Next Stop: Queensland

Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Tropical Zoo, Daintree Discovery Centre, Shangri-La Hotel, Ochre Restaurant, Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park


00:00-00:04 JON: G’day mates, I’m Jon Olson and welcome to Next Stop, from Australia’s sunshine state.
00:05-00:19 Next Stop Queensland rolls
00:20-00:37 JON: Queensland is one of 6 states in Australia, and on this episode we will focus on tropical north Queensland, one of six regions in this state. We will cuddle with koalas and cairns. so we are high above the world’s oldest rainforest, and we will explore the Great Barrier Reef, just outside of charming Port Douglas. All this and more on Next Stop Queensland, the fun starts now!
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00:41-03:32 JON: Australia is laden with beautiful creatures, and I am not just talking about the humans. Today we get up close and personal with the Cairns Tropical Zoo. Koalas are so cute and so cuddly, but in most place in the world you actually can’t cuddle them, but here, Jas, we can.
JASMINE: We can, yes, one of the very unique opportunities that we allow our guests when they come to the zoo.
JON: So she likes to be cuddled?
JASMINE: She does, yes, do you want to have a go?
JON: Of course.
JASMINE: Alright. Good girl. Alright, so it is really really easy, it’s basically like holding a baby that has nails. There you go.
JON: Oh yeah, she’s sweet.
JASMINE: She is.
JON: It feels like a little baby.
JASMINE: It does, feels like a teddy bear with batteries.
JON: She is precious.
JASMINE: She is.
JON: Is it possible for me to take her home?
JASMINE: No. You wouldn’t get far, I’ve got incredibly long legs.
JON: But you can’t come to the zoo in Australia, and not hang out with the kangaroos.
JASMINE: It is by far one of the most popular aspects of the zoo is coming to see these ozzy icons.
JON: I didn’t think they would let us get this close.
JASMINE: They are incredibly friendly, very, very relaxed, just like the rest of us locals, they are pretty chilled out.
JON: This bird kind of scares me, the cassowary. Probably the most dangerous bird in the world, am I right?
JAMES: Potentially, yeah. Basically they run at you. They can run up to about 60 kilometers an hour and they will run up to you and strike with their chest and or their foot.
JON: Now there is a baby around that we can actually kind of get close to?
JAMES: yeah, we can get close to him, he is not so much a baby anymore, he is a sub adult, but we can still get quite close to him, yeah. Before we do go in there, just wanted to let you know we were in there before, he might be a little bit nervous so if he does start to show any signs, just jump straight up.
JON: I’ll just follow you, I don’t know what those signs might be. it’s kind of like getting into the swamp with the crocodile right now, kinda what that’s like. here he comes.
JAMES: That’s alright, just stay there, you’ll be ok.
JON: No sudden moves. Our next zoo adventure, the crocodiles.
KRISTY: Throughout the worldwide we have 23 species of crocodilian, now here in Australia guys we are lucky enough to have 2 of those species. Those bumps along his back basically helps to break up the surface tension of the water, allowing these animals to be a mere 15-20 centimeters below the surface and move right up into his position. Now we might see if we can get the big fellow out for you today guys so that you can have a bit of a better look at him.
03:39-04:06 KRISTY: There we go, look at that, what a lovely smile!
JON: What a special day. Thank you Jas, this was awesome.
JASMINE: We do have one last surprise, one character who would love to have a cuddle with you.
JON: Bring it on!
JASMINE: Come on here Ronnie.
JON. Hey! What an amazing hands on experience here at the Cairns Tropical Zoo.
04:09-04:11 Next Stop logo
04:12-04:18 JON: Up next, we experience Shangri-La, visit the oldest rainforest in the world, and mix it up with a local chef.
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04:23-05:39 JON: We are in the oldest rainforest in the world at the Daintree Discovery Center. Let’s explore and learn.
CHRIS: What I am going to do firstly is try to give you some context as to where you are and what you are surrounded by. Within the Daintree lowlands there is several different types, or classifications of rainforest, but the dominant classification is the forest that surrounds us here, and its official title is complex misoful vine forest, and each plan has to develop a strategy or a technique to get from a dark place where they begin which is generally the forest floor, up into a light place. For example, behind us here we have what we call a scrambler, it’s a climber really. And you will notice that at the end of each of its leaves it has a coil, and these coils attach to surrounding vegetation providing sufficient structural support for that plant to continue its upwards journey.
