The girls headed out to an Opal mine with Nanny & Grandpa while we replaced our little underwater camera, which broke while we were out on the reef. The mine was mostly a shop selling opal, but they built on a little fake mine to show how opal is mined, and how its found etc. The girls enjoyed the little outing, as we have been pretty relaxed at the caravan park the last couple of days. They were pumped when Nanny and Grandpa bought them each a little necklace that had the beginning letter of their name with a few pieces of opal it in.
This was the day that Felicity and Hayley were looking forward too. They had organized some time at the Reef Resort and Spa for a little bit of pampering. They had a massage, facial and Pedicure. They came back very relaxed. Apparently the sister spa to them is “Stables Day Spa” at Mt Lofty House so they think they need to check it out when they get back just to compare!! While the girls were out being pampered the Dad’s enjoyed time with the kids in the pool and they built a giant crocodile on the beach complete with coconut husk scales, which delighted many walkers by and even had photos taken of it by complete strangers!
Today was the last day the Vince’s were with us. We were thinking of heading in to Cairns, then thought that was a bit too hard and we couldn’t be bothered driving, so we stayed at the park. The kids enjoyed a long play at the beach and even found cockles while moving their feet in the sand. The boys went fishing while the kids were on the beach and used the cockles for bait! It was exciting when
Dave actually pulled in a fish that was a decent size and one we could eat. SWEET. It was a Giant Trevally. Not giant in size as the name suggests but bigger enough for some fillets. That night we enjoyed fish and chips for dinner and finished off with drumstick ice-creams while the kids had a movie night in our Annex.
We said our goodbyes to the Vince’s and headed out to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. What an awesome day out. So much to see and for the kids to learn about. First port of call was the Cassowary feeding where you actually got to hand feed a cassowary. It was fascinating to hear about the cassowary and the important job it does for the rainforest environment. There are only 1000 cassowaries left in the wild. The girls were given a sticker earlier on in our trip when we were at the Daintree Discovery Centre. It has a picture of a Cassowary and the slogan “My Poo grows Trees.” Funny as it is, its true. Cassowaries eat so much fruit and eat it whole too. It then obviously travels through the Cassowary’s system and gets deposited throughout the rainforest where the trees germinate. The girls are now experts in how to distinguish the male and female cassowary along with information about egg rearing!. Next stop was the Crocodile Farm tour. They actually farm salt-water crocodiles for their meat and skin. Again it was fascinating to hear the process. The survival rate for a baby croc in the wild 1%. They have so many predators. The temperature that the egg is incubated at determines the sex of the crocodile. So they mentioned they do actually play God as they set the incubator at a particular degree to get a male croc. Also he mentioned once the eggs were layed it was like playing an extreme easter egg hunt! It takes three people to collect one lot of eggs. One keeping watch, the next put’s a x on top to mark the upward facing side and the other picks them up carefully with the upward facing side because that’s the way the croc embryo is sitting so if you turn it over the wrong way you will actually drown the baby croc. This whole process of croc farming is actually protecting the Salty being hunted in the wild along with them then being sold on the black market.
Then we moved onto the boat cruise which took about 20 mins as we traveled around the lagoon while the driver held out chook meat on a long pole for the crocs to jump at. We got some good shots of them jumping too. From there we headed to the croc feeding show. Spartacus was their biggest croc at a staggering 4.6m long. When he came out of the water and jumped he looked huge. They showed how quickly a croc can come out of nowhere and how dangerous they really are. They stressed how silly you would be to go swimming anywhere up here where crocs are present!
We then had some lunch where Matt and Naomi both ate crocodile. We all tried some actually. It wasn’t all that bad. It did just taste like chicken really. After lunch we headed to a Bird show where Naomi got to hold a Black Cockatoo and a King Parrot. The other two girls were really not fussed. Naomi is definitely into all kinds of animals. They all fed an Emu though! An Emu’s favorite food by the way is lettuce. Snake show next up! Hmm the girls loved it, Felicity not so much. The presenter was great. He mentioned that the Koala brings in $1 billion dollars each year with the amount of people who want to have cuddle and photo with the Koala…he couldn’t wait till cuddling of a snake brought in that much. Last show of the day the Croc Attack show. They showed us what the death roll looked like and again how they sneak around without you knowing they are even lurking. All in all this day was a great one! So much info, so many cool shows in one day. Awesome.
Today was a little bit of a sad day as it was the last day that Nanny & Grandpa Riggs would be with us. When we go our separate ways tomorrow, they are making their way home. The girls were very excited because Nanny & Grandpa had planned out our last day without the girls knowing what was going on. After lunch we were taken to a place called Paradise palms, which was a country club/resort. IT had a beautiful golf course and club etc. Also in this club there was a place called Pelicans In Paradise which consisted of a mini golf course, adventure playground, jumping pillow and a swimming pool!! This is where we spent the afternoon. We all had a fantastic time playing mini golf. Lucy actually was the only one who got a hole in one and it was on the first hole. Lots of laughs had by every one when the ball went off the grass down an edging which wasn’t seen before the first putt. The game took a while, Naomi went with Nanny and Grandpa the younger two with Mum and Dad. A quick play on the playground while the oldies had ice coffee and lattes then it was off to the pool for a cool down. On return to the caravan park Nanny and Grandpa shouted dinner at the Ellis Bar and Grill, the local haunt that got our business each morning and arvo for our coffee. Such an awesome place! Kids eat free between the hours of 5:30-6:30pm…brilliant.
