We had no intention of going to Hartley's Crocodile Adventure but on the drive back and after seeing all the crocodile signs and no crocodiles (which we were both relieved and disappointed by) we decided we needed to see some crocs, and if they were in cages when we saw them all the better because we wouldn't be shrieking and running the opposite direction (in a zigzag fashion of course).
Now, have you ever been to the zoo when you wander around from cage to cage and you don't see any of the animals? At first this is how we felt. Kind of like in Jurassic Park when they're driving around well, Jurassic Park, and they don't get to see any of the dinosaurs. And then...just like that we realized we were just stupid and the crocodiles were EVERYWHERE! I'm not sure why we didn't see them at first cause they're huge and they were very very close. It was NOT like the zoo at all where all the dangerous creatures are behind glass, this place there was just a fence that you could have EASILY put your hand over...or jumped over for that matter, if you were so inclined. And the funniest part about all of that is they put a sign at the front door that basically says there are crocodiles in here if you leave the path and get eaten, it's your fault.
You gotta love Australia.
Because there's so many deadly creatures here in the land of Oz all the Australians have a very nonchalant attitude about the nasty buggers and they all tell you to try to put it into perspective. For instance you are about 100 x more likely to die in a car crash then get eaten by a crocodile. BUT THEN they go and tell you about all the people that have been eaten by crocodiles in an attempt to make you less nervous about the situation because all of the people who have been eaten were doing something stupid and careless....NEVERTHELESS these stories do nothing to ease my mind considering they all end with someone getting "taken" by a croc. That's the word they use, "taken", the boy was "taken" by a 6 meter saltie. Fantastic.
By the way, it also just so happens that the last person "taken" by a saltie in Queensland was a 5 year old boy who was trying to coax his new puppy out of the water...they were both "taken" as his 7 year old brother watched in horror. I'm telling you this because I heard it about 7 times simply because it was the last incident, but it absolutely horrified me...and I needed other to share in my horror.
Anyway, after wandering around for a bit with all the crocodiles, who all have cute names like Frank and Sally and Bertie we then went to a "feeding" and I totally thought I was gonna watch the feeder get his arm bitten off.
Luckily that was not the case because that would have been totally gross.
I had a video, but it won't load, so you'll just have to believe me that it was...enthralling to watch them eat.
Also at the croc farm...for whatever reason there were also the killer cassowary! All caged up of course, just like the crocs, but again we were quite excited to see one in person after seeing so many signs warning us that they might kill us.
You can see (not in this picture mind you but in person) that this thing is totally a descendant of dinosaurs if not a dinosaur himself. He's quite cool I must say, gotta love the cassowary in all his killer claw, bone breaking, disembowling fantasticness.
And that my friends, is THE END of Jesica's Birthday Weekend.
As I'm writing this I have every intention of this being the final part of what is apparently a 4-part series to tell you about a weekend from 2 weeks ago! Honestly I didn't mean to drag it out but...it happens.
So, we're almost up to the most exciting part of the trip which is...The Great Barrier Reef.
After surviving our day in the Daintree where all manner of deadly creature is lurking around every corner we took it easy that night and went to bed early because we knew we had a long day of snorkeling the next day to gear up for.
Getting up way way too early on Sunday morning we found our way to the marina, got ourselves fitted for some sweet wetsuits, which if you've never been in a wetsuit are like spanx for your whole body...very flattering...and boarded our boat to head out to the reef.
There are several different boat options when snorkeling on the reef, the boat sizes range anywhere from fitting 12 people up to over 200 people at a time. We opted for a smaller 30 person boat and we were not disappointed.
You can also snorkel the inner reef or the outer reef, the inner reef, as the name implies is closer and you can make more of a half day experience out of it or you can go to the outer reef which takes almost 2 hours to get to and is thus more of an all dayer.
We opted for the outer reef, mostly because the inner reef is dying and we wanted to see all the prettiness. And you know, participate in the killing of the outer reef so that it can eventually be like the inner reef ;-) Seriously, they made of point of telling us at every turn how we were killing the reef and is all I could think to myself was "Then why are you taking us out there?!" They also informed us that the reef will no longer be there in 30-40 years time...and not from us going out there and killing it with our fins but because of global warming...and if that's the case then why are they bothering to protect ANY of it? WHATEVER. Glad I got the chance to see it because apparently my grandchildren will not be able to.
