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Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber. Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet. Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little. I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dispatch from the Road: Queensland

Interim DISPATCH FROM THE ROAD: Queensland

It's startling to me that we're essentially half way through our Australian Adventure. After a year of planning it's seeming to whiz by at an alarming pace. Already we have accomplished several life goals -- including knocking "snorkling the Great Barrier Reef" and "visit the Sydney Opera House" from our No Opportunity Wasted Life List.

Initial reactions are what would be expected. With half of our destinations concluded I am looking back and jotting down notes for a future post in which I will include specific adventures as well as high resolution photographs of the things we've seen and done.

Sydney was a lot of fun, and we certainly enjoyed the time there. Our day trips to the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley were time well spent. While we loved our adventure, I will admit that the city is now "been there, done that" for me. I am certain there are still adventures to be had, but for the moment we are sated.

Queenland was a revelation. Unexpectedly so. Groping for a comparison I would have to say Port Douglas and the surrounding North Queensland area are very similar in look and feel to the more remote areas of the Hawaiian Islands. Port Douglas itself reminded my wife and I of Lahaina, which is in our experience a compliment. It features a variety of nice eateries and a huge selection of activities ranging from water-born tours of the reefs, islands and rivers dotting this part of the continent, to land-based adventures from the Daintree Rain Forest to the North with Cairns and it's environs to the South.

Our own sea voyages involved a stunning visit to the Great Barrier Reef (detailed later with suitable photographs) via Calypso tours as well as an evening river tour to discover crocodiles and eagles in their natural predatory environments. On our own we drove up through the Daintree to the remote beaches of the northern end of Queensland, often finding ourselves on vast stretches of tan-colored sand with a total of perhaps three other people. The surf and possibility of sharks limited any desire to go swimming, and the generally brown nature of the waves also limited our enthusiasm. Still, it's a powerful experience to be so far from civilization.

On the more sophisticated side we did venture south in an attempt to ride the Kuranda Rail Train through the mountains north of Cairns. Our choice of day was poor, as the train had elected just that morning to strike a car on the tracks, effectively putting it out of commission for long enough to impact the plans of a thousand or so visitors who converged on the aerial tramway as a group, causing chaos and frustration in the Skyrail building along highway 44. The trip over the canopy is stunning, though my acrophobia kicked in on the way back (the part that became necessary after the train plan was, ahem, derailed). The longer we were in the air over the rainforest canopy -- with increasing winds and a slowing down of the tram to accommodate the loading of a larger than expected crowd -- became more of a marathon of tolerance on my part. By the time we began the final descent back to sea level my shoulders and back knotted themselves into an uncomfortable tension that a double dose of Advil did nothing to even dent.

Other than that one small disappointment -- wanting to ride the rail line -- each if the adventures was well worth the effort. In a week or so I will be posting more specifics, and noting those companies who did an outstanding job. Keep your eye here towards the end of April when I will have had the opportunity to review the thousands of pictures and videos in order to post the best.

See you again shortly as I post my thoughts about Perth and the Margaret River in a few days. Though we've already exhausted half the trip, we're eagerly looking forward to the remainder. A lot of adventures yet to go.


(As noted the iPad is refusing to upload any recent shots. Rest assured, I will be loading dozens of high-res shots Ina couple of weeks)

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