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The Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest,

Blue Mountains and Kangaroo Island (Australia)

May of 2000

Author: Elizabeth Marie Kallman

Participants: Elizabeth and 1 Aussie


After a 14 hour plane ride from Los Angeles to Sydney, I then met up with my Aussie climbing partner and we flew immediately up to Cairns, Queensland (~3 hours). The temperature in Cairns was rather warm and humid at about 85 F. Accomodation rates vary, depending on whether you are willing to stay in a "backpacker resort" or insist upon something a bit more pricey; there tends to be a substantially more active nightlife for the former rather than the latter. We visited two islands off the coast of Cairns for diving: Michaelmus Cay and Green Island. Michaelmus Cay, a bird santuary island at the outermost reef, was a bit more spectacular, but the price to pay is a longer boat ride on what can be rather rocky seas. Bring anti-seasickness pills if you are prone. In the crystal clear water we saw a multitude of brightly colored fish, stingrays, coral, starfish, and the list goes on and on; especially memorable are the giant 150 year old clams. Now I know why the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Also highly recommended is Mission Beach, approximately at two hour drive south from Cairns, which is extrememly isolated and utterly spectacular, with pure white sand, palm trees, and fascinating rock formations. However be wary of the stinger box jellyfish which prey around that beach through much of the year; we were lucky to be there in the off-season.


Within close driving distance to Cairns is the densely lush and humid Daintree Rainforest, which, like the Great Barrier Reef is also a World Heritage Area. Brilliantly colored dark blue, fire-engine red and purple-spotted butterflies. Giant waterfalls. I have never experienced such a dense rainforest canopy such as this before in my life. After our 10 mile hike, perks included a stop at the Tjakupai Aborigine Park, where my highlight of the visit was where I learned how to throw a boomerang and Aboriginal spears. So enthralled was I by the boomerang experience I bought one for myself.


In the spectacular Blue Mountains, we did the Wentworth Falls trek at the end of one day, and the Mt Victoria to Blue Gum Forest trek for one solid day. We hooked up with the Sydney Rockclimbing club and did some incredible climbs!! We did some climbs around Celebrity Crag, Bay Tree Towers, and Three Sisters among many others. Sadly, Three Sisters will be closed starting on July 1 2000 for five years. I found the Aussie climbers to be laid back and extremely friendly--and yet be very considerate and conscientious. A truly enjoyable experience. I will be back.


Yes, we saw plenty of kangaroos both in the outback on the drive from Sydney to Adelaide--where we caught the boat for Kangaroo Island--as well as on the actual island itself. We did several treks in the rainforest, and went caving in Kelly caves. Also saw Remarkable Rocks and tons of seals on the beaches around the area. The most exhiliarating experience was attacking the boulder problems on the beach of Stoke's Bay--and isolated beach at the end of a long, dusty dirt road, which ultimately takes some clambering through a little cave to access. Beautiful rock formations, soft sand, crashing waves, palm tree swaying in the wind--who could ask for more? My highlight of the trip to the island was seeing koalas in the trees in the wild, even though most of them were sleeping. In the end, Kangaroo Island turned out to be my favorite spot of all of the places I visited, and the next time I go back to Oz, I'd like to spend a large portion of my time there.


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