Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 256. Innisfail

A castle in the rainforest...
Scarlett tracking her Cassowary

We woke to pouring rain... again. I am a little worried about getting in to see 'Paronella Park' with all this rain, it has been on the news this morning with images of the picnic area in complete flood.

Shane and Scarlett left early to go out to 'Etty Bay' again to try and find Shane's elusive Cassowary. When they arrived they went back to the same spot they saw the tracks yesterday, where they discovered some fresh new ones. Scarlett the 'little tracker', followed them down along the beach, back up into the rainforest, and into the tree line. They looked deep into the greenery; and as their eyes adjusted to the dim light they were surprised to see just metres away from where they stood a  young Cassowary looking right back at them. Scarlett who had convinced herself that when she finally did find one it was going to attack her, was holding dad's umbrella at the ready. They followed it deeper into the rainforest for a closer look, but were eventually stopped by the thick undergrowth. The Cassowary then followed them back to the car from the safety of the rainforest edge, which gave them both a couple more glimpses, before it literally blended  into the foliage and disappeared from site.

There you are... finally!

When Shane and Scarlett returned to the van, they were both so excited, they couldn't wait to tell me all about it. It just goes to show persistence does pay off! They were both so hungry now being mid morning, we decided to cook bacon and eggs in the magnificent camp kitchen here at the park for breakfast (which was more like brunch time now). We enjoyed a yummy 'cook-up' while escaping the confines of the caravan for a bit. The camp kitchen needs to be seen to be believed here. It's huge with everything a normal kitchen has, and more. There is even a huge new BBQ, that gave Shane total BBQ envoy!

After breakfast Scarlett and I did some reading work, as we are starting to get a little nervous about her going straight into 1st class when we return to Sydney and missing Kindergarten. We are hoping with the experience of the trip and the work we have been doing with her, it will be enough to get her through. The last thing we want is for her to be stuck with 4yr olds in Kindergarten, when she is now 6 years old.

They have been pruning the coconut trees here at the park and Scarlett had collected two. She finally convinced her father to get out his hatchet today and crack them open for her to have a look. They were a little green, so the milk was lovely and sweet, but the flesh wasn't ready for eating yet. Scarlett tried the milk, but was more interested in taking them over to the camp kitchen and scooping out all the flesh. Even though she was unable to eat it yet it did keep her occupied for quite some time.

After lunch the rain had eased off to intermittent showers, and the neighbours had gone out to Paronella Park. They returned saying how magnificent the waterfall looked there in full flood. We were a little curious about moving out there tomorrow anyway, so we decided to drive out and take a look. By the time we arrived (It was only about 15min away), the showers had stopped and we went in and jumped straight on a tour of the park.

Grand Staircase
Let me give you a brief history of this fascinating place;

José Paronella arrived in Australia from Catalonia, Spain in 1913. For the next 11 years he worked, cutting sugar cane initially, before moving onto purchasing, improving, and reselling cane farms in the area. In 1924 he returned to Spain and married Margarita in 1925. José first saw this 13 acres of virgin scrub along Mena Creek in 1914. He eventually purchased it in 1929 for £120, and started to build his pleasure gardens and reception centre for the enjoyment of the public.

The earliest structure; the Grand Staircase, was built to facilitate the carrying of the river sand to make the concrete. First they built a house to live in, then they started on the Castle itself. They laboured with unswerving determination, until in 1935, the Park was officially opened to the public. The Theatre/Ball Room showed movies every Saturday night, and with canvas chairs removed, the Ball Room was a favourite venue for dancing and parties.

Kauri Avenue
We made our way down the Grand Staircase to the picnic tables at the lower Tea Gardens and the swimming pool; where we were greeted by a slithering sea of slippery eels -  all wanting our fish food! We then followed the rainforest covered avenues and paths that are lined with over 7000 trees that were planted by José himself. These included the magnificent Kauri trees that line 'Kauri Avenue'.

Nearby; a tunnel was excavated through a small hill and named "The Tunnel of Love", and is home to a colony of Bent-wing Micro-bats. Scarlett was so excited! There had been over 16 x babies born in the last two days; which we were lucky enough to see and admire. Above its entrance is a myriad of delightful lichen covered stonework balconies. Walking through here brings you out to spring fed Teresa Falls, named for his daughter - which is truly beautiful.

Micro Bats

When the tour was over, the guide gave us directions to a section of the river deep in the gardens where the 'Sawbacked turtles' come up for a feed. Scarlett had a great time feeding theses interesting little critters the fish food.  I've never seen so many turtles in one place at one time, in all my life.

Sawbacked Turtles

We have had such a great time here we are coming back tomorrow with the van (our entry ticket includes an overnight stay in their van park) to do a night tour. We are all looking forward to seeing the little baby micro-bats again.

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