Travel plans were once again befuddled by the South Pacific cyclones. This time it was Marcus, which turned out to be the strongest, most destructive cyclone to strike Australia in over ten years. Huge trees were toppled in Darwin, north of us. We only suffered from severe rain. Fifteen inches of it, in a single day. That was enough to cancel all tours to the Great Barrier Reef.
Green Tree Frogs of Australia
As a result of these rains and tour cancellations, I have now carried a snorkel mask with corrective lenses and a snorkel halfway around the world and it appears it will not get wet, at least not by seawater. The ferry to the famous Daintree Rain Forest was also closed. So what is left for a photographer to do? In between the severe downpours I photographed lilies and frogs. Both were in their element.
The green tree frog is one of the largest frogs in Australia, so says Wikipedia. So if these frogs are indeed green tree frogs, they must be babies as they were the size of a dime. Every one of these frogs I saw, and I saw many, were all the same size. I’m inclined to say these are adults and I really do not know what kind of frog they are. They were exceedingly loud when croaking and not being bothered by this photographer tourist.
The Drive to Cairns, Bat Sightings
I’m always on the lookout for lone clouds or lone trees. When found, they can simplify a photo and make the subject of the photograph more clear. While certainly I knew I was photographing the ocean in this scene, the many bright red shells of dead crabs at my feet reinforced this fact. Is this normal or a result of the cyclone?
Driving out of the small town of Port Douglas, my wife said she thinks she just saw a tree full of bats. This certainly bears further investigation, so we turned around. Sure enough, tree after tree was full of very large bats. Initially quite an astonishing sight, it became common. The many trees below our rental condo in Cairns were full of the huge bats. Their wingspan is easily four feet. They do not have radar detection capabilities like many bats, since their main food is fruit. They fly all night to their feeding grounds and flap their wings and make noise all day long. I do not know when they ever sleep.
The bats are constantly fanning themselves with their large wings in an attempt to cool off. Locals generally do not like these bats, as you can imagine the mess they leave on cars and the noise they make, yet they are a protected species. We never grew tired of seeing or hearing them. While some reviews of our condo mentioned the loud squawking of the bats as a detriment to sleeping, we were simply amazed by them.
In the evening the colony of bats would fly in large masses to some distant fruit field. While very cute looking, inadvertent scratches from their claws infect horses, cattle and people and can be fatal.
The Drive to Cairns, Wallaby Sightings
The wallaby looks like a small kangaroo. Since I could not differentiate a small kangaroo from a wallaby, I called them wallaroos, trying to be humorous. Turns out there is a marsupial species called the wallaroo as well. What an unusual sight in this housing development. These wallabies were very skittish even from this long distance. I’m a bit doubtful they are very popular with these residents.
In Cairns I was able to dine on my first kangaroo, which was cooked tough as shoe leather. I would eat it twice more with much better results. Emu was also part of the tasting platter.
World’s Worst Beach
In my opinion, Cairns likely has the world’s worst beach. It is basically mud with a few crabs and four-inch high plants. Now for the bad part. The beach slopes so gently out to sea, this mud beach extends out for miles at low tide which occurs twice a day. So what is a tourist town to do? Build one of the very best swimming pools and make it free to all.
The Cairns mudflats can be seen in the distance past the fine swimming pool.
The large artistic metal fish spray water out from their fins onto bathers below.
I have mentioned before that I am a lazy photographer, especially at this point in our adventure. This swimming pool was only a couple blocks from our rental condo, so I visited it several times at sunrise and sunset. The heat and humidity are unbearable at all other times of the day.
The photo below does not qualify as a selfie by my definition. A selfie must have the camera pointed back toward the person. Here the camera is pointed away from me and I am a reflection, so I still may claim to have never taken a selfie.
So goodnight to Cairns, Australia. They tell me there is a great reef just off of its coast. Maybe I’ll get to see it one day.
Next stop Alice Springs, number twelve of eighteen scheduled flights. We are in the home stretch.