Park water fountains to reuse the water

Bye bunny, hello kangaroo

It's been a while since the last entry and it's got a little more text again. But here on the east coast the national parks and cities come in quick succession, so there is a lot to report. Since the time is slowly sitting on our necks, we have to weigh carefully what is worth a visit. So there is not so much time to keep the blog up to date on a regular basis. But we stay tuned!
After two days of waiting, which we mainly spent under palm trees on the beaches in the north of Cairns, we were able to embark on a new reef cruise. We slept in the shelter of numerous other parked backpackers right in front of the hostel in Cairns and got out of bed early. The ship left on time and some of the crew members recognized us. Except for a gay French couple we didn't see any of the other guests on Monday. The weather was quite windy, with more than 10 knots, but our first tour, for which only 5 knots were forecast, was unfortunately not finished. There were high waves and sunbathing and relaxing in the nets of the catamaran could only be combined with sea water breezes. The controls held up this time and we were able to reach Michaelmas Cay, our first snorkeling spot, without any problems. Michaelmas Cay is a small sand island in the middle of the corals and is populated by thousands of birds that use the small, bare island for breeding. The corals here shone in all the colors of the rainbow. A turtle was also seen. The water was quite cold, but thanks to the wetsuit it was halfway bearable. The second spot was on the outer reef and is promisingly called Paradise Reef. The coral bank is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool, but the colorful corals and fish were actually heavenly. We circled everything twice, marveled at the steeply sloping outer edges of the reef and were the last to come out of the water. Whereas others, including the Dick and Dicker family, who sat at our table, did not even start the second snorkeling session. All in all, there were beautiful colorful corals and anemones to watch, but the abundance of animals held back a little, so that we will have better memories of the Ningaloo Reef on the west coast.
On the way back the skipper set the sails and back it went through the rather rough sea and strong wind, so that the spray splashed over the entire boat. The full outer deck on the way there was now swept empty and only a few dared to leave. Most of the passengers slept or were seasick.

The whales of the first tour

Our saviors in need, the yellow angels of the seas

Corals on the outer reef, in Paradise Reef

The Great Dividing Range stretches along the Australian east coast from north to south. A mountain range that, in contrast to most of the ranges booked so far, really deserves the name, as it unites several thousand meter high mountains. These mountains cause an enormous amount of rain in the region. The rainiest place in Australia is not far from Cairns - Tully, 4m rain per year. This abundance of water also feeds the rainforest, which stretches from the Daintree Rainforest to Townsville and forms the Wet Tropics World Heritage. Lots of mountains and lots of rain create some beautiful waterfalls here. Among them are the Josephine Falls, not particularly high, but thanks to algae rocks with a natural slide. But there are also the highest solitary waterfalls here. The Wallaman Falls plunge a spectacular 268m into the depth. On the way from Wallaman Falls back to the highway, we met an animal that Australia is particularly known for. A grim-looking snake was basking in the street. We're not sure yet if it was just a python or a venomous snake, but it certainly looked dangerous. So we were happy to be able to watch her safely from the car and that we didn't meet her somewhere on a hiking trail.

The tallest mountain in the Great Dividing Range, Mt.Bartle Frere

At the Josephine Falls

Juliane sliding at high speed

If you order a large fries in Australia, you really get a huge portion (Innisfail)

The only place in the world where two world natural heritage meet, the Wet Tropic and the Great Barrier Reef embodied by Hinchinbrook Island, only who the hell is building electricity pylons here ?!

A nature crossing over the highway for possums

Wallaman Falls from above

And from below

Juliane in the jungle

Toxic or not?

We chose a route a little off the highway Number One and drove through a fertile hilly landscape. Thanks to the warmth and the abundance of water, bananas and sugar cane are grown on huge plantations. But other fruit and vegetables also grow here and are sold at stalls directly on the roadside with a trustworthy checkout. You can hardly get fresher fruit than that from the stands. In the middle of the plantations there are idyllic farmhouses. In contrast to Western Australia, there are a large number of small towns here. Some can only be recognized at the State School directly on the main street, as all other residential buildings are distributed in the surrounding area. But you have to leave that to the Australians, every little town has its own school, kindergarten and even a police station here. The landscape is criss-crossed by countless train tracks, on which the sugar cane is brought to the next sugar mill on long narrow-gauge railways. In the larger towns, for example, the sugar mills with their white steam-spewing chimneys dominate the cityscape. But not only the picture, but also the scent, because a sticky caramel scent hangs in the air around the mills.

A fruit stand on the roadside, the real fresh food people

A sugar mill

Old Indian wisdom: Where there are many tracks, trains derail every now and then ...

