Rainforest waterholes

Jane’s official itinerary listed a 9:00 am departure for Babinda and the Boulders but in deference to Emily’s desire to visit the markets an optional excursion for breakfast had been added. The Esplanade Markets operate from 8:00 am on Saturday so there was time to look, eat, and still make our scheduled departure.

Majella and I set off a little before 8:00 am with Emily and Sophie as passengers. Sam, Bek, Lane, Jane, and Lea also headed off with Sam at the wheel. The Gutkes opted to wait for Claire to wake, Nick and the boys had breakfast at home, and Joel and Grace continued their recovery from the rigours of travel. The plan was to meet around 10:00 am at the Boulders.

The markets were a disappointment. There was no food and nothing else that any of our small party wanted. Majella called Jane to report the lack of breakfast and found they were preparing to eat at Villa Romana, a block away. We joined them and enjoyed a breakfast with great food and service.

From there we followed Sam to the Boulders. Gutkes arrived soon after we did. Nick and the boys were a little later and Joel and Grace continued their recovery in Cairns. Grace had picked up a bug on her travels.

At the Boulders we first walked the trail to the lookout at the bottom of the chute. The trail is now graded, though steep in places, and sealed. That made pushing strollers with Lane and Claire much easier than it would have been last time we visited but the few steps added a little challenge. Both viewing points now have securely railed platforms and exposed sections of track are also fenced.

Access to the swimming area is also vastly improved with a paved ramp and a concrete platform with steps for access to the water. As we remembered, the water was cold but not intolerable. We found there were warmer and colder patches, a current that made some areas harder work, and a distinctly colder layer in the deeper sections. Those who ventured in enjoyed their swimming but some preferred to watch.

On the way out to the highway we stopped for lunch at Babinda Bakery. It has a reputation as the best bakery hereabouts so Jane had it on our itinerary. Most of us had one of the wide variety of pies but a few had sausage rolls or other delights. I don’t think anyone accepted the hot chilli pie challenge.

After lunch we drove on to Josephine Falls. Access there is also much improved though there are enough stairs that Matt carried Claire down and up rather than try with her stroller. All but a few of us took to the water and the slide down the last segment of the falls into a large pool. Areas above and below that section are best avoided for risk of injury as proclaimed by signs along the trail to the falls. Even that section requires care and attention to the state of the water and any changes.

Our party managed to enjoy the swimming and sliding without incident but not everyone was so lucky. A teenage girl ventured into a spot just below the main pool where Callum had been not long before. She went a little too far and was swept up by the current. She attempted a couple of times to grab a rock but without success and began to call for help. As she was washed further downstream Sam dashed past me and down across the rocks. He eventually caught up with her where she had paused in an eddy and helped her to safely. Both she and Sam had some bumps and Sam had dislocated a finger which thankfully went back in place easily. Sam won ‘man of the day’ by a large margin.

We arrived back at Harvester Home just before 3:30 pm with plenty of time to prepare for dinner at 5:00 pm. Jane had booked a table beside the aquarium window at Dundee’s at the Cairns Aquarium but a recent update had advised they had a function at 6:30 pm so we would need to be done by then.

The location by the aquarium was great and kept the kids, especially Claire with a front row seat, well entertained. Orders were a bit slow and there was some confusion about drinks but we ordered and waited. Food began to arrive around 6:00 pm which made it challenging to empty plates and be out by 6:30 pm. We came close but some were still eating as we settled the bill and the kids ate their included dessert on the terrace.

Majella and I set off with Jane, Lea, Emily, Joel, Grace, Sam, Bek, and Lane toward the night market for dessert. We pulled up short at Movenpick where some of us had ice cream. By then it was raining but as is usual in FNQ that soon eased. Nick, who had driven us to dinner, called and we arranged for him to pick us up. The others headed back to their cars.

Back at Harvester Home we played Trivial Pursuit (popular culture) over drinks until it was time to sleep.