Daintree River and Cape Tribulation

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC recently spent a few days up in Far North Queensland. It’s a land of ancient forests, wide waterways, and tropical beaches.

This post shows a little of our boat ride on the Daintree river and our trip on up to Cape Tribulation. Or “Cape Trib” as it’s fondly known to the locals.

The book I’m in

Autopsy, by Patricia Cornwall. I’m delighted to take my place inside a Kay Scarpetta novel again. Murder and mayhem ensue, cloaked in the delightful intrigues of this forensic pathologist’s family network. A good read.

Travel tips

Take an early-morning boat trip on the Daintree River. The Daintree River Wild Watch with Ian “Sauce” Worcester is a beautiful one. And if you do such a trip, take warm clothing. Yes, it’s the tropics, and yes it gets warm when the sun finds you. But on the river, cloaked in mist, it can be rather chilly.

The photos

Early morning on the Daintree River:

 As the sun came up, so did the birds, like this Sacred Kingfisher:

A Rainbow Bee-eater, looking less than ready for the harsh light of day:

The reflections on the still water made it hard to tell imitation from reality:

Let’s move fifty kilometres north, to Cape Tribulation. Walking from the car park to the beach, we crossed this dark pond:

Colorful crabs watched us from the driftwood:

Mushrooms lit the way:

The path opened up onto the sands of Cape Tribulation beach:

Why the name “Cape Tribulation”? Evidently Captain Cook and his ship, the Endeavour, had a tough time in this area. The ship struck part of the Great Barrier Reef and suffered quite a bit of damage as a result. The captain and some of the crew had to trek across the land to find supplies, and found instead that making way through the thick jungle-like forest was no easy task.

That’s all for today, folks.

Mossman Gorge and the Daintree Rainforest

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Mossman Gorge is part of the Daintree rainforest, a region in Far North Queensland on the north east coast of Australia. Me, the TC, and two other family members walked the Mossman Gorge circuit trail a couple of weeks ago (mid May).

The book I’m in

Bloody Genius, by John Sandford. A quiet tale of murder and mayhem. I’ll be happy if the TC deposits me in more of this author’s books.

Travel tips

The Daintree is in tropical Far North Queensland. Be prepared for the climate. Even though we were there in the cooler, dry time of year, it was still warm and humid. Take plenty of drinking water. Walk at a reasonable pace that suits you. Don’t plan to do too much in one day. Even for multi-legged folks like yours truly, it pays to take things easy.

The photos

Me at a clear forest pool in the Daintree rainforest:

Report has it that the Daintree is the oldest rainforest in the world. It’s more ancient than the Amazon forest, by tens of millions of years. The Daintree survived the ice age by shrinking into small pockets which then expanded when the warmth came back. So, some of the plant species here were around when the dinosaurs called this area home.

Me, dwarfed by a tall tree covered in vines:

Speaking of dinosaurs, look who’s looking down from above!

That particular descendant of the dinosaurs is a King Parrot, one of the 430 species of birds found in this region.

The Mossman Gorge circuit track offers a lovely way to experience the rainforest. The track is well maintained, and fine to do without a guide. This map of the area shows the car park on the right. From the car park, we caught the shuttle bus to the start of the trail:

A note from a cautious caterpillar: Heed the warnings! We saw one person being taken out by ambulance after slipping on the rocks, and another person requesting help from the paramedics.

Warnings aside, being in the Daintree forest is a beautiful, restful experience. This photo captures the timeless atmosphere. Shafts of light filtered by greenery. Tall forest giants. Leaves and vines intertwined in huge variety.

I did get a crick in my neck from all that looking up at giants. Down at my level, though, there’s a lot going on too. Mmmm mushrooms. I wonder… which side of the mushroom should I nibble on?

Back at the car park, Skull-face the Spider awaited us:

Yes, the spider really was that big. It’s a Giant Golden Orb Weaver. If the TC walked into this spider’s web, the spider would cover her entire face! Still, it’s relatively harmless to humans. Yours truly, however, kept well away.

Zooming in with the camera to take a closer look. The little spiders on the web weren’t actually all that little, until seen next to Skull-face:

That’s all for today, folks.

