Finally, my White Water Rafting day arrived. Pickup was the usual time: 7:30 am. Aussie Drifterz was always on time! The warm up event was tubing this am and rafting in the pm. Sweet. (Photo’s were taken by the Aussie Drifterz guides – Sorry, W/s didnt turn out as she wished).
We corralled the rest of the group making several hotel / hostel stops. Stopped by the main staging area for a bus change and picking up gear. Off we went. No rain. Looking forward to a great day. It is the rainy season. So far we have been lucky.
An hour later we unloaded and the guides had the tubes inflated. A few instructions, introductions, a couple of stories and we grabbed a life jacket, tube and strolled down the bank. There were three guides, one to lead, one to follow and one to take photos. While W/’s phone is water proof, searching for it in a fast moving rocky stream was not high on our list of things to do. One tidbit of info the guides stressed was that ANYTHING not attached to you or not worn by you, expect to lose it. It is always best to listen to those who know!
We headed down the bank, sank into our tubes and floated out into the creek. W/ first and I followed. The water temp was cool enough to keep us awake and not warm enough to bathe in. Paddling was by hand over the sides of the tubes. For W/ paddling was more like fingering. Her hands would only brush the water as she tried to paddle. Big tubes.
The first minor rapids we slide down everyone stayed upright and I lost W/. I looked around and didn’t see anyone with their head sticking out from the tube. Looks like somehow she moved ahead of me. So I began paddling, lazing along, paddling some more, trying to catch the group. She must be in there. As I closed in on them I still couldn’t see her.
Five minutes later I find that she hitched a ride. All the guides used Kayaks. Kayaks are faster and more maneuverable than tubes. The guide picking up slackers had thrown W/ a rope for a tow. She hung on while he brought her up to the core group. Cheater!
The creek had several small rapids the guides hinted might be a grade 2, maybe a 3. Keep your hands and feet off the bottom as you are flushed through. Attempting to grab a rock or plant your feet in the bottom is a great way to end up racing to the hospital. Water is not forgiving. With your foot or hand stuck the water will push and twist you around forcing you to flow downstream. Should you find yourself in the water, lay flat with your feet out front and bob along till the current slows and you can climb back on / in the tube.
That… was good advice. Somewhere around the 1/2 way mark; while being flushed down between a couple of boulders my tube hit a wall of water. The tube stopped, I didn’t. I grabbed on to it and started to lay back with my bum receiving a not so nice massage from the rocky bottom. At one spot i thought I could put my foot down and climb back aboard. Soon I saw the error of my way. The guides were spot on. Once the depth thinned out I was able to stand and reposition myself in the tube.
No further events interrupted the day. We came to a flat sandy area and there we reloaded the gear heading back home. This afternoon was going to be my high point. The last day in Cairns, the last tourist event of our trip. River Rafting!
A wet ride back and a light lunch. We dried off and were ready to go again. The cattle bus (tourist bus) came by and we climbed aboard. Two hotels later we had picked up another group and waited on the bus for some time. Ten minutes later the driver returned. He said the rafting was being cancelled and our money refunded. There had been a great deal of rain in the Table Lands, and the river had risen 2 meters in less than an hour. The flash flooding makes the river extra dangerous. Sorry.
As cruisers we have learned to accept how fluid plans are. We understand. Weather changes, waves change, an anchorage good one day may be uncomfortable the next. However, accepting the change does not mean liking the change.
Personal note: sorry things got out of order but this is the general gist of events clogging my memory.
Things do not always works as planned. Well, truth be told, rarely do they seem to work out exactly as planned.
Monday we were to do the Tubing in the am and White Water Rafting in the pm. That tourist adventure was number one on my list. The bus picked us up at 7:30 am. The bus had the Rafting logo, Tubing logo, Water Falls logo, all the events this company did; plastered on the side. We asked when they arrived, Tubing and Rafting and the guide said “Yep, that’s what we do”! Unfortunately for “moi”, that was not what they did … that day. On the way out of town he asked about lunch and started taking orders. We were told
lunch was not part of the Tubing Rafting adventure. We said “we don’t get lunch”. Our guide said we did. We said “No we don’t, we have Tubing this am and Rafting this pm” . It was then our guide realized we had been put on the “wrong list”! Yes we had planned to do the waterfalls but that was Friday, with our travel mates. Somehow; on purpose or not, the days for us had been switched.
