Platypus spotting, covid boredom, & slowly reopening...
June 29, 2020
I think everyone knows by now that the world was basically shut down for a couple of months, which is why I haven’t posted an update for a while!
Just before there was a full lockdown, complete with driving restrictions here in Australia, we took a drive out to Kuranda for a short hike, and the next day we went to the Atherton Tablelands to a small town called Yungaburra to go platypus spotting! The drive at nighttime was kind of terrifying; it was through incredibly windy roads, and Australians, here at least, have this tendency to go way too fast and not stay in their lanes.
Platypus spotting was awesome though! We ended up seeing like 6 or 7 of them! They were MUCH smaller than I thought, and I really wish I had a better lens for zooming in on them! I hope you all enjoy the photos I did manage to get. Oh, and for more crazy Aussie driving, we almost got taken out by a logging truck that was barreling at high speed and kicking up all sorts of dust in the middle of the road on our shorter way out. I’m GLAD I was taking it super slow on that road because if not, we’d probably be dead. We turned around and took the long way after that!
Then Australia, like most everywhere else, locked down. They did allow us out for exercise and within a short driving distance. We really didn’t do a whole lot during this time. We spent a lot of time at the Cairns Botanical Gardens and went on a handful of nearby hikes. Our most notable one was a hike called Walsh’s Pyramid, which was actually a pretty rough hike, and it became socked in just in time to reach the top, which allegedly has an amazing view… I can’t confirm. 😅
Our Airbnb in Cairns was up, and we booked our next Airbnb in Port Douglas, which is a small beach town about an hour from Cairns. This was our first Airbnb Plus, and the apartment was awesome and mega comfortable for our shelter-in-place. I wouldn’t complain if we had gotten stuck there even longer. They gave us a killer deal too because of how long we were staying, and Port Douglas has taken a huge hit from the lack of tourists. Again, things were still locked down, so we had the opportunity to walk up and down “4 Mile Beach” too many times to count and explore the nearby mangroves. Oh, and we caught up on a few Netflix shows, and I finally got that blog/vlog I’ve already posted about up!
Australia has kicked butt against COVID, so restrictions started to slowly lift in phases. After phase 1, we made a cool beach fort (so strong it’s still standing 🤣) and went on many more walks and a creek hike during the first phase.
During the second phase, they opened access to the Daintree Rainforest, and we visited as soon as we could! We went a handful of times, one time even driving all the way out to the further point you can with a standard car, Cape Tribulation.
The hikes were very beautiful, but somehow we did not manage to see any animals besides small birds! We did, however, show up to one of the beaches one of the times and by chance managed to catch the migration of Blue Tiger butterflies… there must have been thousands, and they look kind of like light blue monarchs. There’s a photo of one in the album!
Once some of the tours and activities started to open/for Alan’s birthday, we went on a tour of the Daintree River with a local guide in hopes of spotting crocodiles. We were not disappointed. I won’t write a huge section on this because I already did a full post and YouTube video on it for our blog! It was a pretty cool experience though; we saw lots of small crocs, animals, and one croc that was pretty big!
We also went to the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat. It was pretty small, but Australia’s zoos continue to impress me! They let you hang out with many of their birds and other animals in totally open enclosures.
They let us in a few extra times with our tickets too! We got up close with kangaroos, fell in love with a darling and cuddly cockatoo named Max, Alan got chased by their emu, we watched 2 crocodile feedings, and I GOT TO HOLD A FREAKIN’ KOALA!!!! (And get pooped on by it…) It was really awesome to finally get to do some of the touristy stuff and support some of the local businesses after being in a town in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do for weeks!
We were trying to hold out in Port Douglas until we could take a Great Barrier Reef dive, but between the time we had to wait, Airbnb availability, and wanting to move on to something different, well… we decided to move on. We’re going to try to do the GBR in a couple of weeks on our trip; hopefully things will be open and running by then! Queensland currently only has 5 active COVID cases and has been doing great contact tracing! They have 0 new cases at the moment, so everything is going smoothly.
In just a few days, we planned an entire road trip from Cairns to Brisbane. We’re trying to do a ton of fun things and spend 4-6 weeks (I haven’t booked the last couple of bits of the trip yet) making about a 1,100-mile drive down the coast. We started our journey yesterday. I plan on making blog posts and videos along the way (I’ll still give smaller updates here too!). Wish us a safe trip!