Cairns in tropical northern Australia

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

This worm and the TC spent a few days in Far North Queensland, where the sun is warm and the sea is calm. When it’s not holding a storm party, that is. Let me show you around the lovely town of Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

The book I’m in

Moonraker’s Bride by Madeleine Brent. A good yarn written in this author’s inimitable style. Yours truly is always happy when the TC puts me in one of Madeleine’s books. Madeleine Brent is the alter ego of Peter O’Donnell, best known for the Modesty Blaise series.

Recommended restaurant

The Chambers, Spence Street, Cairns City. Excellent food in a comfortable ambience.

The photos

Me with Ray, guardian of the Great Barrier Reef.

Ray is a life-size sting ray, part of an imposing sculpture on the Cairns Esplanade. It’s titled Reef Guardian (Citizens Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef), by Brian Robinson:

Beyond the sculpture, the bay of Cairns presents an ever-changing vista. At low tide, it’s a mud flat with mangroves popping up here and there:

In the distance is a Black-necked Stalk, stalking (that’s right, stalking) the shallows for a bite to eat. Here’s a closeup view of the rather lugubrious character:

Needless to say, I stayed well out of sight. That beak, those eyes!

The TC, bless her cotton socks, was captivated by the tranquility of the scene. She doesn’t look like food to a stalk. Here she is, captured on film in a rare unguarded moment:

Along the bay runs the Cairns Esplanade, where Cairns folk and visitors take the air. One corner of the Esplanade is the favourite haunt of a couple of pelicans:

The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, a gently-sloping series of pools, leads the eye down into the Coral Sea. If you zoom into the picture, you’ll see Jonathan the seagull and his pals swooping above the Esplanade Lagoon. Perhaps they’re mimicking the frozen flight of fish that swoops there too:

Trees and grass in the middle of the Esplanade offer relief from the tropical sun. This flowering tree caught my eye because the flowers grow on stalks low down on the trunk and quite separate from the canopy of leaves:

This is the flower:

And another view of the flowering branches low on the trunk:

On one side of the Esplanade lies the Coral Sea. On the other side, enticing eateries and shops line the road beyond the green sward:

Cairns is a town of wide avenues with some interesting architecture. An example is the Cairns Post building, established in 1882 as home to the Cairns Post news corporation. The building is currently for sale, so now’s your chance to hop in if you have an eye for architecture and a few million dollars to spare:

The next photo shows a building erected in 1910 for the Adelaide Steamship Company:

Here’s a closeup of the central gable, showing the building’s name spelled out in relief below a sculpture of a company ship:

An alleyway in the city centre:

Let’s finish the story with a return to nature and its oddities. These weird-looking mushrooms, which the TC, bless her soul, spotted just off the Esplanade, are Veiled Lady Mushrooms:

That’s all for today, folks.

Kurri Kurri Kookaburra and murals

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

A couple of weeks ago, this worm visited the little town of Kurri Kurri. It’s an intriguing place, springing from a history of coal mining and now re-imagining itself as an artists haven.

If you’re anything like the TC, bless her cotton socks, you’ll be asking, “Why two words?” Why is the town not called just “Kurri”? Towns and cities in Australia often have names that repeat the same word twice. The pattern comes from the Aboriginal languages that repeat a word to emphasize or strengthen the meaning of the word. In the local Minyung language, “kurri-kurri” means “the beginning” or “the first”.

The book I’m in

The Ones We Choose, by Julie Clark. A tale of genetics, romance, and tangled lives. Highly recommended.

The photos

Me with the Kurri Kurri Kookaburra:

This Kookaburra is huge. If it were alive, I’d be taking shelter rather than posing in full view of that eye and that beak. Instead, I was happy to let the bird photo bomb me, as it’s a sculpture.

In fact, this bird is a little like myself in that the representation is more magnificent than the original form.

Here’s another view of the Kurri Kurri Kookaburra. The artist is one Chris Fussell. The sculpture was erected in 2009:

Not far away from the big bird is the Kurri Kurri hotel, first opened in 1904. It’s a typical Australian hotel, in that its primary business is as a pub and restaurant, not accommodation. (The word “hotel” traps many a weary, unwary traveller just arrived in Oz.) It’s a lovely old building, with wrap-around verandas and frilly cast-iron railings:

On a wall to the right of the hotel in the above picture is one of the murals that the town has recently become known for.

