Vince and I had limited time in Australia, and most of it was spent doing activities involving the Great Barrier Reef due to my obsession with all things ocean related. We did, however, do our share of road tripping up and down the Queensland coast during our four days on our fourth continent, so this post will be dedicated to the random things we saw along the way.
After our Great Barrier Reef adventure, we walked back to our Airbnb so we could see a little of the city while we were there. We stopped at the Esplanade, and strolled along the shore, where we saw the first of many rainbows that we would see over the next few days.
There was a variety of shorebirds poking around the intertidal zone. As I was photographing this little yellow-faced plover, a man approached us and chatted with us about the city and the different kinds of birds we were watching. He told us that these ones are called lapwings (masked lapwing to be exact, a type of plover). These turned out to be a common sight around Queensland.
Once back at the Airbnb, we changed and jumped into our car to go see Barron Falls, a large waterfall in Barron Gorge National Park. There was a short hike downhill through a beautiful rainforest before we reached the viewpoint for the falls. We didn’t spend a lot of time here because shortly after we arrived there was a downpour (which happened a couple of times every evening). We ran back up the trail and to our car, getting completely drenched on the way.
Driving to Airlie Beach
The next morning we packed our bags and hit the road for an eight hour drive to Airlie Beach. Along the way, we made sure to stop and check out whatever scenic overlooks we passed.
We took a detour to Wallaman Falls, the tallest single drop waterfall in Australia. There is a trail that leads down to the base of the falls, but it takes an estimated two hours (which would probably be more like three for a person who stops to take pictures as much as I do). We decided we didn’t have the time and headed back to the road, which had more Brahman traffic than car traffic.
Return to Cairns
After our Whitsunday Islands dream day, it was time to drive back to Cairns to catch our flight home. We had yet to see a kangaroo or wallaby, which was a disappointment to us both, so we took the advice of our Airlie Airbnb host and took a short detour to Proserpine. Almost immediately, we saw a large-eared creature in the grass along the side of the road. Finally, a wallaby! We stopped the car and got out to catch a good glimpse (from a distance) of the adorable marsupial before it retreated into the long grass.
Our next planned stop was Mission Beach, where we hoped to catch a glimpse of the elusive cassowary. Although we had no luck in that regard, we did manage to witness a fascinating, and completely unexpected phenomenon. We were hiking along the Edmund Kennedy Walking Track in Edmund Kennedy National Park, when we came to a pristine, deserted beach. From a distance, we could see intricate patterns in the sand, and when we drew closer it became clear that they were little spheres.
Upon further inspection, we found the artists, tiny sand bubbler crabs. At low tide, these crabs search the shore for food, drawing sand up into their bodies, taking out all of its nutrients, and discarding the leftovers back on the beach in pellet form. They fill the entire beach with little orbs which are washed away with the tide. We only had a few minutes to witness their work before an afternoon downpour washed it all away.
When the rain subsided, the pellets were gone, and traded for a perfect rainbow on the horizon. We hiked down the beach a bit further, but eventually turned around when the intermittent rain didn’t subside. After that, we drove back to Cairns and our time in Australia came to a close. I was sad to say goodbye, and I sincerely hope to return to Australia someday. Until then, there will be plenty of other adventures on the horizon.