australia part 3: rest of cairns & melbourne

the liveaboard ended on the 3rd day, so at 2pm we transferred back to the smaller boat that’d take us back to cairns. i still hate the boat, but at least there weren’t so many people on board, and i didn’t have to do anything but stare at the horizon. πŸ˜€ oh, i did buy some photos of me underwater. (actually, my friend bought them for me. hee hee).

the diving tour agent took us back to our hotel (a different one, this time rydges plaza located at the city centre, across the street from gilligan’s). we took time to take a shower and only went out to have dinner at a sushi train restaurant. ergh, we should’ve picked another restaurant, cos the sushi wasn’t very good. oh, and we also went to gilligan’s tour shop to book our daily tours for the next day. we decided to do kuranda scenic train on the morning and peronella park for the day after.

day 6: kuranda
a big bus picked us up at the hotel at 7.15 on the dot. apparently this is a very popular tour, so the driver must pick up a lot of people before continuing our journey to freshwater, up north of cairns. at freshwater we’ll board the scenic train heading to kuranda.

oh, there are actually two choices of how you want to do this trip.
1. train by morning, skyrail by afternoon.
2. skyrail by morning, train by afternoon.
i suggest that you do the first choice, cos the sun is better for taking photos and the view from the train is unbelievable.

the train ride takes about 50 minutes with plenty of scenery surprises. at the almost end of the track the train stops for 15 minutes so that passengers can take photos of the beautiful barron falls. after that the train arrived at a cute station.

from station to village it’s only a 5 minute walk in nice weather, so we opted to walk and ditch the free shuttle bus. we got 5 hours to spend in the village (the skyrail departs at 1.45 or 3.30, which ever you booked). so after lunch and a bit of shopping (yes, they have all kinds of stuff there!) we went to see the bird sanctuary ($17). it’s not large, but it’s a whole lotta fun. you get all kinds of beautiful parrots sitting on your shoulder. you can buy bird food for $2 for a big bag. after that we went to see butterfly park ($16), which is equally breath-taking but not as fun as the birds. it’s a bit hard to take photos of the butterflies. πŸ˜€ then at last we went to the wild sanctuary ($17) where you get to see walabies (can pet and feed them for free), wombat, koala, alligators, and a sleepy phyton. for $40 per person you get tickets for all entrance. and then you get another $2 per person discount voucher when you board the train. so it’s a bargain you must see.

going home by the skyrail is equally breathtaking. you can board anytime you like around the time designated for your departure. the skyrail takes 50 minutes but you get 2 stops where you can walk around and take photos. since our bus (that’ll take us back to the hotel) would leave at 4.30, we didn’t stop very long, but it was still fun.

dinner was at a byo thai restaurant. food was excellent.

day 7 : peronella park, milla milla
i gotta say i can’t remember all the names of the places we went this day, except the few names i mentioned above. basically for this tour, we went south of cairns to the top of the mountains (called tablelands) where they produce sugar and dairy products. the most memorable places are:

paronella park. a beautiful park you must see. it was build by a spannish engineer for his wife and 2 kids. it was simply breathtaking. too bad the tour was a bit rushed. i’d’ve loved to stay there longer. this waterfall is actually a dam, built for the owner’s hydro electric generator (first of its kind back then). apparently in the old days you could swim there (i sat at the diving board), but nowadays you can’t.

milla milla (aboriginal for waterfall waterfall). aboriginal language doesn’t have adjectives so they merely repeat the word twice to emphasize. this is a quite huge waterfall. too bad you still can’t swim there, although the water was very clear. (there’s a dairy farm nearby, and they’re afraid you might get bacteries from the cows).

we got home a bit late from all the excursions but it was fun. too bad we didn’t have time to do the daintree rainforest and the capetribulation. oh well, we’ll do it some other time. i’m sure we’ll be back, someday.

