Monday, June 8, 2009

PORT DOUGLAS: Mossman Gorge National Park

 August 1, 2008... Port Douglas, Northeast Coast of Australia

 After a day of travel we arrived very late at night and had to spend the first night in a very crowded dorm room.  We woke about 7:30 am; by 8:30 am we were packed and out of a very messy room.  We couldn’t check into our new room until 11:30 so we found the Internet Corner and logged into our computers as we ate breakfast.  Finally, I am able to connect with wireless on my own laptop again!  Who knows why, but it works here and I’m not going to question why.  We still have food with us from Sydney.  Communal kitchen is well stocked with dishes, etc.  Many of the guests make all of their own meals.  We’re lucky as our dinners are included in the tour package we purchased for our stay here.  They provided breakfast for everyone; but it’s just plain cereal, toast and coffee or tea.

We have been placed in an eight bed dorm room again but it has an in suite bathroom so we don’t have to go down the hall to the common bathrooms.   Also, it looks like there are only going to be four of us in this room.  We’ve all four booked the package tour as opposed to just renting rooms so they’re being extra nice to us.  Our roommates are two girls in their late twenties who teach English in schools in Tokyo, Japan.  One of the girls is from Ohio and the other from Melbourne Australia.  They met in Japan when the same company hired them; recruiters had come to their colleges during their senior years.  Both have an adventurous spirit and enjoy the challenges of living in a foreign country.

We’ve bonded rather well and have enjoyed sharing stories about our adventures here in Australia.  Becky (Rebecca) has been here for two weeks, mostly around Darwin.  Becks (Rebecca) is the Australian and just arrived yesterday from Tokyo; she will fly from here to Melbourne to visit her family.  Becky will be going to Sydney from here to visit friends.  We’ve really been very fortunate to have wonderful people around us during this trip.

Today we spent the afternoon walking all over the town; it’s very much like being in Hawaii.  Saw a wedding going on at St. Mary’s Church.  Did some shopping…but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay $250 for a beautiful “rock”…literally…as a souvenir.  My journal and photos will have to do.  This is the first trip that I haven’t done postcards; seems strange but photos on my blog and journals will do.

We walked to town together and then split up with Mary and I exploring the Marina and then headed for the beach.  Low tide and you could walk forever on the hard packed sand.  There were some interesting patterns on the beach made by some sea creature as they deposited small balls of sand as they tunneled.  By the time we left the beach we had a long walk back to our hostel and dinner. 

Tomorrow we start our adventure tours. 

 Port Douglas…August 2, 2008

 Woke up about 7:30 and we ambled down to fix our breakfast with cereal that we purchased yesterday at the store.  We still had tea bags for our hot drink along with fruit.  We were all sitting around the pool enjoying our breakfast because we’d been told that we didn’t have to be ready until 9 am.  Suddenly at 8:30 the hotel staff showed up and said our bus had arrived to pick us up for our tour today!  Seems as though they’d made a mistake on the time; luckily we’d all put our backpacks together last night and we were able to dash up the stairs…we’re on the third floor; get our bags and run to the bus.  We all had on our flip flops and changed into our boots after we got on the bus!  From there they made a few more stops and eventually our group numbered eight people:  a couple from Poland; another from Wisconsin and the four of us.

Half an hour later we arrived at our first destination having passed field after field of very tall sugar cane.  We are in the Mossman Gorge National Park and our first hike is a discovery walk through the Kuku Yalanji, a Rain Forest, with an aborigine woman named Rosy.  She was a real little spitfire who shared with us many of the secrets of her people for survival in the forest.  Before we entered the forest we were all given bug spray for our arms and legs.  We learned how to make fire from a seed, houses and weapons from trees and leaves, soap and healing balms from a plants and many more very interesting things.  She stressed that her people were lucky because if there is another world war they will know how to survive off the land; she felt sorry for us.  She stressed three things:  Common Sense, Patience and Communication.  These she felt would allow anyone to survive in this world.

She told us how her people are buried inside of trees, never in the ground.  They open up the tree and put the body inside; then the tree continue to grow around the body.  She talked about the government taking the children from their parents and many other cultural customs and history. 

Rosy had married a white man and had two sons with him.  She said she finally left him because he didn’t communicate.  She also said her sons had many European features but that they both had the bulbous nose which is so distinctive among the aborigine people.  She was really a fascinating woman who has come back to the rain forest to share her knowledge that she learned from her parents and grandparents with others.   

At the end of the two hour tour she gave us hot tea and damper cake that she’d made that morning.  Soon we were back on our bus headed for our second tour of the day.

Nearby was Mossman Gorge walk.  We went on our own hike on well marked trails.  We had an hour and half to complete a two kilometer loop walk through another rain forest that included a swinging bridge that was limited to twenty people at a time.  We waited until it cleared on the way back so that we could run across it!  Wow…could it ever swing!

We had just enough time to stop at the swimming hole; exchange our boots for flip flops and wade in the icy cold water before heading back to the bus and our trip home.

We walked to town and purchased fish & chips for lunch.  The three girls took their food and headed for the beach.  I decided to return to the Hostel and work on photos and my journal.  I enjoy being with the girls but sometimes I know when to take some time away.  We do get a bit wiser as we grow older; but Rosy did say that I was the youngest 69 year old she’d seen!   Probably says that to all the old women on her tours!

Tonight we’re going in to town after dinner to rent some toads to race; they have nightly toad races at one of the bars in town.  Should be fun; but since we have to on the bus by 8 am tomorrow morning for our all day snorkeling adventure on the Great Barrier Reef; it may be an early evening.  

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