Yungaburra to Undara National Park

Monday morning we drove a back road south from Yungaburra and stopped at a few waterfalls. We saw an interesting bird with a red head which we were later told is a bush turkey, somewhat of a pest.


We stopped for lunch in Ravenshoe. At the local bakery we bought lunch, a sausage roll and a lamington. They are both Australian foods that brought back memories of the tuck shop of my school in Brisbane.


We visited the local museum and had a great talk with the volunteer. It was interesting to hear about the local opposition to when the local rain forest was made a world heritage site. It meant all the locals who worked in the logging industry lost their jobs.  We also stopped at the grocery store and bought some snack foods. Duke insisted on buying a jar of vegemite.

The volunteer in the information office in Ravenshoe encouraged us to continue to follow the interior route which runs from Cairns to Sydney instead of cutting over to the coast road which he said rarely is actually on the coast. From the interior route we can cut over to the coast when we get west of Brisbane. We need to be near Brisbane Friday night for my reunion on Saturday. After we left Ravenshoe we almost immediately left the rain forest behind and were in dry land covered in with eucalyptus. 

We stopped for the night at Undara National Park where we stayed at a place called The Undara Experience. We saw our first kangaroo as we pulled in. Undara Experience has all sorts of accommodations and we chose the tent cabins and used our sleeping bags. 

You can't drive in the park on our own. You have to go on a guided tour. We went on the sunset wildlife tour. The guide drove about 20 of us out through the bush to a high point to watch the sunset. Along the way we saw many different kinds of kangaroos.


When we got to the end of the road we climbed to the top of a hill and the guide opened champagne and set out the fruit, cheese and crackers to share. We could see miles and miles of uninterrupted bush – trees and grassland with some mountains on the horizon. We watched a stunning sunset. It was a magical moment. The guide said that this is what Australia is all about. 046

After the sunset we drove over to the opening of one of the lava tubes. These lava tubes run for miles and are massive. We watched the bats flying out and even saw a snake in a tree over the opening trying to catch the bats as they flew out. Our guide said that Undara  just became a park in the 1990s.


When we got back from the tour we had a very good dinner in the open air restaurant at Undara and then went on a flashlight walking tour with another guide. They have had quite a bit of rain lately and the cicadas were very loud. (kind of like loud grasshoppers). He pointed out several of them on the trees coming out of their shells and drying out their wings.

Apparently they live for years underground and come out after rains. They live for only a few days, mate and then die. Our guide pointed out several other insects, and birds and a snake.

Sleeping outside is really nice. The weather was perfect and it is great to wake up to all the birds making lots of noise. Before we left we watched a pair of kangaroos and a joey for a long time. They were only about 20 feet from us!


We ate our pineapple for breakfast before we hit the road.


Cairns to Yungaburra

Tonight (Thursday night) we have internet for the first time in several days so I will update you on what we have been up to.

After our snorkeling on the reef on Saturday I had to deal with the back of my legs being badly sunburned. the sunblock had washed off.


On Sunday morning we picked up our rental car. As we left Cairns Duke and I were both concentrating on keeping on the left side of the road. An Australian friend said we just needed to remember to keep the passenger (me) in the gutter 🙂

From Cairns we had planned to immediately head south but several people told us it would be a big mistake to miss seeing the Daintree Rain Forest. So from Cairns we headed north up the coast. We drove along the ocean and stopped to take pictures.

At Mossman Gorge which is a part of the Daintree Rainforest World Heritage Site we went for a hike through the rain-forest. The forest we hiked through looked like it was right out of the set of the movie Avatar. It was lush, green, and humid with a raging river right through the middle. We saw an enormous colorful spider ( about 6 inches across!) at one point. I am going to try to not use the word amazing over and over again but it was!



After our hike when we were back on the road heading south we saw a sign for bananas and stopped and bought bananas and a pineapple. The trees with bananas on them were right next to the stand.


