Alright, now that I’ve finally managed to sleep all the way through the night at least once, I think I can write another post. I will come back to my usual food/recipes after two more posts of being super excited to share what experiences I had in Australia. I’ve split the calendar of events into two posts because there was a lot that went on and that I want to share with you guys, not to mention some pictures!
Day 1: To quote my journal here, this is what I felt like after about twenty hours of travel and the longest overseas flight I’ve ever taken in my life. “I feel drunk. I’m lightheaded and dizzy; the world feels like it’s moving around me. I hope that if I get an hour or so of sleep on the flight to Townsville that my body will be able to sort itself out. I’m trying very hard to stay fed and hydrated and the only thing left that I can think of that I may need is sleep….Maybe my brain is oxygen starved.” In defense of my “drunken” ramblings, this was at 4am Australia-time, meaning 2pm my-time and I’d been up since about 6:30 am the day before. So I think I was right to think that I needed sleep. Luckily for me I did manage to fall asleep on the flight to Townsville, and though still groggy, I made it through the entire day with my friends, starting immediately with lunch and then proceeding to the local aquarium. I think I fell asleep around 8:30pm.
Day 2: We started the day pretty early, hopping in the rental car to being the 4 hour drive to Cairns. Along the way we stopped at Australia’s tallest waterfall (268 meters) and climbed down to the bottom of it through the rainforest. The hike down was pretty and amazing—I’ve never been in the rainforest before but it looks the same as in all of the movies: green, lush, big ferns and hanging vines, lots of birds and birdcalls, and a bit damp. The end of the trail was close enough to the waterfall that we got misted in all of our pictures, which cooled us off for the hike back up the waterfall. We picnicked there and then headed on for Cairns. Driving and the waterfall took most of the day so when we checked into our hostel, we were pretty ready for dinner. The hostel had a deal with a local bar where dinner was pretty cheap, but the food wasn’t the best. They conveniently had a cheap house wine that washed away my dinner worries, though.
Day 3: Another early start. Sarah and I boarded a small boat that was bound for a couple of specific locations on the Great Barrier Reef. The morning started out a bit rocky, (no really), and Sarah and I spent most of the ride staring at the horizon and trying not to vomit while 99% of the other passengers on the ship were tossing their cookies over the railing. Luckily neither of us is a sympathy vomit-er. Once we got to the reef, though, it was amazing and the sea calmed down quite a bit (or maybe it was the fact that we were a part of the sea that made it better). The first location had us practically belly to coral as we snorkeled over the reef and we mainly saw fish, but the second location had some reef cliffs, where the reef abruptly dropped off into much deeper water. This was a really cool place to snorkel because it meant that we could see a lot of turtles and larger fish. No sharks, unfortunately, because that would have been awesome, but the turtles were amazing in and of themselves.
Day 4: We didn’t have anything planned until the early afternoon, so we ate a leisurely breakfast at a café near the marina. I had a pain au chocolate with mixed berries and a sparkling passionfruit beverage, which was SO delicious. Afterwards we walked out onto the marina, jealously staring at all the yachts that were parked their and imagining what it would be like to have one of our own and what we would name it. Afterwards we drove a little ways to a boardwalk that went right through a mangrove forest. The ground was pretty swampy and we saw all sorts of different crabs that had homes there. The trees were beautiful and amazing. I really love mangroves. We found another café for lunch where Sarah and I both got the special, a pesto pasta dish, and I also had a fresh juice. It made me immediately want to invest in a juicer for home. Finally we headed out for white water rafting. The trip was about two hours long on class three rapids on the Barron River. I had already fallen out of the boat by the time we hit the third rapid, but luckily managed to stay in for the rest of the time, though at one point I did practically end up in the guide’s lap. Whoops! We got to swim down one of the rapids, which basically meant that we got to drink the river. Not the tastiest, but definitely a blast!
Day 5: This was mostly spent driving back to Townsville from Cairns. The weather didn’t cooperate much, so we didn’t do anything outdoorsy, but we did find a little winery to stop at along the way which offered a free wine tasting. The flavors were really interesting—the winery was established on the basis of sustainability and recycling. The owners noticed that in the fruit industry a lot of fruit wasn’t being sold because it wasn’t beautiful and pristine enough, of it had gotten bruised or nicked in the process, so much was getting thrown away. So what better use for less than beautiful fruit than to ferment it and make wines and liquors! There was a cassowary plum (red) wine, a mango (white) wine, a lychee (white), and a passionfruit (white) wine. There was also an herbal blend that created a red wine. All of them were really fun to try, though I’d say the plum wine was a little potent for me. I ended up buying a bottle of mango wine and very, very carefully packing it in my suitcase to bring home. (It survived!) That night Sarah and I went out to a really nice dinner: she got a steak; I got a huge arugula salad and mussels in white wine sauce.
Tomorrow: the latter half of my trip to Australia. This includes snakes, kangaroos, sunburns, a local brewery, and more mussels!