Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cairns - Easter Escape

Cairns for Easter, how good was that! :-) Easter had proven a bit of a challenge to arrange this year, I truly enjoy the road trip-camping combination type of holidaying, but at the same time there are a few hot spot locations in Australia that are not easily reached by land-based transport out of Sydney if you are restricted by the time frame of a long weekend - even taking into account the long-distance-superiority of the Magna. Cairns is one of those places - others are; Broome, Alice Springs and Tasmania, hopefully I will be able to report from a few of these places later during the year, but for now it will be about Cairns for a while.

Being a bit creative with the use of extra holidays we managed to get the needed flight tickets without having to donate blood or organs - just! Boy is Easter expensive(?). The result being that we managed to get 5 days in the Tropical North Queensland at the cost of only one additional holiday and a few dollars. In the wisdom of hindsight it could be argued that pushing that far north early April is like playing with water .. and it was, we probably had 4.5 days of good quality rain that would make any outback farmer dance around in happiness. We did not dance, but realized that with a few changes to the plan we could easily deal with it; no camping - the tent would never dry again, and be careful with your electronic gear, including camera and lenses. I was seriously afraid of how the camera would deal with such conditions, but at the same time it is just a tool and it only has value when being used. I can now happily state that it is still alive and that modern cameras can take much(!) much(!) more water than I would ever had expected before this trip! :-D Our only casualty was a mobile phone that did not like the continuous exposure to 100% humidity. The rain may have hurt us slightly when it comes to the amount of wildlife we saw, particular bird count. However, looking at the outcome of the trip it is probably to our benefit that we were slowed down slightly, otherwise it would have been seriously stressful having to tick all those species :-D Otherwise the rain was no problem, because as they say up there "it is warm rain" and in a weird way quite pleasant.

Arriving in Cairns little G. immediately fell in love with the most exciting fruit and vege market I have ever seen. Initially I desperately tried to argue the case of how much more "fruitful" it would be to spend more time at the Cairns Esplanade 200 meters further down the road, but in the end I had to give in and agree that they have some seriously fantastic fruits, which gave us lots of tasty treats throughout our little holiday.

Finally we made our way down to the Cairns Esplanade! Weather was not great, but who cares when you are at this very cleverly designed boardwalk, which allow you to wander along the water having scenic views of Cairns and the mountains and rain forest surrounding it, without disturbing the life of the mudflats happening a couple of meters below.

As you might already have guessed, we concentrated more on the mudflats down below than the scenic vistas :-D It was absolutely crawling with life. The mudskippers were doing fantastic acrobatic moves to attract the opposite sex .. and to fend of rivals. Best guess is that this species is part of the Periophthalmus family. I remember reading about mudskippers many years ago when I first started being interested in aquarium fish, fantastic animals that are truly amphibious, as long as they are wet they can breath through their skin(!) allowing them to access food sources unreachable to other fish. Arriving at the Esplanade at low tide also allowed us to see armies of mud crabs roaming around feeding on the dirt, but we were probably more impressed by the Fiddler crabs sitting slightly closer to the boardwalk displaying its enormous colorful claw.

As you might have noticed, I have not included a single bird picture. I will make up for that shortly by a full blog post dedicated to the feathered wildlife of the Cairns Esplanade - see you soon.

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