My flying visit back to Sydney was successful on lots of levels and I can genuinely say that we have lots to look forward to when we get back.
My time in the office was productive and proved how important it has been for me to keep my hand in over the past 12 months. Returning to corporate world after a year of feral living could I think have broken my spirit. As it is, I'm looking forward to getting stuck back in, and won't need to go on an excel refresher course.
Six nights of flying solo meant I had plenty of time to catch up with Jimmy James (aka karaoke legend) and Army. Sensibly this time I also managed to squeeze office time either side of a weekend which gave me the chance to visit Candi & Steffen to see the backyard blitzing they've been giving 19 Riverview Avenue, Dangar Island. Five years of no gardening whatsoever had left things shall we say a little overgrown.
I was amazed by the transformation. The place looks absolutely amazing, water glimpses have been enhanced, surprise sandstone features uncovered, wandering jew ripped up and incinerated, and new plants planted. The inside was awesome too - looking like a real house rather than the weekender it's been. What a beautiful place to be moving back to. Sitting out on the deck each night, under the stars, with a fire going was just like being on tour.
Going back to the office provided another opportunity for my co-workers to get used to the hairy thing that I've become.
Should the beard stays or go when I get back permanently? I have been doing a bit of research.
According to beards.org, '... the male beard communicates an heroic image of the independent, sturdy and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things".
Less partisan research is more equivocal, but the general theme seems to be I will need to keep it tidier than I have been. I think I'll keep it at least until the wedding.
I got back to Cairns late on Wednesday night, and after a pretty big night with the Johnston's at the RSL on Thursday, Ness and I headed out of town for the weekend. First stop was Goldsborough Valley, about 60kms south east of town. Far enough off the beaten track to leave most of the tourists behind, we secured a great little spot close to the Mulgrave River.
Goldsborough is billed as one of the greenest areas in the tropical north. And the wildlife was pretty spectacular too. Plenty of food around for the Kookaburras.
On Sunday we drove up and over the great dividing range up to the Atherton tablelands, stopping for a walk at the Crater Lakes national park, and then to spot Platypus at Yungaburra. The water was a little murky but you just had to follow the bubbles and then they'd pop up to the surface every couple of minutes.
Ness spotted this tree python during our walk around Lake Eachem.
Sunday night we camped in Dinden National Park, which is up behind Kuranda. A very peaceful spot with a resident feral pig close to our camp.
Yesterday we all went out on the 'Great Day' fishing charter for some crabbing and fishing adventures.
There were lots of extra freebies thrown in, including spotting this 2m salty in the mangroves where we dropped some of the crab pots, and also a huge Osprey nest on top of one of the navigation posts with the parents feeding their chicks.
The fishing proved quite successful too, although it was a case of quantity rather than quality. Only one of them was big enough to keep and our skipper chopped him up for sashimi.
We had a little more luck with the crabs, hauling in a heap of mud crabs and blue swimmers. Unfortunately you have to throw back the females which left us with a couple of blue swimmers. We did get to see an impressive demonstration of how strong the claws are on mud crabs. Handle with care, or better still get someone else to do it for you.
Ness hooks another whopper.
Ken & Jean depart tomorrow and then we are joined by Jimmy James and we head out on Taka for some serious scuba action. Really looking forward to getting back in the water, and have my fingers crossed that the wind stays down so we make the crossing to Osprey reef!