Mother Nature’s bountiful offerings never fail to amaze us…It may not be what you think…

An exquisite pink rose on the grounds of the vacation home.

In a world filled with war, strife, terrorism, turbulence and heartbreaking news, we’ve found it important to take plenty of time away from often what’s transpiring worldwide to revel in Mother Nature’s endless offerings surrounding us.

More perfectly shaped  pink roses.

One may imagine that living in Australia results in a continual viewing of kangaroos, wallabies and koala bears but it’s just not the case. Although we’ve spent many months in Australia, mostly the only kangaroos we’ve seen, sadly, has been road kill.

A single dahlia.

Eighteen months ago, while living in Trinity Beach (near Cairns), we frequently visited a open vacant field inhabited by many kangaroos and wallabies. Please see this link for more photos. On a few other occasions we’ve visited rehab facilities where we were able to interact with them.

Our second kangaroo sighting at a nearby field in Trinity Beach, Australia in 2015. The first, we’d seen, dashed through a rainforest, unable to take a photo in time.

Arriving in Tasmania on December 3rd, we finally had an opportunity to meet the notorious Tasmanian Devils when we visited Wing’s Wildlife Park and rehab center in Gunns Plains, outside of Penguin on January 6th. Please see this link for more of our photos one of which is shown below.

This Tasmania Devil posed for our photo while at Wild Wings Wildlife Farm in Gunns Plains, Tasmania, the first we’d seen.

It’s funny how we all have perceptions of what we’ll see and experience in various countries throughout the world. Typically, it’s very different than we imagined. We must admit that we’d expected to see indigenous wildlife running around in the remote areas in which we’ve lived in Australia over this extended period.

These flowers grow from the fluffy looking blooms shown here and in the photo below.  Thanks to reader Annie is Florida, this flower is a Clematis.  Thanks, Annie!

Also, surprising at times, is the similar vegetation we’ve seen from country to country. There are flowers growing in Tasmania that were also growing in Hawaii, Kenya, Europe, the US and more, all which countries have entirely unique climates.

Now in Tasmania for a total of 53 days, we’re reveling in being situated directly on the Huon River where each day we observe a wide array of birds pecking at the green grass on the grounds of this lovely property. No kangaroos. No wallabies. No Tasmanian Devils. No koalas hanging onto a tree.

This will eventually become the above flower as shown.  Isn’t nature amazing?

Tasmanian Devils are only seen as road kill during daylight hours based on their nocturnal feeding preferences as indicated here:

“A nocturnal scavenger and sometime hunter, the Tasmanian devil can travel long distances while looking for food. It will eat whatever is available, usually carrion (dead animals), sometimes eating spoiled or rotting meat. It will also eat fur and bones, which it crushes in its powerful jaws.”

Based on its habits, it’s no wonder we often see them as road kill when most of the narrow highways aren’t well lit at night making it difficult for cars and trucks to stop in time to avoid hitting them and other wildlife.

These pods will soon bloom to become the flower shown (near the center).

Tomorrow is Australia Day which we’ll explain further in tomorrow’s post. Once we’ve uploaded that post, we’ll be heading the town of Franklin where a huge annual celebration is planned.

Of course, we’ll be back with many photos from the event in two days. Please check back!

Have a lovely day! 

Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2016:

This pregnant alpaca with an adorable unusual white marking on her face on the day prior to giving birth. We were living in New Plymouth, New Zealand, one year ago. For more photos, please click here.

Day 7…Circumnavigating the Australian continent aboard RC Radiance of the Seas…Is boredom an issue?


Yorkeys Knob under cloudy conditions at Cairns.  Since we’d spent three months at Trinity Beach (to the right in this photo) from June 11 to September 7, 2015 and had seen so much when there, we decided to stay on the ship.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

I’m not sure what it is.

With 26 nights left on this long cruise, we are as happy as clams, loving every minute. Of course, some passengers complain about the food, their cabins, the ship’s facilities, the activities and that this ship is not as classy as other ships.

Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas is a mid-range ship, not high-end, but in no way inferior. The decor is nice having been recently renovated; each area is impeccably clean and well kept; the service is excellent and friendly. We don’t have a complaint in the world.

The gym on the ship.

Our toilet ran into the bathroom floor. We reported it and was repaired promptly. The bathroom sink stopped running. We pointed it out and it was corrected quickly. Not one of these scenarios bothered us. They were repaired while we were outside the cabin, back to find the finished work.

Our expectations, which we have learned to restrain in our journeys, can be very different from the average passenger. Perhaps that is their only vacation. In addition, many passengers do not stay on the ship for the complete 33 nights. Only 600 were mentioned to be on the back-to-back as we are, circumventing the continent.

Another comment we’ve heard from some passengers is they become bored on sea days with nothing to do. There are dozens of activities on board the vessel available at any time of day and night.

The fitness center has everything I prefer to use.

Each day is filled and fulfilling. Over these past days, we’ve evolved into an entirely pleasurable routine, leaving us with little time to spare. Our mornings begin in the dining room for breakfast followed by finding two chairs at Café Latte tudes on the 5th floor overlooking the Centrum.

As we prepare the day’s post, we can hear and see the classes and activities taking place below in the Centrum. During this time, I can go to the fitness center to work out while Tom saves my chair. Once we have finished and uploaded the post of the day, it is usually around midday.

By 12:15 we find our favorite seats in the theatre to watch the movie of the day beginning at 1:00 pm. It’s necessary to get a seat early. We bring our phones and play games while we wait for the movie to begin. 

Tender boat used to transport passenger from the ship to Yorkey’s Knob Marina which we’d visited over a year ago. Many were off to Cairns from there which we’d also thoroughly scoured when living at Trinity Beach.

Surprisingly, we hadn’t seen any of the movies being shown and although some are goofy, we’re still entertained. Tom’s only lost interest in one movie so far, Ghost Busters as mentioned in another post. Yesterday’s movie was Money Monster well worth watching.

After the movie, we head back to our cabin. By then, it’s already 3:00 pm. We lounge, sitting on the bed checking our email, downloading photos, saying hello to family and friends. A few days ago, during this period, we booked the flight to Tasmania for December 3rd and a rental car for the three months we’ll spend on the island.

By 4 pm, we dress for the evening. With my limited wardrobe its always challenging deciding what to wear. Invariably, I’ll pull something together and we’ll leave the cabin feeling we’re as ready as we can be for a fun evening aboard ship.

The ship’s library is often filled with passengers searching for reading material.

Usually before 5 pm we’re situated in the Diamond Club lounge on the 13th deck for free cocktails, appetizers and fabulous chatter with other members.  Before we know it, it’s 7:00 pm and time to wander into the Cascades dining room to get a spot at a “sharing” table for eight or ten. 

The next few hours fly by with the lively and animated table conversation. At times, we may sit next to less lively types, but overall, we find our table mates entertaining and interesting. Many are interested in our lives of world travel often asking us question after question while we pump them for their stories as well. 

By 9:00 pm or so, we head to the Schooner Bar for the piano bar entertainment beginning at 9:30. Within an hour or so, we head to the Centrum where there’s a live band and dancing. We dance, we laugh, we chatter! 

Most likely, we won’t be booking any cruises on this ship since those we may be interested in booking aren’t posted yet. When we book aboard a ship extra perks are provided and our cruise rep at Vacations to Go, Brooklyn, will still get credit for the booking.

Between 11:00 pm and midnight we usually head up to our cabin, hoping for a good night’s sleep. Neither of us has slept more than six hours since boarding the ship almost a week ago.