A little farther down the road we stopped at a stand selling locally grown nuts and coffee. We bought some warm freshly roasted cajun flavored peanuts and ate them as we drove down the road. My Mom used to roast peanuts and serve them warm as a snack. It brought back memories.

Right before we got to Yungaburra where we spent Sunday night we stopped to see a giant curtain fig tree in a small park. Apparently curtain fig trees start growing up in the air in another tree and drop roots down to the ground. Eventually the curtain fig kills the original host tree and it supports itself. The tree was enormous and the board walk around the tree gave us a really good view of the curtain of roots.


In Yungaburra we got a room at another back packers lodge. It wasn’t as nice as the one in Cairns but it was clean, the people were great and you can’t beat the price. It was called On the Wallabee and this time we even had a mosquito net although we didn’t use it.

Before dinner we went over to the local hotel for a beer. There had been a folk festival in Yungaburra over the weekend. It was done but on the hotel veranda they were having a jam session. All the people watching were joining in the Australian folk songs. I even recognized one about Ned Kelly, a famous Australian outlaw. Sitting there listening to the wonderful music and even joining in a bit was fun.


We had been told that at dusk we could watch a platypus feeding down in the local creek so we walked down to the creek watched the platypus then walked back up to the hotel and had a couple of beers while we listened to the singing.


After dinner we drove back to the big curtain fig which was just a few mile out of town. We used a flashlight to walk the board walk around the tree again. When we turned out the flashlight we could hear animals in the forest but we couldn’t see any. We did see some cool phosphorescent stuff glowing in the dark. I think it was a fungus.

Our first full day on the road was wonderful. If you would like to see all of our pictures in Australia they are available here.

Beginning of our Australian Adventure

Duke and I are on a four week Australian road trip. Wednesday we left Reno and flew to LA then connected to a flight for Brisbane,  Australia. I went to High school in Brisbane and next weekend I'll be attending a reunion there. From Brisbane we caught a flight 1100 miles north to Cairns.

Cairns is tropical, warm, green, humid and on the coast. It  is a jumping off point to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

We are staying at The Travelers Oasis. It is a backpackers hotel with dorms, a kitchen and a pool. But they also have private rooms. We have a wonderful double bed room with a shared bath just down the hall. We have our own veranda with two chairs to enjoy the tropical air.


Lonely Planet says that staying at Travelers Oasis will "make you feel like you have your own timber Queenslander.". That is exactly what Travelers Oasis does.  A timber Queenslander is a traditional old Queensland house. It is a wood house set on stilts to catch the breeze with verandas and slatted glass windows. I spent one term in boarding school in Brisbane. The boarding school was in an old Queenslland house. Our room at Travelers Oasis reminds me of that – wood floors, ceiling fans, no screens on the windows, slatted glass windows.Here is a view of our veranda and the view from the veranda.



Staying here is absolutely perfect. The only thing missing is the mosquito nets. My boarding school had them but you don't really need them here. There have been almost no bugs. Maybe that is because of the flying foxes. We were out walking last night and saw hundreds in one of the trees downtown.  You can see the flying foxes hanging upside down in the tree below.


Today we went out with Reef Experience to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. It was a bit windy and rough and I sure was glad I had taken some sea sick medicine. We went snorkeling and two different spots and saw a lot of amazing coral and colorful fish. The crew was wonderful and it was a great day. I was even able to rent a prescription mask so I could really see since you can't wear a mask and glasses. I am worn out tonight. You can see me getting  a nap on the boat.


I am going to include some pictures of me in Australia as a kid in my posts. Here we are walking on the reef in 1964. In those days you were allowed to actually walk on the reef. It is a bit shocking. Now there are thousands of dollars in fines for taking anything or damaging the reef in any way.

On the reef

I'll be uploading all my pictures of the trip on Flickr here. I'll add more pictures as we go along.