Perhaps this caramel smell attracts a lot of rats to the area, at least we were woken up by trampling on our roof during one night we spent there on a highway rest area. A couple of rats had made themselves comfortable there and were about to eat a hole in our cooler bag. As always, put them on the roof so that the contents cool down at night. The next morning we found that the rats had apparently also celebrated a happening with (not our) leftover food in our engine compartment.

Our cool box now with practical ventilation

The area along the scenic “Canecutter Way” was primarily inhabited by Italians. One of the Italian sugar cane cutters thought he had to build his own little castle in the middle of the rainforest. An 80-year-old castle-like villa with a park is now located directly in the rainforest and is touted as one of the greatest tourist attractions in the region. We passed by by chance, as we were following a drive recommended as particularly beautiful. The nice lady at the front desk explained to us all the great things there was to do, but the price of 42 $ pp made us skeptical. Why should you visit an artificial small castle when we can have big, real ones in Germany. Even the offer of 33 $ that the nice woman pushed us on a small slip of paper with a smiley was of no use. The Japanese didn't seem to mind the price, because they crowded into the park, which could be seen from a suspension bridge.

The "castle"

The largest animal in the Australian rainforest is the cassowary, which we have searched in vain in the Daintree. Mission Beach, the southern end of the Wet Tropics, should have the largest population of cassowaries, 40! In addition, Mission Beach offers long, palm-fringed white beaches, where the bird should often be seen. But apart from cassowary droppings, we didn't find any on our hikes along the beach and through the rainforest. So we left Mission Beach a little sad. But we were lucky, because suddenly an oncoming car flashed the headlights and a few hundred meters later a cassowary was standing on the side of the road with relish eating its berries.

The rainforest at Mission Beach

Mission Beach

Finally he let himself be seen

Shortly before Townsville we visited the Paluma Range National Park. Here the tropical humid rainforest changes into the temperate, dry rainforest. In order to prevent the wet rainforest from spreading, short, “cold” bushfires are lit here regularly after the rainy season. This type of landscape maintenance was introduced by the Aborigines thousands of years ago and practiced throughout Australia, primarily in the outback. A fire shortly after the rainy season burns dead biomaterial, but the living plants still have enough strength to withstand the fire. Large forest fires are prevented with these cold and rapid bushfires. The Aborigines formed the landscape with fire and drove out plants that were not up to it. Most rainforest plants, however, are destroyed by fire.

Slide at the Paluma Range Rock Slides

And Terence

Townsville is the third largest city in Queensland and, like the better known Cairns, is trying to gain a foothold in tourism. The two kilometer long esplanade "The Strand" was laid out here, a palm-lined promenade along the beach. Even an artificial seawater lagoon for swimming, like in Cairns, has been created. But it makes sense that in summer you can't swim in it without a jellyfish protective suit, as the dangerous box jellyfish that haunt the coast here cannot be kept 100% out of the pool. At least crocodile-free is guaranteed. Townsville does not forget to commemorate the ANZAC along "The Strand", with a large ANZAC park and a memorial to the special importance of Townsville during the war in the Pacific. Because here at Kissing Point was one of the search lights that helped defend the city against the Japanese. After all, Townsville was attacked from the air three times. Once from one, twice from two planes! Except for one bomb that hit the racecourse, everyone else went to the bushland or the sea. All of this is pathetically explained at length and breadth on numerous display boards and even with live audio recordings. But the really cool thing about "The Strand" is the huge water playground with slides, paddling pools and water fountains. Like in a leisure pool, only completely free and for every child.

View over Townsville and Magnetic Island

Memorial at Kissing Point

Strong rowers in short, cropped, pink tops

Water playground for everyone ... and Terence

From Townsville we took the ferry to Magnetic Island, a small offshore island. Most of the island is covered by a national park and is known for its koala abundance. So we went hiking and looking for koalas. It is said that 800 koalas live here and we actually discovered two mothers with their children. Juliane couldn't stop sobbing, the koala baby was so cute. In addition to koalas, the island also offers an old "fortress" from the Second World War with a gun emplacement and a great view of the ocean. Funny fact on the side: the only shot that was ever fired here in a state of alarm was at a friendly American ship that had forgotten to register. After many kilometers of hiking we refreshed ourselves in the small lonely Florence Bay and snorkeled in the coral garden. Exhausted after 18km over hill and dale, we arrived back in the small port of Nelly Bay and left “Maggi” with the last ferry. In the evening we rewarded ourselves with typical Australian burgers at T.U.B.E. - The Ultimate Burger Experience. It was wonderful.

