So ...an exciting first day... (well eventful)...
We got the the station at 6am and then we were stuck (half tired and out of it) with the "where the hell is our hostel" question... at a lot of grey hound stops hostel vans are waiting to load the backpackers in for transportation back to the hostel...and even if there isnt our one there we can still ask them to point us in the general direction of our hostel...
...As it happened our hostel was outside central Cairnes... it was the Serpent nomads 5km down the road - an eventful first day... we WALKED it with all our bags on us (initially going the wrong we ended up walking for about an hour and a half)...and then found this check in wasnt until 1pm... so after a free breakfast (we blagged 2 - I work best when I'm tired and have a sob story) we ate and ended up sleeping on the outside chairs (which looked like huge beds) for the mronig catching up on some zzzzz's - god knows what people thought of us - but we were so exhausted we didnt care!
Later on in the day once we had checked into our dorms (not a bad little hostel - I would recomment it if it werent so far....cheap with free breakfast what else do you need!) we explored Cairnes central and met up with Neil a guy from our Whitsundays boat trip and spend the majority of the day in an Irish pub (where they actually did pints YAY) with a pub lunch/ dinner and exploring the habour...lagoon (similar to the one at Airlie) and the shops - its quite a built up area esp compared to the last 2 weeks of Eastcoast-ness!!
Other features of Cairnes:
**Lots of Asians... with their own businesses (felt like Thailand but with English prices to the market stools) I was waiting to hear that classic line "suit for you sir" and was a bit disappointed I didnt hear it, but otherwise their were loads of Aboriginal art shops and expensive eateries scattered round the place.
**Lots of Aboriginal people EVERYWHERE (they look quite unique as a lot of them are large over-weight individuals with tiny twig legs and large facial features... loads wondering round!)... I actually didnt understand why people had so much beef with them ...until now... one wouldnt leave me alone wanting money off me, and then wanting me to go to an ATM and withdraw her dosh - PEST! (i also saw a couple in trouble with the polica in Sydney but at the time gave them the benefit of the doubt)... also were sittingon the streets begging for money and lying on the benches and things... not cool!
The next day we booked a BARRIER REEF TRIP -we had a day on a boat 9a little larger than before as they were 80 of us - this time I was number 80 - on a big criuser where again we had food...drinks (even free wine) and had multiple snorkel trips to see the fishies... again saw a turtle, saw nemos...coral (alot of which is a sandy cover as the brightness of the coral is submerged in the darkness of fish poo - a funny fact to bare in mind) and even saw a sting ray and more CRAZY looking massive fish that you usually see in the picture advertisements of the barrier reef!
It was a lot more impersonal but we still managed to make friends with the crew who gave us extra nibbles and wine hee hee... I also did a scuba dive (which I was initially terrified of) but it was brilliant - the first minute I thought I had forgotten how to breath as my lungs were so tight and we were going furth and furth down and that "I cant escape" feeling comes over you... but before you knew it it was over and was really good seeing all the fish... all the safety procedures like getting water in the mask and getting it out underwater "that you need to know 'just incase'" actually happened to me so again I feel more skilled and less panicy for next time.... however the snorkelling gave you just as good as view as the scuba as the water is so clear so it wasnt really neccessary to scuba even though I enjoyed it!
The day on the reef and another day on the boat was great fun... a bit more of a luxuary cruiser this time and again full of stinger suits... OH DEAR these ones are/ were bright neon blue (felt like part of the reef fish community) with full hand mits and head ballacleaver style head covers (very unsexy... I purposely have no photographic evidence of me and Siobhand wearing these costumes!)... these were worn for ever entry into the sea (better that death... I suppose) even though some people chose not to wear them (crazy!!!) obviously these people must have been more into fashion than life!
Once we finished our day trip we spend the final evening on the east coast meeting up with Criag and Jeff - who we met on the Thailand tour ...we met them in the Rhino bar - as our boat was hosting lots of deals there...which we took advantage of until 2 or 3am...so me Siobhan and the guys (with their friend Ben) all caught up and had a last brilliant evening out... by this point we now knew our hostel had a free shuttle service which we took advantage of to get back as we knew our 6.40 am flight was the next day... we had enought time for a 2 hour nap before we had to be up again...
HOWEVER a gal in our dorms STOLE the alarm clock (along with afew other items which we cant find which we had in Caines ealier that day in the room) and my mobile alarm failed to go off... so at 6am we awoke to s***.... and other words which I will not write... but s*** we had 40minutes until our flight were to take off... even the taxi we booked from the hostel hadnt notified us they were there - or the night staff inthe hostel... we were in panic as we threw the last of our items in bags and got them to call the cab back... whats more is they couldnt find our $20 deposit we each put down and refused to give us anything until the mornign staff came in to sort out after 7 or 8am!! - So accepting we lost that money we mage it to the airport by about 6.20... to find we had missed check in and were f***ed...
Thankfully (I dunno how) we made a flight afew hours later for only $50 and reached our connecting flight in Ayers Rock (where we would have spent 4 hours waiting for had we had got our earlier flight)...(thank god we didnt there were only 2 cafes adn one over priced shop - we would have died of boredom!)
So after walking off our little plance - it must have been 40oc - a stale heat whcih made me think Im glad we arent staying here too long... red desert sand EVERYWHERE... we walked though another check in and back on the same place 30 mins later (only 2 seats by 3 seats) with a view this time 9the last time we had been at the VERY back and seen the engine covering the window).
The flight gave us an ariel shot of Ayers Rock - amazing so we felt like we saw it for free and were chuffed that the day hadnet been all that bad - evern though this rickey plane made me terrified - it didnt do tumbulence well and at some stages I was grippign Siobhan and the seat like my life depended on it!
After the events of the day we reset our clocks back 3 hours more and was happy to see Linda (Sio's 2nd cousin) in the arrivals loung ready to relax and start our 2 weeks in Perth...