More paintings liven up a utilitarian building in the town centre:

The next mural fits right in with the business whose wall it adorns:

If you look closely at the above mural (the one on the right), you’ll spot a Kookaburra on a pile of tyres. There are more than 60 murals in and around Kurri Kurri. Rumour has it that every mural includes a Kookaburra somewhere.

Some of the wall decorations are of a bleaker nature, though still artistically and historically interesting:

That’s all for today, folks.

Newcastle, New South Wales

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

This week marked my first visit to Newcastle, famed as the largest coal-exporting city in the world. Now, dear reader, you’d be justified in thinking that I’m talking about the Newcastle in north-east England. Nay, not so, this Newcastle is on the eastern coast of New South Wales, Australia.

I greatly enjoyed my short visit to this harbour city, and my pleasant encounters with Novocastrians.

The book I’m in

Tragaron’s Daughter, by Madeleine Brent. A well-written, fast-moving romance and thriller combined.

Recommended restaurant

One Penny Black, 196 Hunter St, Newcastle. Highly recommended. Friendly service. Tasty fresh food in good quantity.

The photos

Me in front of the pavilion of the Newcastle Ocean Baths, a grand Art Deco building from the 1920s:

In the above photo, I’m on the southern side of the pavilion. Take a stroll with me around the building. Go slowly now — I may have more legs than you, but they’re shorter than yours.

The pavilion and baths were to be closed for renovation just three days after our visit. This worm felt privileged to see them in their current state, and hopes to see the renovated version soon. A somewhat whimsical sign under the pavilion predicted the upcoming upheaval:

Behind the pavilion are the baths themselves, open to the sea and sky, with tiered seating at one end:

Behind the tiered seating hides an intriguing little dome, complete with an intriguing little internal staircase:

The next picture shows the pavilion again, viewed from the northern side this time:

Moving south from the baths, you can stroll along Newcastle beach, bounded by a terraced headland:

Moving inland, you’ll probably encounter tram or two. Big brother, in shape at least, to yours truly:

This worm steered clear of lurking Corellas. Crafty characters they are, with one eye always open for a tasty morsel:

The streets of Newcastle are well worth a wander, for their varied architecture:

This building is a good advertisement for the architectural offices that inhabit it:

To end on a slightly political note, I’ll share this photo demonstrating nuclear free sentiments. No doubt the statement expressed here is in response to a recent state government announcement that Newcastle is one of three sites under consideration for a nuclear submarine base:

That’s all for today, folks.

Little Crystal Creek outside Townsville

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Little Crystal Creek is about one hour’s drive along Bruce Highway, heading north from Townsville in Tropical North Queensland. The road winds steeply up from sea level to the pools and falls of Little Crystal Creek. The trip is a little daunting, especially if, like this worm, you’re not fond of heights. But once you reach the creek, it’s well worth it.

The book I’m in

ashley bell by Dean Koontz. This book is right up my street. A good story with a touch of the supernatural that’s keeping me guessing.

Recommended restaurant

jks Delicatessen, in Ingham, about 45 minutes’ drive north of Little Crystal Creek. Try the pastries and the coffee!

The photos

Me in a somewhat intimate encounter with the wildlife at Little Crystal Creek. This scarlet dragonfly was persistent and curious:

A tall, growth-encrusted tree marks the spot:

Pools glow like jewels:

A stone arch bridge built during the depression of the 1930s crosses the creek:

The creek falls down the hill in a series of little falls and pools:

I leave the scarlet dragonfly to rule the roost:

That’s all for today, folks.

Townsville: crocs, stingers, and tranquility

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Townsville is a city in Tropical North Queensland, on the north east coast of Australia. It’s a quiet place. In the dry season, that is, when there are no tropical storms in the offing. When the deadly jellyfish have retreated from the shores. And if no salt-water crocodiles lurk in the shallows.

The book I’m in

ashley bell by Dean Koontz. This book is right up my street. A good story with a touch of the supernatural that’s keeping me guessing.

