After a packed weekend and more delicious food, we were off to the real adventure!
Yes, I’m talking about the NSW In-house Counsel Day conference in Sydney! (All joking aside, it was wonderfully done)
In truth, we were off to Sydney were I would be working a conference while Ari had time to explore the city. In fact, getting a jump start, she took an early morning flight out to enjoy her holiday.
Before my afternoon flight, I noticedsomething odd on my ticket.
In small parenthesis, next to the word MELBOURNE, was Avalon.
“What the hell is Avalon?” I said to the office.
Coffee cups shattered and phone conversations cut out as every head turned to me.
“Mate, you booked from Avalon?” Asked one of my coworkers in disbelief and disgust.
Too scared to verbally reply, I cast my eyes downward and nodded shamefully.
Avalon, as it turns out, is Melbourne’s OTHER airport – located in the distant wilds near an eldritch habitation locals call Geelong. I was in for a bus ride.
As I shuffled on to the bus I glanced at the other despairing tourists, for no local would make such a grievous error. Without a word, a silent pact was made – that none would identify the other nor admit to this tragic mistake.
No tickets were checked as no person in history has ever tried to lie to get to this place.
The driver, with dead eyes, and faced with the Sisyphean task of plying this route for eternity, mumbled something in what I thought was Latin and we were off.
As we left Melbourne, the skies began to darken. A blight of sorts had warped the terrain. But, was it even the same land? I was a stranger.
Despite my alertness I began to doze, only to startle awake at the sound of nether laughter, which came from nowhere … and everywhere.
As we pulled in to a corrugated tin structure the size of a Trader Joe’s parking lot, I noticed there were fewer passengers on the bus than when we began. The ride had taken its toll.
Somehow I made it through the madness and made my flight to Sydney.
That Evening, Ari and I had a decent meal but with a view that couldn’t be beat.
The next morning, knowing that my time as a tourist in Sydney was limited to mere hours, I ran off to catch the sunrise view of the famous harbor bridge and Sydney Opera House.
After a long day at the conference, we set out into Sydney. Knowing we had an extremely early flight out to Cairns, we had a nice meal nearby on The Rocks and turned in before 9pm.
The next morning, we were off! My hope was that we would be able to fit in an afternoon snorkel but everything, from flight times to other guests cancellations, had to go exactly right.
Meanwhile, across space and time, my beloved Tampa Bay Lightning were playing in Game 7 against some team from Washington. I knew in my heart that if we made the snorkel the Bolts would lose.
We made the snorkel.
Pulling out of the harbor, we had beautiful views of Port Douglas as we raced out to the Low Islands. Though the water was murky and the current swift, the main goal, of getting Ari snorkeling as a warm up for the big snorkel out at the Barrier Reef, was a success.
That night, we stopped into a lovely restaurant for our first relaxed date night together.
The next day we were off early — up to Mossman Gorge, crocodile spotting, the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. A packed day that promised some prime opportunities for wildlife spotting, some light jungle walks and seeing the only place on the planet where two natural World Heritage Sites meet (The Daintree Rainforest and the Barrier Reef.
Our first stop, Mossman Gorge, did not disappoint, with beautiful greenery and serene waters.
Up next was our big chance to meet the apex predator of Australia, the saltwater crocodile. Knowing I would get a grander opportunity to meet these animals (my favorites), I hoped Ari would get the chance. Fortunately we were lucky and, waiting on the banks as we pullyed out, was this 6ft lady aptly named ‘Fang.’
After the river trip, we drove north of the Daintree River into the true wild of the rainforest. Up here was a wild land without power or running where. Were people live off-grid and the dinosaur-like Cassowary abounds.
The scenery was stunning.
and the wildlife equally so. (Including a red-bellied black snake, one of the most venomous snakes on the planet and the elusive jungle turkey [actually a thing])
Throughout my travels there are few places that truly embody the ‘paradise on earth’ feeling I felt on Cape Tribulation.
As we drove back, enjoying some uniquely flavored ice-cream on the way home, we were both glowing after a day well traveled.
Upon arriving in Port Douglas, we enjoyed the Carnival. Complete with a parade, games and fireworks to round out an incredible day.