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carmel’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 01 Jul 2006

Location: Mission Beach, Qld, Australia

MapWednesday, 28 June 2006

We are starting to see more flattened banana plantations, and all of the fruit trees at Mt Uncle Winery were stripped so they only had banana liqueur available for tasting. It was very nice but, at $35 for a 500ml bottle, also very expensive – especially when Barrie can make it for much less.

As I mentioned yesterday, we were going to Hasties Swamp and Carrington Falls, however, because of the weather (it’s really raining today, not just drizzle), neither was accessible. We also tried to find the Australian Coffee Centre, an all-inclusive coffee centre which only opened this week. But we couldn’t find it. We have found the directions to a lot of attractions are minimal or non-existent. This time they were non-existent. We went in to tell the folk at the info centre and they agreed with us and asked me to fill in a complaint form to pass on to the Council. So I did, and we were back home by 10.00am.

Thursday, 29 June 2006

It’s still raining, and there was rain and fog almost the whole way to our next stop, Paronella Park, near Innisfail. We drove through thick rainforest with a waterfall right beside the road. There was a steep decline (10%) and a river with rapids at the bottom then a steep incline (8%).

I still haven’t seen any tree kangaroos, although there are warning signs all along the way and 2 rope bridges slung across the road for them to cross over without having to go on the road. I saw something about these bridges and how they would train the kangaroos to use them on TV just after they were put up.

There would have been a great view – if only you could see it, but we could only get glimpses because of the fog and rain.

We are now seeing more evidence of Cyclone Larry, with lots of properties still using tarps for protection, however then there are corridors with no damage at all, even to the crops. I even saw part of a roof in a tree and the next house we saw had lost its entire roof.

We are spending tonight at Paronella Park, on Mena Creek not far from Innisfail. Jose Paronella built a castle, ballroom, restaurant, tennis courts, fountains etc, virtually all by himself from 1929 till he died in 1948. He even set up a hydro-electric plant, so his wife had power and water 20 years before anyone else in the area. Unfortunately the castle and ballroom are just shells now (Cyclone Larry didn’t help – the park had to be closed for 6 weeks and they have removed 50 tonnes of rubbish, and there is still a lot more to be done).

We also did 3 conducted tours, which are included in the admission price (as is one night’s accommodation), so it was terrific value – a tour of the property, a bush tucker tour and a night spotlight tour, all great. We walked through a ‘tunnel of love’ and there were micro bats in it. A group of 60 was only about 20cm across. On the spotlight tour, we saw a bandicoot, and also an eel (among many) about 2m long. We were also lucky with the rain. It was raining, of course (they have only had 1 dry day since Cyclone Larry), but the rain held off during each tour. (The park supplied umbrellas and torches.)

I took a couple of photos from the door of our caravan. How often do you park about 1m from thick rain forest – and there were big bats flying around.

Friday, 30/6/06

The sun came out while we driving; the sunlight on the mountains looked great. There were a number of groups of workers along the road clearing fallen trees. Some buildings were also being worked on, but a lot more needed work. One town we drove through, Silkwood, really copped it. It’s strange but we’ve only seen 1 patch of damaged sugarcane, it must be sturdier than bananas. However, it’s the sugarcane farmers copping it now. The cane is being affected by smut because of the rain.

Saturday, 01 July 2006

We are now at Mission Beach. Its one of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen, fringed by coconut palms. It reminds me of the Solomons. AND the water isn’t cold – at least on the edge. Unfortunately Dunk Island is still closed because of cyclone damage. (I've added a couple of photos.)

We stayed at the council park last night. It was in a top location, right on the beach, but we couldn’t get power, and so we’ve moved to another one, the tropical hibiscus. It’s only small and much more pleasant, but, unfortunately, about 1km from the beach – good exercise, I guess. We’ve booked in here for a week.