JON:So I’ve noticed so far that nothing is actually touching the ground, we are above ground on everything.
CHRIS: Yes, yes. We’ve designed this area walkway, it was originally done in 3D photography in order to map the route through the forest to disturb as little vegetation as possible. Similar to the tower we are going be experiencing soon, all of this was brought in by hand, erected by hand, no cranes, no heavy duty equipment whatsoever.
05:50-07:04 JON: Oh, this is amazing.
CHRIS: Yes, slightly different perspective from up here, even though it is a little bit overcast, at least me, without any sunglasses or hats I’m squinting, and that’s the very reason why many many plants aspire to come up here, because here the only thing thats going to interfere with the quality of life are clouds, so this literally is as good as it gets in terms of light reaching.
JON: This tree looks like it belongs in a Grimm novel, very dark, very mysterious.
CHRIS: It certainly does. This really demonstrates how tenacious plants can be in this rainforest. This is is what we refer to a strangle feed. Those hair like structures become massive root structures as you can see here, they become so large they actually start strangling the host tree. If I was to go over there I could step inside, it’s hollow. It’s hollow, all the way to directly above us here.
JON: Chris, this was very informative, very fun, I learned a lot. A lot more than I thought, I mean there is so much to learn here and we just barely touched the surface today, right?
CHRIS: There is. Seven or eight years and I know about that much, but it is a special place.
JON: Thank you for sharing your backyard with us, this was fantastic.
CHRIS: You’re welcome.
JON: It’s been a pleasure.
07:10-07:12 Next Stop logo
07:13-07:29 JON: Tropical North Queensland is the only place in the world where two world heritage sites are side by side. You can dive the depths of the worlds oldest barrier reef, or soar high above the worlds oldest tropical rainforest all in one day.You’ll only find this in incredibly rare opportunity right here in tropical North Queensland.
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07:37-09:38 JON: We’re staying at the Shangri-La hotel in Cairns. Shangri-La means paradise, an imagined paradise. Now I’m looking out here right now and I’m not really imagining it, I think we’re actually here, in paradise Senga.
SENGA: Well down on the waterfront here it has a prime position, and Shangri-La being a worldwide luxury brand, we are very fortunate to have all these worlds come together. But apart from the amazing views, million dollar views, the hotel itself I think is a real sense of arrival as you walk in, its got really clean classic lines, it just really suits the tropics. The rooms themselves they are large, they are fresh, they are contemporary, and of course you saw the horizon club this afternoon which is our sort of, you know, the pinnacle of our rooms. And that is the standard with Shangri-La throughout the world, there has to be a private club floor.
JON: I get a sense of a real international flavor here, people from all over the world.
SENGA: There is actually, yeah. I have to say, finding a local, which we did find today in the bushes.
JON: We did find a local today, in fact, that is probably the most unique thing about this property that amazed me, you have got an amazing set of gardens, and let’s meet Chris, the gardener.
CHRIS: My name is Chris and I am the gardener here at Shangri-La. I look after all the beautiful stuff that we have around us here. My favorites are the lovely lipstick palm, I’ve got a lovely sexy pink lady, it’s a heliconia, that is it’s name-it’s called a sexy pink lady. I’ve also got some lovely bismark palms, big gray structural, lovely. My dad, it’s a family thing comes down, green thumbs. Mum and dad were horticulturalists, I was the only that went that direction and found I loved it.
JON: So Senga, I understand we have something very special for dinner tonight.
SENGA: We do, and as we speak, I think our chef is coming out with it now.
JON: Oh wow.
SENGA: This is barramundi.
JON: Barramundi.
SENGA: Yes, freshly caught this morning. It’s quite fleshy and flaky as you can see.
JON: Mmm. Oh, it’s good. Senga, thank you so much for having us here.
SENGA: Pleasure, absolute pleasure to have Next Stop here, thank you.
JON: Great to be in paradise, cheers.
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09:45-10:15 JON: Queensland has loads of food options, tonight we go on the extreme side in downtown Cairns at Ochre. So I’m pretty sure this is going to be one of the most unique restaurant segments that we have had ever on the show and it has already started, you’ve already put kangaroo on the grill.