We left Ellis Beach today after a fantastic 2 weeks. We felt so relaxed and really felt these two weeks were the best part of our holiday so far. The girls just loved being there spending time on the beautiful beach, swimming in the pool and just being able to hop into Nanny and Grandpa van to have breakfast. Not only did the girls love it, we did too! Our plan was to go to Bramston Beach as it was meant to be a great beach, but actually we didn’t end up going there. As Matt was hitching up the caravan, Flic walked to get our last latte from the Ellis beach Bar and Grill. While she was there she was chatting to the barista and he asked where we were heading. He mentioned a place called Etty Bay, which he thought, was the most amazing place he had been to. The rainforest meets the sea! Etty Bay was about 10 mins from Innisfail and about 20mins further on than Bramston Beach. He said that you wind your way through rainforest then you come out to this beautiful bay, blue water and a beautiful beach. He couldn’t remember if there was a caravan park or a place we could stay but he said we should check it out. So once Flic got back to Matt with the coffee she googled this place! It did have a caravan park and even mentioned that cassowary’s walk through most days and Ulysses butterfly were everywhere. Sounds awesome!!! So Flic made the decision that we were going there. Well what can we say except…WOW!! This was the most amazing place. We came over the rainforest hill and the view was stunning… There were plenty of spots available at the caravan park so we got one right on the beach. We set up the van and headed straight for the beach.
Beautiful trees lined the beach so Matt and Flic set up their chairs in the shade with a drink and watched the kids play in the water, look through rock pools and build castles on the beach. While we were sitting there a mini bus turned up which belonged to skydiving Cairns. The driver proceeded to get out and put a pole on the beach with a red flag in-between the stinger net wires. He then came over to us and told us that 5 skydivers would be landing on the beach in 20 mins. Awesome! It was really cool seeing tandem skydivers jumping out of the plane in clear sight, watching them freefall then pull their shoots. Innisfail is where the plane takes off from and for an extra $30 you can land at Etty Bay instead of at the aerodrome. Over the next 2 days the girls were so excited when they saw the mini bus come down the road “Skydivers” was the call and we all got our chairs and made our away down to the beach to watch them land. Matt was very keen on the idea of jumping and landing here where the kids could of seen him, then he could just walk back to the caravan! More excitement that night while we were getting ready for tea a cassowary walked through our site and proceeded to eat the fruit around the park and next to our caravan. Perfect end to a great day! We love this place.
We basically had the beach to ourselves today. Nothing better than walking the beach and having it all to yourself. Felicity was up at 7 with the girls and went for a beach walk before breakfast. Heaps of crabs on the beach. The girls delighted in chasing them back into their holes! They run so incredibly fast and are fascinating to watch when no one bothers them. Today we basically stayed on the beach for the whole day on the beach apart from a quick drive 10 mins to a harbor which had a sugar mill and a boat ramp. Not much really, but Matt was told he may be in luck to catch fish from the there. We were not heaps keen to fish there so we came back to Etty bay and chose to fish off the beach while the girls played and swam. We caught a few fish. Naomi even did too. She was thrilled when she caught a double header…a dart on the top hook and a puffer fish on the bottom hook. Felicity took home the biggest catch of the day…another dart just a bit bigger than Naomi’s. The light was getting less and less so we called it a day and went into the caravan for tea. We did see another cassowary at arvo coffee time, and more skydiver fun too!
We woke up to a really great Sunrise over the beach, so Felicity got up to get the little camera (our new one we bought about a week ago because our other waterproof camera broke when we were on the reef) from the Van. Hmm where is the camera???? Oh no, Felicity raced out of the caravan and down to the beach because she realized that after taking a photo of Naomi with her fish she put it back in its case and put it on a high rock (or so she thought) and forgot to bring it back in last night!!! Naomi and Emma went down to the beach to help retrace steps to see if it was still there. It was not on the rock that Felicity thought she put it on and it wasn’t on any other rocks around the way. That’s it, its gone, its been washed out to sea or drifted to another beach. Girls and I prayed that we hoped we would find it. Felicity looked back towards the shore and she just thought maybe it might of washed up…to her amazement she saw a small amount of sand between two large rocks and sitting on this sand was the camera case complete with camera inside along with sand and pebbles. The camera turned on straight away…the buttons, which scroll through the photos doesn’t really work, but all the photos are still there, SD card all fine! Thanks God!! Slowly she makes her way back to the van and is met by Matt and Lucy coming to help look! Found it! PHEW!
We packed up the van while more skydivers landed on the beach. If we didn’t need to be in Townsville today we really would of stayed another night. It really was a special place. On our way out we saw the cassowary walking on the road!! Cassowary sightings each day – check, Ulysses butterfly sightings each day – check, and the rainforest really did meet the sea at Etty Bay!
We travelled onto Townsville where we are staying with friends of Matt’s parents Cherry and Jeff Ward. Cherry and Jeff used to live in Stirling; Matt grew up with their son Bevan and has memories of visiting them in Townsville when he was 12. Will be nice to sleep inside a house and enjoy not having to go walking to the toilet outside during the night!!
We also stopped at Cardwell on our way into Townsville so Matt could purchase a Mud Crab! He has wanted one for ages! The last one we saw was in Port Douglas and it was being sold for $90 a kilo. Nanny and Grandpa messaged Felicity to say that they saw signs in Cardwell about Mud crabs for sale at a more reasonable price, so we kept our eyes out. We found where they were and parked the caravan and went to the fish shop. There were live mud crabs or cooked ones. Matt thought about buying a live one, but we never would have had a big enough pot to cook it in, so be bought a cooked one. He ate it as an entrée to tea, and said it was well worth the money he spent! We are now in the Wards house and living a life of luxury…