Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Visit to Kuranda village

How time flies. It has been more than a week since Aaron, Lynn, BeBe and Damien arrived. Certainly doesn't seem like they have been with us that long. Newborn Damien has had noticeable growth in this short time and now smiles readily and coos to talk with us. We bought a plastic storage box and made a foam mattress inside a pillow case to use for his bed. Baby in a box. His little box-bed fits on the settee in the aft cabin and he is perfectly happy sleeping back there with his parents in the bed next to him.

Our grandchildren BeBe and Zachary are cousins and are 10 months apart in age and sometimes these cousins act more like brother and sister. Most of the time they play together well but there are times when one must "one up" the other. The kids like playing in the lagoon on the promenade, which is actually and enormous swimming pool. We keep forgetting to bring a camera but will try to add a photo of this very nice free public pool. In fact, all of the promenade facilities are free to the public and are very, very nice -- propane fueled grills (very clean), jogging and cycling paths, exercise stations, etc. There are a couple of playgrounds for the children. Plenty to keep kids busy all day.

One day we visited the Wildlife Dome that is located on the top floors of the Reef Casino. Learned that the big saltwater crocodiles don't eat during the winter months. That's a relief since we will only be in croc territory during the austral winter months. Zachary and Bill volunteered to participate in one of the bird shows. Zach didn't flinch with the bird landed on his head several times. BeBe would have never tolerated that!

One day we took the scenic train up to the village at Kuranda and enjoyed a full day of activities.

The Butterfly dome was filled with fluttering butterflies. The 2 most beautiful were a large local green one and the very special iridescent blue Ulyses species. Had a picnic lunch and then we were off to the Rainforestation.

Rainforstation has several different attractions. We walked through a wildlife area and the kids got to pet and feed kangaroos and wallabees.

We saw barramundi, which is a fish that is always born male and then changes to female when it is 5 years old and remains female for the rest of its life. Barramundi live in the estuaries but also go out into the sea water along the reef. Supposedly barramundi taste great and are frequently served in restaurants in Queensland. We haven't tried this fish yet so don't offer an opinion as to the taste.

Another creature of interest was the hairy nosed wombat. We learned that about 5 millions years ago both the koala and wombat were one animal, most closely related to a rhinocerous. The two cousins took divergent paths -- the koala evolved into a tree dwelling animal and the wombat evolved into a burrowing animal. The most rare animal is a northern wombat. There supposedly are only 5 of those left.

Another couple of creatures that intrigued everyone were the cassowary (very large bird) and the dingo (non-barking wild dog).

Next on the agenda were the Army Ducks. These are military amphibious troup transports/landing craft from World War II which have been converted and are now fueled by propane. Our Army Duck tour took us through the rainforest and then through a lake. The driver pointed out various animals, reptiles and plants during this tour. I think the kids enjoyed the Army Ducks more than any other activity in the park.

Next was a show by some aborginal men. They showed us several dances. Zach volunteered and participated in one of the dance performances. His knees just could not do the movements like the aborigines.

After the dances the aborigines gave short lessons in spear throwing, how to throw a boomarang and how to blow a didgeridoo. The aborigines used a different type arm extender to throw their spears. It was not like the atl atl that was used in most ancient societies to extend arm length for throwing spears. This extension looked like a flat sword. The "handle" end hooked into the tip of the long spear and the man held the sharp end in his hand. When he threw the spear the sharp end of the arm extender was held in his palm. But it was just as effective as an atl atl. Zachary and Bill tried their hands with the boomerangs. Guess what! If you throw them correctly those little buggers really do return very close to origination point. And the method is different for throwing right handed vs. left handed. Playing a didgeridoo proved to be far more difficult. Zach was able to produce a few musical notes a couple of times but Elisabeth couldn't get her lips to vibrate strongly enough to produce any sounds.

The final activity was the Skyrail cable car ride back down to Cairns. The views were spectacular. We stopped at one terminal for a short walk through some of the large native plants in the rainforest. Even saw a very large Kauri tree, just like the ones in New Zealand. Also saw hundreds of the ponga fern trees just like the ones that are native to New Zealand. The final Skyrail terminal is several miles from Cairns. A bus picked us up at that terminal and delivered us back to the hotel at the marina.

Whew! That was a full day with a 6-week-old infant and 2 eight-year-old kids.

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