My final destination - Cairns. And what a great final stop it has been. Cairns is a large city with thousands of tourists visiting here every year. The town is lively with lots a bars, nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, hostels and of course travel agents who wont let you walk down the street without hassling you to book your trips through them.
My first trip that I went on was the famous Uncle Brian's Rainforest Tour. There are many trips into the rainforest from Cairns to choose from, but this one is famous amongst backpackers for it's high energy and entertainment. I arrived at the bus meeting place at 8:00 in the morning to a very excitable and energetic tour guide who claimed to be my "Cousin Brad". Our group has 16 people in it and Cousin Brad had memorised all of our names before we boarded the coach. He was incredible, very much like the actors that you find it Disney parks, he never came out of character all day. I was a bit weary of him at first as it was very early in the morning and he seemed far too awake. But as the day goes on the whole group gets use to him and his terrible jokes and we started to really enjoy the atmosphere that he creates. There is never a moment on the day where you are just sat on the bus, Cousin Brad had numerous games for us to play, songs for us to sing and stories to tell us. I don't know how he kept it up.
Our first stop was deep in the rainforest. We went on a trek through the rainforest and saw a great waterfall. There was signs up everywhere saying "Danger, Do Not enter", so naturally I walked under the sign and got pictures up close of the waterfall. Cousin Brad then served us cake, biscuits and tea. He then got me to lick a green ants bum (I was the only person in the group who did). It tasted very strongly of lime. Cousin Brad kept up his endless entertainment by picking up a chicken and putting it on the steering wheel.
Next stop was another waterfalls. But this one had been there for so many thousands of year that it had smoothed out the rocks where it fell, forming a natural slide that backpackers could throw themselves down. It was lots of fun. I went down it three times.
After that it was an amazing lunch stop followed by yet another waterfall. This time it was the one that has been used for numerous adverts, music videos and films. The video "Mysterious Girl" by Peter Andre had been filmed there. Interestingly, the Australians and the Europeans on the trip didn't know the song or anything about Peter Andre. But us Brits on the trip did our best imitation of Peter in the Waterfall, singing that awfully catchy song. The waterfall was also used in the famous Herbal Essences advert, the one where the girl flicks her hair above her head and the water forms a rainbow above her. So I also did my best, and most shameless imitation of this advert. I wasn't the only one. Fully grown men with bald heads were also doing their best impersonation of this move!
After this we headed to our last place for the day, a volcano! We were told that this volcano was now dormant and had been for so long that it had filled with water. I have to admit to being a little disappointed when we got there as it looks nothing like a volcano. If nobody had told me otherwise I would have assumed it was just a big lake. But I went swimming in the volcano anyway. Box ticked.
The other trip that is of course a must for anyone going to Cairns is the Great Barrier Reef. My trip was booked with a company called Down Under Cruises. There was about 100 passengers on board. A mixture of families and backpackers. The boat was lovely, lots of room above and below deck. We were fed extremely well, with a traditional Aussie BBQ for lunch, then a fruit platter as an afternoon snack and then a cheese and wine course on the trip back to the ferry terminal.
We went to two reefs during the day. Both were equally incredible. You could do a try dive on the boat for free, but the tide was quite low meaning that the reef was mostly only 1 - 2 meters deep, so I just stuck in my comfort zone and snorkelled both reefs. I swam with a barracuda and found Nemo. It was fantastic. All passengers were also allowed to go on a glass bottom boat trip for no extra cost. I really enjoyed this as the guide taught us so much about the reef, the different species of fish and the future for the reef.
If you go on this trip and have some extra money then there is also the opportunity to go on a helicopter ride above the Reef. Unfortunately I couldn't afford the $120 extra cost, but a few people signed up and said it was incredible. I would also recommend not paying the $10 to rent a wetsuit. We were told that it was cold in the water so we would need it, but it was really warm so I barely even used mine. Bit of a con I think.
I didn't have an underwater camera and so unfortunately I can't show you what I managed to see. I took a few pictures on the glass bottom boat ride but they do it no justice.
So that's it, my last trip in my final location. I just want to sign off from this blog by sincerely thanking all my friends, family and fellow backpackers who have taken the time out to take an interest in what I'm up to. If you have enjoyed reading it please leave a message to let me know. I will be turning this blog into a book when I return and all messages will be included and appreciated.
Time to give this thing they call the "Real World" my best shot.