On offer today was the second of the day trips included in our holiday package, once again, on water. This time, the catamaran would take us only as far as Green Island fifty minutes out, and deposit us there for our “Discovery Tour”. Green Island is a very small ancient coral cay, surrounded by reef, but also covered in rainforest, and a popular tourist destination. After the rough seas of the previous tour on Monday we debated whether to go, but from our hotel room, early morning, everything looked calm, so off we trotted – sans breakfast this time – for our 8.30am departure. Okay, well, once out of the protected waters of Cairns harbour it was anything but calm, but our sea legs didn’t let us down on this occasion.
Queensland’s tourist slogan is, “Beautiful One Day, Perfect The Next”. Yeah … no. The southerly winds were still blowing a buster, and rain squalls kept washing through, so again, we declined to snorkel. But we were allocated an early timeslot for a thirty minute glass-bottomed boat tour. We weren’t lucky enough to spot a sea turtle in its natural habitat, but there was plenty of fish life, even though the seas were churned and murky.
Back on the island, not everything was in full swing, due to COVID. Normally a variety of eateries are on offer, and actually there is a small resort on the island where people usually stay overnight, so at least one of those is restaurant standard. Unfortunately closed on this occasion, probably only open for breakfast and dinner currently. A swimming pool is available to both hotel and day guests. Most of the deckchairs had been claimed, but we weren’t in the mood for sunbathing either 🙂
On another part of the island there is a sandy beach. Interestingly, you hire equipment, such as an umbrella and beach chair. I’ve only ever seen this in Europe before, notably Italy. Kayaking and Parasailing are also on offer. Again, the bad weather conditions had knocked these out.
Visitors can also do a “Self Guided Eco Island Walk“. This is a lap of the perimeter of this small island, with part of it accessible boardwalk with explanatory guides. We continued on past the boardwalk, along the shore, pretending to be castaways. (Well, I did, in my mind. Bill was more on a mission). You can tell by the palm tree that the wind was fairly strong. Part way along there was another unofficial beach where some were ‘sun’ bathing and baking (no photo). We’d already walked through the rainforest section when I took the below photos. (It seems you have to manually scroll through the slideshow now. I am really struggling with this version of WordPress 😦 ).
Because the restaurant was closed, what food was available was stock-standard take-away such a hamburgers, hot dogs and pies – and none of that of the gourmet variety – so if you are thinking of doing the trip while under pandemic restrictions, I’d suggest stocking up before leaving the mainland. You can bring food on to the island. Also, there are usually two (or three?) trips a day, so you could bail out at 2.30pm if you’d seen enough, but because of reduced tourist numbers, we were there until 4.30pm.
So we booked a ticket for another attraction, which turned out to be very interesting, with much to see. The Crocodile Farm was opened in 1964, and in 1972, renamed Marineland Melanesia.
|Queen Elizabeth II visited Green Island in 1970, so no doubt this attraction was on her itinerary.|
This is a family owned operation, and I can just imagine what kind of maverick set it up in the first place. The Craig Family moved more than thirty ‘rogue’ crocodiles from the island of Daru (PNG). Cassius is one of their famous drawcards.
We were in time for the 1.30pm feeding show. The white heron was not on the menu. Elsewhere, there were placards with extracts from newspapers about crocodile attacks. My American readers beware. Inspired by the movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’ one mid-20s part-time American model, Ginger Meadows, disregarded warnings and swam in a waterfall in the Kimberleys in Western Australia. Sadly, she did not survive, but her female companion escaped unharmed, although no doubt emotionally scarred for life. (These photos are not Cassius, who is much bigger, 100 years old, missing part of a leg and tail, and no longer quick enough to catch prey).
Okay, well, back on safer ground. The family patriarch spent 17 years in Papua New Guinea and his extensive collection of carvings and ancient primitive tribal art is on display. Most of the crocodiles have made a nuisance of themselves elsewhere, so this is something of a sanctuary for them, but you just don’t expect such rare art collections to be tucked away on a small island, regardless of how many tourists come through on a normal day! There is also a nod to the pearl divers of a previous era.
As you enter and leave the facility, there is a display of around twenty aquariums, showing off various coral and tropical fish. I would love that these photos were much clearer, but I am having trouble with resizing today, so I have to settle for uploading some small sized files (or chew up my WordPress allocation). And I had several more spectacular, but WP refuses to upload them. Sheeesh! Hopefully you get the feeling.
On and off through the day we kept bumping into another retired couple, and as the day progressed, sheltering from the rain, snippets of our life stories were exchanged. Very interesting. Both ex Airforce. He’d been a paratrooper. I even sent off to Don Ostertag to compare notes and fact check some experiences. But as is the way with holiday ‘friends’, we lost track of each other at the end of the day, and didn’t cross paths again during our Cairns break. But it is interesting to see what COVID is doing to tourism. Many holiday packages such as ours are being devised and gobbled up by Australians (rather than the more usual Asian tourism). Since they all have a similar structure, it’s very common to bump into the same people over a series of days, even if they are not staying in the same hotel.
Back in Cairns around 5.30pm, on our way back to the hotel, we headed for the Night Markets. Open every evening, officially from 4.30pm but I’d leave it a little later, this is an eclectic mix of souvenirs, shopping, massage and food stalls. It could be tacky, but actually, many of the stallholders are artisans, or offering good quality goods. We’d spent an enjoyable hour casing the joint two nights before. But neither of us are shoppers, so we needed to let the ideas ‘percolate’ for a couple of days. This time we spent up. Bamboo shirts for Bill, a winter pashmina scarf, summer sandals and jewellery for me, a gift for a friend at home, and a gorgeous musical box made of carved wooden train that runs around on a track for our newly arrived great-grandson. For the impulse buyer we recommend you bring your credit card 🙂 .
By the way, my earrings and necklace was from a company called BoldB who make pieces inspired by beach and atolls and our beautiful coastline. Here is a link to their earrings for example.
We couldn’t make up our mind what to eat there, and by this time being a bit tired, fractious, dehydrated, etc, etc, I was dreaming of having a nice sit-down meal in our comfortable hotel restaurant – again, forgetting that it was closed through the week, on account of, ‘you-know-what’. But the bar was serving simple food, so for the second time that day I had a hamburger, although it was chalk and cheese compared to the one on Green Island. Bill did the sensible thing and had a Thai beef noodle salad.
And once again, a nightcap and bed were the order of the day. By the end of the day, I was almost as exhausted as WordPress has made me today in trying to create this post. What the heck does “This image has an empty alt attribute” mean?