For pure enjoyment and diversity today was perhaps the best days cycling I have ever had. Sweeping vistas on the effortless run downhill from Kuranda to the Capricorn
Highway where I stopped for water and a nature break. While I was stopped a car pulled in behind me carrying six young Aboriginal men who were making rest stop of their own. I got chatting to Donnie who told me “Yeah us boys we had a big party last night, still feelin’ it. You ride that bike?”
We chatted for a couple of minutes making small talk, then as they were about to leave unexpectedly Donnie offered me his hand. We shook hands and wished each other well.
On the road I have a good shoulder and strong tail wind. I was quickly out of town and running along the coast. I met Therese for breakfast at Ellis beach then the climbing began. It was like the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, the Captain Cook Highway hugs the cliff tops. The road rises and falls as it weaves it’s way towards Port Douglas. With very little Sunday traffic, except for motorcyclists, I make great time in glorious conditions. I turn off the highway for a quick circuit of Port Douglas past a guy selling live mud crabs at a roadside stall. I pushed on to Mossman only 15 kms up the road where the cops running the breathalyser waved me through with a cheerful “Nice day for it.”
Waiting for Therese, I rewarded myself with an Earl Grey tea and slice of lemon merangue pie at the Sweet Temptations Cafe. I was thinking I was having such a great day on the bike I don’t ever want to stop. at he ride from Mossman to Daintree Village was simply breathtaking. I crossed the Daintree River on a cloud of rainforest flavours. We are camped by the river and I’m contemplating an early morning croc spotting cruise in the morning.
‘Wet Tropics’, ‘World Heritage’, ‘Where the Rainforest Meets the Sea’: So say the brochures, and they were right. Leaving early, I took the quiet, rolling costal road through Bingal Bay and beyond with tropical rainforest on my left and coconut fringed golden beaches on my right. Early on the riding was easy. Back on the highway the cane reappeared but the shoulder didn’t. The traffic increased as did the headwind. Just outside Innesfail I stopped to buy a couple of cheap sweet locally grown bananas from a roadside stall, perhaps I gulped them down too quick, I began to feel gramps in my stomach as I battled along into the wind. Banana plantations now competed with sugar cane for my attention.
Coming into any big city is challenging on a bicycle so I was happy when I spotted Therese waiting at a rest stop not far from Cairns proper, as I was quite exhausted.
We walked a few blocks of the Cairns city centre, toured the waterfront, bought fresh fruit at the lively markets. Backpackers, blokes on end of season Football trips, women in fascinators off to the races and Japanese tour groups crowded the street, as tour operator touts plied their trade. Apparently everything to do in Cairns is ‘Amazing’. I have the feeling it’s going to be a big Saturday night in town.
We decide to head for the hills. At Kuranda some 25 kms away just in time to catch the tail end of the Rainbow Festival. Kuranda displayed an equal mix of unrestrained capitalism with overpriced shops and attractions primarily targeting Japanese tourists and New Age mysticism: Tattooed, barefoot, petunia soaked hippies, flogging tarot card readings and spiritual cleansing.
I’m conflicted when in comes to zoos of any kind and regret paying to see various species of birds in the Free flight Avery, which is essentially a large cage. We camped at the Rainforest Lodge Caravan Park in Kuranda. In the early evening we sighted bush turkeys, large Curlews and surprisingly a Red legged Pademelon (a small rainforest Kangaroo) much better to see animals in situ.