Around Australia Week 13 – Palm Cove to Townsville

When we finished up last week, I promised to tell you how come Rob ended up running around Cairns looking for a new pair of long trousers and new joggers. Crazy… all we had intended to do was go to the Casino to watch a magic show!

Part of the fun of being near a larger city when you’re on the road is the opportunity to go and see a live show – the glitzy kind, I mean, as opposed to a bush poetry reading or country band. So when we spotted a flyer advertising Sam Powers’ “Extreme Illusions” Magic Show in the Velvet Underground at the Cairns Casino, we thought it sounded like a fun evening.

Off we went to Cairns, with Rob clad in his usual shorts and sandals, but dressed up for the occasion in a cotton shirt with a collar rather than a t-shirt. We got there early, thinking we’d spend a bit of time at the Casino trying to win a fortune, have dinner and then settle back to be wowed by the show. Our first step was to go to the box office to pick up the tickets. As it happened, nobody was in attendance… but there WAS a prominent sign on the wall saying that men would not be admitted without long pants and enclosed shoes.

13_01_Casino_Dress_CodeHuh? I stared at it in amazement. This wasn’t a construction site, was it? I checked around me for signs of warning tape and scaffolding. Nope; just an ordinary casino. So why long pants and enclosed shoes???

“That can’t be right,” said Rob. “I’ll go ask someone if I can get in anyway.”

“What’s the point?” I said, looking at the sign. “Obviously they’ve had other people object… see what it says?” We stared at the words at the bottom of the sign: “NO IFS, BUTS, WHAT IFS OR PLEASES!” and “The Velvet Underground is a Zero Tolerance Venue”!

“Doesn’t sound as though there’s much room for compromise there,” I pointed out. “Oh well. Just buy a cheap pair of cotton pants… but you’d better get shoes you like so you’ll wear them again!”

Goodbye to winning a fortune at the casino: hello shopping centre. 45 minutes later Rob changed into his $20 new pants and his $79.95 half-price-sale Colorado shoes, dumped the rejected shorts and sandals in the car and we went back into the Casino to grab some dinner.

But it didn’t end there. When we finally fronted up to the entrance to the Velvet Underground to pick up our tickets, I whipped out my camera to take a photo of the sign. “This will make a funny story,” I told the girl at the counter, adding that we’d had to go and buy new gear to fit the dress code.

Her hand flew to her mouth. “Oh no,” she said. “You didn’t! Um…er… usually we cover up that sign for the magic show… someone must have forgotten to do it. That’s only for people going to the nightclub…”

Growl, growl!!! At least the show was worth seeing!

Kuranda, Village in the Rainforest

We’ve been to the Kuranda markets three or four times over the years, and have taken both the train and the Skyrail. This time we went to the markets, but gave the rest of it a miss. As usual, I found something at the markets… this time, a ‘Fishing Excuses’ t-shirt for Rob. (His favourite is “I lost my lucky bait.”)

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For those who haven’t been to Kuranda before, you can have a really good day out in several different ways. Bushwalkers will enjoy the walking tracks: you can choose from easy trails to the river or tackle the Barron Falls walk… a bit more effort, but great views. There are over a thousand species of flowering plants here, so you can go berserk with the camera. There’s also a butterfly sanctuary which lays claim to being the largest aviary and exhibit in Australia, with over 1500 tropical butterflies. The behind-the-scenes laboratory tour is an interesting addition: since the butterflies here are hand-reared, you can see them at all stages of development.

Getting to Kuranda: you can drive, of course, but it’s fun to take the scenic railway. This colourful train leaves from Cairns and winds its way through 15 hand-made tunnels and over 37 bridges, offering excellent views of ravines and waterfalls. You can also take the “Skyrail Experience” that includes the scenic railway, and see the canopy and wonderful views from a cable car.

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Coffee Works, Mareeba

We’d heard that a visit to Coffee Works was well worthwhile, so we took ourselves off to Mareeba and spent a pleasant few hours wandering around sampling a wide range of coffee, chocolate and liqueurs (it’s a hard life) and browsing around the HUGELY comprehensive displays of coffee machines of all shapes and sizes. We liked the humour that has gone into some of the displays: for example, curvy coffee pots were decorated with sashes in a mock ‘Miss America” contest… a fun way to show off the old pots!

We had a tasty lunch there, too, in the courtyard cafe. And being me, I couldn’t leave without a visit to the gift shop and chocalaterie! Okay, so I have no self-control…

One of my purchases was a quirky little book of sayings – lots of which are applicable to caravanners! One I liked was “I find life disconcerting. May I please have some chocolate to stabilise myself?”

Go and visit Coffee Works. It’s a very pleasant little excursion.

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Mossman Gorge

This is a very popular attraction up this way, and little wonder: the lush foliage and waterways are spectacular. And there’s nothing like a nice dip in the cool waters of the Gorge on a hot day! Plenty of walking trails of various lengths, of course… and you’ll get some nice photos from viewing platforms and the suspension bridge.

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All in all, there’s plenty to see around this area. A very nice spot to spend a few weeks… or even longer. We headed back to Townsville afterwards, ready to embark on our trip across to Alice. We’re looking forward to heading inland for a change! 


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