Cruise day 51 – Feb 24
This turned out to be a really good stop after an inauspicious beginning in heavy rain. How heavy? Well, the port stop we were scheduled to make the day before at Arlie Beach (Whitsunday Islands) was canceled due to heavy rain, high winds and big swells! The weather has been terrible the past several days, and apparently there are a few more coming.
At least the Arlie Beach cancellation gave me a sea day to share the cake and champagne that Viking had delivered on my birthday:
Although the rain continued as we arrived at Townsville, we were able to get docked as everyone gathered up their ponchos and umbrellas. This was another stop where Mona Liza and I agreed to take separate excursions that we were interested in, and then compare experiences when we met back at the ship. I was excited to take the Magnetic Island Discovery Tour, while she wanted to check out the flora and fauna on the Rainforest Walk Tour.
Magnetic Island Discovery Tour –
The rain was torrential as I boarded the bus that would take us from the ship to the Magnetic Island Ferry. Fortunately, the weather improved as we approached the island, and the rest of the day was just hot and humid – yay! Upon arrival, our bus on the island went to Horseshoe Bay, a cool little spot with a nice beach backed by heavily-vegetated mountains.
There were a few little stores and markets nearby, and I loved the place right away. It was the kind of laid back “tropical paradise” atmosphere that really appeals to me, and I wished that Mona Liza was along to see it. I will put this place on my “revisit list” and spend a lot more time when we come back.
The bus next stopped at a spot known for it’s Wallaby population, but they were apparently hiding in the rocks because of the wet weather and we didn’t see a single one. Bummer!
We stopped for a buffet-style lunch, then continued on to Bungalow Bay Koala Village. This was the highlight stop where everyone was dying to see and hold a Koala. At first I thought I’d be happy with just a picture of one, but I have to admit it was pretty cool to actually hold him, plus some of the other animals they introduced us to. I haven’t seen so many old people that excited since my grandmother’s Bingo tournament in Yankton, SD!
We boarded the bus and headed back to the ferry, with everyone showing off the pictures they had gotten holding the Koala. One woman said it was the highlight of her world cruise.
Rainforest Walk Tour (by ML) –
I had a great day on my excursion at Paluma Range National Park. Our group was a bit nervous that the tour might get canceled, for the rain was coming down in buckets as we left the ship for our one-hour drive from Townsville. However, as we drove up to Mount Spec it began to let up and then stopped completely by the time we began our rainforest walk:
Mount Spec is the southernmost national park section in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Cloaked in tropical rainforest vegetation, it rises above the coastal plains and was misty with low clouds during our visit. Our guide/naturalist explained that the tropical rainforests are home to hundreds of species of trees, and that it’s one of nature’s most complex biological systems. He introduced us to some of the rainforest’s plants and how they interact with the animals living here:
Next we visited the small township of Hidden Valley for our home-cooked lunch at Hidden Valley Cabins. On the way our guide pointed out the diversity of flora and fauna which changed dramatically as we entered the dry open woodlands:
But the highlight for me on this tour was definitely seeing several Rainbow Lorikeets. They’re so colorful and playful!
On the way back to the ship, we stopped for a quick photo op at Little Crystal Creek. It’s well known for its cascading waterfalls and the historic stone arch bridge built in the 1930’s:
When Steve and I met back at the ship that afternoon, he bragged about holding all of those exotic animals. Although I was a bit envious, my day was full of adventure and beautiful birdies. We were both happy with our tours and only wish we could have enjoyed both of them together!