mutteringhousewife

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Tag: Queensland

Cairns Tropical Zoo

I’m pretty sure this is a photo of crocodiles having sex.

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I took some better shots with my proper camera, and one can never be sure, but it is the springtime.

Cairns Tropical Zoo is a cute little zoo a couple of minutes up the road from the resort we’re staying at. It has the usual assortment of marsupials, and some random fluffy goodness, reading from right to left cotton topped tamarins, a red panda, more tamarins, and some lemurs (King Julian!). Then there is a pretty good reptile house, and they were feeding them when the Horror and I went through, but he was so fixated on reading the signs and doing them in order that he wouldn’t let me watch a keeper being leapt all over by a big green frog.

Also crocodiles. I have a theory that the reason every wildlife park in this part of the world has crocodiles is that to get some you just dig a pond and leave the gates open one night. You lose a few ducks this way, but you get an exhibit that every overseas tourist wants to see. Actually, most of them seem to have a couple that have been rehomed after stalking fishermen or eating the dog of a local councillor. The exhibits at this zoo were pretty big on the whole and were kept in breeding pairs, which results in the kind of exhibit we were treated to today. The Horror was more interested in what looked like a very long thin fairly obviously plastic snake on a fence in between two exhibits. This being Far North Queensland, of course it was real. Then we had the crocodile feeding, which I think has that old fashioned are we going to see someone seriously maimed today kind of feel. I love it. I got some good shots too, I’ll have to put together a Leaping Crocodiles series when I get home, after I’ve finished all the washing, restocked the cupboard and ironed the summer uniforms.

We did miss the bird and python shows, but they let you come back for free the next day, so that’s how we’ll be filling in time tomorrow morning before tizzying up for The Wedding.

More Cairns Attractions

“So the dog that was taken by a crocodile last week wasn’t at Kewarra Beach at all. It was further up Deep Creek”, I said. “What, the creek that borders the resort we’re staying at?” queried my sister. Well, yes.

We had been getting a lecture on the sorely misunderstood crocodile at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. Apparently they’re indiscriminate opportunistic (or idealistic anachronistic as the Moose would have it) feeders, so it’s not their fault they eat fisherfolk’s dogs. The crocodile park is a reptile lovers’ wonderland, with a boat ride around a huge man made lagoon offering plenty of croc sightings which make you realise how easily they disguise themselves and how quickly and silently they can appear.

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There is a croc in there somewhere. There’s also a python show for those who prefer their reptiles without legs. Plenty of water dragons, skinks and geckos wander free through the park. There’s also some token macropods for those who want something fluffy to pat. The highlight is the Croc Attack show, where in our case a slightly hungover Hawthorn supporter gave us an impassioned lecture on his favourite animal while standing in muddy water with an eight foot sample in with him as two of his colleagues looked nervously on holding big sticks and dead chickens for distraction purposes. He really did seem to be in some danger as the croc tried to follow him into the cage from which he would later dangle a crab while the monster leapt into the air to snap it out of his shaking fingers. It was quite the spectacle.

Something for the older kids is the go karting just out of Cairns. It seemed to be popular with groups of morning after lads. The kids were sufficiently recovered from their Vomitron experience last week to be highly amused that a lad in the race before us managed to vomit into his helmet. The helmets are motorbike style units, and he was still washing and disinfecting it and his kart out well after we’d finished our race. The Muffet and the Horror were too small to ride their own karts, so us parents took one each. The Moose had his own, but immediately had a thirty second penalty for driving on the grass in his first lap. The helmets are quite large and tight, so all I could hear from the Horror for our eight laps was a constant “meep meep meep” sound. After we got out I asked him what it was he wanted. He said “I was saying MUMMY SLOW DOWN!!!”. I had worked out after the first lap that it was possibly to safely do the circuit with the pedal to the metal. Which meant that our average lap time was the fastest of the three family karts, as the husband got rammed and also kept taking corners too sharply and hitting the tyres around the track. Do I rule? I think I rule.

I haven’t managed to get that pedicure yet. I have high hopes for the morrow.

A Better Snorkel

“Where’s the shark?” asked the Horror from Outer Space through his snorkel. “Where’s the shark where’s the shark where’s the shark AAAAARGH!” he said, while executing quite a fine example of an underwater leap. The Casey family snorkelled with a shark today and it was exactly exciting enough. It was almost the same length as the Horror, and kept swimming in figure eights under us, but didn’t go snapping at our fins or tearing any marine life apart.

We got the kids on board the Silver Sonic this morning after some very fast talking and extreme applications of the placebo effect. They were worried that they were going to be sick again if they got on a boat. Of course, so were we, but we weren’t telling them that. I went to the trouble and expense of brewing some ginger tea with local ginger purchased at Rusty’s Markets in Cairns and some palm sugar I found at an excitingly comprehensive Asian supermarket. For a sample recipe, please see my previous blogs. This morning we all had some, though the kids complained it was too strong. Of course, I told them, medicine has to be strong to work properly. I thought it was excellent, and believed my own propaganda. Just in case, everybody except me took some Travacalm as well before boarding the rather swish Silver Sonic at Port Douglas.