It just so happened that the weather was absolutely gorgeous the entire weekend that we were there, which the crew was rather ecstatic about seeing as how the day before we arrived in Port Douglas they had 25 knot winds and people were getting sick left and right, vomit everywhere. We had no such difficulties...it was all smooth smooth smooth.
Now, I'm going to call myself out and give props to Dom here. I DID NOT WANT TO GO SNORKELING. I thought to myself, this is MY birthday and I've been snorkeling plenty of times in my life why do I want to go snorkeling for my birthday, this is a Dom birthday present not a Jesica birthday present. We were also up way way too early and we had to wear wetsuits. None of this was appealing to me on Sunday morning. But Dom insisted since we were already up there that we HAD to go snorkeling on the reef because we'd regret it if we didn't. I agreed, it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would forever regret if I didn't do it.
And as soon as we left the marina and we were out to sea in the warm warm sunshine I remembered how much I like being out on a boat and started to get excited that we were about to go snorkeling on The Great Barrier Reef, which in all honesty I never thought I would ever do because I never thought I would ever visit Australia, much less live here.
So, off to the reef we went. The weather stayed beautiful, the sea was warm and inviting and the reef was pretty spectacular.
So, thank you Dom for putting up with your bratty birthday wife and her less than enthusiastic approach to snorkeling, I'm glad we did it =)
Now, mind you we were out on a boat, or in the water for about 8 hours that day and my dear husband burns in the shade with sunscreen on. So, in an effort to keep him light pink rather than bright red I kept reminding him to put sunscreen on, which he did, he put it on his face, on his head, on his arms....everywhere except his legs. Which when I asked him if he put sunscreen on his legs, his response was "No, but I never burn on my legs".
Next time I think he'll put sunscreen on his legs.
Oh yes, I forgot to tell you. The other reason I did not want to go snorkeling...
THERE ARE SHARKS.
Granted reef sharks apparently don't eat people, but I DID NOT want to encounter a shark...especially after we'd survived the day before without seeing anything that could kill us...I didn't want to push it. We luckily saw no sharks, but guess what we did see.
A ridiculously huge ugly and very friendly fish that LOVES the snorkel boats
Crazy colors that you don't expect to see in the ocean
And lots of other pretty fish and coral
All underwater pics taken by Wavelength
And I hate to do it, but I'm gonna put off finishing this AGAIN! Apparently my 4 part series just turned into a 5 part. Next up I'll tell you about the croc farm!
So, after admiring all the scenery we finally made our way to the Mai Tai Resort, which just so you know was not a resort like what comes to mind when you hear resort, it was in fact a 4 bedroom B&B. They call all of their small hotels resorts here for some reason. I DON'T GET IT. But anyway, not to impugn the beautifulness of this little B&B though, set up on a hill overlooking the rainforest, it was stunning!
This was our view for breakfast every morning. Gorgeous!
Since it was my birthday and we still hadn't made any plans for that evening we sat down with one of the owners, Andre, and had a little chat about our options. Fortunately enough Andre knew absolutely everything there was to know about Port Douglas and recommended we go to Flames of the Forest since it was a special occasion and that it would be a one-of-a-kind experience. Basically Flames of the Forest is like dinner theatre. You end up out in the rainforest with a bunch of other tourists where they give you WAY TOO MUCH BOOZE =) and interesting dishes like kangaroo to gorge yourself on while you watch aboriginals play the digeridoo and prance around telling a bedtime story. And like any practical minded individual who just shelled out a ridiculous sum for this one-of-a-kind experience we felt it was our duty to consume as much alcohol as they would give us...to make sure we got our moneys worth. Like I said...practical.
UNFORTUNATELY it just so happened to also be THE COLDEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR. Now, I'm not talking NYC cold, but let's just say I WAS NOT DRESSED APPROPRIATELY for anything below 70 degrees F. I was wearing a long flowy dress, a cardigan and sandals...I think the sandals were my downfall.
Oh, and we were dining outside! But we made the most of it and just kept drinking to try to warm ourselves up ;-) And after shamelessly declaring that it was my birthday to the whole group because someone sitting next to me, ahem, did not, I somehow ended up with a shawl from the waitress which did warm me up enough to survive the evening. All in all, it was a very interesting experience...but I wasn't blown away by the whole thing and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone going to Port Douglas. Keeping in mind that I was cold and slightly depressed that I had no friends around to celebrate my birthday with me and that Dom didn't immediately tell everyone at the table that it was my birthday so they could all bask in my birthday glow...I may not be the best judge on the whole evening. Not Dom's fault mind you, I was being a brat, but whatever, my birthday, my blog, I was not happy.
