20 Oct 2017

Seven days in FNQ

We were supposed to spend most of September touring southern Portugal but my illness and subsequent operation put paid to that plan so we took a 7 day trip at the earliest opportunity to a less distant destination- Cairns in Far North Queeensland (FNQ) -for seven days in mid October
I last visited Cairns on holiday over 30 years ago and although I have been there on business a few times I really had not appreciated how much it has changed. Today it is tourist central but it still very much retains its Australian tropical city character.
If I was surprised at how much Cairns had changed nothing prepared me for the change in Port Douglas to the north. I spent time in Port Douglas in 1992. In the intervening 25 years it has changed out of all recognition.
As well as spending time in Cairns and Port Douglas we drove up to the Atherton Tablelands as well as travelling up to Kuranda on the spectacular Skyrail cable car and down on the Kuranda scenic railway- one of the great railway engineering feats of Australia.
On the drive up onto the tablelands I took the Gilles Highway up from Gordonvale. This must be one of the most spectaular and challenging driving roads in Australia. It is steep,winding and long and the surface is excellent. In other words a superb Porsche driving road. Sadly I was in an Avis Mitsubishi ASX SUV-a perfectly acceptable rental car but a poor substitute for a Porsche. Cairns is so far north there is little chance of many Porsche drivers making the journey there from the southern states which is a pity because in addition to the Gilles Highway there is the spectacular Captain Cook Highway from Cairns to Port Douglas. The tyranny of distance.
Whilst on the Atherton Tablelands I drove out to the small settlement of Herberton where there is a very quirky camera museum. I'll put up a story on this find later but suffice to say for now that Herberton is one of the last places you would expect to find such an interesting collection.
We were so lucky with the weather.Queensland along with much of the eastern side of the continent has been in drought for some time.The drought broke with a vengeance in S Queensland the week we were in Cairns but the heavy rain and flooding stayed to the south and we only experienced rain late on our last afternoon and the morning we were flying out.
As I was attempting to travel light I took just my much loved Leica X1 with me. I left the "tourist" photos to Val -who is now a Leica convert-and just took a few photos which to me convey the character of FNQ. Fellow photographers may be interested to know that I took only jpegs and in total including the photos in the camera museum I took just 41 pictures 11 of which are below.

Dawn patrol ,Cairns Esplanade. Even at 6.00am the Esplanade was crowded with serious exercisers and early morning walkers

Dawn, Cairns Esplanade.
Mango wine seller,Kuranda village. I did not try a sample.To me wine can only be made from grapes.Business was slow for this friendly lady the day we were there.
Port Douglas. The setting for Port Douglas is spectacular.
Port Douglas waterway.
Four Mile Beach,Port Douglas.
Swagman bushpoet Port Douglas markets. He looked like a swagman even down to his filthy swag (bedding roll) and he recited bush poetry but was he the real thing? I don't know.
Part of main street Herberton. Atherton Tablelands. Although it is a straight shot I believe it conveys the feel of a typical back country settlement.
Sugar cane mill,Mossman, N of Port Douglas. The narrow gauge cane railway runs across the main street in Mossman.  The cane railway lines criss cross the cane fields and main roads and you have to be alert for the cane trains in the May to Nov harvest season. Now the engines are diesels but they were steam once.
The Lagoon, Cairns waterfront.
Cairns Airport- waiting for our Virgin flight back to Sydney.

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