This is surely due to the fact that we can’t wait to get up to begin yet another pleasurable day.

Thus, we have no time or inclination for boredom. Cruising is especially appealing when we don’t focus on the small annoyances or inconveniences. We couldn’t be more thrilled with our cruise.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2015:

One year ago today Tom was standing outside Kumar’s Hair Salon which generally attracts more men than women. We awaited Tom’s turn while sitting on the bench to the right. For more details, please click here.

Final expenses for Australia…Leaving Trinity Beach today!…Last favorite photos…

Pond view at the Cattana Wetlands.

It’s 7:45 am as I begin here today. I have the final load of laundry going, I’m showered and dressed back into my nightshirt while the clothes I’ll wear for the next 48 hours spin in the washer.  

A huge croc was found here in Deadman’s Gully last year which was later found and moved to another less populated location.

Packing the duffel bag for the overnight in Sydney is challenging when it already contains all of our jeans, both shorts, and heavy long pants in order to lighten the weight of the checked bags. We always carry-on the duffel bag. With two pairs of blue jeans each, plus three pairs of jean shorts each, it’s a heavy load.

Another of Tom’s sunrise photos.

Also, I’ve packed my large Costco beach bag, which is a temporary-for-travel-days-only handbag with a few toiletries we’ll need in the hotel:  toothbrushes and toothpaste, shavers, contact lens case filled with solution for tonight only, antiperspirant, and my small black cosmetic bag. No fluff. No creams, lotions, or potions for us.

An eye-catching orchid found at Rusty’s Farmers Market.

The three bags to be checked need to be arranged and weighed one last time to fit what we’re currently wearing and any last-minute items. Tom’s busy in the kitchen washing our iced tea pitcher which we’ll pack with clothes and place in a bag. I just packed the half-full large grinder from Costco containing Himalayan salt.

It was cloudy and rained almost every day during our first month in Australia. Once it cleared, the weather was nearly perfect day after day.

Sleep was fleeting last night as it always is before leaving. Tonight won’t be much better when we have to awaken at 4 am and be out the door of the hotel at 4:30 am. We’ve timed ourselves and when necessary, both of us can manage our entire time in the bathroom in the morning to less than 20 minutes. No dawdling here.  Efficiency is the name of this game.

A final visit to Trinity Beach on a sunny day.

Today, we plan to be out the door at 3:30 pm for our three hours 5:20 pm flight to Sydney. Based on what we have left to do, getting out the door won’t be rushed or stressed.

As for the expenses, there aren’t any surprises. We were very close to the amounts we’d budgeted, except for the medical exams and tests which we hadn’t originally included.

Last week’s full moon over the bay.

Here are our expenses for the past almost three months:

Rent:                  USD $7,058  AUD $10,207
Car Rental:          USD $2,628  AUD $3,512 (fuel costs included)
Airfare:               USD $   477  AUD $   690
Entertainment:    USD $   553  AUD $   800
Groceries:           USD $2,854  AUD $4,128
Dining Out:                        $0
Misc.*                 USD $5128   AUD $7,413
Total:             USD $18,698   AUD $27,032

*The above mentioned miscellaneous is a category we’ll add to the future final expenses posts as we’ve done today. In this case, it included all of our medical expenses,  medical tests, prescriptions, the cost for SIM data, clothing and supplies we had shipped to us from the US, shipping fees, various toiletries we purchased at the local pharmacy, clothing at a local store, etc. 

Standing on the pier at Green Island, the expanse of this tiny portion of the Great Barrier Reef was breathtaking.

We’ve always kept track of these non-rental related expenses but haven’t included them in the totals we’ve posted in the past.

Peeking through the trees to Double Island on a cloudy day.  Sunny or cloudy, we took many photos while in Trinity Beach

Bottom line, the above totals are every last cent we spent while living in Australia. Of course, these totals do not include deposits and payments we’ve paid for future rentals and cruises while living in Australia. 

Kangaroo family resting under a tree on a hot day.

For example, we did not include the final payments for the rental in Fiji or for the paid in full cruise to Vietnam.  Those figures will be reflected at the end of each of those experiences as we’ve listed these today.

Feel free to inquire if any of you have questions regarding any of these expenses. We’ll always happy to answer any of our readers’ questions in regards to costs.

Local Bluewater Marina.

Also, please note that we haven’t dined out while living in Trinity Beach, not once in an entire 88 days. This is a first and it’s unlikely this will occur again. As mentioned in a prior post, we’d been unable to find suitable restaurants for my way of eating. We could have found a few options but with the beautiful organic vegetables, free-range chicken and eggs, grass-fed meats, and fresh fish, we had little interest in dining out.

There are warning signs at each of the beaches regarding crocs and stingers when an encounter can be life-threatening.

Also, with an enormous outlay for future venues, we tightened our belts and ate meals at home. We could easily add another USD $1500, AUD $2169 to the above totals and with the outlay of funds, we felt it was a good time to cut back.

Each of the many beaches in the area had its own unique appeal.

With Fiji on the horizon and many expenses behind us, we can look forward to dining out each week if we’d like, using the driver to take us back and forth. From what we’ve heard the cost of the driver several times a week will be considerably less than what we’ve paid for rental cars. We shall see.

Many homeowners become annoyed by cockatoos who can be noisy and destructive. Many afternoons they arrived in the yard in huge flocks. The noise is deafening but it was always fun to see them.

One odd item, we decided to try while here: Could we get by entirely using credit cards only, never stopping at an ATM? We did! The only cash we have is a refund given to us by Woolies for bacon we’d purchased that was slimy. Not only did they replace the bacon with fresh bacon at no charge, but they also gave us back the entire amount for the cost of the bacon. 

Exquisite Holloways Beach view from atop a steep hill.

At first, I refused the AUD $12, stating they’d already replaced the bad bacon at no charge and I didn’t require more. But, the store manager insisted I take the ziplock bag of cash, explaining it was their policy to not only replace the item at no charge but also, give the customer back the money. Only in Australia!  Now, we have some cash for tips at the airport.

That’s it for now, folks. Back to wrapping things up, finishing the laundry, packing the odds and ends scattered about the house, and cleaning the house as much as time allows. Sylvie insisted we do not worry about cleaning but, we always like to leave the property somewhat clean and definitely free of trash and debris.

Kookaburra stopped by the yard to sit atop the fence, next to the rain gauge.

Thanks to Sylvie and Andy, our wonderful hosts. If the Cairns area is on your mind for a future visit, you too could enjoy spending time in this lovely property. Click here for details.

Soon, we’re off to the airport to pay for our excess baggage and await our flight to Sydney. If time and WiFi allow we’ll do a quick post with photos.  f not, we’ll be back in 48 hours from our new home in Fiji.

Thanks, again to all of our loyal readers for staying with us during crazy, exciting, and also mundane times as we slowly make our way around the world.

Photo from one year ago today, September 7, 2014:

Standing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, one year ago. We were in awe of having the opportunity to visit this profoundly emotional historical site.  For more photos and details, please click here.

Beauty is subjective…We’ve changed our perspective…

Midday sunlight filtering through the trees.

Kenya was dark in its mystery, its eerie sounds, its dry, dusty plains, and its sudden pelting rains. At night, we’d hear a freaky indescribable sound, comparable to the tones in the movie, “Close Encounters of a Third Kind,” a sound that impacted the way we felt about it, a little frightened, a lot in awe. 

The full moon rising as it made its way through the clouds above Yorkeys Knob.

