Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

The Skyrail and Crystal Caves

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on October 9, 2011

Daniel, Wade and Joel on the Skyrail

Wade and I on the Skyrail

Baron Falls from Skyrail

Hi Everyone,

We are back in Cairns at the same Big 4 Coconut Village Holiday Park.  We will stay for about 5 nights after cleaning and washing and visiting and then move on.  We ended up doing about 5 loads of washing and spent a couple of days cleaning out the car after our muddy and dusty camping adventure on The Cape.  Joel had rung and pre-ordered a new UHF radio antenna as ours snapped in half on the northern section of the OTL.  Joel rewired the antenna to the bull bar this time and managed to get someone to check out the joins properly so we are back in business.  We have had some rain everyday here in Cairns and took advantage of it to go and see a movie.  It was Daniel’s choice as we usually do a movie and dinner for their birthdays and he chose Kung Fu Panda 2.  It was hilarious and very entertaining.  We ate lunch at the shopping centre and after the movie we decided to go and do the Skyrail to

Barron Falls from lookout

Skyrail in Kuranda

Daniel's in heaven

Kuranda.  We’ve been putting it off as the weather has been a bit wet and cloudy everyday again but if we don’t do it now we never will. There are a few options; you can do the Kuranda Scenic Railway one way and the Skyrail Cableway the other, the railway both ways or the Skyrail

Kuranda Township

Cableway both ways. We opted to just do the Skyrail Cableway both ways as it is early afternoon and we wouldn’t get to see any of Kuranda.  We bought our tickets and boarded straight away. The cable cars leave every few minutes so there’s no long wait.  The 7.5km cableway was completed in 1995 after 1 year of construction and all the towers were lifted into place by helicopter so as to minimise rainforest disturbance. The tallest tower stands at 40.5 m which is pretty high up but you are right over the rainforest so it doesn’t seem that high. There are 2 main stops, one is Red Peak Station which has a rainforest boardwalk and ranger guided tours and the other is the Barron Falls station which has three lookouts for views of the falls and Rainforest Interpretive Centre.  We decided to go straight

View from Skyrail

Another view from the Skyrail

Catch nets, hope we don't need them

to Kuranda and have a bit of a look around.  We wandered around the township for a while but as it was a Saturday and late in the afternoon, a lot of the stores were closing or closed. Daniel spotted the Kuranda Candy Kitchen and his eyes just lit up as he wandered around the store and got himself a huge lollipop. We headed back to the Skyrail and stopped at the Barron Falls Station to check out the lookouts and views.  We didn’t go to the Interpretive Centre as we are short on time and we’ve already been to a few similar places.  We didn’t stop at the Red Peak Station for the same reason but I’m told they are well worth a look if you have time. Daniel found a gold and opal bracelet at the Cairns Terminal and handed it in; it was quite beautiful and I’m sure

Rainforest below

Happy Father's day Joel

Rose quartz fountain, beautiful

someone will be missing it.  That night it was Daniel’s choice for a restaurant and instead of Thai he wanted to try a place called “Charlies” that is more of a buffet style eatery.  We booked for 6pm and arrived at 5 minutes to 6 to find a bit of a queue already formed.  It’s a very popular place, especially for families it seemed.  We were seated by 6:10 and had finished dinner, drinks and dessert by 7pm. Not a bad place, food was quite fresh and okay for buffet food.  The next day was Father’s day and it was pissing down with rain!  Joel scored some new music, movies, T-shirt and his all new battery-powered chainsaw. It was a very relaxing day but wet day.  Tanya and Clint came over for drinks and nibbles before we dined out in the cafe in the caravan park.  I ordered our meals but when they all came out Joel’s didn’t come out. I had forgotten to order his! OMG – Happy Father’s Day Joel.  Luckily we’d had quite a few drinks by now and the kids had ordered pizzas which were huge and

Empress of Uruguay amethyst

Such a beautiful amethyst piece

Petrified wood

Daniel cracking his geode

I ordered pasta so we all shared with him.  There was a special on for father’s Day in which the Dad’s got free dessert so Joel and Clint (who they just assumed was a dad:)) both had some chocolate mud cake.  The pieces were huge so the kids ended up helping them both to finish it.  We retired back to our van, in the rain and after a few more drinks, bid our last farewell to Tanya and Clint.  I will miss them both heaps.

Next day we packed up and headed back up the windy road through Kuranda again and then south to Atherton.  I had read about a place called the Crystal Cave and wanted to stop in for a visit.  We parked the car and van around the back in the Council car park, ate some lunch then went in for a squiz.  What a fantastic place.  We did the tour of the “caves” in which they have placed different crystals and gemstones into place and filled it in with wall filler, then painted it to look like rock. It was interesting to see all the different types of crystals, rocks and geodes which have been sourced from all over the world.  One of the “cave rooms” is totally in the dark and no photography is allowed.  There are spheres of different rocks minerals that fluoresce under a special UV light and have the most amazing

Wade cracking his geode

Joel holding the cracking geodes

colours.  We saw a few of them in normal light and you couldn’t see any colour at all, they just looked like ordinary rocks.  There was another room that houses the world’s biggest amethyst geode, the “Empress of Uruguay” which stands at 3.5m high and weighs 2.5t. You can stand next to it and have photos which we all did.  I have read about this huge stone and it was awesome to see it.  There was also a fountain that has been built out of rose quartz in the same room and it was beautiful, especially when lit up with internal lights.  For an extra fee, you can crack open your own geode.  You get to select from a few different piles (at different prices) then one of the staff helps to place the geode into a contraption best described as the biggest pair of bolt-cutters you’ve ever seen with some motor chain attached at the end.  The chain wraps around the geode then when you depress the cutters it ‘cracks’ the geode in half so you can see what delights are inside.  Basically the geodes are formed when hot lava cools and the insides have all different sorts of crystals inside.  They were amazing.  One of the young guys on staff came over to help us identify what was exactly in our geodes and we got a certificate for each one that tells us what they have in them.  It was very exciting work.  They have a magnificent collection of crystals and gemstones, in particular quite a lot of amethyst and agate slices.  Wade selected a small piece of amethyst for his room (eventually) and I settled

Giant piece of rose quartz

on a mid-sized piece of amethyst too.  It turned out that the piece I picked out was a part of the “Empress of Uruguay” that had come off when they were transporting and placing the stone.  Very cool! We also bought a beautiful piece of agate slice which is heavily bubble-wrapped with the geodes, under our bed.  God I hope they survive the trip home! The kids bought themselves some gemstones too and they loved the place and thought it was interesting as well.  A few hours and dollars later we headed out-of-town, through Malanda and Millaa Millaa to a bush camp called Henrietta Creek (no. 234 in Camps 5 book) a part of the Wooroonooran National Park. It’s not exactly free, it costs about $20 for a family per night but there are pit toilets and a BBQ with hot plate and burners for cooking.  You can get right away from the road too which is good because there are a lot of trucks using this road. It’s more like a rainforest than a National Park with bush and very beautiful.  We will stay for a couple of nights as there are a lot of waterfalls in the area which we will visit tomorrow. Chicken fettuccine for dinner and an early night ready for a waterfall extravaganza tomorrow.

Till Next time

Ciao`

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