So after travelling through Asia for a fantastic two and a half months it was finally onto Australia. We touched down into Cairns airport which was really quite small, and not really what we were expecting. We had already booked our accommodation so off the bus we headed for the backpackers hostel Gilligan's. We booked it as we thought it had everything - Gym, Bar, Disco, Huge swimming pool and even a free evening meal. However we got to the front desk and the staff were so rude and up there own arse's. They told us that we were unable to check into our room as the key cutter was not working and that we should come back in an hour or so. Baring in mind that we had been up the whole night travelling from Bali and were completely and utterly knackered, we were not too impressed.
We decided to go and get some much needed breakfast and headed to a small café. We sat down looked at the menu and everything was so expensive. So expensive it made you want to cry. How were we gonna survive 3 months in Australia? We were starting to wish we were back in Asia already as Cairns didn't make a great first impression on us, the weather also wasn't that great which didn't help things.
Finally we managed to get checked into our 8 bed dorm room at about 6pm, This being the first dorm we had stayed in since traveling the room was actually alright and was really clean and we shared the room with alright people. We headed down for the free evening meal, to be honest I wasn't expecting too much given the service received so far, and I wasn't disappointed some spotty teenager slapped rice and some brown slop (meant to be chilli con carne) into a bowl not much bigger than an egg cup. Save to say we were left disappointed and hungry we headed down to the esplanade and had a cheese burger from McDonald's.
Gilligan's had made such a bad impression on us that we decided that we were only going to stay 1 night, we had originally booked 3 nights. We went off in search of some better accommodation. We managed to speak to Tropic Days which was a guest house just outside the center of town. They were so nice and said that they didn't have any dorms left but had a private double room (which was more expensive than a dorm) or they had a small futon we could sleep on in the hall, which we would have preferred rather than staying at Gilligan's for another night. They even sent a mini bus out to pick us up from outside Gilligan's.
We were so glad to move on from Gilligan's. We arrived at Tropic days and they made us feel so welcome. They checked us in and said that they would give us the private double room they had left for the price of a dorm room. So we had a room to ourselves for the first night which was really nice of them. They gave us a quick tour of the place and showed us where everything was, they also said that they had had a BBQ night at the hostel the night before and that there was left overs in the fridge and that we could help ourselves. We didn't need too much encouragement and tucked into steak, sausages and potato salad. Can't speak highly enough of the staff at Tropic day's, we ended up staying for 4 nights as it really felt quite homely. They had a great kitchen with free tea and coffee and also had a nice little garden with swimming pool, hammock's and the place felt like your home. After spending a few day's there we began to like Australia a whole lot more than when we arrived.
Cairns has a lovely lagoon on the esplanade as you can't swim in the sea in certain month's due to there being load's of jelly fish (Stinger's) floating about. We spent a few day's chilling by the lagoon which was huge.
Kurranda a small aboriginal village up in the hills/rainforest above Cairn's, we took a trip up there via the sky rail which took you high above the vast rainforest, with some awesome birds eye views of the national park. There wasn't that much there in all honesty, but still was quite a nice place to go visit. We took the scenic railway back down to Cairn's in an old steam train, the journey back down takes you through some picturesque mountains and waterfalls before winding your way back down to Cairn's. The trip was basically for the journey there and back as it's what you see on your way up and way down which makes the trip.
We hired a car for a day and headed up to see Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge. The drive it's self is pretty special as it's a coastal road which seems to run for miles hugging the coastline. First stop was Mossman Gorge where we stopped for a little picnic next to the river, there were loads of people jumping in the river and I wished I had brought my swim shorts as I could have done with a dip. Next up was Port Douglas which was really pretty town and had a nice feel about it. We then headed for Cape Trib which is where the rainforest meets the ocean, it really is an amazing place and the rainforest stretches out to the sand before hitting the sea. It's a national park so there are no building's in site, the place is more or less untouched. You can not swim in the sea though which is a shame due to there being loads of jelly fish and also Crocodile's, though we didn't see any unfortunately.
Anne and Paurick joined us on our travels for a few weeks, and they picked us up from Tropic day's so we could head up to Trinity beach (just north of Cairn's) with them for a few days before moving onto Airlee beach. I can't tell you how nice it was to stay in a luxury apartment after being in guest houses and hostels for the past 2 and a half months or so. We headed up with them to Trinity beach and was going to just kip on the floor/sofa as Anne and Paurick had booked a 1 bedroom apartment as we hadn't planned on staying there, and we were just gonna sneak in and stay. However we went with them when they were checking in and the owner asked if we wanted to stay at no extra cost, so they upgraded us to a 2 bedroom apartment.
It was so nice, a real bit of home comforts. The apartment was like a laundrette with Anne doing pretty much the whole of mine and Laura's washing! We left with a fresh backpack of clean clothes. We went with Anne and Paurick to get some shopping, this has got to be one of the highlights of travelling, we walked around the supermarket and we were getting Steak's, sausages, cakes, beer's everything I hadn't been allowed if it was just Laura and me shopping as we were on a budget. We were treated unbelievably. We had a few BBQ's at the apartment with some lovely food compared to some of the dinners we had been recently having.
We booked a tour for the 4 of us out to the Great Barrier Reef with the Reef Experience, which was our Christmas present from Anne and Paurick, thank you. It was a great trip and some seriously good food was served up on board, bacon and egg rolls for breakfast, a BBQ lunch and then cheese and wine on our return back to the marina from the reef. Whilst out on the reef Laura and I had a 45 minute dive on the reef which was just amazing, although not as many fish as we had seen in Thailand the coral reef was like a different world amazing colours, we got to swim through some cool little coral reef corridors. Also while down there the dive master we went down with put his hand inside a giant clam and it closed on his hand, he was struggling as we thought he had got it stuck in there! We were all looking at each other thinking what can we do? What are we supposed to do? turns out he was only messing about! That's all you need when your 15 meters under the water. I think it's safe to say we are now hooked on diving.
We left Cairn's late one night to get the overnight Greyhound (coach) onto Airlee beach where we were to stay before the amazing Whitsunday's.