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After a brief reconnoitre of the city it seemed to be quite familiar - perhaps after travelling.  There's something somehow familiar to Australian towns and cities - probably the people.


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Cairns - it feels very Australian

After a coffee and a drink we decided to visit Kuranda by the Skyrail. Wendy had been to Kuranda before but not by Skyrail. An adventure.


Kuranda Skyrail

At 7.5-kilometre (4.7 mi) the Kuranda Skyrail was the longest gondola cableway in the world when it was completed in 1995. It's like a very long ski lift except the towers are extremely high, like television towers so that the gondolas are well over the forest canopy. The ground, when it can be seen at all, is about ten storeys below. I imagine it's not a good choice for someone uncomfortable with heights.


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Kuranda Skyrail


The tropical rainforest below is among the oldest in the world, significantly older than the Amazonian forest - well that's Australia for you.

Once reached, Kuranda is a pretty village almost entirely given over to tourism. I bought a kangaroo leather bush hat - identical to the one that's been several times around the world and is now getting a bit shabby (see elsewhere on this website).


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Wendy previously visited by train. These days one can take the Skyrail one way and the conventional train the other but we didn't think we had the time - or did we?

Back on the Skyrail we got off at the last stop to have a closer look at the falls. Big mistake - or was it?


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Kuranda Falls - not Niagara but apparently better than during the drought - more than a trickle.


The last leg on the cable car is the highest and a thunderstorm was on its way. Just as we approached an empty car everything was shut down.

We had booked it ourselves to be back on board to sail at 3.30 - surely they wouldn't go without us? Yes they will we were told: "They take your bags off and leave them on the dock". Thankfully there were people on ship-sponsored tours trapped along with us. Phew!

In the end it would have been OK - the ship was experiencing never identified problems leaving Cairns - was it the tide or motor bearings - or software? No one would say.


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Technical difficulties?


Tugs hovered around us for three hours - then suddenly we were off - and soon up to top speed, 22.4 knots, to catch up.



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Or coming down to earth...


When I was a boy, Turkey was mysterious and exotic place to me. They were not Christians there; they ate strange food; and wore strange clothes. There was something called a ‘bazaar’ where white women were kidnapped and sold into white slavery. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, or was it Errol Flynn, got into all sorts of trouble there with blood thirsty men with curved swords. There was a song on the radio that reminded me over and over again that ‘It’s Istanbul not Constantinople Now’, sung by The Four Lads, possibly the first ‘boy band’.


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Fiction, Recollections & News

The First Man on the Moon





At 12.56 pm on 21 July 1969 Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) Neil Armstrong became the first man to step down onto the Moon.  I was at work that day but it was lunchtime.  Workplaces did not generally run to television sets and I initially saw it in 'real time' in a shop window in the city.  

Later that evening I would watch a full replay at my parents' home.  They had a 'big' 26" TV - black and white of course.  I had a new job in Sydney having just abandoned Canberra to get married later that year.  My future in-laws, being of a more academic bent, did not have TV that was still regarded by many as mindless.

Given the early failures, and a few deaths, the decision to televise the event in 'real time' to the international public was taking a risk.  But the whole space program was controversial in the US and sceptics needed to be persuaded.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Gaia - Climate Speculations





Our recent trip to Central Australia involved a long walk around a rock and some even longer contemplative drives.

I found myself wondering if there is more or less 'life' out here than there is in the more obviously verdant countryside to the north south east or west. For example: might microbes be more abundant here?  The flies are certainly doing well. Yet probably not.

This led me to recall James Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis that gave we readers of New Scientist something to think about back in 1975, long before climate change was a matter of general public concern.


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