GABI: We do a lot of native Australian food here, we’re using lots of bush foods and a lot of native Australian animals as well.
JON: What are you cooking for us tonight besides kangaroo?
GABI: We are going to do some wallaby as well, and some crocodile won tons.
JON: None of which I have had ever in my entire life.
GABI: Yeah?
10:24-12:08 JON: Shrimp and…
GABI: Crocodile.
JON: Shrimp and crocodile. There ya go. It looks good enough to eat.
GABI: Yeah. So this is wallaby.
JON: And the wallaby.
GABI: Yeah. So we just put that with the kangaroo, we’ve had that on our menu for a while now, people seem to love it so.
JON: I really don’t want to destroy the presentation, but I am going to try it.
GABI: Try it, you might as well have a crack at it.
JON: Absolutely, that’s why I am here, right? OK, let’s do it. Alright, all you exotic food lovers, here we go. I’m a little nervous, I’m not going to lie to you. Start out with the crocodile, here we go, not bad, a little chewy. Here’s your basic kangaroo fillet, I expected it to be gamey, it’s really not. And here we go with your basic wallaby, here’s to nothing. I don’t even know how to describe this, it’s not like anything I have ever had. I honestly am surprised at how un gamey and how actually good a lot of this stuff was. The crocodile was even good. I would highly recommend Ochre restaurant on your next visit to Cairns.
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12:15-12:21 JON: Coming up on Next Stop, one of the seven wonder of the world, and a beautiful property in charming Port Douglas
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12:33-14:12 JON: We’ve just arrived in charming Port Douglas and are being hosted by the Sheraton Mirage, thanks to you, Lachlan.
LACHLAN: Thank you.
JON: Thanks for having us.
LACHLAN: It’s a pleasure.
JON: Before we talk about his gorgeous property, let’s talk about the community of Port Douglas, you get a really special feel.
LACHLAN: The community of Port Douglas, very nice tight knit community here in Port Douglas, lots of people in tourism here, it’s our passion, it’s our life blood, so there is lots of great things to do in Port. Lots of great people people around, great restaurants, go down to the pub, have a drink here, meet with the locals.
JON: So let’s talk about this property, the first thing that strikes me is something unique, which we always look for in our properties, because we tour all over the world, is your lagoons. Oh my.
LACHLAN: Lagoons, fantastic, 14 of them. The fresh water pool is the main pool, the remainder are salt water pumped in from the ocean, so very friendly, very environmentally friendly.
JON: This is a massive property, huge, I don’t even know where to start.
LACHLAN: We are 147 hectacres of land, so the main complex, villas, 18 hole golf course, cocktail by the pool, lay by the pool, that’s great, there is a game room there, so lots of games and things to keep the teenagers happy. You’ve seen the beach is little flat so it is really easy to ride up to the Port Douglas shops.
JON: I noticed there is some families here, but I also noticed there is a lot of couples, it’s very romantic.
LACHLAN: That’s right.
JON: Romance is definitely alive and well here.
LACHLAN: There is lots of places around the resort where you can sneak away, nice and quiet.
JON: By special request you guys set up like private dinners, just right out at the lagoon.
LACHLAN: We do. Our keyhole, which is a little area over the lagoon, you can have a romantic dinner there, or a nice light lunch, great. And as the sun goes down, stars at night, perfect.
14:16-14:18 Next Stop logo
14:19-14:40 JON: Queensland is Australia’s second largest state, occupying about 22 ½ percent of its land. Tropical North Queensland, one of its 6 regions, is about the size of California and Oregon put together, so we’re talking impressively large. As our new mate Sheila informed us, its top 3 industries are tourism, sugar cane, and roundabouts. You’ll also find that Australians have a wicked sense of humor, which we love!
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14:44-16:32 JON: Today I get to check something off my bucket list. After a scenic boat tour from Port Douglas, we are smack dab in the middle of the world famous Great Barrier Reef.
LUKE: Alrighty guys, we’re going go on this semi submersible here, what it does is it takes you around the reef for about 25 minutes, see a lot of those bigger creatures of there, sharks, turtles. It’s quite a bit more unique of a way of viewing the reef for sure.
JON: This is cool.
LUKE: The Great Barrier Reef, you are actually looking at about 350,000 square kilometers.
