Cairns, Queensland, Australia

2019 HAL World Cruise

Sunday, March 10, 2019

 

Cairns was first sighted by Capt. James Cook on June 10, 1770.  It was one hundred years later, with the discovery of gold in the Palmer River and the Hodgekinson gold fields, that the settlement of Cairns would be established (in 1876 to be exact.)  The inland rail service was built in 1885 with Cairns as its terminus.  Thus, the town’s future was guaranteed.  Cairns became a major center.  The charm of Cairns is that it offers big city amenities and convenience with a small-town friendliness and charm.  We have been here many times, we’ve watched the changes and growth occur.  I’ll share some photos we took on our last visit in 2016.  I must do so because on this trip, we took an excursion to the Kuranda Rainforest and did not have time to tour the town.

Photos of Cairns in 2016:

A view of Cairns from the ship in 2016.  That's the Casino on the right.
A view of Cairns from the ship in 2016. That’s the Casino on the right.
A pedetrian walkway runs from dockside to the Shangri La Hotel.
A pedestrian walkway runs from dockside to the Shangri La Hotel.
Downtown Cairns.  That's an open-air market on the left.
Downtown Cairns. That’s an open-air market on the left.
The downtown open-air market.
The downtown open-air market.
The Lagoon is a man-made inlet and swimming pool in downtown Cairns!
The Lagoon is a man-made inlet and swimming pool in downtown Cairns!

So, let me now tell you about this year’s interesting adventure in Cairns.  We took a ship’s tour to the Village of Kuranda and the Barron Gorge National Park in the rainforest.  The adventure began with a train ride on the Kuranda Scenic Railway.   The construction of this railway is considered an engineering marvel.  It was designed to transport supplies from the coast up to the gold mines.  The project began in May 1886.  It was completed in June 1891. During that 5-year period, 1500 men laid 23 miles of track to an altitude of nearly 1000 feet above sea level through 15 hand-carved tunnels, over 55 bridges and around 98 curves.  It was a 1 ½ hour train ride to Kuranda Station with a short stop at the Barron Falls Lookout for a photo op.  In the village, we had time (about 1 ½ hours) for lunch or shopping or a visit to the Kuranda Koala Gardens.  We did not think this was enough time to do it all, so we opted for lunch and shopping.  Although cuddling a Koala is still on our list of things to do, once again it has been put-off ‘til another visit.  At the allotted time, we checked-in for our return trip to Cairns aboard the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.  This 4.7-mile cableway was completed in 1995 after 1 year of construction.  All the towers were lifted into place by helicopter to avoid disturbing the rainforest.  The tallest tower is 133 feet.  And there are 114 gondolas.

Let me show you some photos:

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We took a tour bus from the ship to the Freshwater Railway Station to begin our adventure into the Rainforest.
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As we crossed the Stoney Creek Falls Bridge we were able to see the locomotive at the head of the train….
.....and the rest of the cars trailing behind.
…..and the rest of the cars trailing behind.
Crossing the Barron River Gorge.
Crossing the Barron River Gorge.
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We found a drawback to be the vegetation so lush and close to the tracks that it is difficult to see or photograph anything!
A risk of visiting the rainforest is RAIN.....
A risk of visiting the rainforest is RAIN…..
.....and rain, it did.....
…..and rain, it did…..
......and then it cleared.  And we could see the forest again!
……and then it cleared. And we could see the forest again!
Another view of the rainforest from the train.
Another view of the rainforest from the train.
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When we arrived at the Barron Falls Lookout, we all jumped out to take photos and enjoy the non-rain interlude!
From the lookout, we could see the skyrail viewing center across the gorge.
From the lookout, we could see the Skyrail viewing center across the gorge.
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This is the Skyrail crossing the gorge. You can see two gondolas passing on the left. One of the towers is visible on the right.
And then it was time to reboard and continue the journey to Kuranda Village.
And then it was time to re-board and continue the journey to Kuranda Village.
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Look at the length of that train!!! No wonder the platform and station were so crowded!!!
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We chose to have lunch and do some shopping in Kuranda. The afternoon libation is Moo Brew.
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Moo Brew is a Pilsner by the Moo Brew Brewery. This Pilsner, with its delicate malt flavor. uses only German Spalt hops to achieve not only a unique and noble hop aroma, but also a lingering bitterness. Rog said it was quite good.
After a tasty lunch, we shopped our way back to the Skyrail Station.
After a tasty lunch, we shopped our way back to the Skyrail Station.
The opportunities to spend money were endless!!!
The opportunities to spend money were endless!!!
There is something for everyone.
There is something for everyone.
We boarded the Skyrail cable car--six to a car--and began our descent.
We boarded the Skyrail cable car–six to a car–and began our descent.
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And we’re off! Skimming the treetops in the Kuranda Rainforest.  It is a downpour!!!
It doesn't clear until we are approaching the Smithfield Station.
It doesn’t clear until we are approaching the Smithfield Station.
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Back in town, we re-board the tour bus and drive back to the ship. Cairns is known for its “flying foxes.”  They are bats!!! And those black pod-like things you see hanging in the tree, yup, they’re bats!

Once we returned to Cairns, we discovered that a brew pub had been built in the old Wharf Shed #7!  This is right next to the cruise terminal as well as our ship!!!!  Well, who could resist?!?

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When we got back to the dock, we stopped at the Hemingway Brewery. This brew pub in built in what was once Wharf Shed #7. I love the design.
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And it is so convenient!!!! that’s the MS Amsterdam docked right outside the pub. How cool is that!

We are now cruising through the Torres Straight on our way to Darwin in the Northern Territory.

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