Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | October 22, 2014

Adventures on the Other Side of the World #10

Soaring down to Kuranda Station in a sky rail box.

Soaring down to Kuranda Station in a sky rail box.

Well, I had a bit of a rough start to my day today.  I got up in plenty of time for my tour, and waited, and waited, and waited with no pick up. It turns out I was at the wrong pickup location. I’d booked on Uncle Brian’s website, and they’d asked where I wanted to be picked up. I’d entered my hotel name and their number as alternative contact.  I got confirmation back – two confirmations, in fact. One from Uncle Brian’s, one from another company I had no idea was affiliated with it.  One had a line on the bottom that said Hides Hotel as where I wanted to be picked up, the second had a “departure” listed. Just around the corner, but since I didn’t know to go there, my tour left without me, and since there is a no refunds for no show policies and I was technically a no show, I was out not only a day I was looking forward to, but $120.  I was near tears; not so much over the money, because while it would be nice to get some or all of it back, the money was gone and I could accept that, but my day of singing and swimming under waterfalls, and of potentially seeing a platypus… I was gutted.

I headed upstairs to have a little cry, but before I got to my door I told myself “no” quite firmly.  My planned day was gone, and there was nothing I could do about that, but I could salvage my day.  So I turned back around, swallowed my disappointment as best I could, and found a little tour booking desk and waited until the tour desk was open.  I told the young lady (Jessica) what had happened and that I needed something to do for the day. Since I’d been to the reef, she suggested I go to Kuranda for the day, because I could take a tour by sky rail (boxes that runs suspended from cables) over the rainforest to Kuranda, a small village with markets and wildlife sanctuaries, then back by train to Cairns along a scenic route. It left in an hour, and I told her that yes, that it what I would do.  So she booked me on the tour, gave me some very helpful information about where I was actually being picked up, and was generally really lovely. So Jessica from Global Tours, thank you for helping turn my day around.

When in doubt, cuddle a koala.

When in doubt, cuddle a koala.

I was booked with Tropical Horizons, and Jessica had said either they or Down Under Tours would pick me up by bus, as the two companies were affiliated. Sure enough, my bus came, and I got on board, still a bit apprehensive about what could go wrong.  Things, however, went quite smoothly.  There was a boarding pass waiting for me at the SkyRail station for all my tours of the day, and things just got better from there.  The first “box” I took alone (which was slightly scary at first) as I was travelling alone.  It doesn’t seem so high up, as the treetops are below you and you forget just how tall they are and how high that must mean you are flying.  It was very cool to look out the window and see the canopy and feel very much like a bird being carried on a slow breeze over the leaves.

There was a small boardwalk at the first station where you go to get the next “box”. I was seated with a family this time, but it was nice to be in with someone else, just to chat and also be high up in the air with.  There were two stations, and we just carried on from the first.  I had the early train back from Kuranda, so wanted to get there as soon as possible. Since I’d had a not-so-great start to my day, I decided to spend my hour and a half in the small village at the butterfly sanctuary and the wildlife park, instead of the markets they have in Kuranda. If I’d been booked for the later train (not an option, unfortunately, given my late booking), I would have spent some time browsing for sure.

Not the first time I've had a butterfly land on my hand, but the first time I was able to get a photo without scaring it away!

Not the first time I’ve had a butterfly land on my hand, but the first time I was able to get a photo without scaring it away!

Instead, I started at the butterfly sanctuary, which was a great place to cheer me up. The butterflies moves so fast, it was sometimes hard to get a good picture, but they were so beautiful.  They came in all kinds of colours, though I was partial to the electric blue Ulysses Butterfly, and all sorts of sizes.  Some were quite huge, in fact!  Almost the size of my hand.  Some of the butterflies even landed on people, including me, which made me feel lots of warm fuzzy feelings.

After the butterfly sanctuary, I went to the animal park just a few doors down, and even though I’d taken a picture with one before, I paid for another koala picture. This time, though, the koala was not in a tree.  I was the tree.  That’s right, I got to hold and cuddle a koala, albeit for an all too short amount of time. They are pretty solid little animals, let me tell you. No lightweights there. There were also other animals to look at and you could once again interact with the kangaroos and wallabies. I saw crocodiles, turtles, snakes, a possum-looking thing, kangaroos and wallabies, who were far less greedy than the ones at Maru; either that, or a little more shy, since they wouldn’t really approach to get the feed the park in Kuranda lets you have for free. I also tried to spot the wombat, but he or she was hiding too well in the enclosure. Probably asleep, as they do in the day.

On the scenic railway track to Cairns from Kuranda. Incidentally, Kuranda rhymes with my first name, so I spent a lot of time turning around today.

On the scenic railway track to Cairns from Kuranda. Incidentally, Kuranda rhymes with my first name, so I spent a lot of time turning around today.

After that, it was the scenic train ride back to Cairns from Kuranda on a historic railway. Some of the cars on my train were even 100 years old!  Maybe even mine, since it didn’t have a washroom, not that I needed one, thankfully. We had a stop at Barron Falls, and lots of slow downs at picturesque little spots along the railway.  I’d been assigned a seat right near the window, which was great because it had gone very hot and the open window meant a nice breeze as we chugged through the countryside. There are tons of bridges and tunnels along the scenic route. It is definitely worth checking out.

After my day in Kuranda, I arrived back in Cairns at about 4 o’clock. I walked back toward my hotel, and tried to find the postal place to mail my postcards. It was marked on the map, but unfortunately had closed down.  Then I tried to find this church another Cairns tourist had told me about, with no luck despite a map. It was super sunny and warm, so I went back to my hotel, grabbing a milkshake on the way, to cool off for a bit. The lady at the front desk was very helpful when I asked about the post office. The man who’d been at the desk earlier in the day didn’t seem to know it had closed down, but the woman at the counter in the afternoon did know, and also that the other one in Cairns City Central had also closed. I asked if they had an outbox, since I’d gotten stamps on them already, and she indicated that while the hotel doesn’t, since I had stamps, she could point me to a postal box.  This one I actually managed to find.  So that felt good.

I finished my day with dinner at a different restaurant, right close to Restaurant Dundee’s. It is called Marina Paradiso, and is an Italian place.  Another Italian owner, I think. The food was certainly good.  I had a pizza with prosciutto, rocket, and parmesan flakes, and it went nicely with my merlot. After dinner, I walked around until I found a gelato place, where I got a delicious dark chocolate and a succulent strawberries and cream. This was a nice close to a day that started out poorly.  As I told myself a few times today, I couldn’t dwell on what had happened since I couldn’t change them, and I needed to suck it up and carry on with my day.  There are much worse reasons I could have missed the tour, and much worse things in life than a little disappointment. I could either focus on the bad part, or make a new plan and eat some gelato. I choose gelato.

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