Quick trip to Portland and Crater Lake

Last weekend Duke and I took a four day vacation. On Friday we drove from Reno to Portland. On Saturday we enjoyed the Elder Blogger meet up I described in my last post. The get together was hosted by Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By Blog.

From Ronni's house Duke and I headed into Portland to explore. I have always wanted to visit Powell's Books. It was packed with people and really lived up to its City of Books name. I bought several paperbacks.


We then strolled around and enjoyed the Portland vibe. It reminded me of Berkeley. We discovered a wonderful spice store Penzeys Spices. Each spice display had a jar of that spice that you could open and smell. It was olfactory heaven! We bought a few and I picked up a free curry recipe to try.

Monday we headed south down interstate 5 and stopped to see my friends HD and Una. I interviewed HD for episode 4 of my podcast. HD and I worked together at Spectra Medical Systems many years ago. Coincidentally Una was our pediatrician's nurse when my girls were little. We had tea and scones and a great visit.

From Roseburg we drove east along the Umpqua River to Crater Lake National Park. It rained continuously. When we got to Crater Lake we could hardly see the lake because the fog was so thick.


We stayed at Crater Lake Lodge and played cribbage and read until our dinner reservation in the Lodge dining room. The meal was wonderful. One of the best steaks I have had in months and the sweet potato fries were awesome.


The lodge was built between 1910 and 1915 but in the 1990s it had to be completely rebuilt to make it structurally sound. It reopened in 1995. It was the fourth national park lodge I have stayed in and it made me want to make a point of visiting others. So far each one has been special.


Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. It is 1949 feet deep. When the sun shines on it it is an amazing wonderful shade of blue truly breath taking.

I got up during the night Sunday night and peaked out our window. The rain had stopped and the sky was clear. At the more than 7000 foot altitude of Crater Lake and with very little ambient light the bigger dipper looked like it was bright enough to reach up and touch.


Monday morning we got up and hike to the top of Garfield peak. It a a short1.8 mile hike to the top. The temperature was in the 40s while we were hiking. It had rained all day the day before and then frozen over night. The path was covered with the strangest ice I have ever seen. The ice was like millions of 1-2 inch blades of grass that had pushed up the dirt on the tail so that we crunched when we walked. Here are a couple of pictures of the ice crystals. Does anyone know what they are called?



When we finished our hike we headed home to Reno with a short stop at Lava Beds National Monument and then Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. On the way home across the outback of northern Nevada we collected some more obsidian for our back yard.

I love exploring and meeting friends. This trip had wonderful opportunities for both.

Linda Curry – Retired Software Executive, Gardener, Breast Cancer Survivor, Wife , Mother, Grandmother and Friend – Episode 13 Marion Vermazen Podcast

Linda Curry -  Retired Software Executive, Gardener,  Breast Cancer Survivor, Wife , Mother, Grandmother and Friend – Episode 13 Marion Vermazen Podcast

Creating this podcast has reminded me of what amazing and interesting friends I have. A few months ago I interviewed my friend Pat Black. Today's episode of the podcast is a conversation with my friend Linda Curry.

Here is a picture of Linda, Pat and I at my wedding.


Linda and I have been friends for 35 years. Linda recently retired from a career as an executive in the high tech software industry. Most recently she was a Senior Manager for QuickBooks Quality Assurance at Intuit. Prior to working at Intuit Linda’s career included postions as VP of Engineering Services at WebGain, Director of Quality assurance at Remedy, Director of Database quality assurance at Borland, and Senior Manager of Mac System software at Apple. Last year she moved to Reno and lives right around the corner from me. She describes herself as Happily retired from the software world and enjoying relaxation with family, friends, books, gardening, remodeling and all the other things that we like to do in our free time. She is a wife, mother and grandmother and I am honored to call her my friend.


To listen to the show you can click below. You can also subscribe to the show and listen to it in iTunes.



Renown Institute for Cancer

Army of Women

National Cancer institute