When W/ made the reservations she even confirmed that on Friday we would be with our “mates” (Aussie speak for friends) on the waterfalls tour and the contact said yes she had us down for that and made a note.
Now we are stuck. I don’t know if they actually had Tubing / Rafting on that Monday but here we were…. heading out to see …. waterfalls.
So we made the best of it. What else could we do? The Babinda Boulders and swimming was pleasant. The falls were gorgeous, the fish and chips at a restaurant in the Table Lands quite good. Plus we swam in a lake formed in the middle of a volcanic crater. After which
and trekked around a Curtain Fig with a root system larger than any I had seen before. The tour guide helped make the trip an enjoyable experience. He actually had my dream job; that of working 7 months a year and traveling 5. Of course, now I’m a wee bit past wanting such but it is nice to know there are some of those around. At lunch he contacted the home office. They adjusted our price and scheduled us for Tubing Friday am and White Water Rafting in the pm. Sweet. In the end it will all be
good. The rest of the day we spent playing in the water and Exiting the table lands traversing the curvyist road in existence. this road had close to 263 “corners” in approx 1 km decent.
After a slalom decent by auto we unpacked and chilled at our abode on the esplanade.That evening we hung out at the hotel and during Happy hour had a short dinner settling in to watch some of the Australian Open. The following day was a city day. W/ and I brought our tennis racquets; Gary and Paula borrowed some over the hill racquets from the hotel and we played a little tennis in the am. For the rest of the day I was interested in a City tour. We just couldn’t get our ducks in a row so we ended up walking around. We checked out an Engel place. The tech was excellent and answered some qsts on our
refrigeration system on the boat. Walking on we found the Botanical Gardens. I nice walkabout in the beauty of flowers eased us towards evening. The hotel gave us some time to refresh our feet before we had an Aquarium tour and dinner scheduled.
I have been surprised at the various Aquariums we’ve seen since the states. The one in New Caledonia was splendid. In Mooloolaba again exhibits took my breath away. And this one; I can’t say topped all of them but I will say was a wonderful surprise. All; for my money, were superior to the National Aquarium in the US. All were superior to the Shields Aquarium in
Chicago, or the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. We had a small tour of 15 people or so and a guide that must have ingested several cups of coffee. Not bad in any way, only very excited about every exhibit; and the kids loved her! I would have loved a more “behind the scenes tour”. The fish / life was wonderful. All exhibits were hospital clean. Not sterile, just clean. The occupants all seemed healthy and happy. The lobsters looked…. perfectly edible! 🙂 You name it, it was there. No; no whales but that was about the only thing missing. Goliath groupers, several kinds of sharks, octipi, etc. What was most fascinating was how they kept everything healthy. All the water is mixed to the correct salinity on site. None pumped in from the ocean. It is continuously turned over; filtered and constantly UV sterilized. All the fish that are fed to the predators are frozen for weeks killing any pathogens that they might have. The operation is all in all… fantastic.
Afterwards the restaurant was…. so so. The company…. excellent. Too often I find my meal choice is not the best. I had steak. Yeah, I know it is a restaurant at the Aquarium on the ocean but….. I ordered steak. And just to be clear, Australia is not like the US restaurant industry. There are not different grades of steaks with restaurants buying the best. To my knowledge meat here is not graded at all. All too often the meat I’ve ordered in a restaurant is nothing like I would have received in the states. One would think by now I would know better. I am… a slow learner. But the presentation was wonderful and they
had the largest Aquarium of any restaurant I have ever eaten at. 🙂 After all, it was “The Aquarium”.
As we left the rain pelted us. Time for a taxi; Ubers were not the best option in Cairns. Earlier that day W/ and I were quoted a $25 one way for an Uber to a restaurant for lunch. That didn’t cut it. We could have rented a car at a daily rate of $39 ! Oh well,