In many ways, Kenya was far removed from our familiar, as familiar as one can feel traveling the world with the certain ungainly expectations we’ve adopted as we’ve continued on. Nothing was the same from that point on.  We’ve changed.

We aren’t as afraid. We learned to live outdoors for 16 hours a day with no living room or lounge area inside the house, no screens on our outdoor living room, a spacious veranda with a wide array of venomous insects always in attendance. I was stung on the thigh early on and a year later it still hurt when I touched the spot. We’ve changed. 

The moon offers up quite a show.

Now, as we prepare to move to Vanua Levu, Fiji, where we won’t be able to rent a car when only a 4×4 is able to manage the steep and rocky roads near our vacation rental, too expensive to rent on this remote island. 

Compared to most of the remaining nine months we spent in Africa, we’ll have a driver, not as convenient as having a car, but manageable for our needs, shopping, dining out, and touring the area.

The esplanade in Trinity beach doesn’t disappoint with easy facilities for visitors of all ages.

One may ask, “Why make ourselves uncomfortable?” It’s not our intent to be uncomfortable. It’s simply a part of the experience as a way of life, not what one would want or expect from a two-week vacation or holiday. 

In our old lives, if we’d taken a two-week trip and had no AC, no screens, no place to be indoors if desired, with insects scampering about the floor, we’d want our money back. 

Signs were posted with the history of the area.

It’s different now. This is no two-week vacation or fluffy holiday. This is taking things as they come as we saunter about the world with expectations in check striving for the “experience.” Some of the best experiences we’ve had are when we’ve “toughed it out” which ultimately changed who we are, who we’ve become.

The beauty? It’s subjective. Kenya is its own right was beautiful; the Indian Ocean a short walk from our home in Diani Beach, the most pristine beaches we’ve ever seen; the plains; the Masai Mara; the Mara River; the acacia trees, flat on the top, an exquisite sight in the horizon; the wildlife; a gurgling hippo in the early dawn…it all was beautiful.

Few cars drive along the esplanade when most of the visitors are on foot, currently staying in resorts along Trinity Beach.

I use Kenya as an example. It would be easy to go on and on when many other countries hover in our minds contributing to the changes in who we’ve become. What about Jordan, UAE, Italy, Egypt, Iceland, and more?  But, that’s not our intent today. 

Today, I think of beauty…again, words from an old favorite song, “Love the one you’re with.” Those words convey so much to us;  love the moment, live in the moment, cherish our surroundings, cherish each other. We do this.

Hotels, resorts, and vacation homes line the esplanade along with several restaurants.

And, when we were on the boat from Green Island last week after visiting the Great Barrier Reef and we spoke to a few tourist couples, an Australian woman from the Gold Coast said, “Oh, we don’t like Cairns.” 

A few cars were parked in the convenient beachside car park.

Suddenly, I felt protective and blurted out in defense of our perceptions of beauty, “Cairns is lovely. We’ve loved every moment.”

There were plenty of shady spots for those preferring to stay out of the sun.

We have loved the beauty of the area in which we’ve lived for nearly three months; the tall fields with sugar cane growing along the roads, the endless sandy beaches, the cockatoos squawking overhead, the quaint shops along the various esplanades, the ever-changing skies, the Hawaii-like vegetation and of course, the relatively predictable weather, sunny and warm almost every single

The annoyances that may frustrate a “vacation/holiday” traveler have been in essence insignificant to us; living without screens, the insects, the noisy curlews all night long; the steep driveway requiring an athletic event to take out the trash. We’ve easily managed it all here and comparably, in other countries.

The sand looks lumpy in this photo when in fact is fine and soft underfoot.

As we grow to admire the pleasing perspective of the beauty of those we love, both of us find the same ethereal beauty in our surroundings. Whether it’s a flower, a hummingbird, a koala, a sunrise, or an expanse of sea, it all matters, it all fits into our realm of beauty.

Now, as we wind down our stay in Queensland, Australia, we have no regrets. We saw everything we wanted to see. We did everything we wanted to do and we leave here fulfilled and appreciative for this beautiful place and its equally beautiful people.

It was quiet at Trinity Beach with only a few more visitors than we’ve noticed in the past.

The next step in our year’s long journey takes us to a remote island with bumpy roads, open markets, no TV with the news of the outside world, friendly people, and a lack of many of the conveniences we’ve enjoyed in Australia. Without fear, without apprehension, we continue on with open hearts, open minds, and an eye for beauty. Without a doubt, we’ve changed.

Photo from one year ago today, September 2, 2014:

It was one year ago today that we had the profoundly moving experience of visiting The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France.  The photos and stories continued over a few days.  Please click here to begin.

Part 2…A popular tourist attraction in Cairns…Beyond expectations…Wish we’d visited sooner….

Not the most flattering photo of us. But, we couldn’t resist including a photo of us tasting the Mimolette cheese we’ve written about today, know for its “mites’ that live on the outside of the cheese as it ferments. The US has concerns over “bugs” on cheese.  See story below.

We love the unusual, the peculiar or anything that deviates from the mundane and the expected. Whether it be an animal, a plant, a sunrise or sunset that varies from that which we’ve seen in the past.

This 190 gram chunk of Mimolette Cheese was priced at AUD $13.30, USD $9.73, certainly no more expensive than a chunk of quality Parmesan.

Perhaps, that’s one of the many reasons why we decided to travel the world, a reason we’ve discovered has escalated as our journey continues. What tidbit can we discover along the way that finds us in awe of the world around us? It all boils down to the concept of “what is unique to us?”

We purchased these items at Fetish for Food at Rusty’s Markets. The total cost was AUD $77.65, USD $58.83.  In the center is a container with fresh mozzarella balls which we’ll use soon to make stuffed Italian meatballs with sugar free pasta sauce and Parmesan. After tasting the Mimolette, if we grate it, it may work perfectly to finish off the dish.

Those who know us may laugh when it comes to admiring each other. What’s so unique about each other maintaining our interest and enthusiasm in being together, day after day, year and year in such tight quarters?  It’s all a matter of perception in one’s own eyes. I find this man with an inordinate amount of willingness to adapt, of openness and of generosity of spirit at my side each day.

He may find similar types of qualities in me. But mostly, I perceive he likes that I don’t complain and I don’t do drama. Collectively, the humor, the teasing and the playful banter contribute to the ongoing pleasure of one another’s companionship. That’s unique, maybe not so much in the realm of the world, but it is to us.

Foie Gras is one of my favorite food items. This tiny piece, of which I savored half yesterday afternoon was AUD $14.30, USD $10.47, was delicious, even without crackers or bread.

Whether its in looking for and finding vacation homes, places to explore and people we meet, we naturally gravitate toward that which varies from the “norm” even if only to a miniature degree in the eyes of others.

As we wandered through Rusty’s Markets our eyes, trained to scan for unique items we stopped to investigate, inquire and take photos when possible. We’ve learned over these past years certain vendors don’t want photos taken of their products. This has been especially true in Muslim countries based on religious beliefs we respectfully honored without question.

This taste of this delightful Chicken and Black Peppercorn Pate stayed with me for hours as I often thought of going back for more, instead saving the balance to enjoy for a few days. This was priced at AUD $9.35, USD $6.84.

Many of the most unique fruits and vegetables were for sale in such owned displays causing us to proceed with our photo taking with caution. Although, without taking photos we were able to enjoy our perusal of the most unusual items. 

In our search for the most unique item we were enthralled when visiting with Nick Down at Fetish for Food. We couldn’t resist but load the counter with what appeared to be delectable choices to take home when he noticed me staring at a unique item in a display case, Mimolette Cheese.

