We flew from Ayers Rock to Cairns for an overnight stay before boarding the M.V. Reef Endeavour for a 4 night cruise of the Great Barrier Reef.
This was the one disappointment of the entire trip. We had thought we were going to see a good portion of the reef and parts that couldn't be seen from an island. Unfortunately, the couple of reef snorkel tours were very murky, uneventful and we saw very little. They were short trips with masses of people and the areas were very unimpressive.
All this said, we had a good time because of the wonderful people we met on board. We were seated with 3 other couples and we had a great time with them.
One stop we made was at Cooktown. This is a small town that had a much larger population at various times througout its history. Now it is primarily a jump-off point for the Great Barrier Reef and for fishing.
Granny decided to stay on board and I strolled around a small portion of the town. I fould what I thought were some interesting photo opportunities
<-- Boats at rest in the harbour -->
Cooktown is known for its local flowers and trees. I was particularly taken with the beautiful trees that were in bloom.
One think about the cruise, there were some beautiful sunsets. It was very peaceful looking out to the shore as the sun went down. Here's Granny enjoying the sunset.
After the cruise we went just north of Port Douglas to a resort called Silky Oaks Lodge. The Lodge is located in the rain forest and included with the stay were a couple of excursions.
However, before we took the excursions with the Lodge, we had arranged to spend a day with David Armbrust. I had read a lot of rave reviews about his "Natural History Safaris" on Fodor's travel forums. So I arranged for a full day tour.
This was certainly one of the highlights of the trip.
David picked us up at Silky Oaks and drove to his property. The "safari/tour" starts with a slow walk through the private rain forest belonging to David and his wife. Almost immediately we see animals - primarily the small paddy-melon kangaroos. David has named all these animals and they seem to know him as they come right up to him for food.
Here we have a few kangaroos coming for some food.
After about an hour of slowly walking the trails at Thylogale (David's property), we stopped at a small clearing where there is a picnic table. Here we had some tea while we watched the animals scurrying about. While we sipped our tea, David strolled around throwing out food for the animals and birds.
Most of the kangaroos racing about are paddy-melons. However, there are a couple of small animals that run from right to left near the picnic table. These are musky-rat kangaroos. The musky-rat kangaroo is the smallest of all the kangaroos. Below are a couple of pictures of these little critters and one of the birds that eats from David's hand.
Animals weren't the only thing to be seen at Thylogale. This is the rain forest and there are lots of interesting plants and beautiful flowers.
The tour continued with a drive to slightly lower altitude and a slightly different rain forest. Here we didn't see many animals but did see some beautiful vegetation.
We stopped at this idyllic spot for our lunch. While David prepared the lunch, Granny and I enjoyed the surroundings. Later as we were walking through rain forest, we saw this fern tree. I really liked the way the sunlight shone through the canopy of this tree.
Silky Oaks Lodge also ran tours that were included with the stay. THe first tour was a walk through the rain forest around the Lodge. We didn't see animals but we did see a lot of interesting vegetation and some incredible fungi.
Our final tour of the trip was to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree River. We had more walks throught different rain forests until we came to this beautiful spot where we had lunch.
I was intrigued with this tree and the way this giant limb was able to extend so far out without any additional support.
After lunch, it was off to the Daintree River for a short boat trip to try and spot crocodiles. Unfortunately, no crocs showed themselves. However, it was a very peaceful, enjoyable cruise.
Then it was back to SIlky Oaks Lodge for our next to last night in Australia. The next day we were on our way back to Sydney for an overnight stay before heading home.