Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Port Douglas, Australia: Ray Keeps the “Snake Door” Locked

March 11, 2009

Ray had to look under the bed for snakes last night (because I’m afraid of snakes). Now he keeps the “snake door” locked all the time. It’s really just the sliding glass door to the balcony and the jacuzzi, but I call it the “snake door”, so he does too.

These pics are from our tramp through the small chic town of Port Douglas. Port Douglas reminds me of Lahaina Maui (Hawaii), though with less jewelry stores. We are here during the “off season”…I’m surprised by that. I would have thought that people from the Northern Hemisphere would flock to Australia in February and March.

I know I would rather be on a warm beach than shoveling snow from my driveway!

The “High Season” for Port Douglas is June, July, and August, when it’s cooler and less humid, and many of the critters (hopefully the box jellyfish and the mosquitos) are on siesta.

Read about the “BEST TIME TO GO: to avoid stingers (Jellyfish)”.

During the High Season, people come to Cairns, Port Douglas, and the rest of Queensland (from all over Europe and Australia).

I really like this place. I like the humidity and the heat. My neck doesn’t hurt, my arthritis takes a vaca, and I don’t have Iron Poor Blood. If I could just get used to the snakes. I guess even Eden had snakes…

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Port Douglas, Australia: Don’t Read This Until Back Home

March 10, 2009

Well, we were hanging out with some of our travel buddies tonight who told us about someone’s encounter with a large snake. Actually, it was a snake that went from one side of the road to the other. A bicyclist (a Port Douglas Native) ran over this live “road bump” a few nights ago, right near here.

Then we talked to the waitress in town. She just got over Dengue Fever.

During dinner, we discussed other creature in the Cairns / Port Douglas area. Ray saw several giant bats, though he couldn’t find any crocs on the beach. Then one dinner friend told us that she saw a box jellyfish today when she was out snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.

Now, I can’t sleep even though I’ve checked the room for snakes, so I thought I’d pass along some info to my friends on the OZ trip:

Amethystine Python:
“This is Australia’s largest snake. It is iridescent greenish, grey or brown, usually with dark lines and streaks above often giving off an amethyst sheen. It has large scales arranged symmetrically on the top of the head. This snake lives in rainforest and open forest. It feeds mainly on mammals and birds and is capable of taking animals as large as a wallaby. Length: Up to 5m (largest recorded 8.5m)”
That’s 26 feet of Port Douglas Python!

Black Flying Fox (Bat):
“The Black Flying-fox (Pteropus alecto) is a fruit bat in the family Pteropodidae. It has short black hair with a contrasting reddish-brown mantel with a mean forearm length of 164 mm and a mean weight of 710 grams. This species had been known to travel up to 50 km a night in search of food. It is one of only eight pteropodids in Australia. These bats form large ‘camps’, or colonies, and are native to Australia (NSW, Qld, NT and WA). They rest in mangroves, paperbark swamps, patches of rainforest and bamboo forests, and very rarely in caves or underneath overhangs. They are one of the largest bat species in the world, and have a wing-span of more than one metre.” wikipedia (That’s a wingspan of more than 3 feet. We saw one on the way home from the restaurant and it was a big mutha.)

My friend with bat-phobia might be interested in this link about people who take in wounded bats:

Bat Sanctuaries.

The Latest News on Dengue Fever:
“The Cairns Regional Council says the State Government needs to provide at least an extra $1 million to help it control the dengue fever epidemic in the state’s far north….He says Cairns’ reputation as a safe tourist destination is being destroyed and he is asking for at least a $1 million.” abc.net.au (Mar. 10, 2009) Hey, only ONE person died!

The Croc Found Along the Local Beaches:
“Saltwater or estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is the largest of all living crocodilians and reptiles. It is found in suitable habitat throughout Southeast Asia, Northern Australia, and the surrounding waters. Saltwater crocodiles are known in the Northern Territory of Australia as “salties”. The Alligator Rivers are misnamed after the resemblance of the “saltie” to alligators as compared to freshwater crocodiles, which also inhabit the Northern Territory.”

(When we were on the beach today, I sent Ray to the mangroves to see if there was anything lurking. Nothing, thank God!)

Box Jellyfish:

We had a red flag up on our local beach and that means you can only swim within the jellyfish net area.CLICK TO READ MY ARTICLE ABOUT “BOX JELLYFISH IN PORT DOUGLAS”.

Box Jellyfish are pale blue and transparent and bell or cubed shaped with four distinct sides, therefore the name box jellyfish.
Measuring up to 20 cm along each side of the cube or bell, the Box Jellyfish has up to as many as 15 tentacles on each corner which can be 3 metres in length with up to 5,000 nematocysts (stinging cells). The Box Jellyfish shoots itself along up to speeds of 4 knots in a jet-like motion.

“The season for the Box Jellyfish starts with the onset of the wet across the top of northern Australia, usually around October and lasts until April.

Venom:You have virtually no chance of surviving the venomous sting (of the box jellyfish), unless treated immediately. The pain is so excruciating and overwhelming that you would most likely go into shock and drown before reaching the shore. So don’t go swimming alone!”
barrierreefaustralia.com

Well, sleep tight.

