This winter's we are again enjoying a "second summer", below the equator. The notion of spending these two months in Australia and New Zealand seemed to promise adventure, excitement and comfort not to be found in the long, cold and dark Maine winters .

We begin (after a grueling nearly 24 hours of flying) in Cairns.  It's pronounced "Cans" - there it is - on the very upper East coast just below Cooktown on the map. It's in the Australian state of Queensland. (one of the six states in Australia.)

We are in the tropics - being so close to the equator . Indeed, Cairns is world famous for its tropical rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef - both World Heritage sites. Crowds flock here for these natural wonders. But the heat and humidity of this time of year can be a challenge for those of us from the temperate zones. With temperatures often in the high  90's and humidity about as high; mid-day finds most of us inside- either in the huge new public library or almost any place with air conditioning. It's those other times in the AM and PM where we explore, walk, swim and socialize.

This is the first 7 day segment of our adventure, before flying over to Auckland.

In choosing illustrations for these pages, like those from past trips it is the old and quaint images that in some small way help offset the bright new digital images that we create with our trusty electronic camera.

In last years South American Journal  and in the previous years Hawaiian Journal, we began using those vintage pictures.
This year, I chose for the heading, this image of an unnamed miner from this state of Queensland, who was drawn here "Down Under" by the promises of excitement and riches in the gold and tin mines that opened up this part of Australia. Attracted, much as we were, with the promise of adventure and the unusual - unusual animals, unusual plants, unusual sky and unusual terrain!
 Indeed, look at the glint in his eye - here is a man, and a geezer like us, who sees great promise in the future before him.

This country's very existence and character resulted from the sort of hardy and spirited soles who came here for a new life - a new opportunity.
 Here are three of those hardy lads operating a gold sluicing operation in a stream in the rain forest above Cairns.

On with our journal:

Cairns is a tourist town if there ever was one. Tour outfits hawking trips - trips to the rain forest, trips to the reef, trips to the Tablelands, trips to the zoo, trips by train, trips by bus, trips by helicopter, trips by skyrail, trips  by van and taxi...  Why, there are so many outfits in town calling themselves "The Information Center" it is a challenge to find the only single official center because many of the commercial agents are bigger.
there is excitement in the air. With virtually everyone being a tourists there is this great anticipation that we will all have a good time - and we do.

In this vintage image we see a group of bushmen hired as sugarcane cutters in the then fledging industry. The text said they lasted only a few weeks because the work cut into their pleasure time. Such are things still today..

Even the public market is a fun social event, the sign says besides the flowers says the farmer is giving away free kittens and here another sign describing just what a terrific deal their honey is.

The town has gone to great lengths to make their waterfront attractive. The entire shoreline is one big park - over a mile long with very modern facilities like a children's water park with squirting fountains, there is an enormous and challenging skateboard and stunt bike park. There are  numerous four station gas barbecues. There are tennis courts, two way bike trails, wading pools, a wide walkway with exercise and stretching stations the entire length of the shore. Many public restrooms and benches make this a popular place for everyone - locals and tourists.

This is a town with many faces and all of them developed by a need to cater and entertain people who have come a very long distance to a rather isolated region in this huge nation "down under.