Recommended restaurant

The Great Jewel of India, Flinders Street, Townsville. The service is fast and friendly, and the food is delicious.

The photos

The Strand in Townsville, where the Coral Sea laps gently against the Australian land mass. A sign warns of dangerous swimming, deadly jellyfish, and recently-spotted salt-water crocodiles.

This worm probably wouldn’t choose to walk a dog so close to the shoreline where a saltie might lurk.

Jonathan and his mates enjoy a moment of quiet reflection on The Strand, with Magnetic Island as a backdrop:

Motorised scooters line up with the aerial roots of fig trees:

Customs House, a 120-year-old building of red brick and colonnades, with a tower for observing the passage of ships:

Former Telecasters North Queensland Ltd Building, seen from ANZAC Park:

A cafe occupies a corner of this lovely old building:

To finish off with, I’ll leave you with a tranquil view of Magnetic Island from The Strand:

That’s all for today, folks.

Mission Beach, home of the Cassowary

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Last weekend, the TC and I were in Tropical North Queensland. It was our first trip in more than a year, due to a global pandemic that’s currently holding sway over the world. We spent the bulk of our time in Townsville, but on Saturday we ventured north to a little place called Mission Beach.

This worm was impressed by the sheer chutzpah of Mission Beach. A small place on the large continent of Australia, Mission Beach might not shout out to travellers as a highly visible place on the map, except for one consideration: Mission Beach is home to the closest thing we have to a living dinosaur: Casuarius casuarius johnsonii.

The book I’m in

ashley bell by Dean Koontz. This book is right up my street. A good story with a touch of the supernatural that’s keeping me guessing.

Travel tips

Choose the dry season (May to October) to visit Tropical North Queensland. When we hit the area, the weather was ideal. The days were warm to hot, at around 28℃ maximum. The air cooled down nicely in the late afternoon, and early mornings were a pleasure.

The photos

Me and one of the many warning signs that Cassowaries roam these climes:

Weighing in at around 60 kilograms, a Cassowary is a bird not to be taken lightly. It has a strong, pointy beak at the top end and a long, sharp claw at the bottom end. It runs at around 50 kilometres per hour, and swims certainly better than this worm can. Imagine my despair then, dear reader, when the TC announced that we were to go in search of this very behemoth.

And lo, we found one!

One thing to the bird’s disadvantage is that it can’t fly. At worst, if attacked, I could entrust myself to the vagaries of a passing breeze and hope to escape in its tender embrace. The TC has posted pics and videos of this bird on her blog, aptly titled, In search of a dinosaur uh Cassowary. Drop by there if you’d like to see more.

This worm says, let’s move on to more about the town of Mission Beach! After all, this blog is about me. Oh, and about places and travel and things to see. But primarily about me.

Me on the eponymous Mission Beach:

In the above picture, the camera view looks northwards from the middle of Mission Beach towards Clump Point Lookout.

Other worms have found a home here too, it seems:

Tiny crabs leave patterns of sand balls, dug up to create their homes:

This view of the beach looks south towards the stinger net in the distance:

The stinger net carves out a section of the sand and sea, keeping it relatively safe for human swimmers during marine stinger season. Marine stingers are jellyfish that can cause serious pain and even death for people. This worm advises to steer clear of stingers. And of Cassowaries.

Dunk Island looms enticingly in the distance:

Here’s the main drag of Mission Beach town, just a short crawl from the beach, where you can grab a tasty meal and browse other wares:

That’s all for today, folks.

Christchurch, New Zealand

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

I’m fond of New Zealand. It’s my opinion that the people are honourable and forthright. Last weekend, me and the TC took a two-day trip to Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. With around 380,000 inhabitants, Christchurch is the second-largest city of New Zealand after Auckland in terms of population.

Ten years ago, Christchurch and surrounds were hit by two earthquakes. The first quake was a magnitude 7.1 in September 2010. The second quake in February 2011, though smaller (magnitude 6.2), caused far more damage to an already weakened city. Aftershocks continued throughout the year.

