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Monday 7 Dec 2009
Mareeba and Barrow Gorge, Australia

Our last day in Cairns

3:30am - Rise and Shine !  Shuttle pick up @ 4:15am - 50 minute bus ride to Mareeba to an open field (watch your step... cows have left their calling cards !).  Two huge hot air balloons are inflated and waiting for passengers.  Sunrise by hot air balloon.........

The first group went up and those of us in the 2nd group began the chase.  Since the balloon pilots can only control the height in which the balloons fly and not where they fly - the winds dictate where they'll eventually land.  Close communication between air and ground and 30 minutes later they land for passenger swap.

Up Up and Away in the Beautiful Balloon......  !   We saw kangaroos hopping through the corn fields, red tailed cockatoos, even cats (running through corn fields).  We caught the moon as it disappeared and the sun as it rose through the cloud cover.

Major Tom to Ground Control.....  After about 45 minutes the ground crew is directed (by the pilot) to a holding area- in our case this was between 2 freshly plowed fields and a new housing development.  Our pilot then began our descent and directed ground crew down the 12 foot wide road that ran between the 2 fields... 12 feet wide !  He then gently touched down the 12 ft long/4 ft wide basket - Excellent landing ! 

We then all pitched in and helped deflate the balloon and put it into its carrying pouch and the basket back on the trailer then they took us to a champagne breakfast buffet (it is only 8am !).  After breakfast they shuttled us back to our hotel [arrival 10:15am].

We then headed back to Yorkeys Knob because I lost the 2 cell phones yesterday.  I didn't fully zip my backpack when we left the beach yesterday and my iPhone and the borrowed cell phone (Tony's work mate's phone) fell out.  Unfortunately this was not discovered until about 9:00pm last night - too late to even call anyone in Yorkeys Knob because everything closes at 5pm ! 

Tony back tracked our steps and I went to the lifeguard station to see if anyone had turned the phones in.  It was not the same lifeguard so I began to explain my problem about losing 2 cell phones.  Before I could finish my sentence he turned around and grabbed the small bag they were in and said "they're both in there !"    Restored my faith in people !  My phone had a lock on it so it couldn't be used but even the other cell phone had not been used...  Damn Lucky I am !  (I am no longer in charge of carrying the phones !).

There's no microwave in our room so Tony had to use the hair dryer (at Ellie's suggestion) to heat up the leftover spaghetti that had been partially frozen in our refrigerator. Ellie made and then ate a salami sandwich bought at the Woolworths (grocery store).

We then had a 2pm pick up and a 30 minute bus ride to the Barron Gorge for white water rafting (grade 3 rapids  = 3ft-6ft drops).  By the time we arrived it was pouring rain (we were truly experiencing the rain forest !).  We got suited up with life jackets and helmets and down to the gorge we went.  There were 5 boats total each with roughly 7 or 8 people. Our boat had 5 plus 2 guides.  One couple from Adelaide, us, and a single gal, Summer, who is a production manager in Vegas and has been traveling for the last 3 months. 

They spend a good amount of time telling us the right way and the wrong way of doing things but one thing they emphasize is control of your paddle - the T-handle can be quite dangerous.  Sure enough, Emma (the young woman from Adelaide) let go/lost control of her paddle in the 2nd rapid and she got wacked in the mouth and broke her front tooth.  So.... We had to get to a point in the trek down the gorge where she was helped off (along with her boyfriend) to be taken to the ER to check it out. 

The rest of the trip down the gorge was with only 3 of us (Tony, me and Summer), and our 2 guides.  It rained off and on, sometimes a real downpour, but it was beautiful.  We never flipped (one boat did) and we were the first to get to the landing beach. 

A great way to spend our last day in Cairns. 

We're now sitting in the hotel room, the sun has set and the bats are swarming the sky outside our balcony.  They are noisy things but strangely beautiful!

Off to Sydney tomorrow (Dec 8th)

3 Comments for this Travel blog entry

JoAnne Says:

7 December 2009

Luck of the irish with the phones, that doesn't happen to often. Wow, good job in not flipping and getting hurt. Good hint on using hair dryer to wam up food, don't think it would work on popcorn.

P Says:

8 December 2009

What a day!!!

joanne Says:

8 December 2009

Absolutely perfect in every way and clearly the way it was meant to be.

Tony and Ellie's Adventure

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    Another rapid we did.

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