Posted on October 1st, 2011
While trying to fall asleep as American tourists were fighting on the balcony below mine last night, it suddenly occurred to me that I have no idea what's going on back in the USA. I haven't once bothered to look at a news site, glance at a paper, or watch TV news since I got here. For all I know, President Obama resigned after declaring war on Canada, and Lindsay Lohan did her patriotic duty by stepping up to run the country after staging a military coup where she firebombed Montreal*.
I'll bet Seattle never gets a Tim Hortons' now. Thanks a lot, President Lohan.
I had just three goals here in Cairns.
There are quite a few ways to visit the rainforest. Most involve tours, and I really, really hate tours. I also really hate renting a car, getting lost, and driving into a crocodile den where I get eaten as an appetizer. So I decided to split the difference by ignoring my fear of heights and taking the "Skyrail Buckets of Death" up over Daintree...
The controlled-burn fires in the area really smoke up the horizon.
Skyrail is (of course) the longest tram line system in the world. Which means the terror never seems to end. Indeed, you can't even see the end of the damn thing from high up in the buckets...
WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIIIIEEE!
Along the way there are stops you can take to see the local sights. Like Barron Falls...
Apparently during monsoon season the falls overflow and is quite an impressive sight.
But the main attraction once you reach the end of Skyrail is the village of Kuranda. There's all sorts of stuff to see and do here with plenty of eateries and shops to keep you busy. I was told more than once that the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary was worth a stop. I thought it was included in my Skyrail ticket cost, but that's not the case... it costs $18 AUD to get in. EIGHTEEN DOLLARS! I very nearly skipped it, but had four hours to kill, so I bought a ticket. And wow, was I ever glad I did...
Some of their wings were so raggedy that I was surprised they could fly at all. Poor butterflies.
After lunch I got a little bored with Kuranda and headed back to the train station for my trip back to Cairns.
And so there I was waiting to board the train back to Cairns when I hear this shrieking coming down the stairs. It's a woman dragging her offspring down the steps to the station. The little hellion is obviously not hurt, he's just being a little brat. But that doesn't stop a woman on the platform next to me from saying "Oh, the poor dear, I wonder what's wrong?" Whereas my first instinct is to douse the little shit in holy water and scream "THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU! THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!" in an attempt to perform an exorcism. On the brighter side, the station is pretty nice...
Established 1891... and still going strong.
Probably the best-maintained rail station I have ever seen, which is very cool.
I think that's a representation of the giant snake that the Aboriginal people believe carved out Barron Canyon?
I paid extra money (too much money, probably) for the "gold service" which allows you to sit in the luxury compartment with free drinks, free snacks, and a souvenir gift (a pin and a pen). The car itself was quite beautiful, and very probably close to 100 years old...
The chairs are probably new, but the interior is carved wood. They don't make 'em like that any more.
The train ride down is pretty special. Most of the time you're clinging to the side of a cliff where the onboard entertainment system beguiles you with awesome facts like "This section of the railway was the most difficult to build because the rock kept crumbling away." Not exactly something you want to hear, which is why I wanted to scream "HOLY CRAP! WHY ARE YOU TELLING US THIS NOW?!? But I just gritted my teeth and enjoyed the views...
The train makes a quick stop so everybody can look down Barron Canyon... from the West this time.
In all honesty, this photo doesn't do it justice. This canyon is SUPER MASSIVELY HUGE!
Stoney Creek Falls, which seems like it's at the half-way point to Freshwater Station.
The bridge over Stoney Creek Falls on the opposite side of the train.
Once I got to Freshwater Station, my Skyrail ticket included a transfer back to my hotel via bus, which was nice. Now I'm hungry, but don't dare risk a dining experience as crappy as my "nachos" last night here at the hotel. Since I have an early, early, early flight, I guess I'll just go hungry.
And dream of Tim Hortons doughnuts.
*And don't think that they didn't have it coming. Lindsay Lohan may spend most of her time drunk off her ass in a cocaine-fueled frenzy, but she knows the strategic importance of a first-strike scenario where the French-Canadians are concerned.
**Okay, I'll admit that visiting the Daintree Rainforest was not actually on my list of goals. But you can't fly after diving for at least 24 hours, so I had to do something.