"" Writer's Wanderings: July 2, 1992--Hello Australia!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

July 2, 1992--Hello Australia!

[Today we have Facetime to see that our son, Drew, who is in Japan is doing well. Back in '92 we only had long distance phone calls--not ideal. It was so good to see Rob in person.]

A familiar face beams a favorite smile at me as we exit the customs area at the Cairns Airport in Australia. It has been four months since Rob left home to begin his year of study at the James Cook University in Townsville. We are greeted with “G’day” by his friend and her father who have brought Rob to the airport to meet us.
              It was ten hours in the air on leaving Hawaii June 30 to arriving in Cairns. It is now 5 AM Australian time on July 2. July 1 lasted about two hours for us before we crossed the International Dateline. Time will be confusing for a while.
              We await our shuttle van to the resort area and watch a glorious red sunrise. Even though this is the winter season, the air is warm and fragrant. We are in the northern area of Australia called Queensland. Opposite of the United States which is in the northern hemisphere, Australia, in the southern hemisphere, gets warmer the farther north you go.
              Arriving at the resort area, we check our luggage with the concierge since our rooms will not be ready until 2 PM. The lobby area is bustling with tour groups being organized. Safari wagons and buses to the rain forest and to large catamarans that take groups out to the Great Barrier Reef line up for the tourists who are on a holiday (vacation). This is a time for school holidays which is why Rob will be free to travel with us for the next two weeks.
              We decide to eat breakfast and find a delightful buffet of fruits (some recognizable others that look like a new experience for us), cereals including rice bubbles (Rice Krispies), coffee, toast and Vegemite.
              Vegemite is the Australian answer to peanut butter. Rob has warned us about it but we need to try it for ourselves. It says on the label “a yeast extract”. I don’t know what they extracted but it is brown, slightly gooey, strangely smelling (not like yeast), and has a semi-bitter taste that makes you want to shiver. Well, we tried it.
              A resort bus takes us to downtown Cairns, a quaint, tropical looking town. One and two story buildings mostly except for the large hotels. The colors are all white, buff or pastel. Palm trees and tropical foliage abound. There is a harbor area where large catamarans, cruising boats and sailboats are leaving to spend the day at the reef. We watch excitedly knowing we will be doing the same in a few days.
              We find a small cruising boat that offers an afternoon cruise of the river and creeks in Cairns and provides lunch. The Terry Too takes us past the shipping area of Cairns and begins hunting the creeks for crocs (crocodiles). Our captain assures us that once the tide goes down, the creatures will come out to sun themselves on the mudbanks. In the meantime, we enjoy a lunch of chicken and prawns.
              Sure enough, on our way back to the harbor, we find a medium sized crocodile sunning himself on a mudbank. He even lifts his head a moment reassuring us that he is real.
              The Colonial Club resort is made up of strips of single rooms which surround two pools and lush tropical gardens. We decide to dine at their new restaurant, Jardine’s. “A bit too fancy for me,” one Aussie told us. But we enjoy the leisure dining and the opportunity to catch up with Rob’s life.

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