oh dinner on the last day in cairns was frustrating. my friend suddenly had an epiphany that he had to eat indian food at a particular resto he’s been seeing for the past week. so we went around the block to find this resto. apparently, he couldn’t find it!! so we kept circling the city centre trying to find an indian restaurant. along the way we went past 3 indian restaurant, and he wants what he couldn’t find. great. finally, after about an hour (it was almost 9, i was hungry and anxious that all the restaurants would be closed soon) he relented and we ate at a rather crowded indian restaurant. the food turned out to be excellent. lamb curry, prawn cooked in coconut milk, garlic canai… excellent!! he was still upset that he couldn’t find the resto he wanted. i was just glad i could eat.

day 1 – melbourne
our flight to melbourne was a bit more disastrous than the previous flight. first we couldn’t book the shuttle bus back to the airport at the $7 price, so we had to book from the hotel, which is $10 per pax. then the bus was late to pick us, so we were a bit worried. luckily we had enough time before check in, and managed to grab a bite to eat before boarding the plane (i don’t know why i didn’t fly with qantas domestic!!! should’ve!! much more convenient. … oh now i remember. price. :D). we arrived in melbourne at 3pm, and waited for my friend to pick us up.

this time we stayed at the travelodge southbank, located at the lower part of eureka tower (the highest tower in melbourne now, i heard). room was a bit small, but it’s nice. after that all four of us went further to southbank to grab a late lunch at a new indonesian resto called garamerica. delicious. i ordered sop buntut and gado2 for my friend. the sop buntut was delicious but the gado2 not as much. we met up with another couple friend of mine, have a chat, and then get ready for dinner (err.. yes, we ate 2 meals that day).

dinner was at sofia, an greek owned italian resto famous for its huge portion. too bad i forgot to take photos. at that time i was shivering really bad cos of the cold weather. i didn’t even enjoy the walk from the car park to the resto (yes, a mere 2 minute walk) cos it was freezing.

day 2
we took a stroll down swanston st to buy some souvenirs. i’m mostly amazed at how the place have changed in 9 years i haven’t been there. melbourne central is a huge crowded complex now. and dockland is beautiful… we took the free city circle tram ride to see docklands area. wish i’d stopped by now. it was raining in the afternoon so we just relax in the hotel room, eating churros with chocolate dip we bought earlier. it was nice. πŸ™‚

for dinner we went to *jrengjreng*… another indo resto at the city. called es teler!! haha.. yes they have es teler there! too bad the otak2 goreng wasn’t as good as the one in jakarta. but the food was nice. i ordered kari udang for me, and nasi goreng kambing for my friend. i gotta say it’s good to see my friends again after all these years.

i don’t know what’s going on, but i heard and saw unbelievable things while in melbourne. first, when i was souvenir shopping, i overheard a girl said “hey there’s a stabbing in melbourne central!! let’s get the hell outta here!”. great! melb central was only 2 blocks away. then at night on the way back to the hotel we saw a car crashed in front of flinders station. lots of police and fire-rescue there. whoa.

there! that concludes my travel so far. after melbourne i went back to sydney (a 9am flight… i was already jittery from all the packings and getting up at 5am in the morning) and we had to take the taxi back to the airport cos they don’t have shuttle bus in melbourne, unless we go to the spencer st station. ugh. taxi cost $50 but under the circumstances, i’d take it again anytime.

in sydney airport we transfered from domestic to international ($5 train ride) so my friend could check in for his flight back to US. and then i went back to the city to do some more shopping. really. while walking along pitt st mall i heard a girl scream “THIEF!!!”. whoa!!! then i saw a chinese guy running really fast, and the girl right behind him, and another 2 guys (one in satpam uniform) chasing after the thief. and the girl kept on screaming so more guys went after the thief. naturally i stopped to see what happen next. less than 5 minutes, the thief was captured. oh. πŸ˜€ what a drama. that’s it, enough drama (and cold weather) for me. so i went to kinokuniya and bought some books and sat the cafe for about 2 hours.

dinner was at a japanese resto in world square. i ordered wagyu terriyaki …. aweeeesooommme!! must say i really like all the resto my bro picked. yummm. food in sydney doesn’t disappoint.

anyways, what a great trip. it’s nice to see almost all of my friends again after all these years.

i’m already thinking about my next trip. πŸ˜€

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