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Tropical North Queensland, Australia

  After the stress of our wedding, I couldn't think of a better place to have spent our honeymoon. Tropical North Queensland is the most beautiful stretch of Earth I have ever laid eyes on. The Australians were so darn friendly and everything was soooo inexpensive! (Unlike St. John, which paled in comparison...too much for too little, I say.)

The following is a picture diary of our honeymoon in glorious Australia.

Monday, June 11th

Here we are at the Tokyo International Airport. When we originally planned this trip we knew there was going to be a lay-over in either Sydney or Tokyo...we picked Tokyo, of course. We thought "Woohoo! We have a six hour lay-over, but it's in Tokyo so we can leave the airport and have fun!" Yeah, right. We were so jetlagged from the previous flight, that all we could do was camp out in a row of seats and sleep.

Thankfully we were able to upgrade to business class seats with Devin's frequent flier miles. I don't know how we would've faired the first 16 hours of the flight otherwise!

Val Jetlagged in Tokyo, Japan   Just another plane   ...and another plane  

Tuesday, June 12th

We have arrived safely in Australia! The final leg of our trip consists of a two hour drive south (from Cairns to Bingil Bay.) We took a couple of pictures of this mountain because it reminded us of the mountain in the last Legend of Zelda game we had played before the trip...funny how the mind works after 24 hours of flying.

Legend of Mt. Zelda   Driving on the left hand side...   Mirror image car  

We arrive at Bingil Bay, check in with the owners of the rental house...then begin exploring! It is amazing, this is the first time Devin and myself have ever seen a rainforest in all its' wild glory. Our house is just a few hundred yards away from the Pacific ocean...where the rainforest meets the reef.

Hibiscus   Devin on the beach   Bingil Bay   Val on the beach  

Our lodging for the next two weeks is provided by Karen and her husband. There are two rental properties on the site: Quandong and China Pine. We stayed in the larger of the two (Quandong.) If you're ever planning a trip to Tropical North Queensland, I highly recommend staying in Bingil. We found out through locals that all of the foreign tourists go to Cairns...but we managed to find the spot where the Australians go to vacation AWAY from the foreign tourists. What a find!

Lovely red flower   Quandong   Main bedroom   View from the front porch  

And this cute little fellow is a green tree frog that the maid found behind the bathroom mirror. At first she began to calmly explain to us that they're harmless and occasionally sneak into the house...Devin and I looked at eachother, smiled and told her to hand it over for some froggy cuddle time!

Snuggle froggy!   Yeah, it's brown.  But it's still a green tree frog.   It's Devin's turn!   That's a big froggy!  

Wednesday, June 13th

Okay, it's morning and Devin and I have decided to take some more pictures of the house. The asian-inspired design with it's natural woods and clean lines just absolutely took our breath away.

Another view from the front porch   Living room, dining room and kitchen   Gazebo near the pool   Looking inside at Devin  

The house seemed to be in harmony with the rainforest around it. Frankly, this is our dream house. We hope that one day we can build a house similar to it in California. My heart aches just looking at these pictures again...*sigh*

The gazebo again...   Val by the pool   Lovely, lovely swimming pool   Walkway between the garage and back patio  

Later in the day we visited the hauntingly beautiful Paronella Park. It was built in the 1930's as a recreation center and holds the first hydro-electric plant in northern Australia. Unfortunately, due to a fire in the late 70's and a cyclone in the mid-80's, the buildings were badly damaged. As is the case in tropical rainforests, the buildings were quickly overgrown...and the park disappeared into obscurity until 1993, when the current park owners took over and began its restoration.

The two pictures on the right are of sleeping bats. They were so tiny and cute!

Devin at bottom of stairway   Val at bottom of stairway   Bat with possible spider   Cute little bats napping in the Tunnel of Love  

Here we are walking through the bamboo forest. It was tranquil, listening to the sound of the hollow bamboo trees knocking gently together as they swayed in the wind. The picture on the right is of strange fish just at the edge of the bamboo forest.

Val in bamboo forest   Beautiful bamboo   More bamboo swaying in the breeze   What is this, Loch Ness??  

We absolutely fell in love with the bamboo forest. It was just so peaceful and serene.

More bamboo   Another shot of Nessie   Devin in bamboo forest   Devin and Val  

The park had an extensive set of hiking trails which crisscrossed and swerved throughout the park grounds. The pictures below include a beautiful umbrella canopy that I simply had to photograph...Kauri Avenue, where the trees grow wide very quickly (in fact, this path will be squeezed shut in about 100 years!)...a lovely little building which overlooks the fountain (where people would sit and have afternoon tea) and the tennis area...and finally the Falls, which used to power the main buildings.