The promised rough ride (shut up! I kept thinking) wasn’t at all, but the kids rode outside at the front just in case. As an additional precaution, the Moose danced Gungnam style the whole way too. Whatever, it worked. It was the best snorkel yet. We stopped at three different reefs, all with beautiful coral and very clear water. Our Japanese snorkel guide promised us “many Nemo and Giant Crams”, and he was right, both before and after runch. We even saw a moray eel, possibly, just so the Moose could say “that’s amore … eel”. The last stop was at Turtle Reef, so called as our disappointingly non Japanese snorkel guide said “we very occasionally see turtles here”. We didn’t, but it was still spectacular. All in all, I think the shark was the highlight. Are we done snorkelling? We’re now into family reunion mode, so it’s out of our hands, but if so, we’ve done good.

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Voyage of the Damned

Did you miss me yesterday? I didn’t get around to writing anything last night due to whiskey drinking with our gregarious host. We did have a rest day, did some washing (it is really great staying in a house rather than a hotel), bought some supplies. The Moose spent the day on the lounge recovering from a spot of bronchitis. The other two went to Cairns’ really amazing public pool.
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Can you imagine such a thing in Sydney? An enormous, clean, free, UNFENCED public pool. With a beach on one side and a park on the other, right on the extremely unattractive waterfront, AND I was able to park the Merc right on the street in front of it.

Anyway, today we were bound for the Outer Reef. Boarded the large and comfortable Sunlover, and about ten minutes out the vomiting started. First some little kids, then pretty much one hundred percent of the considerable contingent of Chinese tourists on board, also two of my kids and various others. Paper bags were produced in vast quantities, also cups of ice, and the staff broke out thousand packs of rubber gloves to collect the bags as they were filled and disinfect the areas in which the paper bags had been insufficient. It was impressively efficient, and the staff managed to keep smiling. I thought I’d break the monotony by visiting the bathroom, only to realise it was the seventh circle of hell, reserved for those undergoing complete physical breakdowns. I spent the rest of voyage with the Horror from Outer Space on my lap alternating snoozing with vomiting, watching the groaning Chinese man across the table alternating sweating and groaning with vomiting.

Everyone felt a lot better once they were snorkelling, and once again I felt that it was magic. As the Muffet said, it really was exactly like being in Finding Nemo. I love the sensation of flying, especially over the edge of a bommie with a thirty metre drop to the bottom. We discovered that all of our children can actually talk under water.

The trip home has been perfectly smooth, much to my relief, as we’re booked to go out again on a different boat on Monday, and the Moose looked like being scarred for life by seasickness and was a risk of faking his own death to avoid it.

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I can’t wait to go snorkelling again.

Kuranda

Ticking off the tourist delights of Far North Queensland saw us visiting Kuranda today. You can actually drive there, but if you’re a tourist you don’t do anything so mundane. You catch the cable car up to the town, stopping at intervals to wander around some rainforesty bits on boardwalks. When you’re in the town you proceed straight to the wildlife bits. For us the first stop was the butterfly sanctuary.

Something I’ll bet you didn’t know about butterflies is that upon mating the female injects the male with a sedative as the whole thing takes fourteen hours and she doesn’t want him wandering off to watch the footy halfway through. She can actually fly away with him attached to her undercarriage if she feels threatened. You just don’t know how the other half lives until you go to these educational places. Actually it was all a bit jammed with sweaty human flesh for my liking, and the big Ulysses butterflies had an annoying habit of closing their vivid blue wings up when they stopped for long enough for you to photograph them. So we soon moved on to the bird sanctuary.

This was more like it. It wasn’t one of those politically correct setups with birds in cages surrounded by their natural habitat so you can’t see them and you can only tell what’s in there by the interpretive sign at the front. These birds were swooping around, and as soon as we got in there my husband was pounced on by a large blue macaw. It perched on his shoulder and bent over his backpack to rather rapidly remove the screw top on our water bottle. It had clearly done this before, but I don’t know what it was planning to do next, as the kids rescued the water bottle before it could produce a straw from under its wing. Thwarted, it proceeded to tear the rivets out of his hat and made a play for his sunglasses and watch before moving on its next victim. The birds were all much happier to wander up and accept food from the kids than the obese kangaroos in the koala park next door.

I was fascinated by a couple of things at lunch. One was the decorations of old stuff around the cafe, the only thing these pieces had in common was that they looked like they’d been dug out of someone’s backyard. I was particularly fascinated by the guts of a grand piano hanging like a tapestry beside us.

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The other was a tarot reader. Picture to yourself an old, male hippy. That was him. Long grey hair, beard, scrawny, singlet with an Aboriginal picture of a turtle on it. Apparently tarot reading is something you need a lot of full body gestures to do well. If your kids have ever watched Stoked on ABC3, he was Kahuna.

