Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cairns


Last Wednesday I went to Cairns with my friend Cecile for a few days. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Australia geography, Cairns is in north Queensland and is about 2500km north of Sydney. To get the cheapest flights we flew via Brisbane so we spent half an hour there. Don’t think that counts as visiting but geographically; I was there.

We arrived in Cairns and were greeted by a comforting but slightly muggy warmth that Sydney has lacked recently. The airport security was non-existent so we just strolled from the gate to the exit with no one stopping us. Not once were we asked to show our passports or and form of ID. Compared to the experiences I’ve had flying elsewhere this was almost a non-event. I’m undecided if it was brilliantly stress-free or disappointingly un-exciting.

Anyway, we got a shuttle bus to our hostel and it was the nicest hostel I’ve ever been in. There was a pool on the roof, the rooms were clean and air conditioned, and you got dinner for 5 bucks at the Irish pub down the street. We went for dinner and listened to the 20,000 (apparently) bats screech in the nearby trees and then the heavens opened and it chucked it down spectacularly. I like to watch the rain and it’s nice that its warm enough to watch it outside.

The next morning we had to be up and at the boat for 8am. For those of you who know me, you will know how much I dislike getting up early. But at 8am we were on this boat ready to go out to the Great Barrier Reef! I suddenly remembered that I had seen an underwater setting on my camera and one quick international call and some mobile internet googling I had found out that my camera was good for up to 5 meters underwater so I was happy. My dad was a little confused when I called him and told him I was on a boat in Queensland. Note to self: must remember to tell my parents when I go on holiday.

The sun was shining and we sat at the back of the boat with the wind in our hair. Life was good. When we got to the first reef site we had to suit up in our spectacularly unattractive blue stinger suits, flippers and snorkels. I was eager to jump in but Cecile took a little cajoling to get her in the water. It was so much fun. The water was warm and clear and the reef was so close I could reach out and touch it at points. There were lots of brightly coloured fish, corals, clams and we even found a sea cucumber. With my newly discovered underwater compatible camera I set about taking photos of everything I could find.  I worked out that I get far too excited when I find something cool and I have to go and have a look. Now this is fine on land where there is air everywhere, but snorkelling there is only air while you’re on the surface, I forgot this. A couple of near drowning experiences later and I was back on a boat having lunch. I forget how much energy swimming takes! An hour later we were on dive site 2. At this site we saw turtles and even a shark (ok it was like 2 ft. but a shark is a shark) Cecile and I unfortunately discovered that if you have a spontaneous laughing fit underwater your cheek bones rise so your mask becomes un-water tight and your nose and eyes are suddenly flooded with sea water. Despite this we had an amazing time again. On the boat ride back we sat in the sun. We got back to the hostel and went to bed at 8pm because we are rock stars.

The next day we were up even earlier. I haven’t seen 6am in so long! Well ok, that’s a lie, I saw 6am a month ago but that was because I was still out from the night before. Anyway, we were off to explore the cape, we walked, swam, bounced, drove and paddled our way across the land. Walking and driving is self-explanatory but the swimming was in the gorge we visited, the paddling was in the sea (crocodiles and jellyfish prevented swimming here) and the bouncing was across the suspension bridge. I don’t think the American tourists behind us appreciated the bouncing it but sometimes you have to learn to live a little.
Our tour guide was the most Australian guy ever. He knew the oddest facts about the place. Oh, we also visited this cute little ice cream place where they make ice cream out of the fruits of the rainforest there. I was gutted I couldn’t have any but my mango and passion fruit ice lolly was good. Oh we saw a crocodile too! How could I forget that!


On the drive back we saw an elusive cassowary bird with two chicks! They were so cute and as there are only something like 50 adults in the wild in that area we were really lucky! The day was really good but we were so tired by the time we got back to our hostel.  But since it was Friday night we went out on the town! What little town there is to be had in Cairns. We found some people to hang out with but by 11pm we realised that all the mother (relentless) in the world wasn’t gunna do the trick so we headed back.

The next day we were looking forwards to spending a day doing nothing in the lovely sun shine. So, naturally, it was overcast and raining! Undeterred we hit the lagoon for a swim thinking it doesn’t matter if it rains when you’re already wet! Good thing too as it chucked it down! The kind of rain that hurts when it hits you on your sunburn – ouch!

The flight home was soooo boring! It was a direct flight this time but there was no tv or music or anything, it was so dull. Never mind. After the plane I had to get the train, after the train I had to get the bus, after the bus I had to walk, but finally I got back home.

So there’s my little holiday. I feel so much better! I was a little stuck in a rut before but I feel much more like me now, I’m just a more tanned me!!!