This Brie Cheese with Truffles is a rare treat.

Nick chuckled when he saw me admiring the “unusual” color, a bright orange, when all the other cheese were varying in shades from bright whites to yellow. At first I thought it may be a type of cheese made with a pumpkin flavoring contributing to its odd color.  

Nick proceeded to explain Mimolette’s unusual story which definitely caught our attention. There was no way we were walking out of his shop without buying that chunk of Mimolette Cheese and we looked forward to conducting a bit of research on this unusual product when we returned home.

(I should mention a phenomenon here in Australia at this point; cheddar cheese here is not orange. It’s a natural off white color. They don’t use dye in their cheese to color it. When looking for grated cheddar cheese for our grain-free taco salad, I have to read labels, unable to easily spot the orange-tinged cheddar cheese).

After considerable research I found this wonderful article, although dated, from NPR detailing exactly what we wanted to learn about Mimolette Cheese:
“Tiny Mites Spike Big Battle Over Imports of French Cheese
May 11, 2013

by Deena Prechep

The Food and Drug Administration is currently embroiled in a surprisingly heated culinary standoff — pitting French cheese-makers (and American cheese-lovers) against regulators, all because of one very small problem: cheese mites. Cheese mites are microscopic little bugs that live on the surfaces of aged cheeses, munching the microscopic molds that grow there. For many aged cheeses, they’re something of an industry nuisance, gently brushed off the cheeses. But for Mimolette, a bright orange French cheese, they’re actually encouraged.

The mites munch on the rind for a few years and then are removed — usually with a blast of compressed air and a bit of hand-brushing — before Mimolette is sold. But there are always a few hiding behind. And now the FDA is cracking down.

According to the FDA’s Patricia El-Hinnawy, there’s no official limit, but the target is no more than six mites per square inch. For Mimolette, that’s a near-impossible standard.

Benoit de Vitton is the North American representative for Isigny, one of the largest producers of Mimolette. In March, de Vitton began receiving letters from each of the dozen importers he works with, saying that their Mimolette shipments had been detained.

De Vitton estimates that he now has about a ton of cheese sitting in FDA warehouses in New Jersey. “They say the product, because of the mites, it is not proper for human consumption,” de Vitton sighs.

Ironically, de Vitton notes that Mimolette itself is rumored to have been created because of import issues in the 17th century. “The French were at war with Holland, and the king didn’t want any more Dutch Gouda coming to France. So he asked to create kind of the same cheese.”

But in the 21st century, do we need a cheese ban? Microbiologist Rachel Dutton runs a cheese lab at Harvard University, and we checked in with her about the dangers of mites. Dutton notes that there have been some reports of mite allergies, but they seem to be restricted to people who have come into contact with large numbers of mites.And Dutton says that while we may not like to think about bugs, they’re a part of what makes cheese so delicious.

“Cheese is absolutely alive,” Dutton laughs. And all of that life — the molds, bacteria, yeasts and mites — help make cheese what it is. Dutton says that the mites on Mimolette can contribute flavors of their own (they have a somewhat earthy smell), and by eating into the rind, they can also increase aeration — and the surface area in which the other microbes can do their work.

Dutton understands that this doesn’t sound appealing, but implores people to realize the good work of these bugs. “There definitely are microbes that can spoil food and make either it bad for you to eat or just sort of gross. But any time you eat a piece of cheese or a bite of yogurt, have a piece of bread or a glass of wine — these are all examples of foods fermented by different types of microbes.”

Throughout France, cheese lovers have been rallying in support of Mimolette. There are radio stories, YouTube videos — there’s even an ex-pat Save the Mimolette Facebook campaign (of course).

In America, the response is a bit more subdued. Some cheesemongers are buying up the limited supply, but most are content to shrug it off. Sasha Davies, of Cyril’s cheese/wine bar in Portland, is nervous about what the mite crackdown could mean for other aged cheeses, but in general is fine reaching for an aged Gouda instead of Mimolette.

“I find I can scratch the itch I feel for Mimolette with a lot of other cheeses,” she admits.

Davies says that the fervor for Mimolette isn’t just about its caramel notes or lactic tang or bright orange color.

“There are cheeses that — even though I think they taste delicious, they tug at my heartstrings, either because I love the person that makes them, or I have this great memory of being in a special place,” she says. “Food is never really just food.”

And for many French people, Mimolette brings a taste of memory, family and home — as well as mites.”

By no means are we cheese experts and, we were aware that mites may hang out on fine cheeses based on the education we received on long ago tour of the Cheese Factory in Belize.  However, we never realized the significance of mites as described in the Mimolette Cheese.

We’ve yet to unwrap and try this Spanish Goat Cheese with Rosemary saving it for another day.  It was priced at AUD $11.02, USD $8.06, another fair price.

It was irresistible. We purchased a good-sized chunk of Mimolette Cheese and this morning we tasted it for the first time. As described above, we loved its “caramel notes and lactic tang” or I should say, I loved it. Tom was less impressed when his tastes for cheese leans toward Kraft’s Individually Wrapped Slices or Velveeta.

When Tom and I first dated and on occasion I visited his home, I cringed when I noticed he kept a huge bucket of nacho dipping cheese on his kitchen counter, readily available double-dipping a tortilla  chip. On the other hand, back in 1991, I was shopping the gourmet deli counter at Byerly’s Market for fine import cheeses.

This morning Tom had a chunk of this non sugared smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, onions with his favorite local sliced cheese, Tasty brand with a side of nitrate-free “streaky”  bacon.  This price at AUD $8.95 was only USD $6.55.

As for the unusual, Mimolette Cheese was an interesting tidbit teaching us something new which ultimately is the benefit of seeking and finding those special morsels in our travels having an impact on our senses, whether its a taste, a smell, a touch, a sound or a sight. It all adds to the experience. 

Lots more new photos tomorrow!

Photos from one year ago today, August 23, 2014:

One year ago, we visited Oxford, England, the famous college town filled with one historic building after another. This is the Radcliffe Camera Building, “camera” referring to a “room” not a camera. For more Oxford photos, please click here.

Part 1…A popular tourist attraction in Cairns…Beyond expectations…Wish we’d visited sooner….

The sign outside the huge permanent farmer’s market in downtown Cairns, Rusty’s Markets, a popular tourist attraction as well as a favorite shopping site for locals.

Hindsight is 20/20. Had we visited the popular tourist attraction, Rusty’s Markets in Cairns earlier in our stay in Trinity Beach, we’d easily have returned on many occasions. (Click here for the map).

As soon as we entered Rusty’s Markets we knew we were in for a treat.

With easy to find and navigate free two-hour parking in a nearby ramp, we barely made it back to the car in time to avoid the overtime AUD $10, USD $7.73 additional hourly fee. Had we missed the two-hour window, the experience would certainly have been worth the fee.

Tropical flowers are on display in multiple locations.

Rusty’s Markets is a cacophony of mind-blowing shopping from a wide array of products including pretty summer dresses, handmade jewelry and crafts, and exquisite flower arrangements, to organic fruits and vegetables, meats, breads and desserts.

Having already purchased avos a few days ago when we grocery shopped I had to pass on these.

Countless casual restaurants with foods from around the world lined the perimeter including a makeshift food court where hungry tourists and locals gathered about sitting on uneven chairs and benches happily munching away on their favorites.

A mixed variety of goods are presented at some tables with specific items at others.