Coming out of lunch we couldn’t help notice a rather large plane wreckage right next to the koala park.

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They do seem to like random old stuff up here, the interpretive sign next to it pretty much said that’s exactly what it was.

I should also mention an alarming stall we saw at the markets. It was basically fun things you can do to a dead kangaroo. Like cut a cute kangaroo shape out of its fur. Make its paws into backscratchers. You’d know already about the scrotum purse. But you don’t have a kangaroo fur bikini, do you? I can’t believe that it’s waterproof, and I can’t think of any occasion upon which you’d wear it. And a kangaroo fur hat would be too hot, while providing no sun protection. Odd.

We took the scenic railway back, and while being fairly scenic, it certainly wasn’t the bullet train. I guess it did have to go around some fairly alarming curves. It was very ye olde and I kept expecting the witch to come around selling Bertie Botts Every Flavour beans.

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I think we’ve earned a rest day. I wonder what our host would like for dinner if I cooked? I might have to do a housewife blog tomorrow.

Green Island

Today was time for some proper touristing, so off we went to Green Island. It’s visible from Cairns, but not afflicted by the mud flats and killer jellyfish that make Cairns such an unattractive place to swim. Waiting for the boat I note with a great deal of satisfaction that it is now possible to get a decent coffee even at a tourist trap and I have high hopes for Australian culture. On the boat itself I crossed my fingers that my hairdresser doesn’t read my blog and decided that wind formed dreadlocks would be my low maintenance holiday hairdo. As it turns out, wind plus salt water gives me ringlets rather than dreadlocks, so other options are being explored.

At Green Island we spent almost the entire time face down in the water. We have found an activity that the whole family loves. The coral around the island is pretty devastated, as you’d expect from such a highly touristed area, but there’s still a remarkable quantity of brightly colored fish to be spotted. I made the boys study the Fish of the Great Barrier Reef poster while we were waiting to get our snorkeling gear, and they were able to identify a wide range of improbably named fish. I think that the people making up the names get bored, I had to feel sorry for the rabbit faced fox fish. Or possibly the other way around.

We had close encounters with turtles, a startlingly large stingray, and a bird that ran up the Muffet’s arm to steal a lunchtime chip. We saw many sea cucumbers, and they really do remind one of disembodied penises, though why that would make you want to slice them into your salad is beyond me. We were a little, how do you say, there must be a German word for it, somewhere between annoyed and delighted to see a whole lot of turtles and two reef sharks from the pier on our way back to the boat. I have high hopes for our trip to the outer reef later in the week.

One didn’t take one’s iPad snorkeling, so you’ll have to put up with a photo of our dinner.

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It’s a sushi train – on a train! Sound effects and everything, I loved it. I have to send my father this shot, he doesn’t read blogs. For some reason, an interest in model trains is mutually exclusive to an interest in the digital expression of modern thought.

Cairns

I knew you’d just be hanging on the edge of your seats wanting to know how I’m getting on in Cairns. Also, this blogging thing is habit forming.

You’ll recall that I was in some discomfort because my husband’s friend, instead of recommending a motel in Cairns to us, insisted on lending us her house and car. It later on transpired that the deal included her husband. My discomfort increased today when the husband, let’s call him Gary, turned up to pick us up in a shiny Mercedes closely followed by his friend Glen in a Jag. Apparently the four wheel drive immaculate Merc is what we’ll be driving this week.

As it turns out, Gary was really very pleased to have us, he was feeling a bit lonely without his wife and daughter, and actually turned up the volume when the kids were playing Guitar Hero on the Wii. He dragged in his neighbour who happens to be a travel agent and we planned our week on his couch, with special mates rates. Then Glen popped by accompanied again by the Jag and a tiny baby poodle whom the Muffet is determined to smuggle back home. I should mention that Glen is a wisecracking Chinese guy who wears sunglasses at night, and I’m guessing he’s around sixty. He was teasing the Muffet, telling her the dog was going in the soup at the restaurant. We then all went out to Gary’s Malaysian restaurant, and now I won’t have to eat again ever.

The night was a little marred for Muffet when they hauled a live lobster out of the tank and brought it to the table about five minutes later done in ginger and shallots, but gosh it was good. The Moose got to practice his Japanese on Glen’s twenty year old Japanese girlfriend who apparently is a Fukushima refugee. Then we watched as the guys running the Indian grocer next door to the restaurant emptied their shop into a series of station wagons, apparently with the intention of doing a bunk on the rent.

I had to take the Horror home, as he fell asleep under the table, leaving the husband with Gary, Glen and the Muffet and a flowing bottle of red wine, so who knows if I’ll be seeing them again any time soon. It won’t be so bad, staying in a house, even if I do have to put up with a One Direction and a Taylor Lautner poster for the week. Not your traditional account of Cairns, but I’ll get more orthodox as the week progresses, I’m sure.