We took several days making the roughly 1000 km (about 600 mile) journey from Rainbow Beach to Cairns. Most of the Rest Stops along the highway allow you to stay overnight, so that was an easy way to travel.
I had heard I had heard that driving toward dusk and early in the morning in Australia is hazardous because the kangaroos come out in huge numbers and spring in front of vehicles unexpectedly, so we ended up driving fairly short days. When the sun went down I would start to get nervous and irritable – even when we didn't seem to be in kangaroo territory at all. The boundary is pretty distinct, actually. During one stretch of the drive, animal corpses, kangaroo and otherwise, lined the sides of the highway with disturbing frequency.
We witnessed a small tragedy along that section of road. A large majestic-looking bird flew out in front of the truck in front of us. For a brief moment I thought that it may have evaded the vehicle, but a second later I heard the thump and a twisted ball of feathers and flesh bounced out from under the truck. Tom tried to convince me that it was an ugly carrion eating beast, but I think he's wrong about that. Along the lines of beautiful creatures dying… along with the myriad insects that met their maker on our windshield during our journey, a sadly large number of butterflies also bounced off our windshield. There air is filled with butterflies.
We saw some living 'wildlife' at the Billabong Wildlife Sanctuary just south of Townsville. The sanctuary had an almost constant stream of programs, including 'hold a koala,' 'hold a wombat' and 'crocodile feeding'.
Today, we arrived in Cairns and wandered around the downtown area searching for a dive instructor, finally settling on Cairns Reef Dive for a two day classroom and pool lesson followed by 4 days on the Great Barrier Reef. I'm very excited about it.