Canopy with doppled sunlight   Kauri Avenue   Tennis anyone?   The Falls  

And here are some pictures we took on the drive back. Northern Australia is covered with suger cane fields (which are responsible for the invasive cane toads.)

Cane Train   Cane Fields 01   Cane Fields 02  

Thursday, June 14th

We've been told that the weather has been unseasonably rainy these past few weeks. But compared to Chicago, it's still beautiful outside. Here we are on our way north to visit the Johnstone River Crocodile Farm. We manage to spot a gigantic rainbow on our way.

Rainbow from a distance   Closer to the rainbow   Driving on the lefthand side   Cane Fields03  

Along with the cane fields, we also saw a lot of banana farms. The two picture on the right are of a flock of unknown birds...they looked so pretty against the clearing grey sky, so Devin snapped up a couple of pictures of them.

Lovely greenery   Banana Farm   Birds against grey sky   Those same birds...  

And here we are! Devin and I (being the punctual freaks that we are) arrive at what is supposedly opening time...but they're not quite ready for visitors yet. So the caretakers hand us a couple of bags of bread and tell us to wander the park for a bit. We first encounter a freshwater crocodile enclosure...but are quickly noticed by the resident kangaroos who gladly come to greet us.

Freshies eat tiny fish with their tiny little mouths   Hey!  Hey, they've got bread!   Gimmee that bread!   Yum, yum!  

We encountered several adorable little baby joeys as we first entered the park. They held the bread with their tiny little hands and nibbled away. The sweet white puppy-dog followed us around for the first few minutes, before going off to wander the grounds on his own.

Val feeds one of the babies   The same baby (with dog-face trying to steal some)   Cute little joey   Adult kangaroo trying to look as cute as the joeys  

Devin bravely went up to feed the emu with his package of Captain Mighty white bread.

Roos in the distance   Devin feeds an emu   Emu looks straight at the camera   Captain Mighty!  

Here are some more kangaroos we encountered while walkinging through the park. We don't know what those grey birds are, but they made the cutest little cooing noises as they scuttled around in their little grey herd. We also saw some pretty impressive red kangaroos there. Just look at the muscles on these guys!

What are people doing here this early?   Coodles   Popeye   Big Red  

We see our first wallabies...how can you tell the difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby? Look at the eyes...wallabies tend to have similar eyes to rodents, and rounded mouse-like ears. At this point we are bombarded by a group of kangaroos who just figured out that we've got bread.

Wallaby couple   Hey!  Hey, they have bread!   Devin bombarded by kangaroos   Val bombarded by kangaroos  

Here are some mini movies we took (all in Mpeg format...and kinda big):

Oooh, these kangaroos are just so cute! Seeing as we're the first tourists of the day, the hungry roos approach us eagerly. Check out the wallabies in the third picture...you'll notice them in the background of several pictures.

Val feeds the 'starving' hoard...   Yeah...those are tennis balls in my pouch.   You go.  No, you go.  No, you go....  

And here we have one beautiful croc. They lay there with their mouths open to help regulate their body temperature. Look at the markings in this girl!

One damn beautiful croc   Open wide...   What a beaut!   Cheese!  

Yes, this is also a crocodile farm. While the site of these little babies breaks my heart, there is one thing you have to understand: most of these babies wouldn't have even survived in the wild. Here they at least have a chance to live a while in a great environment, while protecting their wild-born cousins from decimation. The second picture is of another pair of freshwater crocodiles. The third is of one really old crocodile...this big boy is around 80 years old. Devin and I came walking around a corner to see this big head...and it scared the h*ll out of us! Even though this old guy has lost all of his teeth, he can still pack quite a punch with those powerful jaws.

Sad, but true....   Freshwater crocodiles   80 years young  

Devin and I get our first chance ever to hold a crocodile. This one's just a baby...only slightly bigger than our iguana, but it weighs like it's got a belly full of lead! What a heavy little sucker! In the two pictures on the right, our guide shows us what a crocodile looks like when it's trying to attack. What a brute!

Val holds the baby...   Devin holds the baby croc...   Saltwater crocodile protecting his turf   He's got one mean growl....  

And last, but certainly not least, the endangered cassowary. The Johnstone River Farm is trying to breed this pair to help save the local population.

Cassowary...one big scary bird   A good pic of the breeding pair  

Here we are at the end of the day. Whilst exploring the beaches and inlets infront of our house, we discover a wacky little rope swing.

Devin playing with the rope swing  

Friday, June 15th

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