Was very excited to get to Cairns for several reasons: everyone has been going on about what a party place the east coast is and I was ready for a piece of the action; was a couple of weeks since I'd done any beaching and yearning for a bit of sand between my toes again; and had mates to meet upÂ who I met on the Ayers Rock trip... bonus!
Flying in was awesome - could see the reef snaking off into the distance and all the rainforest and mountains and it looked amazing under - shock horror - terrific blue skies.
And after experiencing rather mixed standards of hostels in the my time in Oz so far I landed a super place - pretty small but reallyÂ homely and nicely done out, the stripey multicolour bedding matched my wash bag perfectly! In fact it was a typical Queenslander building all renovated up and it really reminded me of the big Home and Away house, the one where Pippa and all the foster kids lived...Â
Aaaaanyway, kind of used the first couple of days in Cairns to sort out trips and future movements and book buses etc, and also to catch up with shoping and all that (replacing lost/broken/end of life goods is now becoming a full time occupation for me).
I also had some fun nights out in what is a rather lively social scene, Cairns is basically a tourist city, backpackers and holiday-makers everywhere, so every night is party night. We did resist the double-decker party bus though. Although looking at the state of people riding round on that thing it would have made for good blog photos...Â
But of course the real reason everyone goes to Cairns is not to see the Coyote girls at the Woolshed firing vodka into 18-year old Essex boys mouths but to head out to the great barrier reef. I decided to just snorkel rather than dive, my Canadian buddy Suzanna is Padi certified but we picked a trip where you could do both.
Woke up to grey skies and rain on the big day and the guys on the boat warned us it would be a rough crossing. But that didn't stop them from taking us all the way out to outer reefÂ - a two hour journey - because we got away in such good time.
This was one of the most unpleasnat experiences of my life but thankfully I held my cereal bar down while all those around were losing thiers. I think every available sick bag had been used by the time the engines finally dulled and we gradually let the colour come back to our faces.
On the upside, the sun had come out by this time and we had a couple of good splish splashes around in the (rather rough) ocean and saw loads and loads of fisheys. Suzanna found Nemo but I didn't - boo! But I saw a few of his cousins - differnt types of clown fish. And we scored a couple of dolphins who showed up alongside the boat so that was pretty special.
So the other girls in our little gang were heading off differnt ways from Cairns but Suzanna and I are travelling together for a couple of weeks starting with a detour north to see Cape Tribulation - the only place in the world where the rainforest meets the reef - and it was absolutley stunning, well worth the trip up. Only problem - yep it rained, and rained... But we were in such lovely accomodation it almost didnt matter, many an hour was spent sat on our veranda looking out over the rainforest covered hills putting the world to rights....
Couple of days in Port Douglas on the way back down, which is a rather smart resort frequented by the rich and occasionally famous, but there were no celebs in town when we were there. It was a nice place to hang out though with yet more glorious beaches to ooh and ahh at and busy bars to sink tinnies in.
So cramming lots in now and having a really nice time zipipng about the east coast. And now the big drive down south will commence.....