The aboriginals and their digeridoo.
Moving on to the next day which got off to a VERY late start because let's face it it's not a good birthday unless you drink too much and have to have a late start to the next day =) After finally dragging myself out of bed we headed north again towards Cape Tribulation, which is the farthest north along the coast that you can go in our car hire (car rental) because the rest is all unsealed (gravel) roads. See, I can talk like an Aussie. Anyway, we set off looking for coffee, but instead made it all the way to the ferry and found more signs...oh the signs! This one was for crocodiles.
That sign basically says, don't be stupid, the crocodile is bigger than you and faster than you and will eat you, don't go in the water.
Why they don't just build a bridge over this little river I've no idea, but because they haven't built a bridge you have to take a ferry, which apparently during high season you can be waiting for 3 hours to get across this tiny stretch of river because the ferry only holds about 20 cars...and because there are crocodiles. Lucky for us even though it's high season we waited all of 10 minutes before loading onto the ferry and continued our journey into the Daintree Rainforest.
Since Australia is all about doing things that we wouldn't normally have the opportunity to do...I decided I would try my hand at driving with the steering wheel on the right. (Don't try to tell me that because Dom's family all live in England I have ample opportunity to drive on the right, that's not the point of my story...just go with it) I was fantastic, just ask Dom...ok don't ask Dom he'll tell you I sucked. But whatever, I drove on the "right" side of the road, YAY FOR ME.
After successfully not driving us off the side of the road or into an oncoming car (which is my definition of fantastic driving for this post) we made it to Cape Tribulation. This part of Oz is particularly beautiful and amazing because the rainforest meets the sea, which I was told by MANY a Queensland Aussie this is the only place where such a thing exists. I disagree and think that the rainforest meets the sea in Hawaii as well...but if you google rainforest and sea you get a bunch of sites about Cape Tribulation and the Daintree forest so.....I don't know, maybe there's some definition of rainforest meeting the ocean that I'm missing.
Before taking a little stroll along the beach there were MORE signs.
So, the cassowary, have you ever heard of a cassowary? It's a giant 6 foot bird, much like an emu or ostrich except it has 3 razor sharp claws that it can RIP YOU TO SHREDS WITH. Seriously, they've attacked people before and they use their claws to rip your intestines out...STAY AWAY FROM THE CASSOWARY. He looks like this:
Then there's the box jellyfish sign, you know the one, the jellyfish that has a sting so powerful that people are ON MORPHINE FOR A WEEK BECAUSE THE PAIN IS SO INTENSE. And those are the lucky people that survive the sting because THE OTHERS DIE. Yeah, so there are those at this beach. I was however amused by the bottle of vinegar that they had with the sign, how awesome is that! No peeing on yourself or getting others to pee on you when you get stung by said jellyfish...so at least the beach has that going for it.
Then there's the crocodiles ON THE BEACH. Apparently the use the beach AND SOMETIMES SWIM IN THE OCEAN to move from one estuary to another. I don't know about you but I DID NOT KNOW THAT CROCS WERE EVER ON BEACHES. Perhaps this is because I've never been to Florida or any other place where you might find crocs in the wild...yes, that must be the reason for my ignorance.
All of these signs are at 1 beach, that's right 1 beach with ALL these ways for you to die...and that's not including the sharks! Which they don't have a sign for...I guess you're just supposed to KNOW there are sharks...anyway it makes for a very uneasy stroll along the beach and along the path, but ultimately I think it was worth it to see this:
One little creature I did enjoy on this beach, because it could not kill me, was the soldier crab. He apparently mows through sand voiding it of nutrients and deposits it back in these little balls. And for whatever reason they end up in these pretty star shape patterns.
They were ALL over the beach...it was pretty amazing.
That's it for today folks, next post will be The Great Barrier Reef!
Sorry I haven't been writing...I just haven't been in the mood. All sorts of life plans are coming to fruition and we've been concentrating on getting our San Francisco remodel going (in our heads mostly, but the renters are moving out soon, so it's about to ACTUALLY start happening as well) and our Oregon home which we finally get to see again! Very exciting since we bought the house after having only been in it for all of 15 minutes 3 months ago! So weird that our time here in Oz is already almost halfway over and we have to now start looking forward toward real life back in the States!
