Cairns, Coconuts and elusive Cassowaries


Daintree River ferry crossing












The burn offs around North Queensland have been extensive in the lead up to Summer. We encountered one as we turned off towards Cairns from Cooktown, taking the coastal route. The fires are usually “set and forget” type ones, the humidity, low winds and low population density creating good conditions for clean burn. We pulled up as the fire was burning into the long grass at the side of the road, the wind having picked up in the valley we were entering. Kirstine intended to take a photo, but everyone (except Paul who’s seen it all before) was transfixed by the dancing flames and ash swirling in the convection currents. Paul said we needed to move. Whilst not in any danger, the continued heat which we could all feel through the windows, could have damaged the signwriting on the Legend. We started to move, with Kirstine filming the fire. The film became a dash cam style recording of a near head on with a speeding ute, flying around the corner on the wrong side of the road, and BLIND to oncoming traffic because of the fire. They corrected, we swore, the kids did too. Had we not paused briefly to watch the flames and prepare to take a video, that ute would have met us head on. Do we really need to explain the terminology to describe people who drive like that??

It was a very pretty trip through the Wet Tropics region, heading towards the Daintree National Park. We were most amused by the choice of mailboxes for residents in one particular area – everything from empty LPG cylinders painted and dressed like chickens, to microwaves!! I was particularly impressed with the microwave idea. What else do we do with them when they die, except throw them out? Here in Queensland, they are the ideal mailbox – spider, snake and weather proof!

The coastal route turned out to be a scenic, but challenging drive, particularly in the section before Cape Tribulation. Steep inclines around corners, with realistically only one lane, gravel and dust, low creek crossings. Usually when we know what to expect from a road, Paul has time to prepare himself mentally for it. This hadn’t been the case, and Kirstine was very glad to have not been driving. Paul was constantly switching from 2H to 4H, and from Drive to 2nd or 1st, driving as sympathetically for the Legend as possible. To simply stay in Drive and use the brakes for the steep down hills, would have wrecked the brakes on the Legend and the Cub. Paul is an accomplished driver, and Kirstine was exhausted just watching him, let alone his mental and physical exhaustion as we finally finished the mountain section.

We were all on Cassowary watch as we travelled through the Daintree, with plenty of signs indicating their crossing areas, and even additional signs for recent crossings! The speed bumps slow you down to 20km/h, and on top of the speed bumps were additional rocks, to ENSURE you slow down in case of cassowaries! As yet, the Cassowary count is at Zero.

Our replacement 240V battery charger was at the Big 4 Coconut Holiday Resort in Cairns when we arrived. These wonderful people had provided us with two nights at a powered site in this fantabulous resort. Yes, fantabulous, it’s a word! The first thing they did was take us on a tour of the park in a Nemo buggy. Luna lay at Paul’s feet and poked her head over the side to see where we were going. Massive water park, separate pool, kids playground, minigolf, outdoor movies every night, plus a huge array of activities for families and kids. It’s no wonder that this place is listed as one of the best resorts in Australia! We were nearly as excited as the kids!

We had a large site right by the camp kitchen, and got to work setting up. The Legend was catching everyone’s eye as they walked past, as Paul had parked it perpendicular to the camp. Being so exhausted from the unexpected driving challenges, we ordered in tea, and had an early night. Paul was utterly wrecked on all levels.

The next morning it was time for some school work while we caught up on blogs. Thankfully we had some free wifi at the resort, with very reasonable prices for data packages. The deal was, the kids spend the morning doing school work, and after lunch we go to the waterpark. Talk about a learning incentive!

At the park, Paul and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the kids play in the water, and lamented the fact that they didn’t really exist in this fashion when we were young! They all waited impatiently for the giant pineapple to fill with water, and dump it all over them. It was brilliant, even if we were jealous!

In exploring the camp kitchen, and the free herb garden next to it (!!), we spotted some flyers advertising decals for caravans. We had been talking about adding our website and UHF radio details to the Legend and Cub, and this was just too good! After some text messages sent around cooking tea and children, we met with Karen, who gave us a half price deal in recognition of our cause. Details sorted, we met up the next morning as they were leaving. Once the decals are on the Cub, we’ll take some pics and show you. Karen was delightful, and though she does this as a hobby while she travels with her family, we were super impressed with her work!

Kirstine went to a local Stocklands and found a gem of a fruit and veg shop. We are totally in love with the prices of healthy produce in coastal Queensland. It’s so easy to eat healthily here, as so much of the food is grown here.

On our last morning at the resort, Kirstine got the kids out of bed to go to reception at 7.30am to feed the fish and turtles in the pond. They were so excited to feed pellets to the turtles, and watch them gather to feed.

It was just one more amazing feature of the Big 4 Coconut Holiday Park experience. The kids even got a bag of jellybeans each as we left. We will be back for a family holiday, and recommend it to anyone!

One thought on “Cairns, Coconuts and elusive Cassowaries

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