For the first time since joining the cruise, we had 2 port calls on consecutive days. Yesterday Great Barrier Reef and today, Yorkeys Knob, about 20 minutes outside Cairns. The port wasn't big enough to accommodate Arcadia, so we were anchored off the coast and had to get tendered to shore. The process involves obtaining a ticket and waiting for your letter to be called before boarding the tender ship. Even though we were super organised this morning, Katie still had to queue for 30 minutes to get a ticket on the first tender out. Actually our friends Dave and Ann who were further up the queue managed to get us some, saving us some time. I was in charge of getting us breakfast and bringing it down to the bar where we were waiting to be called. It all worked quite well, and we were ashore by 10. You now understand why ports that require tenders, are not as popular with some people.
We'd decided to make the most of the day by getting into Cairns for a couple of hours before heading back to port to join our excursion. Cairns itself (from what we saw of it) was a really nice tropical city with palm tree lined roads, cute shopping streets and a big open air beach pool, not dissimilar to Brisbane, which was already being well appreciated when we got there. We walked around and found somewhere to have food (ok, it was a McDonalds but I'll justify this decision to you by saying that it was the first one in 6 weeks, and it had free Wifi). In the city centre we saw several big trees full of fruit bats (flying foxes) hanging around. It was quite a strange sight to see them on one side of the road, with the city skyline of Cairns on the other, I imagine even more so when they woke up and all flew off later.
A quick coach back to Yorkeys Knob and we joined our trip to the rainforest park. They had Koalas, Kangeroos, Crocodiles, and an assortment of wildlife which wasn't always intentionally part of the experience. Large spiders hung on their webs from the roof of some of the outdoor buildings, and one of the rangers captured a snake to show us that he said would have clotted your blood after a single bite. He found it in the staff changing rooms. Nice. It was another timely reminder that there are a lot of things that can do you some damage in Australia. All this was just before we disappeared into the rainforest on the back of a big amphibious "army duck". We were driven around, into and out of the water, saw big blue butterflies, lots of flowers and more spiders hanging in the webs as we passed, far too slowly, beneath them.
Next stop was a very quaint village called Kuranda where we would pick up a scenic railway to take us for 2 hours, along the valley ridge. It certainly lived up to its name. You can see a photo that I took of the Barron Falls in Katie's post below. Much of the journey was just as impressive but capturing it from a moving train, albeit an slow one, was the job of the video camera alone.
Once again, we caught the last tender back to the ship. They wouldn't go without us because we were on an official tour. The journey back to the ship was the roughest we've had so far. The tenders are relatively small and although they double as lifeboats, the windows and roof still received a thorough sea water wash. Arcadia had to turn to face the shore so that she provided protection for the tenders to dock and be brought back onboard in calmer waters.