I can see the seaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh it is a wonderful sight! Azure blue water with white sandy shores....knowing quite well that November in Britannia involves rain, rain, more rain, quite a bit of wind, and well to be honest with you so does Cairns. Cairns, however is 35 degrees, the rain is warm, and as soon as the rain has gone the sun is shining his happy face once again. So, yes, Cairns is definately a better bet for November and we are very grateful to be here.
So Cairns, the most laid back, chilled out, lifes good, don't worry about a thing city I have ever visited. Life is good in Cairns. On a high that from now on we technically only have one more road to drive Vick and I headed straight to a hostel to book some dates in the diary for the next few days. A very friendly receptionist signed us up for a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, you know that huge reef that's one of the 8 natural wonders of the world, and also a two day trip to Cape Tribulation (as the locals know as Cape Trib).
Having turned into rabbits the last few days by having a lunch comprising of an exciting apple, and a dinner involving a bowlful of leaves, carrot, tomato and if you're lucky a piece of cucumber, we took great advantage of being on the coast where seafood is literally jumping out of the harbour water onto your plate. After our yummy seafood meal where both of us were high on the fact we had meat in our tummies we headed to the night markets just across the esplanade. A selection of souvenier stalls jumped out at Vicks and I, and if you're lucky and loved back at home then you may well have something from the Cairns night markets now! It was also exciting to see that we could get a full body massage for 15 bucks! Happy days! I treated myself to a foot massage to finally get all the red sand off my feet...turns out I do actually have incredible flip flop lines and it wasn't just sand. Great.
We stayed in a caravan site just out of the centre of town so pretty perfect location really. Here in Queensland the police are really, really strict on 'free' camping. And so there's not much point risking it - you can pay 20 bucks to stay in a caravan site, or 200 bucks fine when you get busted in a carpark or along the road. No brainer really. A tad annoying as we thought we had already paid for our accomodation back in March when we booked up our camper...and although we camped up in a carpark in Darwin the police had actually said on the radio the day before they are putting extra guys out to scout about.
Knowing we had to get up early the next day to catch our boat Vick and I didn't linger too long at the night markets (we decided to save the full body massage for after Cape Trib) and headed back to hit the hay. Turns out the car next door to us were heading into town to catch a boat the next day so they offered to give us a lift in. Once again our stingey backpacker smiles grew at the chance of a free ride and we thanked them muchly. Meant we didn't need to wake up a whole hour earlier to walk there anyway!
Now having been in the centre of oz and pretty much melting we had sweated out so much you would think that we would be very happy for the temperature to have dropped (well I say dropped it now was 25 degrees at night rather than 35 degrees). Turns out Vick and I have gone and acclimatized to the middle haven't we (!) so now we have to wear hoodies when it gets below 25 degrees. No joke there are goosebumps on my arms as I write this and I think it's about 26 degrees or so. It's a hard life I know I know, but truth be told it doesn't half make it easier to get to sleep at night! Instead of sprawling ourselves across the bed like a semi-naked starfish, we are now nice and cosy under our sleeping bags. Though saying that the heat in the morning sure does make sure we are up and about by 7am as the van doubles up as a sauna once again.
So anyway where was I? Oh yes the boat trip to the reef. WOW. Having been here before I knew what to expect, but even so it didn't dissipate how beautiful I found it this second time. I can understand why people come out here for a gap year or on a working holiday, find a job on one of these boats and never go home....or go home, remember what November really feels like and get the first flight back out here again. It is now stinger season in Queensland and so you have to suit up in a beautiful, most flattering sexy suit you can imagine. Some explanations of these suits I won't mention on here as they aren't quite so PC, but a giant blue smurf is a good explanation. But if it keeps Vick from having to pour vinegar over me then rush me to hospital (the peeing on each other thing is a myth and really doesn't work) then I was happy to wear one.
Lucky I did wear one actually because paddling along with my snorkel in the big blue I found myself in a whole shoal of the things. Swam straight into one then looked around and I was surrounded! I don't think these ones were the nasty box jellyfish, but even so, I wasn't going to stick my hand out to find out. I was very excited when I saw not one, not two, but three sea turtles! If any of you have ever seen Finding Nemo then the personality of the sea turtle in that just sums them up on the whole really! If you can imagine a really chilled out surfer dude whos every word is relaxxx mannnn then there's your sea turtle. We were lucky enough to visit an island where they all go to lay their eggs (it was rather whiffy because there was a bird colony and they pooed, a lot.)
We visited two different areas of the reef that day and saw a lot of colourful fishys including parrot fish that looked like a swimming rainbow. There were also giant clams that you could tickle and they would threaten to shut their shell...Vick wasn't so keen to put her hand in as far as I did. Turns out I'm not tasty enough for a clam anyway so I still have my hand. There was also quite a good bunch of people on the boat who we got chatting too. It was one of the crew members last night in Oz (he was going off round Asia) so he invited us out with all the crew for a night out in Cairns.
