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After diving the reef, everything else just seemed like icing on the cake. We took a day trip north and made it all the way to Daintree and Cape Tribulation, where two World Heritage areas, the rainforest and the reef, meet. It is the only place in the world where this happens. The rainforest there is one of the oldest in the world. We stopped at several lookout points to catch the views but as it is a rainforest, it was raining. That didn’t dampen our spirits, however! We walked along the Kulki boardwalk at Cape Trib and the rain let up enough for us to snap some photos. We drove past Noah Range, Noah Creek and took lots of photos of Noah on Noah Beach. He felt like quite a celebrity as we drove through the area. We did the Dubuji Walk that took us through different ecosystems, and it was really cool seeing them all and how they changed from one to the other. I was particularly fond of the huge palm fronds found towards the end of our walk as they proved useful as umbrellas to keep off the rain.

On our way back from Cape Tribulation we headed for our river cruise. Noah had gotten us discounted tickets for Bruce Belcher’s Daintree River Cruise and we made it just in time to catch the boat, thanks to Noah’s mad driving skills. We spent about an hour on the Daintree River, looking for crocodiles and other wildlife and were quite successful. We saw a couple of HUGE male crocs, about 4 meters in length, and a female as well as a young one that was actually really cute. We also saw a beautiful tree frog and were given a basic education about the various plant life in the area, particularly the different types of mangroves and how they survive.

Noah had found us discounted kitesurfing lessons as well and booked us for an hour-long intro class on day 1, and then a four-hour lesson on day two. The goal was to become comfortable flying the kite, and then hopefully do some body dragging to feel the power of the wind. We would then decide if we wanted to pay for Lesson 2 and actually get up on a board.

The first intro class was pretty interesting. Brett, the owner and instructor for the day, was a bit unorganized and seemed a little frazzled. He was doing a million different things at once, but eventually people left him alone and he was able to focus on the class. He is a sweet guy who obviously has a passion for kitesurfing and being on the water. When he’s not instructing or surfing himself, he works as a skipper on a sailboat giving tours. We had a blast. It was Noah and I, and a man and his daughter taking the lesson. We had a six meter kite that was our practice kite, so it wasn’t too powerful but strong enough to give a good tug if you weren’t paying attention. We got to practice launching, working the kite in and out of the wind window and learning about where the power zones are. It was cool because it was familiar from the time we gave our families a snowkiting lesson as a Christmas gift one year. Noah, being a hang-glider pilot of old, completely understood the three-dimensional concept that the rest of us were trying to grasp. He was in his element, and the look on his face was one of pure joy and awe at feeling the power of nature in his hands.

My favorite part of the day came when I was flying and Brett told me to land the kite. And I got to do it by aiming at Noah. I was thrilled to drop the kite right at Noah’s head, where he of course was waiting and ready to catch it. I have impecable aim. 🙂

We finished our intro lesson by having the kite get stuck in a tree. It was comical, except that it ate up time from our lesson that we could have spent flying the kite and practicing more. Brett handled the situation really well: he took full responsibility for it even though he wasn’t flying the kite (the poor dad was, and he felt terrible!) because he didn’t keep our window clear and led us too close to the tree line. After a good half hour of throwing things at the tree and trying to knock the kite down, Brett finally just grabbed the strings and gave it a good tug. It came out and wasn’t damaged, thank goodness, and we called it a day.

The next day started with rain. LOTS of rain. But we were going to get in the water anyway, so what difference did it make?! We met Brett and two other Aussie guys who were taking the class with us, and once we were all sorted out with gear we headed to the beach. It was another interesting class. The water was warm, but the rain was cold and I got chilly. We had two bigger kites going and eventually Brett had us in the water up to our waists, belted in to the harness and hooked to the kite and practicing putting it in and out of the window, “parking” it at 10 and 2 o’clock, launching and water-launching and landing. Then we got to try body dragging. Noah and I were a team and the two other guys ended up with their own kites (one of the guys brought his own), and I felt terrible when the wind died and Noah hadn’t flown hardly at all. I got dragged around a bit and have a new-found respect for kite-flying, but Noah hadn’t gotten to do the body dragging and that was what he was really excited for. Thankfully after we talked to Brett and the wind picked up enough to re-launch the kite, Noah was able to get out in the water and get dragged around. He was even steering where he was going! I was content to call it a day and just get dried off and warmed up.

We ended the day with a lovely picnic and barby at Kewarra Beach, with our adopted Cairns family, Hugh, Janelle and their son. The beach is close to their house and is a really beautiful spot. We spotted a curlew on the beach and I tried to take photos, and Noah and their son had a great time playing tag. We passed the evening with more good conversation and the food was delicious. We even tried kangaroo, and loved it!

The next day was our last in Cairns. We spent time online in the morning to get things sorted for Sydney, and then we decided to head to the Atherton Tablelands and explore the area. The Tablelands are west of Cairns and are known for their rich soil and agriculture. We passed peanut farms and coffee plantations, and stopped in Mareeba at the drive-through bakery. 🙂 So yummy! We checked out the famous Curtain Fig Tree and looked for a tree kangaroo to no avail. We tried to see the platypus at the famous lookout spot, but no luck. And then the rain started in earnest so we called it a day and headed back to the house. We came upon an accident on the way and pulled over to help this young guy who had just driven off the road into the side of the cliff. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt and was incredibly grateful for our assistance. There was no cell service in the area and he was pretty shook up, poor guy. And it was a new car!

Our last night in Cairns was spent packing and getting ready to go. We set our alarm so we could get up and have breakfast with the family before Hugh had to go to work, and then called it a night. We were all up early the next morning, and it was hard to say goodbye to our new friends! Our time in Cairns has been so wonderful, and it is in no small part because we had a comfortable place to call home, shared with people we have grown to care about. I find that has been something that has made all the difference in our travels.

-Amanda

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