It was evident that most vendors are offering products as a result of ongoing hard work and creativity in developing their wares to perfection. With Rusty’s Markets only opened from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 5:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sundays, it’s a full-time job for the vendors, managing their inventory and presentation of their products to ensure a seamless three days open to the public.

Fresh greens are for sale at many displays.

For the avid local shopper, leave room in your fridge and freezer and bring a small wheeling shopping cart in order to leave hands free for gathering the multitude of treasures. For the tourist, bring durable over-sized bags for other wares you may be unable to resist to bring home with lovely memories of the shopping experience.  Cloth shopping bags are available for sale.

Tom stopped and looked at the bread display. Nothing appealed to him. He hasn’t had a bite of bread in almost three months but continues to mention how much he missed toast and jelly.

Few times in our world travels have we found a market of this size and variety. Under cover of an enormous building, it’s a year-round, regardless-of-weather venue with permanent stations for its vendors. It’s clean, well lit, and relatively easy to maneuver.

Tropical fruits, roots, and greens.  Prices are reasonable for most items.

Luckily, we visited on a Friday as opposed to the most likely busier Saturdays and Sundays. We discussed how crazy it must be when cruise ships dock in the port of Cairns with 1000 or more cruisers arriving by bus to Rusty’s Markets. Cruisers notoriously are avid shoppers and Rusty’s would be pure paradise for most.

As we approached the counter at Fetish for Food we knew we were in for a treat.

Having grocery shopped only two days earlier and with our tiny fridge and freezer packed to the gills, buying vegetables were out of the question. I was so disappointed when I couldn’t purchase grass-fed meat or organic veg as I drooled over the free-range meat, free-range chicken, and organic produce lining row after row in the vast market.

Every refrigerated case is filled with food befitting our way of eating including smoked fish, sausages, nitrate-free streaky bacon, and delectable cheeses.

However, when we spotted a meticulously presented cheese and exotics foods display, aptly named, Fetish for Food, I felt like a kid in a candy store. When the owner, Nick Down, was free to spend time with us, we were delighted with not only his knowledge of every item in his inventory but his pleasant demeanor and surprisingly reasonable prices.

Nick explained interesting facts about the various cheeses one of which we’ll expound upon tomorrow with a shocking story. Who knew?

Finally, being in a shop where I could almost eat anything offered sent me to the moon. It reminded both of us of when in March 2013 we visited the Cave Branch Jungle Lodge as guests of the owner Ian’s fabulous on site Cheese Factory. Click here for the link from that day with many great photos of our memorable experience.

There are multiple cases all filled with local and imported cheeses.

At Fetish for Food, we couldn’t help but make a fair sized pile of products I couldn’t resist. Even Tom, unlikely to do more than taste these items, got into the selection process encouraging me to grab more and more.  With only a little over two weeks, until we leave Australia, it made no sense to purchase too much, a little of which I’ll have each day.

Once we arrived home, it was fun to review our purchases.  In total, we spent AUD $77.65, USD $58.83 which was less than we’d expected for these several items. Today, we’ll prepare an appetizer plate for a pre-dinner treat.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a story on a very unusual product we purchased at Fetish for Food regarding a type of cheese and bugs, an unlikely combination we found fascinating. The foodies out there will love this. The non-foodies…please humor me. But, even you may find it entertaining if not cringe-worthy.

Much of the cheese is imported from France, as we know, the cheese capital of the world.

Another vendor that caught our eye was Wild Nature Cairns, presented by the owner, Nicola whose gentle demeanor was surely befitting the natural skin and hair care products, natural makeup, and pure essential oil products, all organic and environmentally friendly.

In addition to meats and cheeses, Nick has a display of fancy condiments and oils.
In my old life, I’d surely have walked away with a bag of girlie treasures. In this life, I can’t purchase any of these items with a lack of space in my bag and the inability to replace the preferred items when they’re gone. 
Nicola, the owner of Wild Nature is dedicated and committed to the highest quality product she can produce, mostly made utilizing the healing and therapeutic Australian Aloe Vera plant.
These days, I purchase cosmetics in grocery stores and pharmacies. I have one drugstore night cream in my possession which I’ll replace with another when it runs out. If I need body lotion, I use coconut oil. 
Nicola’s products may be used for a variety of skin conditions. Visit her site at this link.

Finding these two wonderful vendors in the busy market among the produce, grass-fed meats, exotic pastries, and endless eateries only added to our extraordinary experience…slightly under two hours of pure delight for both of us.

Back at you soon with the unusual products, we found at Rusty’s Markets.

Photo from one year ago today, August 22, 2014:

This is the church where Matthew’s funeral was held in Bampton, England where Downton Abbey has been filmed over the years. For details on how this quaint village has been prepared for filming please click here. It was quite a story.

The rainforest…Where are they?…We hiked in a triple canopy rainforest…One year ago, a favorite photo from Le Louvre…

As we made our way through a portion of the triple canopy rainforest we encountered two lakes, a creek, and a river. This is the saltwater lake. Tomorrow, we’ll be posting photos of the freshwater lake, the river, and the creek which included a wildlife surprise.

Many of us have the perception is that there is only one major rainforest in the world, the largest in the Amazon River Basin in South America. And yet, there are rainforests throughout the world.

The sign at the entrance to the rainforest boardwalk.

“The largest rainforests are in the Amazon River Basin (South America), the Congo River Basin (western Africa), and throughout much of southeast Asia. Smaller rainforests are located in Central America, Madagascar, Australia and nearby islands, India, and other locations in the tropics.

For more information on rainforests throughout the world, please click here.

As shown in the above map, we’ve already visited rainforests in Central America while we lived in Belize, formerly British Honduras and also as we’ve visited many islands on various cruises and now in our backyard.  If we could climb the steep hill behind the house, we’d be in the rainforest.

Leaves changing color in the rainforest.

As with most forests, walking through a rainforest isn’t easy unless one carries a  machete if the trails aren’t available. Australia, in its infinite wisdom and devoted to its natural resources, makes hiking through many of their rainforests relatively easy.

Spindly tree.

At least on four prior occasions since our arrival over two months ago we’ve had an opportunity to enter rainforests located in Queensland. Yesterday, was no exception when we headed back to the area of the Cairns Botanic Gardens where across the road is the entrance to an extensive trail through an area of rainforest we’d yet to explore.

Sunlight filtering into the dense triple canopy rainforest, which connotes dense vegetation on the ground, the center and the treetops blocking out sunlight.  An occasional opening allowed for sunlight to filter through.
As for the Australian rainforests:

“Millions of years ago, Australia, New Zealand and the island of New Guinea formed part of a great forested southern continent, isolated from the rest of the world. Today these countries contain many different species of animal that occur nowhere else.  Undergrowth in Australia’s tropical forests is dense and lush. The forests lie in the path of wet winds blowing in from the Pacific.

We made the trek around noontime, when we had an opportunity to see the most with the sun directly overhead. The wooden boardwalk was a little wobbly and unstable at the point but overall safe.

While living on tropical islands in our immediate future, there will be many more rainforests to explore. As we visited several thus far in Australia and other parts of the world we find each to have its own personality, many with considerable wildlife lurking within the canopy and others, such as here in Australia with less visible wildlife as we walked the trail.

Sun filtering through to standing water in an otherwise dry creek bed.

And we stress, “visible,” when much of the rainforests consist of “small things” not necessarily easy to spot with the naked eye. Lately, we’ve been watching episode after episode of David Attenborough’s amazing stories of life on our planet.

