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Reef Report for Saturday, March 13, 2010

(And thatís how you pronounce it, with a nodding nasal toward the "r")

If you are coming to Cairns to dive you ought to consider sticking around for a day or two to explore the area. This story was sent to us by Susan Atkins, one of our recent guests who dove here, then enjoyed our local surroundings!

Although people in the know said avoid Cairns, it was just too convenient, and actually a cute little town, it hotter than Hades, but it is summer after all! After three days of galley food, we were delighted with a fabulous meal at the Red Ochre Restaurant. © Kuranda Scenic Rail Crocodile for starters, Emu and Wallaby for mains. They are all so tasty. I had had ostrich before (Emu), but never as delicious as this. Neither Emu nor Wallaby tasted like chicken, but the crocodile did a little bit.

We took the Skyrail gondola up through the Rainforest. Allegedly, this is the site where some of the footage for "Avatar" was shot. If not, it couldíve been. The amazing thing about the rain forest is that on first look, itís just a forest or jungle, but then you keep looking and it keeps going and going, layer after layer: sixty foot ferns and vines and more and more. Basket and staghorn ferns big as a car, nestled in ancient trees. This particular Rainforest is the longest continuous Rainforest on earth, been around for over 120 million years.

At the top in the village of Kuranda, we got to hold a Koala Bear, hand feed the wallabies and chase the butterflies. We learned that it is a myth that the koalas get high on Eucalyptus. Rather, the Eucalyptus is so toxic that the cuddly little koala has to go nearly comatose while he digests the stuff. The koala is so soft! The kangaroo we petted was also pretty soft.

The, we took the Kuranda Scenic Railway back down the mountain to Cairns. The railroad was built between 1887 and 1891 by up to 1500 men at a time, armed only with picks, shovels and dynamite, to provide gold diggers in the mountains behind Cairns with necessary supplies. The trip takes about 2 hours and includes 15 tunnels, 37 bridges and 98 curves.

All the while youíre meandering through the Baron Gorge National Park which is a spectacular section of the Wet tropics World Heritage Area. Itís an easy and inexpensive trip, and we really enjoyed it!

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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