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Crocodiles and Box Jellyfish

I explored the northern area around Cairns and couldn't help but notice all of the warning signs about crocodiles and box jellyfish. It didn't help that I had a nightmare about a crocodile eating a man. I also went for a hike in the rainforest at Mossman Gorge. Then, I drove to Cape Tribulation.

Days 425-427

I was still in Cairns, Queensland (Australia) for a couple of days. I made a doctor appointment with a doctor in Los Angeles because I would be back there in just over a month. Then I talked with my Cousin, Misty, over the phone to catch up. I had the craziest dream and was dying to talk to someone about it.

In my dream, I was at the beach while two men were swimming close to shore. I warned them not to be in the ocean with crocodiles. One of the men was swimming with a small crocodile when suddenly, it ate him. I saw the bottom part of his legs sticking out of the croc’s mouth. 

I was traumatized and addressed a woman who was walking away with a group of friends. I said, “But that’s your husband!” The woman told me that her brother was flying in and was going to wrestle with a lion, and the lion would eat at his arm. I was baffled and screamed, “What?! Didn’t you just see what happened?!”

Dreams are crazy. I often have wild, vivid dreams, and that one got to me. It’s not fun watching a crocodile eat someone. 

In real life, I took an Uber to Budget Car Rental to pick up a car that I booked. I needed a car to get me back to Melbourne because my car died a painful death. The longest that I was allowed to book online was one month. I booked a month for $1,350 AUD ($1,025 USD). The people at the counter gave me a silver Toyota Camry. The car was new and had all sorts of technology that my 2003 Subaru Outback didn’t have. 

I drove 30 minutes to Palm Cove because I heard it is a beautiful vacation destination. I arrived at the palm tree lined beach, and the wind almost knocked me over! There was a paved walking path under the palm trees, and it was beautiful.

I passed signs warning of crocodiles and “marine stingers,” which are actually box jellyfish (the world’s deadliest jellyfish and venom among the worst in the world). Their toxins attack the nervous system, heart, and skin. It’s hilarious to me that Australia just leaves a bottle of vinegar by the sign, and people can swim in the water. I think it’s great that the country holds people accountable for their actions, though. 

I walked along the beach and down the jetty (pier). The wind was so strong that it was creating some mighty waves. I watched a tiny boat that was tied to the jetty sway up and down in huge gulfs. It reminded me of all of my boat rides in Australia when so many people were throwing up.

The view looking back towards land showcased giant mounds with thick trees. I could even see the small mountains in the south. There was an island mound out in the ocean and hardly any boats around. The water was brown – a first in my time in Australia. I wondered if a storm had muddied the water.

I laid a towel down on the sand near the jetty and some rocks. Almost nobody was in the area – just a couple of people taking pictures and a single female reading a book while lounging on her towel. Maybe it was because it was winter and was 75 °F (24 °C). I thought it was warm enough in mid-day to lay on the sand absorbing the sun, but there was no chance that I was going to get inside that water after I dreamed about a man being eaten by a crocodile. Maybe it was a warning? A warning that sent me a clear message, and I listened.  

The breeze was getting chilly, so I started walking around town. Next to the path of palm trees was a street with shops and restaurants. It all reminded me of Orange County, California. I passed a sign that read, “Open am to late.” This was typical of Australia. They often didn’t list operating hours. 

I was hungry, so I decided to stop for happy hour. I ordered a drink, two oysters, and a fish taco. Palm Cove is a beautiful vacation spot, perfect for relaxing. 

The next day, I bummed around my Airbnb getting some writing done. Then I drove to get some food and run some errands.

The following day, I drove to Mossman Gorge, just over an hour from Cairns. The road winded along the coast, providing views of the ocean and rocks. It reminded me of driving the Pacific Coast Highway through central California. I stopped a few times to take pictures. 

When I arrived at the gorge, a $12 bus took people from the parking lot to the start of the hike in the thick forest. If I didn’t take the bus, it would be a long walk on the paved road that climbed and winded around the mountain. I took the bus and started hiking from there. Once I passed the first natural pool, most of the people disappeared. The trailhead sign said it would take an hour and a half roundtrip if I completed the entire trail. 

