Jeff Epler's blog

30 March 2014, 18:59 UTC

Australia: Granite Gorge, Fitzroy Island and Lake Barrine


On our way to Cairns, we stopped at Granite Gorge, a private park. You can buy food to feed the Rock Wallabies (supposedly it doesn't make them fat, but they sure like it), and then take a nice hike over many boulders. It was a fun and very scenic day, and then we swam for a bit in their pond to cool off (though Jeff sunburned his back here). There's also a few more photos here from Fitzroy Island, where we enjoyed the rainforest in addition to the reef snorkeling already posted. Finally, we have some photos from our walk around Lake Barrine, a beautiful lake inland from Cairns.

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21 March 2014, 19:10 UTC

Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat


Wildlife Habitat at Port Douglas, a zoo of North Queensland animals, including a great variety of birds, mammals and reptiles. There was plenty to see and do, and plenty of pictures to be taken. We'd already seen many of the birds in the wild, but it was neat to see them up close.

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15 February 2014, 14:35 UTC

Tropical Rainforest


The gorgeous tropical rainforest of North Queensland. It was full of amazing plants and was lush everywhere you looked. These photos are from a couple of sites—the first set are from the area around Mossman Gorge, where we went on a Dreamtime Tour with an Aboriginal guide. He told us both about what traditional life had been like, but also what life is like for people now and what traditions they have been able to hold onto. The second set is from Cape Tribulation, a little further north, where we took a number of different walks in the forest.

Warning: Spider pictures inside.

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3 February 2014, 22:33 UTC

Australian Coral Reefs


During our week in Far North Queensland, we took two snorkeling trips on the coral reefs. The first (and better) was Quicksilver Cruises' deep reef trip on a big boat where we snorkeled from a pontoon platform. The second (and not quite as good) trip was from the beaches of Fitzroy Island, which is much closer to the mainland.

The good part about the Fitzroy trip is that we stayed overnight on the island's resort so one or both of us snorkeled both mornings and both afternoons, as opposed to the hurry-hurry feel of the outer reef (not to mention that we also saw island plants and animals on a couple of hikes). The bad parts were that Ingrid had some minor seasickness from our trip on a smaller boat; coral (as opposed to sandy) beaches are uncomfortable to walk on; the water seemed to be cloudier and the coral less colorful compared to the deep reef, though after doing some automatic adjustments on the photos they look comparable.

We recommend getting "stinger suits" (lycra bodysuits) even if you aren't being told there are jellyfish in the water and even if you feel they look unflattering on you. The big benefit is that you basically don't have to worry about sunburn or sunscreen, as the lycra blocks UV. Just about the only thing exposed is your face, and hopefully you have it stuck underwater 90% of the time. I didn't burn my back and shoulders after hours of snorkeling—it was the 20 minutes in an inland freshwater pool later in the week when I finally got a sunburn worth complaining about!

Each time, we rented ("hired") an underwater camera (basic P&S cameras with underwater enclosures), and got a few good pictures from the process.

Please forgive us for not attempting to identify the coral or fish in each photo.

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30 January 2014, 1:01 UTC

Big Day Out


On our first full day in Port Douglas, we went on a day-long birding tour with Murray Hunt of Daintree Boatman Nature Tours. We first went on a morning boat tour with one other person, and then in the late morning and afternoon he drove us to a number of sites that provided numerous opportunities to photograph birds (and a few other things). I took about 900 photos. The first six are from Ingrid's camera, the rest are a selection of the better ones from mine.

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