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Wonder Down Under NOT our biggest nightmare!

Author: Marie A.
Date of Trip: October 2001

We went to Australia and rented an RV which there is called a Caravan. Our youngest was still in diapers! The travel agent immediately tried to convince us that it would break up our family. It was the best family vacation in that we had no limitations, could make our own schedule with freedom to go wherever and whenever and not the beaten path. We met wonderful people, stayed at RV campgrounds where there were dinners cooked in a joint outdoor kitchen and dining area with friendly natives quite willing to share there food,advise and cultures to make us feel at home. It was a great learning adventure.

It was just after 9/11 with plenty of fears. It was during the baseball world series and we were from Arizona who won the world series as a new team against the long established Yankees. The Austrailians told us this news and were excited for us when they saw it on the television in the camp outdoor kitchen while sharing shrimp on the barbie with us.

We took 3 long flights to get there out of Phoenix to LA,then to Honolulu, then to Guam then to Cairns in Queensland Australia. We went sailing to the Great Barrier Reef to beautiful pristine beaches where you leave only footprints and take back only memories(great fines or imprisonment if caught with a shell or littering).This was very ideal for all ages. We went zip lining at mission beach which was free in the local beach park with a pool using ocean water and a retaining wall.

We stayed at a cattle station and milked the cows and got to know George and Matilda an old Kangaroo couple. Our whole family played with the beautiful parrots,rode on Camels en route, went to The Bilibong animal sanctuary to see koalas, alligators, pandas,wombats,kangaroos. We went inside the lava tubes which was a big cave carved out of lava and water.

It was our own choosing of what we ate since we shopped in local stores and cooked what we wanted when we wanted to eat. There were Italian neighborhoods with pastry and all the ethnic foods and customs in Innisville,German food, Greek food,Asian food. You name it you can find it. We went into a fairy shop with a local owner who had another small toy store which was quite fascinating. Interesting fairies and other toys including boomerangs,and didgeridoos. It was like going back in time to a smaller,simple life 50 yrs ago to local store front mom and pop butchers,bakers,grocers.

We went in late October into early November 2001, which was their summer/spring. We only booked a hotel on arrival and departure since we traveled by air so long and arrived by midnight and did not know the roads and driving on the wrong side of the road.

The Kuranda train and scenic railway was a wonderfull blast from the past up to the rain forest, followed by a cable car high above the canopy of the rain forest with views of the great barrier reef in the distance. The waterfalls were breathtaking. Various billabongs and the Billabong sanctuary offered one of a kind experiences. Blue Water RV or as they say there Caravan Park offered Camel rides for all of us.

Townsville was a quiet and quaint little town,friendly and clean with great family parks and beaches with unique zip lines, play equipment and sea serpents and fish statues for great family photos as we took in Soropootist Park in Townsville in tropical North Queensland and the rockpool and waterpark in Magnetic Island which are all FREE without long lines and high priced admission tickets there, Palm Cove, Green Island, Charters Towers which was an hour drive inland from Townsville where you truely believe Opy and Aunt Bee are there to greet you at the tiny visitors bureau just before they roll up the sidewalks to go to sleep by 7PM.

We took a nice boat ride to Kelso Reef. There was a long trip to the Cattle Station at Bluff Downs where we passed long truck caravans 2-3 trucks joined together on single lane roads where your RV would have to pull onto a sliver of road to allow the oncoming traffic to pass since there was no two directions possible at the same time.

At the cattle station we got put to work through our own request like a farm hand to be able to play with the kangaroo, parrots and birds with such beauty in such proximity that we had never seen before. The Undara lava tube also caught great interest from all of us with its carved out Lake Eacham. Malanda Falls, Green Isle and Pinnacle reef let us enjoy sailing, swimming and snorkeling and other nice sights and activities.

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