1st July  -  Cairns

Even though we’d been incredibly lucky with the sunny weather throughout, the warmer climes of our three days in Cairns was something we’d all been looking forward to. The early flight, while stamina sapping, meant we had a whole day to look around the town and suss out the best trip options. The apartment was once again top notch, though the huge building project going on next door somewhat disturbed the daytime peace. This however was of little concern as we were to be hitting the tourist trail for the remaining two days.

After a day of poodling around and wallowing by the pool, we strolled the promenade to the centre of town and what appeared to be the liveliest pub, Rattle & Hum, for a reasonable bit of pub grub and a few beers, nothing out of the ordinary really, that is until Trevor Brennan walked in!?!?

Firstly, I’d never realised how big the man is and, secondly . . . . . IT WASN’T MY FAULT!

Rolling back the clock to Brisbane, “Big Trev” had been absolutely awesome in the Classics match and I was just telling him how impressed I was, especially as he hadn’t played for 5 years. Of course I’d forgotten that the reason was he’d been banned for jumping into the crowd at Toulouse during a Heineken Cup match to sort out an abusive fan. To say he’s excitable is an understatement and it was during one such enthusiastically related tale that I snorted out the mouthful of Corona I was trying to drink, the problem was it was all over “Big Trev” and his two guests! Aghast, he scowled at me “What the feck! Oi battered the last bloke that spat beer on me!” Equally mortified, I’m like “it wasn’t my fault, you made me laugh!” as apologetically and with as much sincerity as I could muster. Thankfully he accepted my  apology (and a bottle of Corona) and was soon back into regaling more tales of his very colourful career. A large Jamesons was later to be slid my way along the bar with a wry smile, gratefully received and necked in one by your very relieved scribe. I was careful to make sure my mouth was never again aimed in his direction.

Once again the late night didn’t seem such a bright idea as we embarked on our 13 hour round trip to the Daintree Rainforest & Cape Tribulation at 7:20 the next morning. That we were late on parade didn’t endear us to our driver & guide Andrew, fortunately his enthusiastic character meant he wasn’t rattled for long. Outbound involved a 3 hour journey into the heart of the rainforest, taking in a visit to a sanctuary for a bit of brekkie and a chance to see some of the indigenous animals which had proved particularly elusive so far. This was followed by a cruise down the Daintree River for a bit of croc-spotting, lunch, a trek along the boardwalks through part of the rainforest, then the return journey via an old cable ferry (memories of Woolston here). Throw in a couple of beautiful beach stops and Andrews continuously informative commentary and that was about it, a long but thoroughly enjoyable day, finished off with probably the worst Indian any of us will ever have and a few more beers at the Rattle & Hum.

    'Scarface' - the Daddy of Daintree River crocs

As we didn’t have to check in at the ferry terminal until 8:00, it almost felt like we’d had a lie-in the next morning. We were soon aboard the 32 metre Ocean Spirit catamaran and heading for Michaelmas Cay, which is only reachable by the bigger vessels in a daytrip. After a bit a brekkie during the 1½hr journey we were soon merrily snorkelling away amongst the coral, giant clams and shoals of colourful fish. After a sumptious lunch we boarded the semi-submersible to see an even wider array of underwater wildlife, including a couple of turtles swimming by. It was then back for a final snorkel whereupon Neil made the ‘Spot of the Day’, a stingray which first swam by him, then me, then finally Ray. A great spot and perfectly timed to call it a day and scuttle safely back to dry land, I prefer a crotchety Ray to one with a sting!

Our two trips had certainly given us plenty to talk about during our final night in the Rattle & Hum. Surprisingly, given that we had another 6am flight, we actually had an early-ish night (10pm), though the collective sleep deprivation had already taken its toll.