Blog 178 Cairns 13th – 19th August 2011

Blog 178 Cairns 13th – 19th August 2011 (Please be patient, lots of photo’s)

Nick was a great guy and had organised a welcoming commitee for us. We had been invited to a bbq with some fellow Guzzisti but first Paul and Nick took us for a ride up the Gillies highway their local scratching road and what a fabulous biking road that is. Once when it was still a dirt road it had over 600 bends and was one way only, up in the morning and down in the afternoon. It’s long since been sealed and still has over 300 twisties and was a joy to ride. It heads from Cairns up to the Atherton Tablelands climbing all the way. We returned back down the same route and headed straight for Kevins and the bbq.
The door was open and we rode the Guzz in like royalty with everyone lining the shed, and what a shed it was the Guzzi banners and posters very much in view. Then ensued a very enjoyable evening with good food, beer and new friends. We had a chance to be surrounded by Guzzis and friendly people, thanks guys !

There was a swap meet in town next day which most of us attended, we even managed to blag the bike into the showgrounds where it attracted a huge crowd. We wrote an explanation of our journey on some paper and left a donation pot before we wandered around ourselves. It was a petrolheads delight loads of stalls and vehicles on display. Karen even managed to bump into a photographer from the Cairns newspaper who shot a bit of film of her and the bike I was wandering around the stalls by then but she figured they may be interested in an aticle later. When we finally found each other and returned to the bike we were delighted to find $24 enough for a tank of petrol thank you Cairns petrolheads.

We celebrated afterward by going for a ride with some of the locals to Ellis beach. This will be the way we head out North but for now there is a nice cafe right by the beach. We whiled away a pleasant hour or so there before heading back into Cairns via Palm Cove which is where the rich and beautiful stay. We took a cruise through it to see how the other half live made the place look untidy then headed back to Cairns to pack.

Then it was time to move on Northward but before we left we got a call from the Cairns Post and managed to fit in an interview and pictures. We plan to return to Cairns next weekend but first we need to explore Cape Tribulation and Cooktown.

We had lunch at Ellis Beach on the way out and arrived at Port Douglas that evening. We wanted to do a trip out to the great barrier reef and this was a great place to do it so we found an i site, booked a trip out next day and found a campsite in town. Next morning we headed down to the marina and boarded the catamarran for our trip to the outer reef. It took an hour and a half to get out there but it was soooooo worth it. We had three hours out on the reef including lunch, most of the time we spent snorkelling but we also did a trip on a clever semi submersible with a glass hull and Karen went down into a submersed chamber while I went back out snorkelling again. Here are some general pictures and some from semi sub. We even topped it off with a whale encounter on the way back.

We also hired an underwater digital camera so here are some pictures of the reef taken whilst snorkelling. An awesome experience !

Next day we headed on to Cape Tribulation via Mossman Gorge. This was a two hour walk through beautiful rainforest. We were both dripping by the end of it despite shedding our bike gear but it was well worth it.

Next we had to cross the Daintree river on the cable ferry before riding to Cow Bay where Nick had arranged use of a friends shack in the Daintree Rainforest. After arriving about midday and finding where everything was we headed up to Cape Tribulation for a look around. This is quite a special spot as it’s where the rainforest meets the sea (which is a marine park) both of which have world heritage status protection. The shack was great, in the middle of nowhere with no power or mains water. We had to share with a few creepy crawlies which Karen was very brave about considering she doesn’t like spiders etc. Normally I just pick spiders up and throw them out of the house but even I used a broom to shoo a couple out they were that big. We went to bed that night to the sounds of the rainforest which we loved.( It was only once we were here that I remembered that someone called Neville had kindly offered to host us at his house near Cape Trib, we found his number but couldn’t get any mobile reception to call him. Sorry we missed you Neville)

There is a 100km off road track to Cooktown through the rainforest called the Bloomfield Track. We had every intention of doing it but we were now running short on time so we cut inland across the great dividing range and rode up the sealed road instead. We dawdled a bit coming up the East Coast as there was lots of people to meet and things to see, that combined with our earlier bike problems meant that we are much later than we should be and are now racing the summer heat which gets really intense in the tropical north.

The great dividing range is just that, one side of it is rainforest and the other is dry savannah. The difference is incredible the range makes all the rain fall on one side and the other side gets virtually nothing. We started seeing much more wildlife, kangaroos mostly. Even they fell for the charm of the Guzzi we passed one close by the side of the verge and it just looked at the bike in a what the **** kind of way as we passed (so Karen said). On the way there we stopped at a famous pub called the lions den, it was originally a miners pub. It has lots of memorabillia and grafitti on the walls, the grafitti dates back to the mining days when miners would leave their pay packets at the pub and work out what was left on the walls.

We arrived at Cooktown mid afternoon which gave us time for a look around. Cooktown is so named because Captain Cook the first European to set foot on Australian soil landed here in 1770. It wasn’t quite according to plan as the reason he landed here was that he had grounded out and badly damaged his ship on the great barrier reef at Cape Tribulation and limped in here to make repairs which took seven weeks. A stone marks the spot where he put ashore. In 1873 there was a gold rush at the Palmer river south of here hence the miners statue commemorating the arrival of the miners by ship as Cooktown was the closest port.

We had another look around town in the morning before turning tail and heading back to Cairns. That night we stayed with Paul, one of the Cairns Guzzi guys as that night we were going on a tour of the sugar mill.

Next up: Our tour of the mill, The “Guzzi’s are go” run, Us on T.V (again) and lots more.

  1. #1 by Lyn and Arthur on September 6, 2011 - 8:45 pm

    You know doubt spotted the deliberate error I did mean V50! It was great to speak to you this am. think you are about 7 1/2hrs ahead of us now. (they are near Darwin now & finding the sudden change to summer temps a bit much) keep enjoying & take care love Mum & Dad

  2. #2 by Julie on September 1, 2011 - 8:35 pm

    Dear Karen and Kev

    Glad to read that you are still having lots of fun (how is your liver??), despite the bike problems, but at least they are not terminal! You have just been to the Daintree rainforest and I am sure you will be suitable impressed to know that Richard Draintree was one of my paternal ancestors by marriage – he married Lettice Foot who was the daughter of Henry Bourn Foot who was a surveyor and helped to design Brighton, Australia!!! Both men are interesting characters (well I think so).

    I have just read Bill Bryson’s book about Aus and it is very interesting although I wasn’t keen on the idea that there are more species of flora and fauna that can kill you than anywhere else in the world … something to think about!!

    We have just completed our bike tour of the Vosges Mountains in France, ending up at a Cajun music festival near Dijon … whatever! We are feeling a bit smug about doing 1750 miles in a week but it pales into insignificance compared to your trip! Take care and have more fun …


  3. #3 by Lyn and Arthur on August 30, 2011 - 6:25 pm

    Wow! what amazing photos of the Reef. The new friends place Looked like Guzzi heaven, having seen Brian’s very smart v59 when we were in Wales the other W/E are thinking of looking for one instead of the BM450 for when we don’t use the Velo, after all I still have quite a bit of Guzzi club stuff! You seem to be settling into Ozzie-land very well. Love Mum

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