A visitor at a distance which illustrates the narrowness of the boardwalk. At times, we had to use our arms to get through heavy vegetation overtaking the boardwalk.

Watching these fabulous documentaries has aided us in the further realization of how small many creatures are in the rainforests, often difficult to spot as we traverse our way through dense vegetation, the narrow manmade path leading the way.

Tom stopping to admire a huge tree.

For our exploration, we revel in spotting unique vegetation and occasional signs of life, other than the occasional hiker walking by us. Oh, I need to mention a fact about Australia that intrigues us. Australians walk on the same side of a path as cars drive on the road. 

Occasionally, a sign was posted naming a particular tree.

As we encountered others on the narrow path, my inclination had been to move to the right to make room for them to pass when in fact, I’ve needed to move to the left. Tom reminded me to avoid making a fool of myself. Duly noted.

This tree was huge, much wider than it appears in this photo. See the above photo for Tom standing next to it.

The wood boardwalk running through a large portion of the rainforest we toured was too narrow for us to walk side by side. As a result, when exploring rainforests Tom walks in front of me stopping when he spots a point of interest.

Vines accumulating on the ground from the tree above.

His eyes are quicker than mine and we often stop when he sees a photo-worthy opportunity. He rarely disappoints. I’m more inclined to spot a more “romantic” sighting than an object of interest. As a result, we’re a perfect match (in more than one way).

We spotted several trees with vines wrapped around the trunk.

The value of maintaining the integrity of rainforests has definitely become known to most of the world although certain factions prefer to ignore the importance of these magical forests for the future of humanity in many ways.  

We wandered through the Lowland Paperbark Forest.
The destruction of rainforests is both political and money-driven and I prefer not to get into that discussion here. However, any of our long term readers easily surmise our stance on the preservation of our natural resources both in wildlife and vegetation, the most important aspects of our travels, that which brings us the most joy.
It was easy to see why the bark of certain trees is referred to as paperbark.

It’s sad that any of us on a smaller scale can only take a stance and have little impact on that preservation. On a larger scale? It’s another matter. Yes, in our selfish existence, we admire, we enjoy, we take photos and we write. 

Fine, flaky bark on this tree.

Perhaps, somewhere along the way, our constant mumblings may have even a tiny effect in some way if only one person who is involved in the depletion of our natural resources is inspired to consider an alternative.

This tree has an usual base of the trunk.

For the rest of us, we can only consider and implement means of reducing our “ecological footprint” by using methods easily incorporated into our lives

This sign introduced us to the Pandanus Swamp Forest.
Today and over the next few days, we’ll be sharing more of our rainforest photos. It was a warm, sunny day with a slight breeze, keeping the mozzies at bay. Neither of us was bitten once as we made our way through the “triple canopy” which proved to be an interesting and rewarding experience.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2014:

We took this photo from inside Le Louvre from an open window. What a scene! What an experience! For many more Louvre photos, please click here.

Deadman’s Gully…Aptly named?…A visit to check it out…

In checking out the photo below of the woman who encountered the crocs it appears to have been in this area we visited at Deadman’s Gully.

A month from today we’ll be waking up in a hotel in Sydney to catch a very early flight to Fiji. It’s hard to believe how quickly the time in Trinity Beach has passed. Last night, Tom mentioned how 90 days is the perfect amount of time to spend living in any one area and I wholeheartedly agree.

We could easily envision a croc coming up and over this hill from the ocean to Deadman’s Gully.

As time winds down, we begin to think of places we’d like to visit or perhaps revisit during our last month in the Cairns area. With a few spots in mind, yesterday we decided to return to Clifton Beach, an area we’d only driven by on a rainy day shortly after we arrived two months ago.

There are several signs noting Deadman’s Gully.

As always, before heading out we began reviewing online information about Deadman’s Gully. Curious as to the origin of its name, we stumbled across this story in the Cairns Post and on the news a year ago:

“Cairns teacher almost snapped by 3m crocodile at Deadman’s Gully near Cairns

A woman who came within 1 cm of a crocodile’s jaws after the reptile lunged at her and her dog at a Northern Beaches creek has called for the immediate removal of the dangerous creature.

Clifton Beach resident Belinda Marsh, 50, was walking her German shepherd Nharla at Deadman’s Gully on Sunday night.  Two saltwater crocodiles have been spotted several times by locals in the waterway in recent weeks, the last sighting reported on Thursday.”

We followed this path in the Deadman’s Gully.

For the remainder of this news story, please click here.

Well, of course, reading this story made us all the more interested in checking out Deadman’s Gully hoping to take photos of where these two crocs were sighted and to investigate the type of habitat that appeals to them. We didn’t expect that we’d see any crocs, nor did we want to be in a position of having to run from them. 

The area adjoining Deadman’s Gully.

But, I did mention to Tom that maybe “safari luck” would kick in and we’d see a croc in the wild enabling us to take a photo from the safety of the car. No such luck.

Adding to our peace of mind, before we headed out the door, we noticed one additional story online:

“Elusive 3m croc caught at Deadman’s Gully in Cairns

By Sharnie Kim

“Government contractors have captured a crocodile that is believed to have lunged at a Cairns resident and her pet dog. The three-meter reptile, at Deadman’s Gully on the city’s northern beaches, has eluded capture since about November last year when residents reported several sightings. Its mate was captured that month. Aboriginal contractors harpooned the larger crocodile late on Tuesday night and authorities are finding it a new home. Meanwhile, the state Environment Department said it was investigating after a one-meter crocodile was found dead at Deep Creek on Cairns’ northern beaches earlier this week.”
There was barely a cloud in the sky.
The fact that these particular crocs had been captured didn’t necessarily mean that no other crocs would be in this area. With a plan to proceed with caution as do many bikers and joggers who fancy this particular area, clearly marked with numerous warning signs, we ventured out with enthusiasm.
Again, another relatively unoccupied beach on a perfectly sunny day around noon.
Once in a while, we miss an opportunity to capture a video. Such was the case as we exited the car when we parked in one of the few available parking spots in the area. A noisy flock of birds stopped us in our tracks as we were shocked by the loud sounds coming from the trees overhead. Unfortunately, by the time the camera loaded the sounds stopped, most likely due to our arrival.
Pretty view at Clifton Beach where Deadman’s Gully is located.
We were reminded of the sounds of the Howler Monkeys when we visited a rainforest in Belize, many moons ago. Bringing up this memory we both giggled over how I’ve combated so many fears over these past three years.
The Clifton Beach neighborhood and esplanade is lined with lovely homes.
Now, I’ll wander through a rainforest without hesitation as long as I’m lathered up with repellent. In Belize, I was a wreck, trying to be brave and failing poorly. It seems so long ago, that any insect sent me reeling which now I flick away with only a tinge of annoyance.
Some type of fungus growing on the side of this tree.
When an insect is large and/or interesting I’ll often manage a quick jump to grab the camera as is evidenced in our stream of photos of insects, snakes, and other creatures. Although, I must admit we both remain hesitant when spotting venomous centipedes, spiders, and snakes.
Unusual tree trunk at Clifton Beach
As for crocs, fear is a good thing. One must stay on alert. Fear in itself should be used as a trigger for extreme caution. Those crazy folks who put their heads into the mouths of crocs make no sense at all.
The vegetation is dense along the beach in certain areas along Deadman’s Gully.
There’s no doubt that as we neared the gully and river that our eyes carefully scanned the area as we listened for sounds of movement in the dense and often tall vegetation.
It was these murky waters that appeared to be a possible haven for crocs.
With no obvious croc in the area, we took our photos while fascinated with the scenery before us.  We walked the paved path and perused the narrow unpaved pathways over rocks, tree roots, and fallen vegetation often keeping one eye on the ground with the other on our surroundings.
There are narrow walkways to the ocean as shown in the openings in the railing.
We hope you’ll enjoy our photos over the next few days as we continue to share the sights in the area of Deadman’s Gully. By the way, we never found how the name of this area originated but, it’s easy to imagine.
With many German tourists visiting Australia the German word “actung” is often listed on warning signs at the beach. There also appears to be a warning in Chinese and/or Japanese.
                                                              Photo from one year ago today, August 8, 2014:
The famous Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. It was hard to believe we were actually there seeing first hand that which we’d only seen in movies and photos. Still soaked from standing in the gardens for 90 minutes in the pelting rain without an umbrella, we hardly noticed our clothes as we wandered through the amazing property. For more photos and details, please click here.