Reading a factual account of the 2011 earthquake is like reading a horror story. The ground below the city turned to sludge and squirted up into the streets. Buildings that had survived the 2010 quake succumbed to the second one, with devastating results. 185 people died. Parts of the city were closed down for years while people worked to make them safe.

Today, when you stroll the city streets, all is calm and peaceful. Children roll by on bicycles. People enjoy ice creams beside the river. A historic tram trundles past with tourists beaming through the windows. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t notice much amiss. But the amount of empty ground strikes you as strange, even if subconsciously. You wonder why there are so many gravel-covered plots governed by a temporary-looking Wilson Parking sign. You notice the buildings that look on the verge of falling down. Some have jagged cracks in the masonry, bolted together with metal plates.

I came away with feelings of peace and respect for the city and its people.

The book I’m in

A Shimmer of Hummingbirds by Steve Burrows. This is my first taste of the birder murders. It’s good. Try one!

Travel tips

Take the time to absorb the calm and peace of the city.

Recommended restaurant

Bacon Bros Present Shaka Bros, Oxford Terrace, Christchurch. It’s a hamburger joint with a good choice of burgers for all. The service is friendly and professional.

The photos

Me overlooking the ruins of a building in central Christchurch:

I don’t know whether the building was a victim of the quake. It seems likely. Currently there’s a water-filled hole in the ground with the building’s supporting structure emerging to provide roosting places for the birds. The site is fenced off, with viewing points for those who want to see what’s behind the high fence.

Two seagulls enjoy the quiet:

A pigeon surveys the city from the top of a concrete pillar:

A block away, Christchurch’s heritage tram click-clacks through a picturesque street of restaurants and shops:

A junction of the tram line, with people waiting at the tram stop on the left (around the pillar, beyond the hanging clothes):

The lovely ChristChurch Cathedral, looking so pretty despite the damage from the earthquakes:

The cathedral was built between 1864 and 1904. It has suffered earthquake damage in 1881, 1888, 1901, 1922, 2010, and the year of earthquakes: 2011.

The front face of the cathedral is currently open to the elements, due to damage during the February 2011 earthquake and subsequent shakes. This is the wall where the round rose window used to be:

The tower and spire used to be on the left of the main hall. The tower has been demolished after earthquake damage and search-and-rescue efforts:

Wikipedia shows how the church looked in 2006. This is what’s left of the spire now:

A forlorn piece of the cathedral lies on the paving:

But life goes on. Reconstruction of the cathedral is under way. Bringing back the bells:

Meanwhile, the people of Christchurch get on with it:

Other buildings are still under repair too:

The Avon River / Ōtākaro runs through the city:

People stroll the streets and ride the tram:

Down in the port of Lyttelton, iron bands hold earthquake damage at bay:

Dire warnings of danger protect the unwary:

An atmospheric shot from a tidal beach on the Christchurch peninsula:

That’s all for today, folks.

Walkway above the treetops in Lipno nad Vltavou, Czech Republic

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 36-year-old bookmark (give or take a few years) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC took the short drive from Český Krumlov to Lipno nad Vltavou when we were in the Czech Republic earlier this week. Just outside the village of Lipno nad Vltavou is a ski resort and entertainment complex, including a treetop walkway.

The book I’m in

We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bobiverse, by Dennis E Taylor. The TC has just started this book. I predict I’ll find myself tucked into many more of the Bobiverse series.

Travel tips

Dress warmly. It’s a trifle chilly when you’re above the treetops, even in September.

Recommended restaurant

Cafe Retro in Český Krumlov. A haven of good food and professional, friendly service.

The photos

Me at the bottom of the treetop walkway in Lipno nad Vltavou:

The ski lift offers a good way to get from the village to the treetop walkway:

Another view of the walkway tower:

Half way up the walkway, and half way up the tree trunks, I sneaked up on a bird. It’s as well to keep behind these creatures, as their front end has a tendency to nip:

Approaching the top:

The view from the top is stupendous. This is not it:

The TC, bless her cotton socks, was close to the top of the tower when she took the above shot. She gets a little nervous around heights, and didn’t care to take her phone out of her bag at the very top. I stayed safely tucked into my book too, just peeking over the top to take in the view.

That’s all for today, folks.