Sunday December 23rd

      Drove up to Cairns. Very very hot drive, hard to imagine it without aircon. Shortly after leaving Mission Beach I went past a little town called Tully at the foot of the hills and at the start of a long detour (40km each way) up to a mountain where you can go white water rafting. Unfortunately it's the wrong time of year, extremely hot and not enough water in the river to see any rapids at all. The reason I was there was for a rainforest walk where there are supposed to be a lot of tropical butterflies. I saw one very large blue one, similar to one I'd seen at Little Crystal Creek, but as before I couldn't see it for long enough to take a photograph. Just about managed to get this picture of a large brown butterfly instead.


Butterfly, about 5 inches wide

      The best places to stay in Cairns are along the Esplanade, the beachfront. Despite the time of year there is no problem getting accommodation. I'd heard earlier that people mostly go south for Christmas and New Year (it's very hot here) so maybe it's that or perhaps the lack of tourists this year. I checked into a hotel, a 7th floor room with superb view of the whole place and the sea, and phoned Tanya.


Cairns, the main beach seen from the hotel room


Looking the other way


An unusual tree outside the library, where many Aboriginees (left) hang out

Monday December 24th, Christmas Eve

      Just a day of relaxing, talking to friendly people in Cairns. This is the most friendly large place I've seen so far in Australia, so far as general people are concerned. Loads of Japanese tourists, this is apparently a very popular holiday destination for them, even Japanese food bars in one part of the Esplanade.
      In the evening I had drinks with Tanya and friends in a local bar. It was a converted courtroom, good fun, but looking at a few of the locals no doubt with a few of it's incumbants still there!


Tuesday December 25th, Christmas Day

      Staying on at the hotel, the new room is at the top, 9th, floor.
      Party day. Took a cab and plenty of alcohol to Tanya's house where we had a superb feast and party with some of her friends. Secret Santa pressies were fun, an Australian thing like I'd taken part in in Simone's Christmas Party in the Mews two years ago. Swimming pool outside was just what was needed. Safe to say we'd all had plenty to drink by the end of the games that evening, no idea at all how we managed to play Pictionary.


Wednesday December 26th, Boxing Day

      Despite the hangover I managed to get a seat for the first showing of Lord of the Rings, one of the first showings in the world presumably. Even a bit like my travelling, always going to new lands where people do things very differently, and some different grave dangers to be wary of each time. Afterwards I took an opportunity to upload the website.


Thursday December 27th

      Last full day for this visit to Australia. I spent it on a boat trip with Tanya and some of the other people at the Christmas Party, in an old sailing boat out to the reef. Some good snorkling too, starfish and loads of the hugest giant clams I'd ever seen. Plenty of little jellyfish around the coral cay (tiny sand island out on the reef).


Giant clam a metre long in deep water


Swimming down for a closer look




Starfish and fish


Beautiful coral and fish


Close look at another giant clam


Leopardskin and pink (Simone Coral)


Crawly thing


Relaxed thing


Red starfish


Another huge clam




It's me!


Colourful fish


Camouflaged fish hiding in the middle



Transport on the reef


The coral cay island and a boat like the one we were in


Coral cay with many small jellyfish in the water


      As I'm at the end of this stay in Australia I must thank all the friends who have helped, especially Kristie and Simone and all their friends and family who I've mentioned already. Thanks everyone, see you all somewhere soon...


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