The trip from Townsville to Trinity Beach was only about 4 hours, so we didn’t rush to get on the road. As we left the greater Townsville area, vegetation changed considerably and we were surrounded by massive fields of sugar cane. Glenda was reminded of her teenage years in Mandini, South Africa, except the fields were flat rather than the “rolling hills of Natal” (some of you may know the song). As it was harvest time, there were lots of cane trains being loaded, although we only saw one moving across the road in the rear view mirror.
We had a brief stop at a lookout with a fabulous view of Hinchinbrook Island. We must put that on our list for next time.
Fish & chips at Mission Beach
We had thought of staying at Mission Beach, so decided to take the tourist drive off the main road to have a look. Being part of the Cassowary Coast and much of the area national park, there were signs everywhere warning us to take care as there had been sightings of the huge bird. We’d be so lucky as to see one of the elusive birds!! We did manage to score some bananas just off the tree – an honour system by the side of the road had us putting a couple of dollars in a box and we chose our ½ dozen pieces of fruit.
Being Monday, most of the cafes in the centre of Mission Beach were closed, so we were grateful to find the fish & chip shop open. With the challenges related to Covid meaning tables were scarce and staff were running around trying to keep them clean, we decided to take our grilled mackerel and chips down to the beach. Even though there was a table and benches, having been sitting down for a few hours, we were happy to stand and eat. Before getting back in the car, we had a stroll to check out a beautiful artwork of a blue spotted ribbon tail ray.
Staying in an igloo
Glenda has always wanted to live in an igloo (even though she hates the cold), so the Casablanca Dome at Mission Beach was a perfect fit. We were able to check in using the key left in the drop box next to the outdoor dining area and were soon settling into our space for the next 4 nights. It was much bigger than we’d expected and the owners had done a great job of the décor. The views of the sea were a definite bonus too!
Taking a walk / scramble / hike
The following day, we decided to venture out to tackle the hike to the summit of Mt Earl. Whilst the hill can be seen from our igloo, the start of the trail required us to take a 4km walk in the suburbs to get there. That was after spending some time on the beach and scrambling along the nearby rocks – one of Walter’s favourite things to do. The walk through teh suburbs wasn’t a total waste as we did find another Covid bear to add to the collection.
The hike was well marked and easy, although steep, and we were rewarded with views back over Trinity Beach. We could just make out the bright white of our dome peeking out among the trees.
Following a big day of walking, we treated ourselves to a splash out dinner at one of the local Italian restaurants, L’Unico. The antipasto plate was huge and reminded us of Italy – the closest we can get at this stage (except for the waiter who was from Rome). There was a truly multicultural staff – we couldn’t work out the nationality of one of the guys, only to discover he was of Malaysian extraction from Dublin. No wonder we were confused!
Enjoying the beach
It was so good to be able to take a barefoot stroll across the road to the beach, whether to walk along the sand, watch sunrise or take a dip – all of which we enjoyed. We had a real mix of weather from howling winds, black clouds, clear blue skies and even a little bit of rain. Nothing stopped us getting out and about when we wanted to.
We took a drive to nearby Yorkeys to check out the long white beach famous for kite surfing. We weren’t disappointed by the beach but didn’t see any of the crazy people out on their boards – there wasn’t enough wind.
Kuranda – a taste of the rainforest
Kuranda is a little village in the rainforest about 30 minutes drive behind Cairns. It is typically very popular for day visits. In addition to going by road, which we did, it can also be accessed by a scenic railway. Before Covid, there was also a Skyrail which one hopes will be operational sometime soon – we did see the wires and it certainly looks as though it would be a worthwhile venture.
We arrived in Kuranda really early as we’d decided to have breakfast there. The carparks were empty and nothing was open. They have been clever in constructing a few walks that you can do separately or link them together – so we embarked on the 4km Jum Rum Creek – Jungle – Esplanade – River Walk. It was great to hear the birds in the trees as the forest came to life and the light changed.
Soon after 9am, we were ready for breakfast but had some trouble finding somewhere open. The renowned markets only opened at 10am and a number of the cafes were inside. During our search, we came across the wreck of an old plane just outside the markets. They need to send it to Longreach to be fixed up at the Qantas Museum. We followed our nose to the Café Mandala and were not disappointed. The staff were very friendly, the piccolos were spot on and the Reuben Sandwich and Pesto Bruschetta with egg hit the spot.
By the time we’d finished eating, things were starting to open, so we took a stroll around the shops and visited the Old Rainforest Market – very alternate – and the Heritage Market. Things felt a little flat and we weren’t sure how much of that was because quite a number of the businesses had closed down. We did enjoy a gallery of Aboriginal Art housed in a building that looked like a giant ark. And a local artist had done some amazing metalwork displayed all around town.
We weren’t able to find another coffee shop serving piccolos, so decided to forego another coffee and headed off to the nearby Barron Gorge National Park to see the Barron Falls and enjoy the view of the Wrights lookout.
Next stop the Daintree – where the rainforest meets the barrier reef
Kuranda whet our appetite for rainforest, now we head further north to the Daintree. At around 1,200 square kilometres, the Daintree is a part of the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent.