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Before the plane lands in Cairns you see the new environment. Unlike anywhere else we’ve been in Australia, the forest of north Queensland is dense green. Enough rain falls year round to keep a thick cover of trees and underbrush growing. We thought Darwin would be like this, but even though it is often hotter, Darwin is in seasonally dry tropical forest. There isn’t enough rain in the dry season to keep everything growing. As a consequence the forest around Darwin is thinner, with less underbrush.

Not only is the forest around Cairns dense, it covers coastal mountains so steep that only a few roads cut across into the interior. Though we are well into autumn in the southern hemisphere, the temperature hits 80° F. most days, and we do use the pool in our yard. Two blocks away is Kewarra Beach. On weekends there are lifeguards and the net to keep out box jellyfish. There are reminders about other hazards, as well.

We had a preliminary look at the coast, driving from our base in Kewarra Beach north as far as Wangetti.

Next we went inland to Barron Gorge. There are boardwalks built along the edge of the cliff overlooking the gorge. There isn’t a swimming hole here because the water eventually runs into the power generating station for Cairns. The view is lovely and we saw new birds along the way.

At the far end of the complex is Wright’s Overlook, where you can see Cairns in the distance. We’ll do more exploring across this area now that we’re back on our schedule of staying for a month rather than having to “run off” after a week or two.