January 28, 2018
Early 7:25 am transfer to Cairns this morning. I was feeling frazzled, but we made the bus in plenty of time. Decided that this would be the day that I finally got some botanical photos.
We caught the Kuranda, narrow gauge train up to the North Queensland Tablelands. The railway was initiated in 1887 as a supply line between the coast and the gold fields in the mountains. The Cairns-Kuranda rails have 15 tunnels through mountain ridges, all dug out with pickaxes and shovels. Even today this railway is considered a tremendous engineering feat. Several routes were scouted by a the famous bushman, Christie Palmerston and after much debate the 75.1 km (47 mile) Barron Valley Gorge route was chosen.
The 1600 men that worked on the line had to bring their own tools in order to be hired for a wage of 80 to 85 cents a day. Some of the cars still being used are over a 100 years old. The stations on both ends of the line are historic, dating back to the early 1900’s. The trip was amazing with views to the coast and Cairns, rainforest and waterfalls.
In 1890 governor came to commemorate the completion of Stoney Creek Bridge with it’s tight turning radius and construction in the steep gorge. A lunch banquet and marquee were set up on the bridge, but the sound of the falls was so loud, that no speeches could be made. It had to be the all time perfect political event.
Not sure what to expect with the consistent reference to Kuranda being in the Tablelands. Maybe flat, yes that’s what we were thinking, but not what we got. The reality is stairs, stairs and slopes. Maybe this area is just is less steep than the surrounding mountains, so it seems flat in comparison? None the less, it is a charming village with lots of things to do and see. I opted for the Butterfly sanctuary where they work to propagate and various butterfly’s indigenous to Australia, while Pete opted for the nearest
While viewing butterfly’s, the laboratory and various exhibits, a very big storm rolled through dumping loads of rain. This is a day that was suppose to be 90 degrees F and it got close. The tricky part of the weather here is that it can be 90 degrees F, then all of the sudden you are in the middle of a warm torrential downpour. Granted we are here in the rainy season, the storms just blow through and seem impossible to predict.
After the monsoon blew through, Pete and I met to do some more exploring of Kuranda. We were feeling hungry at 2 pm and decided to check out the village food stalls.
We found a little Indonesian food spot and ordered fried rice and some little vegetable things that I can’t pronounce or spell. Anyway, absolutely delicious food all served up by the most delightfully outgoing, stylish Indonesian lady.
After lunch/early dinner we headed back downhill through the village to the Skyrail terminal. This aerial car ride gave us an overview of the rainforest, with stops for walks to outlooks. In the rainforest there is incredible competition for light, so many plants have developed creative ways of getting towards the top of the forest canopy.
This basket fern has established itself on a palm tree and as you can see it is sitting in the sun. There are parasitic plants all over the forest, but these ferns can be seen sprouting from the tops of trees throughout the rainforest.
An aside, our driver yesterday to Green Island marina, told us about Crocodile management. We were wondering why there were so few human deaths per year from Crocodiles in Australia. Less than 2 a year, although being eaten has to rank at towards the top of bad ways to go. The Crocodiles became a protected species in the 1970’s and now number over 100,000. Colin told us that they have been trying to trap a local Crocodile because he is over 2.7 meters (8.86 feet). They have discovered that is the size they become a threat to humans. Once they are caught they are placed in a Crocodile reserve or farm and there they stay.