March 23 Townsville – Paronella Park
Rain. So much rain. We had been listening to the rain all night and it showed no sign of easing this morning. We packed as much as we could then waited for a slight break to drop the tent.
We waved farewell to Townsville and headed north. A brief stop at the Frosty Mango saw us all refreshed with some delicious ice cream. You see it may have been raining lots but it was still 35°…so humid!
We had remembered seeing a bookmark in the road atlas we had borrowed from some lovely friends for a beautiful garden estate. When we saw it on a billboard we decided that would be our stop for the night. You get lulled into a false sense of cool when driving with the stormy skies and aircon blasting. It’s not till you open the door and get hit with that wall of heat and the glasses fog up instantly that you come crashing back to reality.
Paronella Park is an eatate built by one man with a dream. The ruins of the castle, ballroom, lower tea rooms and grand staircase are very aztec in feel. They were built from concrete by a pastry chef. Its really amazing!
We set the very wet tent (you can stay for 1 night with your admission) and hurried to join the last day tour. It was incredible hearing about José’s life and his journey with the property. We fed fish, eels and turtles under the lovely waterfall and enjoyed the gardens as we dripped with sweat.
A cold drink was very much in order and was thoroughly enjoyed as we cooled down infront of the large fans. We headed back to the tent to cover ourselves with repellent before the night tour.
We were issued with torches and set off once again through the tropical gardens. The sights were just as lovely at night. At the bottom of the garden we saw a firefly…very cool. We were also treated to some glowing moss and mushrooms. We headed back to the lower tea rooms and watched as it was lit up. So pretty.
More rain set in as we cooled off in a lovely shower. This broke the heat a little and we drifted off to sleep with that familiar dripping sound on the roof.
March 24 Paronella Park – Cairns
The next morning we planned to wander the gardens a bit more while it was a bit cooler. After packing down we headed towards the suspended bridge over the waterfall. We could instantly see the affect of last nights down pour.
The place where we had fed fish the day before was now slightly submerged. It was amazing how much the river had risen.
With temperatures rising we got into Blu and started our short drive to Cairns. We had been watching the weather closely with the cyclone being forecast to hit soon and had decided on staying only one night. Even if the cyclone passed lower we didn’t want to risk it or being stranded if roads were closed.
The highway was lined with banana trees. We paused at the Frog on Banana fruit stand (yes there actually was a frog on a banana statue 😂) and bought some of the tiniest bananas I have ever seen. They tasted different but just as Adrian remembered ☺.
We stocked up the fridge and set up camp before enjoying a refreshing swim. In the heat and humidity, we have been choosing our stops based on them having a pool or not…thankfully most do.
Again the rain poured as we ate our dinner and got settled for the night. We went to bed wondering if tomorrow would bring better weather.
March 25 Cairns – Green Island – Cairns – Georgetown
We woke to blue, sunny skies! How great is our God! Today we were booked on a 9am boat over to Green Island to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef.
The ride over was a bit choppy but nothing too bad. When we arrived we stayed on the jetty as we were booked on the 10am semi-submarine tour. It was so windy I nearly lost my hat! We watched as the sub bobbed into the jetty and hoped it would be ok. Keeping kids calm is a good way to distract yourself from your own concerns about being terribly sick.
It was really cool in the sub! I don’t mean that literally as it was actually quite stuffy. You sit 2 across on benches below the level of the water with glass windows either side. The boat swayed heaps but I stuck out the half hour cruise. Even though it was choppy we still saw some amazing fish, coral, reef shark and a couple of turtles. Incredible!
Back on dry land, we decided to explore the resort for a while before lunch. We went for a wander before spending some time in the cool waters of the pool. Clarissa and Adrian did some flips while Zach tried to get me to ride on his shoulders. It was great fun.
With rumbly bellies we wandered along the jetty to the big cat where lunch was being served. It was really busy! We had a good selection of cold meats, salads, rice, curry, pasta, bread and fruits. Yum!
Now that we were full it was time to snorkel. We picked up our gear and headed for the beach. The coral is not far off shore and it not out deep so it was a great way for the kids and I to experience our first snorkeling trip. The kids had been doing lots of practice in the pools along the way but this was a bit different.
After convincing Clarissa that it was ok and she could stand where we were going, we headed out to see the beautiful reef up close. It didn’t disappoint. Most of the corals were yellow and orange in colour but there was an occasional pop of the most stunning blue.
After a few hours we headed back to the boat to find a seat for our return to Cairns. We had been concerned that we may not see much due to the eminent cyclone but we had had an amaing day on the reef!
With the safety of our little family as our highest priority we had made the decision to drive through the night to get as far inland as we could. We grabbed pizza for tea and set off. Although this meant we would be missing going any further north and even some other sights along the way, we knew we were doing the right thing. Hey there is always next time 😉
We drove till about 10.30pm before finding a roadside stop near Georgetown to sleep in Blu for the night. Tomorrow was going to bring many more miles.