Parts of the path were paved, and there were even some metal bridges that I had to cross. One bridge, Rex Creek Bridge, was nerve-wracking. 

I arrived at a river with a pool of water. A couple was standing with their feet in the pool and nobody else around. When I appeared, the man said, “There was a prophecy that the oral predicted you would come and take our picture.” I went along with it and replied, “I have arrived.” We took turns taking each other’s picture.

The couple was really friendly and funny, and I ended up seeing them on and off while hiking the trail. They were from Nigeria but living in Perth. When I arrived at the last pool, the man said, “Remember the prophecy?” so I took their picture again.

After an hour, I was finished with the hike. It was really pretty, but after spending so much time in the Kimberly region, it was hard to compare to private gorges. 

As I got closer to the trailhead, I ended up back at the metal bridges and tourists. While it makes it much easier to see areas (you don’t have to climb the mountains), I felt it ruined the atmosphere. It was commercial. The outback was raw. 

Next, I drove to Cape Tribulation. It’s three hours north of Cairns and goes deep into the rainforest. The drive was incredible! It snaked its way through the forest. 

I was feeling tired and talked to myself to stay awake. I arrived at a ferry that was required to take to continue the drive north. I just missed it and waited 15 minutes for the next one. It looked like it was crossing a lake, but I couldn’t tell what the body of water was. I got outside and stretched a bit, and tried to wake myself up. Of course, there were warnings of crocodiles in the water. 

Once I was off the ferry, I continued the drive through the forest. The road was twisty and wrapped around the mountain. It was fascinating to see a stark contrast to the outback. The rainforest is full of thick, green vegetation and mountains. 

After a couple of hours of driving, I arrived at Cape Tribulation. There was a sign warning of a recent cassowary crossing (a giant flightless bird that can also be deadly). 

I found the beach and walked down a path through the trees before arriving at the sand. It was getting towards the evening, and I didn’t want to drive that road in the dark, so I didn’t stay too long at the beach. Plus, there were warning signs about those pesky box jellyfish. 

There wasn’t much to do in the area (that can be done in a few hours), and I needed dinner. I found a restaurant with outdoor seating surrounded by trees, and I wanted to enjoy the nature. It was only 4:30 pm, and they wouldn’t serve dinner until 5:30 pm. It was frustrating because restaurants also close early in Australia. 

I drove down the street and found a restaurant that said they offered croc burgers. I confirmed with the girl, and they were serving food. I ordered their famous croc burger and wandered the property while it cooked. I felt it was appropriate to eat the animal that killed someone in my dream. 

The property had a field and a path leading through the trees. I followed it and arrived at a small pond with fish. It was private property, but if you were a guest at the restaurant, you could explore the property. 

I ate my croc burger outside under the pavilion. It was actually pretty tasty. There wasn’t a ton of flavor, and it reminded me of tuna. 

I started my drive back to Cairns, but first grabbed a coffee. When I was crossing the ferry again, I was treated to sunset views on the water.

Then, I drove through Port Douglas (an hour north of Cairns). I wanted to stay there because I heard it’s a pretty town, but I was running out of time in Australia. I drove through the downtown area just so that I could see it. It was lively, with tons of restaurants, bars, and things going on. I was sort of bummed that I couldn’t stay longer than a drive-by, but I’ve also seen a lot of towns with a “strip.” 

I ended up driving in the dark, but most of the windy section was during the daylight. I watched some T.V. and packed up. The next day I needed to leave Cairns. I would head south towards Sydney as the time on my visa was ticking away. 

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Throughout her wild 3-week journey backpacking 220+ miles in the California Sierra Mountains, Christy encountered freezing temperatures, pelting hail storms, and losing her way, but found trail family, incredible views, and experiences that would change her life forever. Hiking up and over ten different mountain passes gave Christy a lot of time to think about why her nine-year marriage was falling apart, gave her the chance to truly embody her individualism, time to make new friends, and the strength she would need on and off the trail. Her life could never again be the same.
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