On the ferry to Magnetic Island

View of Horseshoe Bay

Koala mummy with child

Bucking koala child

Florence Bay from above

Lunch break

Coral in Florence Bay

Yes, they were as good as they look

From Townsville we went south to Mackay, the sugar cane capital of Queensland. A third of Australia's sugar is made here! The city may only have as many inhabitants as Zwickau, but it looks as busy as Berlin. After we stocked up on a new hard drive for our many photos, we continued through the Pioneer Valley back inland. The green Pioneer Valley ended in the beautiful Eungella National Park. The place Eungella, aborigine for "place in the clouds", lies like a small alpine village on a green mountain plateau and offered grandiose views of the last foothills of the rainforest and the Pioneer Valley. Here we had the opportunity to go looking for platypus again and we were able to spend the night in the middle of the jungle. Actually, we should have paid for the National Park campsite, but since there is no longer any self-registration with a trusted cash register in Queensland, you have to book online - only there is no cell phone here and the ranger / cafe owner doesn't have one either. Good for us. The Eungella frog, which hatches its eggs in its stomach and spits out live tadpoles, unfortunately did not show itself to us.

View over the Pioneer Valley

Out and about in the Pioneer Valley

From here it was partly unsealed 630 km via small mining towns and the gem town of Emerald to Carnarvon National Park. Finally the outback again with golden sunsets, mailboxes from old oil drums without a house far and wide, again cows moving leisurely across the street and a lot of red dust. The Carnarvon Gorge is the exact opposite. A gorge up to 200m high cut in sandstone. If palm trees and eucalyptus weren't growing here, it would be confusingly similar to Saxon Switzerland. The gorge is populated by countless kangaroos. We went on a hike through the gorge and some smaller, extremely narrow side arms. Here we found plants that shared the earth with the dinosaurs millions of years ago: king ferns and tree ferns grow in the damp and moss-covered gaps. Since the park is very remote, you hardly met backpackers, but instead met some nice, talkative Australians. Many have a bold saying to start a short chat with complete strangers on the tongue. You don't necessarily know that from Saxon Switzerland. We also visited an old Aboriginal cult site that was full of vulvas carved into the rock as a symbol of fertility.

Fortunately, you are warned in good time

In the Carnarvon Gorge

The boomerangs were used as stencils and the paint was spit over them with the mouth

The vulvas

We with royal ferns

View over the gorge

Animal observation 1: There is probably no other animal that can lie more relaxed and relaxed in the grass than a kangaroo

Animal observation 2: A beaked hedgehog, here called Echidna

Wildlife observation 3: Even Coasta Cordalis visits the Carnarvon Gorge

We stayed here for two days and then drove back to the coast. While driving we saw a road train standing on the side of the road, which apparently had a problem with its loaded hay bales. About a kilometer long there were also two bales of hay spread over the whole street. Since Juliane, in her function as a traffic engineer, was worried about traffic safety (after all, it was already getting dark), we stopped to clear the street halfway. Due to the amount and weight of the bales, this turned out to be hopeless. Even the otherwise so helpful Australians simply drove past us.

Halfway between Carnarvon Gorge and the coast, we spent the night near the 1000-inhabitant town of Moura. For a long time we had planned to have an after-work beer in a typical Australian pub in a small outback village. There wasn't a small, rustic pub here, but a motel with a bar and liquor store drive-in, as we've seen before, was still open. After entering we were astonished for a moment and ran to the bar like shy little fawns. There were almost only men here, a waitress in underwear and loud music. After first assuming that it could be a strip club, we found: it was much more than that. The pub was a liquor store, discotheque, betting shop, gambling den, strip club and restaurant where a man takes his wife out, in one. From the friendly gas drills at our bar table, we also learned that the lady, who was easily accompanied, was only there on Sunday evenings. We were lucky! She later collected money so that she would get completely naked. We only asked ourselves whether she comes from the city herself, everyone has known her as a small child and whether her father was among the guests. When we left the bra had at least already fallen ...

In the strip club betting shop restaurant

A Westpac counter (bank) in a regional supermarket, note the telephone banking

A place we passed

The Callide Mine (open-cast coal)

When we arrived in Agnes Water, we spent the night on a gravel yard next to the road. The next morning we plunged into the waves and took a three-hour surf course. After a few unsuccessful attempts and belly claps, we stood a few waves. It was a lot of fun, but it was also damn exhausting. At the end of the three hours, most of them just lay on their boards and relaxed.But here you also noticed a clear difference to the west coast, of the 20 participants 16 were Germans.
Now it's on to Fraser Island and Brisbane.