Yesterday’s extraordinary visit to Cairns …A full afternoon…A great day…

The colors in this bloom were unlike any we’ve seen.

We apologize for today’s late posting. It was time for me to workout and the fitness center is only open from 8:00 am to 11:00 am on Saturdays and we needed to get on the road. Plus, I was behind managing the many photos from yesterday’s outing. 

Bright yellow and brown blooming flower. We’ve seldom seen so much brown in flowers.

With the sun shining when we returned it was also time to soak up 30 minutes of Vitamin D. I had started the post as soon as I was up and dressed, but left it unfinished with so many photos to download from yesterday’s outing.

We can’t quite reads the name of this on the included sign.

After completing yesterday’s post, we decided to head out on a sunny day to check out the Cairns Botanic Garden. In most countries such garden are named “botanical” gardens. In Australia, like many other countries/continents we find that many words and expressions are different than our familiar US words and expressions. 

These red berries accompany a dark, almost blackberry.

Not surprisingly, I’ve found myself using some of the Australian words and expressions. How quickly one could change their manner of the use of their native language. In many ways, the easy to understand words and expressions are rather logical here in Australia, even the shortened words such as “veg” for veggies or vegetables.

These were common in Hawaii.

In a future post, we’ll share some of these words and manners of speech. At the moment, I’m accumulating a list that we’ll share most of which are charming and humorous. 

Part of the grounds were blocked off for the construction of a new conservatory.

Whether its named botanic or botanical, we decided to visit the venue in Cairns we’d read so much about these past seven weeks. Easy to find with well marked signs on Highway 1 in the city of Cairns, past the airport, we were a little confused as to which “car park” we’d take. 

The Silk Floss tree we’d seen in Kauai.

As we drove along the huge expanse of the grounds which includes: Flecker Garden, Visitor Centre, Centenary Lakes, Rainforest Boardwalk, Australia’s Gondwanan Heritage Garden and Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, we managed to snag a free street parking spot close to the entrance of Flecker Garden.

The purpose of these spikes is to protect the tree from destruction by possible intruders. These has gorgeous blooms during the summer months.  Its winter here now.

For most tourists and local visitors, Flecker Garden holds the majority of the interest. Many other areas are designated for serious hikers with steep trails and mountains not intended for those less than experienced and fit hikers. 

However, Flecker Garden provided us with a perfect perspective of Australian vegetation and even a bit of wildlife we’ll share here over the next few days as we post some of our best photos.

Although many of these plants and trees grow in Hawaii as well as Australia, most of them originated on other islands throughout the world.

When we visit an attraction such as this, we’re always torn over whether it’s necessary to identify each of the items in each photo we post. Often, we’re able to name most of the subjects of our photos. However, yesterday’s tour of Flecker Garden made it difficult.

The bright orange of these vines stood out among the greenery.

With the growth of many of the wide variety of plants and trees, the originally placed signs with were often ambiguous as to which plant or tree the sign was intended to identify.

Heliconia. Wow!

As a result, only some of our photos will be identified. Otherwise, we’d be spending days searching online for the names of each plant.  With the high cost of wifi at this time, it makes little sense. If any of our readers would like to provide input, feel free to do so via email or a comment at the end of the post and we’ll happily update the photo with the proper name.

Snake Cactus.

We often wonder if the technical names of plants and scrubs really matter to our readers when in essence, we’re not a botanical website. We are world travelers sharing our wide array of experiences of many aspects in a certain area and by no mean profess to be an expert in any of these areas.

Close up, Snake Cactus.

As we wandered about the vast grounds of Flecker Garden, we found ourselves reveling in the many new and unusual plants and also smiling over others we’d seen in other tropical areas of the world, primarily in Hawaii on the four islands in which we lived over a period of eight months.

Once we entered the main entrance to Flecker Garden we were reminded that there was no entrance fee (we’d seen this fact online). This was a first. Of the many botanical gardens we’ve visited throughout the world, there was always an entrance fee which we’d gladly have paid. 

Unusual red bloom without a sign identifying it.

In some areas of the world, our visit to gardens has been “hosted” based on the fact that we’d be providing additional marketing exposure via our online photos and promotion. Not having the responsibility of creating stories as a more professional piece, we were more at ease as we wandered through the gardens, thinking only of what would appeal to our garden enthusiast readers and our own personal tastes.

Cascading pale yellow flowers.

Tom doesn’t love visiting gardens. As a matter of fact, he’d just as soon not visit them at all. However, as shown a week or so ago of us visiting a military museum, we compromise, attempting to show tolerance along with a degree of enthusiasm when we’re dragged along on a less than interesting sightseeing expedition.

Extra-long stamen of a lily.

Considering that 80% of our sightseeing appeals to both of our tastes and interests, these compromises are merely an exercise in attempting to offer ourselves and our readers a wide array of what each country has to offer. 

This flower was blooming on the Flame Tree.

We realize that we tend to stay away from many of the most popular tourist attractions when crowds, traffic, parking issues, and expense are factors for us. Plus, out intent in traveling the world was never about hitting all of the “hot spots” but, instead about immersing ourselves in “living” in an area and experiencing life as close as possible to that of the locals.

The Australian Brushturkey, also called the Scrub Turkey or Bush Turkey freely roamed around the gardens. These turkeys are not closely related to American turkeys. Click here for more details.

It is this type of experience that brings us the most joy and fulfillment in our travels as explained in the post a few days ago when we discussed living life as the “accidental tourist” as shown in this post, in case you missed it.

Over the next few days, we’ll continue sharing many of the exquisite discoveries we made at the Cairns Botanic Garden and hope that you too will find them interesting and worthy of a peek.

May your weekend be filled with that which brings you much joy!

                                              Photo from one year ago today, July 25, 2014:
One year ago, it was only five days until departure from the island of Madeira after a highly enjoyable two and a half months in the lovely home in Canmpanario overlooking the sea in an ideal contemporary house. Although little English was spoken in our area we found a way to communicate with the locals. For details as we wound down the last few days in Madeira, please click here.

An accidental tourist…The key to our best adventures…Mangrove Boardwalk…

It was a dreary and cloud-covered day, not the best day for entering a rainforest-like environment. We entered anyway.

Years ago, I watched an excellent movie entitled, The Accidental Tourist with William Hurt, Geena Davis, and Kathleen Turner. It was a quirky movie adapted from the book of the same name by Anne Tyler.The movie, produced in 1988, generated rave reviews for which Geena Davis received an Academy Award

The vast marsh area was relatively barren before entering the boardwalk.

The name of the movie has stuck in my brain over the years and surfaced when we began sightseeing throughout the world over these past almost three years. The accidental tourist…that’s us. Why is that so?

