant Wrasse! Also the girls and Matt were the only ones to see a turtle! Unfortunately Felicity was off taking Lucy to the toilet and missed seeing it as the horn of the ship blew at 3:15, which meant everyone had to get out of the water we were heading back. Felicity was a tad disappointed so we wont mention this again! We arrived back at the terminal at 5:30 and got tea at Maccas before heading back to the caravan park. This day was very memorable. A fantastic day out for everybody.
The two days before were really long and busy so we had a rest day at the caravan park. This meant more swimming, collecting shells. The girls/boys actually created a “Sand Village” with about 87 houses all decorated with shells etc. Who needs TV hey?
It has been great that Nanny and Grandpa Riggs are up here with us. Not only do the girls love having breakfast with them in the morning, but today we had the day to ourselves without the girls. Felicity organized a Food and Wine trail tour throughout the Atherton Tablelands (around the Millaa Millaa waterfall tour we did). This was a really great tour. There were 12 on the bus with our guide Warwick. We needed to be picked up at 6:50am and we were not home till 6pm. First stop we had coffee, scones Jam and cream on Lake Barine, then we moved on to a cheese & chocolate factory. We saw the cheese making process then got to taste the produce… mmmm! We bought three different cheeses and some beautiful rocky road for the girls (but mostly for us). Next stop a macadamia farm.
This farm was a local one, which no other tours stop at except for us. We saw how they were grown, harvested and how they were processed on this little farm. Very interesting actually. There were 8 macadamia farms in the area, then along came cyclone Larry and destroyed most of them. Only 2 now are growing. This little farm only sells locally to the cheese factory, ice-cream factory and markets etc. From here we had our lunch in the Tolga Pub. Garlic bread followed by crumbed mackerel and prawns with salad (the only thing missing chips) was awesome. So nice having lunch with no little children! First time in 5 weeks! On from there we went to a Boutique Fruit Winery. Taste testing of all of them. Felicity not a massive wine drinker but enjoyed trying all the different types. The mango port was the nicest so we bought a bottle of that. Last stop we needed to be at the Australian Coffee plantation Sugarbay by 3’oclock so we could get a coffee!! It was interesting to see how coffee was grown. They are called red berries and they are on a bush. We tasted them, the outside actually tasted like apple. Inside you would find either two or three green beans which you don’t actually eat! These green beans then are dried and sorted and put into bags and either sold to other companies to roast or roasted there on premises to sell. Coffee we ordered was perfect, the view was perfect…a perfect end to great tour actually. Meanwhile the girls had an awesome day out with the grandies. They headed in to Cairns to the huge lagoon swimming pool on the esplanade complete with a lifeguard on duty. The water was quite cool, but the girls had a ball. Then they moved onto the botanical gardens where Naomi and the girls enjoyed being tour guides explaining the different plants and trees as they went. Funnily enough though, their highlight of the day was having Subway for lunch because they got to choose what went in their sandwich and they had a cookie along with raspberry Fanta drink!! Thanks Nanny & Grandpa for giving us a break for the day. It was awesome. Sadly though Matt received a phone call at 8:30am this morning saying that his 4 day fishing charter which he was flying out to tomorrow will be more than likely cancelled because of the forecast high winds for the weekend L. When we arrived home he received an email saying that it was definitely cancelled! So the next 4 days he will be now be around not away.
Sandcastle Museum Day today!! Having another rest day at the park. The girls and the Vince’s decided to build a museum in the sand. There were two guided tours at different times. We even had to pay money for entry! This money we were told was going to the ice-cream fund! Cheekily enough they were trying to get other caravan people to visit their museum too!!