It's a jungle out there...
Well, out there, right, right again and a few km up the road. We're in Cairns at the minute, the oddly-American looking capital of North Queensland.
It seems everything up here can kill you. Or, at a push, will kill you if you ask it nicely and it's not too busy. As our frustrated-comedian of a boat guide put it:
"Ya worst case scenario is ya get chased up a tree by a croc, the tree blinds ya, ya fall back in the water and get run over by a tour boat..."
But then he also claimed that:
"Ya basic deadly jumping snake is absolutely harmless... until it bites ya. Even then, you've still got 3 minutes..."
So far, we've been warned off:
:!: The cassowary - a large, flightless bird that can disembowel you with a single kick.
:!: The box jellyfish or 'stinger' - which infests the coastal waters at the moment and can cause so much pain that the body shuts down in an 'ignore it and it'll go away' sort of way. You can neutralise the venom with the vinegar they leave on beaches, but that won't stop the pain.
:!: The stinger tree - which sounded pretty similar to the normal stinger, except they need to remove three layers of your skin to get the bristles out.
:!: The blind-your-eye mangrove - the pressurised sap of which can cause irrepairable blindness. As you can see, they subscribe to the 'does what it says on the tin' school of nomenclature around here.
:!: The textile cone shell - which looks like a pretty sea shell, but contains a harpoon-type-thing that packs enough poison to kill 50 people.
:!: The crown of thorns starfish - see 'stinger'
:!: The deadly jumping snake, which may or may not exist. I assumed not, but when you look at the rest of the names they give these things, sounds reasonable.
This is, of course, forgetting the many and varied normal run-of-the-mill deadly things, like snakes, spiders, sharks, crocodiles and ordering a white-wine spritzer in a local pub.
Anyway, we've been staying at place called Calypso
, which I'd heartily recommend. Probably my all-time #1 backpackers' so far and a million miles away from The Flea Pit, or wherever it was we stayed in Sydney. Very, very friendly and everything you need.
We've been on a little invintion (nah mate, it's more of an idvinture) over the past couple of days. Took a bus up to Cape Tribulation and stayed in The Beach House
On the way we stopped off at a rainforest habitat place, which was cool and full of very in-your-face animals. Then we went for a swim in the Mossman River, which was literally cool and very scenic. Last stop before Cap Trib, was a croc-spotting trip on the Daintree River. Saw a couple; one big, one small.
The Beach House was an amazing place to stay, but we didn't have long there. First thing in the morning, we'd booked onto a snorkeling trip on the Great Barrier Reef. Definitely on my list of things to do before I die and every bit as amazing as I'd expected. One of the highlights of my life if you ignore my very sunburnt elbows...
Only Ady got to see a shark, but it would be rude to complain. Far from what I'd heard, our catamaran was the only boat I saw all day. We moored up by a little sand cay and basically spent the entire day swimming with the fishies. Lots of fishies and a shark that I didn't see. I've heard various stories about snorkeling up here (crowded, poor visibility etc etc) but our trip on the Rum Runner
was none of those things.
Tomorrow it's our first trip on the Oz Bus, which should be interesting...
Photos are here now >>