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G’day from the Land Down Under

July 1, 2015

We made it to Australia arriving in Cairns on the morning of June 23 after a rough 8 day crossing of the Coral Sea. It is great to be in a modern country with its wonderful stores and delicious restaurants. We’ve never had so many opportunities to spend money!

Our departure from Vanuatu was held up for a week as strong winds ripped across the Coral Sea. We made the best of things including an incredible trip to the Millennium Cave which has to be the most under-stated extreme adventure ever. It was a one hour van trip over washed out roads to the village that owns the cave which wasn’t discovered until 15 years ago when some fishermen ventured up a steep canyon.

We walked and slipped for two miles through muddy rain forest before descending ladders to the river and the entrance to the cave. We carried only wet gear while porters took our dry bags overland. The cave is about 400 meters long and 30 meters high with bats hanging from the ceiling. We climbed down to the cave floor that was strewn with boulders with white water everywhere. We had head lamps and flashlights as we hugged the cave walls to stay out of the fastest water.

As we emerged from the cave we were met by the porters with our packs and lunch. The porters then scampered up a 100 foot ladder with our packs and headed back to the village. Our egress was a little more sporting as we rock climbed over boulders and floated in the river for another two miles. Then we climbed out of the canyon using crude ladders and a knotted rope that we used to pull ourselves up through a water fall. This last part was referred to by the guide as “some uphill at the end”. Everyone agreed that this adventure is not for the faint of heart.

A so-so weather window was opening up and we decided to take it since we were in a time crunch to get to Cairns and the start of the Indonesia Rally. The night before our departure we headed into the resort by the anchorage along with our friends on Island Bound and ate and drank until all of our Vatu money was spent.

The next morning we headed out into 25-30 kt winds and 2-3 meter seas. The prediction was for things to get better after two days which ended up being three days.

Things got a little exciting when our main halyard chaffed through and the sail fell to the deck. Our backup halyard wasn’t in too good of shape so Brian took advantage of some calmer weather went to the top of the mast and ran a new one.

We met some very aggressive booby birds while under way that insisted our boat was an island meant for sleepovers. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t crap in the morning before taking off. They would not leave without being pushed overboard.

We arrived at Grafton Pass through the Great Barrier Reef at 2:00AM in heavy weather and rain and had a sloppy 6 hour run to Cairns where we had a slip reservation at the Marlin Marina. We were happy to have the Coral Sea behind us.

Our time in Cairns is short and there are a lot of boat projects to be completed. We have still found time to explore the area with visits to the Kuranda cultural center, the rain forest, and the zoo. The rally meetings begin today (Wednesday) and we expect to leave early next week, working our way north to Thursday Island where we will check out of Australia and head for Indonesia.

Descending into the canyon at the Millennium Cave

Descending into the canyon at the Millennium Cave

Millennium Cave entrance

Millennium Cave entrance

Millennium Cave entrance

Millennium Cave entrance

Climbing down to the cave floor

Climbing down to the cave floor

Exciting the cave

Exciting the cave

Floating the river downstream of the cave

Floating the river downstream of the cave

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon; we had to swim under the large flat rock at the bottom

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon

Peaceful stretch of river

Peaceful stretch of river

Many waterfalls along the canyon walls

Many waterfalls along the canyon walls

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon

Millennium Cave trek down the canyon

Pictures don't do justice to sea conditions crossing the Coral Sea

Pictures don’t do justice to sea conditions crossing the Coral Sea

Booby birds catch some rest on Persephone crossing the Coral Sea

Booby birds catch some rest on Persephone crossing the Coral Sea

Kuranda Cultural Center in Cairns

Kuranda Cultural Center in Cairns

Didgeridoo at the Kuranda Cultural Center in Cairns

Didgeridoo at the Kuranda Cultural Center in Cairns

Rain forest

Rain forest

View of the rain forest from the tram

View of the rain forest from the tram

Train ride from Kuranda

Train ride from Kuranda

Train ride from Kuranda

Train ride from Kuranda

Fellow rally participants join us on the train

Fellow rally participants join us on the train

Cairns zoo

Cairns zoo

Cairns zoo

Cairns zoo

Sandie with "Forest" at the Cairns zoo

Sandie with “Forest” at the Cairns zoo

Cairns zoo

Cairns zoo

Cairns zoo

Cairns zoo

Cairns zoo

Cairns zoo

Feeding time at the Cairns Zoo

Feeding time at the Cairns Zoo

From → Travel

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