Its hard to say whether this is Covid Roadtrip No. 3 or Post-Pandemic Roadtrip No. 1. Certainly much has changed since we last headed off on such an adventure - there are no more lockdowns, no more hotspots and no more requirements for border passes. We have now had our fourth covid vaccination (collecting the trifecta of AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer) and remain covid-free. However, with the relaxation of restrictions, covid has surged and over a quarter of the population has been infected. Fortunately, with vaccinations, the death rate has been greatly reduced and life has almost returned to normal. The annual winter flu outbreak is almost more of a concern.

For us, the biggest change has been to the fair Nello - last December, she had a double knee replacement. If you haven't had this procedure, you cannot imagine it and it takes a long time to recover completely. While her mobility has been restored, the post-operative knee pain takes much longer to disappear. Still, with the cartilage completely worn away and bone grinding on bone, there was no choice.

This means we have had to change the way we walk and enjoy the outdoors - at least for the time being. The Jatbula Track was her heavy backpack wearing swansong and we are focussing on more interesting day-walks. That said, there are other ways to get around the natural world and we have just bought ourselves an inflatable kayak. This should enable us to still do some bushcamping, while preserving the healing knees.

Kayaking .....

.... walking ....

Our plan on this trip is to head slowly up the east coast of northern Queensland, exploring parts of the Barrier Reef and its sandy cays as well as the off-shore continental islands. Tropical rainforest also makes up a special part of this landscape and we intend to stay in a few areas that can be explored by shorter walks - hopefully involving some clear swimming holes and waterfalls. We aim to reach Cape Tribulation in the far north, staying at a representative set of locations (Noosa Everglades, Lady Musgrave Island, Great Keppel Island, Eungella Highlands, Cape Hillsborough, Dunk Island and the rainforest of Kuranda) before heading back home again.

.... reef .....

.... and rainforest

For the past couple of days, a blast of polar air has swept across south-eastern Australia where we live. The maximum temperatures have been around 8°C with the windchill making that feel like 0°C. It's definitely time to head north.