Anyway, I'm going to properly recap our weekend up north now...since it was officially 2 weekends ago and that's just sheer laziness on my part!
First things first, the whole weekend was a surprise (except obviously I had stated my views on where we were going and like a good husband Dom listened =) so we made it all the way to the airport, through security and were having a snack at the airport before Dom would spill the beans about what the weekend would entail.
Sidenote regarding domestic flights in Oz...it's like being transported back 10 years ago to Pre 9/11 days when you can prance through security with your shoes firmly on your feet and liquids in your bag and nary a ticket OR IDENTIFICATION in sight. In fact, you know movies where people get off planes and go running into the arms of a waiting loved one, the reunion that much to the chagrin of movie directors everywhere, doesn't happen at the gate anymore, but 15 minutes later in baggage claim, yeah well you can still meet loved ones at the gate in Oz. IT'S WEIRD.
Fly to Cairns (said CANS, no 'r'...and that's cans with an American accent, like a soda can)
Stay the night in Cairns, get up next morning, my birthday (yay for Friday the 13th) and drive the hour north to Port Douglas in our uber cool convertible that we rented.
Stay 3 night just outside Port Douglas in a cute little B&B in the rainforest.
Snorkel the reef.
And that was it, that was as much as we had planned going into the weekend.
The flight to Cairns was uneventful as was the drive north.
Sidenote, (there are lots of sidenotes in this story, this is how I would tell it in real life) unbeknownst to me on the morning of my birthday, some of my friends back home in NYC got together and secretly with Dom arranged to have a video Skype chat with us! Unfortunately the internet connection was quite shoddy but I did get to "see" my peeps back home for a few minutes before the internet threw a wrench in their well laid plans. But thanks for that Jess & Dom! I must say I got a little teary eyed when the whole thing went sour as it would have been lovely to sit and chat for a little while =( But luckily I think I will see everyone in September, so that's 2 months earlier than we had originally planned! Yay!
Back to the story.
Once we reached Port Douglas before finding our hotel we took a little drive through town (which took all of 5 minutes, Port Douglas in not very big) and we found the apparently famous 4-mile beach that Port Douglas in known for (I think it's famous because it's one of the FEW beaches in Queensland that is free of all manner of deadly, venomous, man killing creatures).
So, we posed for some piccies
And I discovered just how far away New York is in km, which is equal to about 9,500 miles if anyone was curious, which again made me sad...this is the first birthday I've had no friends around to celebrate and as good as Dom did with the weekend plans it was just sad to be all by our lonesome =(
And then we decided to have a beer.
Another sidenote. This bar that we decided to stop and have a beer at is where they filmed some of the scenes in Fool's Gold. We discovered later that the whole movie was filmed there in Port Douglas. It was a terrible movie if you haven't seen it and I wouldn't recommend watching it, but now I think I need to see it again just because I've been there.
Moving on again.
After our quick tour of Port Douglas we decided to stop one more time before heading to the hotel, so we drove north again and stopped off at Crystal Cascades, which in all honesty wasn't that exciting. Who knew you could be a jaded Oregonian?! But apparently I am because this sort of place exists all over Oregon and I guess it's a novelty here, so yay Oregon! I can understand the appeal when the oceans are swarming with jellyfish and you need somewhere to cool off, but it seems a little overkill to have a handicap accessible path to what is essentially a swimming hole. Swimming holes are way more fun when you are one of few who know they exist and that means you gotta go off the beaten path a little bit to get there! They took out all the fun. Anyway, it wasn't quite hot enough to warrant a swim anyway, so we just wandered up to the top (on the concrete path) to the falls and back down. Keeping in mind that this is Australia and death is lying around every corner this is probably the real reason for the concrete path.
That's right people, they have evil stinging venomous trees! Know what else they have up here in northern Australia, 5 kinds of deadly snakes! So, again, that's why they have the well maintained concrete path that runs right along the water to the "swimming holes" so you don't cross paths with a deadly snake...or tree.
Please excuse the fat arm, beware of the wide angle lens, it is not your friend if you end up on the outer edges of a picture...it IS your friend if you are in the middle, then you look like you have amazingly long legs, like this:
Haha, I love this picture, they look like they're 7 feet tall.
Photography Lesson Over.
And Part 2 also over...I'm tired of writing. Back later with the rest.