A Kookaburra, in a Tree, in the Rain

The morning starts with rain –

it has been raining since we went to bed last night. The monsoon here comes normally during the nights. This year Queensland is getting more rain than normal, after 5 years of significantly lower rain than normal. Everything back at our room is damp – clothes don’t fully dry after getting them wet either from swimming or from the rain, and the covers of our books are all curling from the dampness they’ve absorbed. We have been wearing t-shirts and shorts almost exclusively: Cairns is not a fancy dress destination. We seem to fit right in with the budget travelers and backpackers and the locals with our thongs and surfer shorts.

Barron Gorge WITH Water

There has been so much rain over the last few days that we go back to Barron Gorge to see what it looks like with water pouring over it. It is impressive, and the Aboriginal name, DinDin, is completely appropriate in English, even without translating its meaning. The area we are in is a UNESCO world heritage site – The Kuranda Range-the Wet Tropics, and much of the land we drive through going to and from Cairns is either national park or state forest.

While we are up at Barron Gorge, the rain stops, and the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, as it will do all day. The temperature immediately jumps from 20° to 35° as we go down to Cairns to do some email and web updating. We stop at the Maui shop where we will be renting our campervan and check out the merchandise. Compact and efficient, it will suit our needs fine for our 8 day road trip to Sydney.

Dinner in Trinity Beach

That evening we decide to drive the other direction for dinner, and after going down the mountain we turn left away from Cairns, and head to one of the many beach towns that line the coast, Trinity Beach. On the way, we stop and take a picture of our favorite road sign.We have read in a couple of our guides about a trattoria, L’Unico, that is right on the beach, and this is our intended destination. We find it after a couple of wrong turns, walk in to discover that it is a very popular restaurant, and we are the newest people in a long line waiting for tables. But we are lucky: there are only two of us, everyone else is waiting for a bigger table, and a deuce comes up quickly. We have a wonderful meal, the best we’ve had in Queensland by a long shot, and probably the best we’ve had in Australia. We have wonderful service, which we have been in Australia long enough to appreciate is the exception and not the rule.

For his main, Greg has a risotto with scallops, with the pink meat still attached to the white. He pronounces it delicious. I try something new to us: Moreton Bay Bugs, a shellfish that looks like a prawn with a lobster tail. They have been steamed in white wine and garlic, and prove well worth the gamble. In the busy atmosphere of the evening, one of the owners, Aldo, finds a couple of minutes to sit and chat with us and offers us a drink on the house, a personal touch strikingly reminiscent of the attention we’ve had in restaurants in Italy.

After dinner, making wonderful noises of contentment, we drive back to our hotel. I decide on a late night swim, and walking back to the room I hear laughter coming from the tree behind me. I swear I thought it was my mother’s wonderful infectious laugh. I wheel around, realizing as I do that I must have just heard a kookaburra. Of course I can’t see it, in the dark, but the next morning we see a kookaburra in a tree near our room.

Just as we are getting ready for bed, the rain starts again, and the frogs begin their nocturnes, lulling us gently to sleep.

20040202 Kuranda 016


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