Thursday, August 1, 2013

Far North Queensland

1 August 2013

Hard to believe we've been on the road for eleven months now!  We've done so much, but the time has passed so quickly - so it doesn't feel as if we've been travelling for almost a year.

And how many people noticed that the hurricane/cyclone symbol in this sign is the opposite of the way we draw this up north?  Mmmm hmmm, cyclones rotate clockwise down here in the southern hemisphere.  Northern hemisphere, you have storms with a counterclockwise rotation.  The symbols have been drawn to show this.  Cool, huh?

We're absolutely enjoying the warm weather of the Far North - though the evenings are cool, the days are in the mid 20s (or the mid 80s) and sunny - perfect weather!

Queensland is prone to flooding, and these two utes (short for utility vehicles) are outfitted for driving despite floods - notice the exhaust pipe has been extended upward, so water won't get into the engine.  Even if you drive through 2 meters of flood water.  Which is possible - the roads are marked with floodways, and there are depth gauges so you know how deep the flood is - and yes, the gauges go up to two meters.  I think the antenna looking thing is so you can follow where your ute is in a flood.  Either that or fish while you drive, I'm not sure.

In addition to the modified utes, Queensland homes are often built on stilts, like this one - so the flood waters can just roll through the ground floor, and not damage the house itself.

We spent the 
morning enjoying Innisfail, the quaint little town up north, a bit south of Cairns.  The buildings are lovely and colorful and so Deco - I thought the big cyclone was in 1920, but a few buildings were dated 1916, so I'm not too sure what the exact dates of the destruction and then rebuilding occurred.   

I had fun taking pics of the
 architectural details - all the way down to the Art Deco trash can on the road, and the big church or maybe cathedral in the town.  Plus the colors are just so happy against the blue sky.

We had a gorgeous drive north - the first part, out of Innisfail and before Cairns, was bright green trees and fields, with patchwork sugar cane fields and banana plantations, and myriad creeks and rivers.  Quaint towns with historic pubs or hotels, cute old houses and buildings, and occasional sugar mills belching sweet-smelling smoke into the skies.  Every town seemed to have a historic pub or hotel - with a sign indicating this.  Or the occasional "Friendliest town in Queensland" sign, as we were welcomed or bid farewell.  Plus various hills and mountains of the Great Dividing Range, just for some variation.  (Rather a prosaic name for a mountain range, isn't it?  You'd think the mapmakers could come up with something more poetic.)

Cairns is a city, with too many businesses and cars and enough roundabouts to make anyone dizzy.  

And then suddenly, we found our way to the Captain Cook Highway, which runs along the coastline just north of Cairns all the way up to Cape Tribulation - THIS was the route we've been looking for, with winding roads and every turn uncovers a picture-perfect view of sandy beach, rocky headlands, rolling waves.  

We headed north to Port Douglas, and by now it was close to sunset.  Campgrounds were full, and we didn't want to head south to Cairns.  We ended up in Mossman, an inland town, but also cute and quaint and probably worth exploring.  

So, tomorrow's dilemma - do we head south to Port Douglas for a few days to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef?  Sail, dive, swim, snorkel?  Or do we head north to Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation, for some of the same?

And when can I go play with some more koalas?

Really, these are the serious questions we face as rolling luggagers.  

Which makes it so nice that the tea packaging comes with instructions on how to make a cup (or bowl?) of tea.  Because with serious, life-changing issues such as whether to swim or snorkel or dive or sail or nap or hike or read, well, who can remember something as mundane as how to make a cup of tea?

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