And what a night it was! Rather merry if anything and finally Vick and I found a good place to have our much wanted boogy in. So far we have been to bars and pubs and a few clubs but we haven't really got our dancing shoes on. Being heart felt disco divas we danced all night long and had the most exercise we had had in months. I don't think it was possible to get sweatier than how I was after my run in Darwin but we were close enough! When we had had enough of dancing, well we hadn't had enough but our feet were screaming at us to stop, we headed to Bedfordshire and set our alarms for 7.30am the next morning for our bus trip to Cape Trib.
Although we were up and about long before the bus was due to arrive the tequila shots and jaegarbombs from the night before didn't make us feel on top of the world. This wasn't helped when we had to go on a river wildlife tour. Now before you say what's wrong with that it sounds great...we saw no crocodiles, no snakes, not even a bird because the heavens had decided to open and the winds had picked up enough that Vick and I were Mr and Mrs Goosebump huddled at the back of this river cruise - along with the rest of our party too! Even so till the rains had dispersed and we were across the river into the Daintree Rainforest - supposedly the oldest rainforest in the world!
We went on a few rainforest walks and believe it or not it rained in the rainforest - quite a lot too! But we were all given a wonderful bin bag to keep most of the rain off, and as soon as it had started it stopped again and the sun poked his head out of the clouds. When we got to our hostel for the night Vick and I headed straight to the beach to work the tan. There are few places in the world where the rainforest meets the beach, and it really is quite a stunning sight. Yup, once again another spectacular view! Bathing like a couple of seals that afternoon (I had a wonderful afternoon siesta on the sand) we ate some grub and headed to bed around 8.30pm. It was a bit of a shame because we had been told the trip would be rather socialble but we had unfortunately come on quite a quiet trip. But turns out we wouldn't have been too sociable anyway I apparently fell asleep in ten minutes with the light still on and Vick wasn't far behind me!
The next morning was spent once again on the beach like a couple of seals (the tan was coming on nicely now after 5 days in the sunshine) and we hopped on the bus for the journey back to Cairns.We stopped off at an aborigine history centre on the way back where we tried some fruit the areas tribe used to live on - it was bright blue and tasted disgusting but I grinned and bared it and said it was delicious (the guy was stricter than my old head mistress so I wasn't going to upset him and this historical berry). Nonetheless it is mango season out here now so they are everywhere and very very yummy!
That night in Cairns Vick and I headed to the markets for our massage that we were very excited for. I can now say I will NEVER have a chinese 'massage' again. If cage fighters gave massages then I've found the place. I could compare it to some of the rugby games I have played in. I don't know what inspired me to then go for a head massage thinking that it would make it any better. All the guy seemed to do was just hit my head....a giant icecream was much needed after our ordeal!
But whatever physical aches and pains you get up here don't last for long. Neither do grumpy moods or if you're just feeling low. This is because we have spent the last week and a bit now beach hopping like the couple of seals we are (vegetarian salad eating seals). Every view is a feel good screen saver you use when its grey and gloomy in England. So we aren't complaining, in fact we are both very very happy bunnies and are loving it out here.
Our last day in Cairns we headed to Palm Cove...a white sandy beach lined with some of the most exceptional houses - fantastic for people watching! We then headed to the crocodile farm to spend the afternoon watching crocodiles (it was a croc farm after all), snakes, cassowarys (big ostriche like bird with a blue neck and a horny thing that poke out the top of their head - yes they look very strange indeed), koalas and big goanas. Crocodiles are awesome (and very scary!). For something that's been around the planet since the dinosaurs it certainly knows how to survive and now I never want to go near a creek again. They can hide 500kgs of weight under a foot of water and you would never know they are there till it's too late. I think their bite is the strongest bite out of all the animals in the world, and they are a bit like a rottweiler as once they get a grip they don't let go. In fact they do the 'death roll' and roll over and over - with their jaws still snapped shut - to take you apart.
There have been 2 croc deaths in Oz this year so they are few and far inbetween but seriously I don't know what possessed the zoo keeper to get into the cage with this 4 metre long dinosaur and feed it chicken. It wasn't even interested in the chicken and kept lungeing after him...his leg looked much more juicy than a chicken head. Along with these really cool creatures Vick and I watched a snake show where he held the most venomous snake in the world - the typan. Thankfully the only venomous snake we have come across had been sleeping in the sun and we hadn't disturbed it, but now we know exactly what to do if we get a snake bite as we have been shown.
Having had a bit of an eye opener about crocodiles we now have our eyes peeled each time we cross over a creek thinking we might see a croc - even though we are very aware that they are there and watching us they are just a foot under the water so totally camouflage to us. It has also made us think to some of the billabongs we have swam in and it makes the hair on our arms rise! But we still have all four limbs, and we have survived snakes, spiders, stingers (just) and crocs so far. Now all we need to get by is a sharky and we have seen the full monty!
From Cairns we have one road, orginally named as the Bruce highway. One road left. Very scary. Though it feels we have nothing of our trip left we still have a third to go and those 5/6 weeks are going to be spent on beaches and boats, so watch out bronzed tanned bodies because we are coming at ya.