Published: May 28th 2010May 26th 2010
Finally found a computer that allows me to upload photos to the blog so hopefully the selection I have put up with this blog, help illustrate the text!
Cairns is certainly different from Darwin and is a lot more spread out. We arrived again at a stupid time in the morning so had to wait a long time before we could check in. Wherever you are, finding your new hostel is a tense experience - as always we looked out of the window everytime the airport shuttle bus stopped, hoping that it wasn't/was our hostel! Thanksfully the first place it stopped that looked quite good was for our hostel! Phew! This hostel was Dans choice so he was quite relieved as well.
Bleary eyed we walked around the central street where our hostel was, grabbed some breakfast and checked out the "beach" area. There isn't really a beach in Cairns, more a muddy area filled with birds and warning signs about crocodiles and jellyfish. Thankfully, the sensible Ozzies have built a nice boarded walkway along it and then a salt water lagoon right next to it. Finally we had wasted enough time and we were allowed into our room.
Can't really remember much of our first day as we were sooooooo tired but the hostel was lovely and met a nice German guy, Tony who was in our room and an Irish guy. Cairns is literally full of Irish people and they certainly like to take full advantage of the pubs. Bit worried that this guy could be trouble but later that evening we came back to the room and he was already asleep - too many afternoon beers! Later found out that the night before he had tried getting into someone elses bed by mistake (happened to be my bed) so I had a lucky escape escape to meet him when we did! haha!
We had grabbed some leaflets on the first day, with the idea of booking a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. After looking through numerous leaflets, we decided on a trip to 2 nearby reefs, with snorkelling opportunities at both. Luckily for us, when we made our booking, the company were not currently going out to 1 of the 2 areas in the leaflet, therefore we scored an upgrade to their bigger boat taking us out to Michaelmas Cay, an outer reef
location, which would deliver better corals and more fish!! This trip would have cost us double what we actually paid, so that was a real result!!!! (anyways, more about this later!)
The hostel we were in was really nice. For once, the majority of the beds were not bunks, instead being single beds. It certainly makes a massive difference not hearing people climbing in and out of top bunks. It had the look of a prison internally (a nice prison though), with a rooftop pool, large kitchen area, comfy tv room and an outside balcony which looked out onto the main square. The only pain, was this was closed up at 10pm every night. Staff were cool, place was clean and we got a free dinner every evening.
Played a lot of cards in Cairns at, I'm becoming quite good at shuffling now. The free dinner was always quite small so often we had to get a famous Roy's hot dog from down the road - we mainly went there to just look at Roy in his orange shorts which he wore EVERY day, even when he wasn't working! All in all, it scored well!
Our main reason
for being in Cairns was the reef, and our day trip started with an early morning stroll down to the marina. Paranoid we'd miss the boat, we got there nice and early and had the chance to take some photos. Turns out our upgrade, meant we were really on a big, posh boat - it was awesome!
Sailed out for an hour to the edge of the reef and the weather seemed to be holding up ok. We signed up to a snorkelling tour and watched a presentation by the marine biologist (Dave) about fish behaviour. We were the only ones watching it but it got us into his good books for sure. When we arrived at the Cay it was just a big sand island with millions and millions of birds! The big boat moored up and we got a little boat over to the small sectioned off part of the cay. Much more pleasant than any of the boat transfers in Thailand - you actually felt safe, secure and unlikely to fall in! After sorting out our snorkel gear on the beach to the sound of screeching birds we realised we were the only ones that had
signed up to Dave's reef tour. He promised that I would see a proper Nemo fish family and true to his word we saw them and 2 other clown fish species! We got over an hours worth of reef tour which was absolutely brilliant - real highlight of the trip. After a smorgasboard (hahaha) lunch we went out in the semi submersible boat to have another look at the reef which was fun. Shame I couldn't afford to dive now I actually can but it was all so close snorkelling was more than enough and I got to share it with Dan (awwwwww). After some fizzy stuff on the way home and some terrible singing from a crew member (murdering classics like stairway to heaven - just leave it will you!!!) we made it safely back to Cairns, very smug about our upgrade!
Had a few money saving rest days in the pool and made friends with some more Irish people and got to know Tony a bit better. He was actually one of the funniest German people I have ever met - he didn't really do a lot except hang out by the lagoon (add your own German
accent) even when the council was resurfacing it. We managed to get in and have a fun afternoon there before they closed it - nice lagoon!
Went on our own little day trip to Kuranda which is a little village up in the Rainforest. We got the $4 bus there and back rather than the $40 for the "scenic" train route. Went on a 2km boarded walk through the rainforest and along a road to Barrens falls. They didn't look quite as impressive as on the postcards as there wasn't much water about but saw lots of cool plants on the way and an amazing massive blue butterflies. The markets were fairly unimpressive (just full of expat nutters from Brighton) but a good day was had by all and we bought some yummy hand made candy and "smooth" average tasting fudge... but it was smooth. Met some cool aboriginal people whilst on the jungle walk - Rocky, Stacey and Aaron. Nice guys but definitely liked the booze.... at least they were friendly and taught me a few things about the Kuranda Rainforest.
Had a really good time in Cairns and had lots of fun hanging out with the
hostel people, including a nutty Irish guy, Damien. As the photo shows, he once tried to "find the brown hairy coconut bit" inside Tony's big green coconut - he was a little confused when we all shouted at him to stop when all the coconut juice just ran out all over the place (what Tony actually wanted) after he just hacked away at it with a kitchen knife. There has to be an Irish joke in there somewhere! Good times!
On the last night I decided to splash out on a bottle of wine. This ended up with me going to bed early with the beginnings of a hangover (I'm such a lightweight nowadays!) - only after I took pictures of myself against the white bathroom wall of my now disappearing "tan" on my arms.... in my merry state it seemed like a good idea... as the photos show, they didn't turn out to be the stunning pictures I had hoped for. Dan stayed out later with the gang but still managed to get up early to get our bus for Townsville. As you can see from the last photo, Tony suffered quite badly in the morning and it
was a bit more of an effort dragging him out of bed for his early morning tour.
Next stop Townsville and Magnetic Island!
There are more photos below