Port Douglas, Australia: I Played Hookey Again Today

March 10, 2009

It’s never been a big deal for me to see the Great Barrier Reef, so I stayed in bed again. I know I’ll get another chance to see The Reef in my lifetime. If I don’t, it’s no biggie. I like the scary things (like sharks) neatly tucked away behind glass in an aquarium. Our guide, Udo the Bondi Beach Surfer, said that there was a slim-to-none chance of spotting any sharks. Anyway, I am about to slip into the jacuzzi on the balcony. I forgot my swimsuit, but fortunately it’s behind a louvered screen so I won’t scare anyone. We’ll hit the beach later and look for crocs and deadly box jellyfish. Lots of fun around every corner.

Port Douglas Australia: Last Night I Crashed

March 10, 2009

After a quick three-plus-hour flight up to Cairns (pronounced something like, but not exactly, Cans), I crashed. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the new meds. Maybe I just needed a break from the non-stop touring. Anyway, I slept until this morning and I missed the dinner cruise.

Ray said the food was ok, not great. I don’t know what he had. His version of good food is McDonald’s. My version of good food is Asian-Fusion. So, who knows.

Ray said that one of the best parts of the sail was the bats. The bats had a wingspan as big as a hawk. Brilliant.

Melbourne: I’m Packing for Cairns and I need a Bigger Suitcase

March 8, 2009

Even though I purposely and mindfully left extra room in my suitcase, I am having a tough time making my purchases fit.

Yes, I did find a few hats at Victoria Markets. Also, there was a cute 1/2 price raincoat from yesterday at the Direct Factory Outlet Mall across the street from our Melbourne hotel. And, a cute scarf / shawl.

Everything I buy is a huge discount due to the US dollar – Aussie dollar exchange rate. This country is a bargain compared to Europe!

Melbourne: Today was Melb Tram and Queen Victoria Markets

March 8, 2009

Ray and I had a blast wandering around the heart of Melbourne, but there is so much more to see that I want to come back to Mellie again. Maybe next year…?

Read about FREE SIGHTSEEING on Melbourne City Circle Trams

Melbourne: Bobbling Around the Hotel and Melbs

March 8, 2009

Yesterday, I was zonked out from a medication.

Ray and I didn’t leave the hotel until the afternoon. We skipped the penguin parade, but we still had fun wandering around the cool arcades and shopping areas of downtown Melbourne.

Melbourne: I THOUGHT That Was an Earthquake!

March 8, 2009

The night we got into Melbourne, I was sitting at my computer desk and my chair started rolling up and down. Weeeeeee! So I asked Ray if he felt an earthquake. Of course, he said, “No.”

Today, Ray was online and told me that there WAS, indeed, an earthquake last Friday night. Ray read that it was something like a 4.6 and I said that it must have been a VERY SHALLOW earthquake, because I never notice little tumblers. Click here for Earthquake Data for Korumburra.

Melbourne: Quick Bus Tour of Melbs and Tram Restaurant Dinner

March 7, 2009

We got out of the Melbourne Airport and launched into a bus overview of Melbourne.

The first stop was for a quick bite of lunch at Queen Victoria Markets. We wandered around but we were bushed so Raymo and I decided to come back another day.

We got back into our nice air conditioned bus and drove around to get a feel for the central city of Melbourne. We passed some cool old buildings and you know I’m a fan of olden architecture (especially cool facades).

Next we popped into St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We saw the black goth exterior last week but we couldn’t get inside then because there was a wedding underway. This time Ray took a great snap of a stained glass window.

Off again to the Melbourne Conservatory with beautiful begonias. The conservatory changes flowers all the time. I loved this place. If I win the lottery I will have my breakfast in a conservatory like this…of my own.

Nearby, we saw Captain Cook’s house, which isn’t really his house. I’ll explain this later. Maybe I’ll make it into an article. I thought the little building was divine. Really, it was beautiful and austere.

And…off we went down the road. The next stop was the Shrine of Remembrance. Normally, I’m fairly cool to memorials because I hate wars and I hate the whole idea. However, this was the most touching, most moving, and most memorable shrine I have ever seen. First you walk through a cavernlike underground tunnel, then you see row after row of medals donated to the museum, and just when you are about to cry, you come into the main room which has a statue called “Two Generations”, which shows a soldier from WWI and a soldier from WWII. So then I was having tears in my eyes.

After a bit of exploring the Memorial, we got on the bus and headed for the Melbourne Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. This was a thumbs up for the view (we veered all over the city and out to st. Kildas) and the unlimited drinks.

Thumbs down to the weird tamponade on the chicken. A bit touristy but it was something fun to do. And, the bus ride home (after the champagne and wine and drambuis) was a joyous occasion. Thumbs down to Melbourne sidewalks with their slopes and holes and curbs. A friend on the tour broke her foot while maneuvering through this mess. Hope all is well with you, girlfriend!

Hunter Valley, Australia: Wine Tasting

March 7, 2009

The new bus came and bore us away to Hunter Valley. I had been to a small wine-tasting place once many moons ago. I didn’t remember much about it, so for me this trip to Hunter Valley (outside Sydney) was a treat.

There REALLY is a difference in the first smell, the first taste, the mid-taste, and the after-taste of a wine. I’m sure there are technical enological terms for this, but I hope you will know what I mean. I could tell a huge difference between aluminum? metal casks and oak casks. The latter is better.

I saw how some wines would be drinkable immediately and I could imagine the less mature wines as winning me over after sitting in my house for a few years. I realized I knew NOTHING about wines. All I knew was whether or not I liked a particular wine… which after all is the most important things. You like what you like and I like what I like and if ever the ‘twain shall meet, so much the better.

I am gung-ho about joining the neighborhood wine-tasting club. Even if I only have a few drops, the pleasure of the various tastes is immeasurable. I’m surprised by how much I like wine (in small amounts).