JON: There is hundreds of different types of fish. And I’m really impressed with these little like, look like stick like creatures.
LUKE: They are called staghorn coral, the branchy ones, but the reason why there are differences in color, it comes down to an organism called zooxanthellae, there is just amazing colors in this reef. Sunlight does depend as well. What we tend to find, when it comes to trying to figure out the names to these corals and fish is what they look like is what they are called.
JON: What are these ones here?
LUKE: These guys here are zebradanieo rerio.
JON: I call them zebra fish.
LUKE: Zebra fish is another one, that’s the more common name.
JON: Is it really?
LUKE: Yeah, it is, it is. I’ve been here for the last 2 ½ years and there is always still something new to see everyday.
JON: Oh yeah, you would never see the same thing twice.
LUKE: It’s another world, no, it’s amazing. You can also see the slime coral when they lift you, spaghetti coral.
JON: Spaghetti coral. It looks like spaghetti.
LUKE: Yeah, you can relate to that, it’s one of our soft corals.
JON: Luke, that was great. Thanks mate!
LUKE: Ah mate, I’m glad you enjoyed it, no worries!
JON: Who is up for some snorkeling? This guy! Let’s snorkel the Great Barrier Reef!
17:02-17:06 JON: We’ve seen the reef from underneath the water, now it is time to get a birds eye view.
17:37-18:02 JON: What a day, what a day. You guys at Quicksilver have set the bar pretty high.
HARRY: Certainly a pleasant place to work, and a pleasant place to visit as well.
JON: Oh my God, the Great Barrier reef.
HARRY: The reef itself is made up of about 2,900 separate reefs along the same quays and islands, stretches to 1,500 miles along the Queensland coast.
JON: It’s spectacular. great Barrier Reef is one of the 7 wonders of the world and for good reason, wow.
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18:09-18:15 JON: Coming up, local aboriginal culture, and I attempt to play the didgeridoo. I strees ‘attempt’.
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18:21-20:15 JON: Music and culture go hand in hand, especially today, at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
DAVID: Well we started 25 years ago in a sleepy little village in Kuranda, and here we are 25 years later, and the message is loud and clear, we want people to be educated about Australia, and there is more to Australia than just blonded surfboards, kangaroos and vegemite. We’ve got a living culture here that been going for countless generations, and we are very, very proud of that.
JON: Today I am going to learn to throw a boomerang, and I’m going to learn how to toss a spear.
DAVID: What do you a boomerang that doesn’t come back?
JON: A boomer gone?
DAVID: No, we call it a stick.
JON: A stick! That’s good! Time to learn how to throw the boomerang. It seems rather simple but I doubt it is. Zac, how do we do this?
ZAC: So these are used for hunting pretty much. They are used for big flocks of birds, curve it around, making tight circles. You’ve got the curved side, that’s for aerodynamics, and the flat side.
JON: So you tilt it like this when you throw it?
ZAC: Yeah. On a tilt, so it will catch the wind and push it back to you.
JON: OK. That did not work. Let’s try it again. I need to go up? Right in front of Mike! That was fun, the boomerang. I like it. I kinda got the hang of it. So we’re going to learn how to throw the spear? What’s the key?
ZAC: Yep. Pretty much follow through, like a tennis serve.
JON: I can do that. I like tennis.
ZAC. Easy.
20:23-20:49 JON: So before we learn how to play the didgeridoo, let’s talk a little bit about this. We saw this earlier in the performance, it’s such a beautiful instrument Colin.
COLIN: The first step is the vibration of your lips. You going to actually push up against your lips so it is actually tight so no air comes, there we go. That’s right.
JON: You know what? I think we will let the master do it, take it away Colin!
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21:22-21:52 JON: Thanks for tuning in to Next Stop Queensland. Tropical North Queensland is a huge place, we’ve barely scratched the surface, we can’t wait to come back and explore more. Cheers also to this episode’s sponsors, Qantas Airlines, the Shangri-La hotel in Cairns, and the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas. A special thanks to Tourism Queensland, and all the wonderful people that helped make this show so special. Cheers also to our shows title sponsor and good friends, Alaska Airlines, and the Alaska Airlines Visa signature card. Next Stop, where will we take you next? Make good memories everybody!
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Credits Roll