We never saw another person the entire time we walked through the salt marsh. It was a little eerie entering on this dreary day.

As it turns out, our favorite sightseeing experiences are those we stumble upon as opposed to planning in advance. Whether it’s a beach, a desert, a flock of birds or an interesting neighborhood, when we happen to encounter a photo-worthy scene, it’s often by “accident.”

You can zoom in to read any of these signs.

So was the case a few days ago when returning from the Cairns Central mall when Tom unintentionally turned down a road leading to the airport where a sign prohibited him from making a left turn to the main highway back to Trinity Beach.

Once inside the long, narrow boardwalk took us deeper and deeper into the marsh.

This happens from time to time. How can we possibly anticipate every left or right turn as being accepted on an unknown road when we don’t have wifi on our phones with no cell contracts?

As it turned out, low tide gave us an opportunity to see the unusual tree roots which at times are under water.

We map ourselves the old way. We either take a photo of a map with turn by turn directions before we leave home or commit the directions to memory which here in the Cairns area is easy to do. There are only a few main roads leading to everything.

Notice these little holes that creatures quickly ran in and out of as we passed.

Thus, if we explore without a plan in mind and most often we do, we’re “winging it.” Thus, the term accidental tourist certainly comes into play when we frequently discover an area we may never have found otherwise.  Tom’s superb sense of direction always, prevents us from getting lost.

When we lived in Belize, we toured a mangrove area by boat and explored the rainforest.

Plus, a person could drive the entire perimeter of the continent of Australia without a map and never get lost. Following the coastline itself continues for an estimated over 12,700 kilometers, 7891 miles. Click here to see a video by a scientist explaining how difficult it is to determine Australia’s or any other coastline’s measurements. 

In certain spots, the holes were larger.

As a result, whenever we drive to a specific location, we find ourselves veering off the beaten path on the return drive hoping to stumble upon something amazing we may have never planned and mapped to see. That’s the essence of what makes our travels all the more exciting.

The more we continued on the boardwalk, the denser the tree became.

If any of our readers review our previous over 1000 posts, it would be apparent that many of the highlights of our experiences have been as a result of being the “accidental tourist,” perhaps not in the manner as implied by the book and subsequent movie but, instead, by the interpretation of the words in themselves.

The fact that these trees survive living in saltwater for part of the season is interesting to us.

As Tom turned down the above-mentioned road that led to the airport with no apparent exit for turning around, we both expected that in moments we’d arrive at either the departure or arrivals levels. 

Tangled root systems proliferate in this environment.

Of course, I never complain about Tom having to make such an unexpected turn. I don’t drive the car leaving me with little right to comment about possible wrong turns. Nor would I want to when I, too, am scanning the area for potential points of interest we may have otherwise missed.

We never thought much about these types of areas.  Seeing this firsthand gave us a new perspective.

There we were on the airport road and suddenly a small parking lot appeared to the right, a spot where we could possibly turn around to avoid driving into the airport complex. As we pulled into the “car park” a sign read, “Parking for Mangrove Boardwalk, visitors only.” Our interest was peaked. What’s a Mangrove Boardwalk?

Wouldn’t this be a logical spot for crocs to hang out? If one appeared, we were up high enough to avoid being eaten (after I’d take a photo, of course).

Getting out of the car we moved to read the posted signs to discover that the Jack Barnes Bicentennial Mangrove Boardwalk is a scenic, easy to navigate path through a dense saltmarsh and marshlands.  To quote from the site:

We scoured the banks of the creek hoping to spot wildlife.

“The Jack Barnes Bicentennial Mangrove Boardwalk is a special place to learn about tropical Australian mangroves and saltmarsh. Visitors can learn about a broad range of species, and some of the key functional attributes of these tidal wetland systems. The walk has two distinct parts, heading either north or south into closed mangrove forests from the carpark situated adjacent to a small saltmarsh and saltpan area.

Water from the creeks remained in some areas of the saltmarsh.

The northern boardwalk extends to Little Barron Creek where viewing platforms are provided at the creekside. About half way along the walk, a canopy tower offers a view across the tree tops. This section of the walk returns in a circuit to the carpark. Signs are placed along the boardwalk to provide information on the many ways that plants and animals have adapted to this interesting environment.

The southern boardwalk offers a slightly different experience and explores a number of different types of mangrove forests. This section terminates at a canopy tower near the mouth of Swampy Creek. Signs along this section provide information on the productivity of mangrove forests.

It was odd and somewhat eerie, never seeing other people.

The boardwalk was opened on 27 February 1988 by Dr. JT Baker, OBE, Ph.D., FRACI, Director of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. It was constructed by the Cairns City Council on land made available by the Cairns Port Authority. Construction was supported by the Cairns Bicentennial Community Committee, with the assistance of dedicated employees who constructed the boardwalk, working closely with the Cairns Port Authority, the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Location Details

    • Distance/length: Two sections: north 0.8 km, and south 1.2 km
    • Location: Just off the road to Cairns Airport.
    • Walking Time: 30 and 40 mins, respectively.
    • Address: Airport Avenue, Cairns.
    • Directions: Directions as if going to the Cairns International Airport, look for signs to Mangrove Boardwalk when nearing the airport.

Contact: For more information: Cairns City Council, Cairns

We wondered if these little sticks popping out of the ground were remains of downed trees or future trees growing in the salty ground.

Walking through this unusual area was both eerie and interesting at the same time. The raised wooden walkway was in excellent condition and easy to walk, although too narrow for us to walk side by side. I led the way while Tom followed behind reminding me not to fall off a few times. I never felt as if I’d fall off the one-meter wide boardwalk without a railing. Then again, he’s always looking out for me.

It wasn’t far down to the ground from the boardwalk.

As we continued on, the mosquitos started to congregate around my repellent free legs causing me to stop on occasion to swat them off. It wasn’t until the next morning that the bites began to itch which still continues today. Alas, I could have refused to enter this heavily forested area. But, being who I am, I was determined to go and never complain.

This complex cluster of tree roots was hard to miss.

At one point, it felts as if the boardwalk would never end and perhaps we’d get lost. I suggested to Tom that we may have to turn around and go back the way we came when there were no signs posted with map of the boardwalk once inside the path.

We stopped to read each sign along the way.

Tom said, “Let’s keep going.  The path will come back around to the beginning.”

I didn’t take the time to read this sign when close to the water, the mosquitos were in a frenzy.

We continued on and alas, in time, we eventually found the path that circled around the entire perimeter returning us to the beginning. It was quite an interesting and unusual walk unlike any other than we’d done in the past, except for a few tours on which we embarked into various rainforests in a few countries.

Another large muddy creek, a habitat for wildlife.

The only wildlife we encountered was birds none of which we were able to take photos of and also, the most peculiar little creatures that rapidly ran in and out the holes in the ground at low tide when they heard us coming, again never able to get a good look at them, let alone take a photo. We assumed they must have been some miniature type of marine life.

Finally, we were back at the beginning. Although I enjoyed seeing this most peculiar area, I was thrilled to get back into the car away from the mosquitos.  Once inside I noticed a stick roll-on repellent I’d left in the car. Next time we explore, I’ll bring it along, using it as needed.

When the walk ended, we commented on how often we find such interesting spots to explore and that truly our favorite experiences are often those we encounter as “accidental tourists.”

                                                  Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2014:
The scenery over the island of Madeira was breathtaking every day.  Our time was winding down and we began to think ahead in this year ago post.Please click here for details.