Kel: G'day mate. We're back in the Western world again... well almost. I think we've got in Doc's car back to 1985 but we can put toilet paper in the toilet again so that's a start. After an overnight flight to Cairns we collapsed at our new little motel style apartment. We met the very enthusiastic owner Peter and then settled in to our new home, a place called.... Yorkeys**** (yes that's right)
It was lovely to get our own wee place with a kitchen and everything. Nice to cook again and not go to restaurants, as mad as that sounds. We were staying in a small village just north of Cairns itself, just a place to base ourselves for a few adventures over the week ahead. These wee places seem to consist of a beach, bottle shop/liquorland, grocery store, hairdresser and dance studios... funny.
The weather was absolutely awful when we were there. Lots of flooding south of us but the area we were in got 1.2m of rain in 4 weeks and we got there at quite a bad time. It didn't really dampen our spirits that much and was actually pretty amazing to see crazy crazy rain. No beachy times though (especially with danger signs for crocs, stingers and sharks everywhere)
So we chilled for our first day or so and went to visit Cairns itself which was a total ghost town. Shops shut at 2pm on a Saturday. Really no atmosphere at all so we were happy we were at Yorkeys**** : ) Wandered around, ate our first aussie pie then went to the cinema to see Benjamin Button which was pretty good.
Next we had a great day out to Kurunda which is a village up in the middle of the rainforest. We took a scenic train there which was cool and stopped off at the most amazing waterfall I've ever seen (one of the good things about visiting in wet season is that the rainforests/waterfalls are absolutely spectacular) Baron Falls were ferocious and really really cool.
At the village the two of us turned into total cheesy tourists and loved every minute of it. Matthew made friends with a lady who sold him a crocodile dundee hat (folds up and everything), I got to hold a koala bear which was just too cute and we also met wallabies, kangaroos, cocatoos and loads of other birds close up for the first time. We were also just blown away by how incredibly friendly everyone we've met in Oz seems to be. Our journey back was by sky rail (a cable car) which was a brilliant way to see the rainforest. Incredibly dense, green, beautiful and very wet. Reminded me of the jurassic park set. Expected a diplodocus to pop out any moment.
For the next couple of days we hired a car and went north to visit Port Douglas one day (like Cairns fairly dead) and then got dead excited about going to a supermarket. However it was totally bare because of all the floodings - doh.
The next day we went up to Mossman Gorge/Cape Tribulation/Daintree Rainforest for our own adventure. The driving was really spectacular. Rainforest one side and beautiful beachy coastline on the other. Once there we crossed daintree river by car ferry and we thought we saw a croc. It's really sad cause just a couple of days before a little boy died while chasing after his dog into the river. Needless to say, we stayed well away.
We did however meet a few new creatures. Matthew spotted a dragon lizard while we were out and we also came across a couple of large golden orb spiders (which won't kill you but would make you feel really hungover for a couple of days if they bite you) That was in the toilet I went to! We had a fight with a leach in the car (on M's ankle while driving, on dashboard, then on outside of window holding on for dear life at 100kmph. Those things can really grip on) Back at the apartment we had a resident cockroach which flew sometimes. Matthew back handed that one night mid flight using a beach bat. Hilarous. Loads of noisy cane toads outside our apartment at night too. So we've definitely become at one with nature (maybe just from an air conditioned sealed off room)
The last day we went out to the great barrier reef. We were holding out and holding out hoping the weather would improve, and thankfully it did. 90 min ferry out there, we slid into our head to toe (with mits) lycra suits and looked like out of shape super heros. Very funny (and have photos) We needed to be totally covered so we didn't get stung by jellyfish and also it's easier than putting sun cream on (uv is incredibly high. We got a bit burnt one day when it was raining and very overcast all day) Anyway, the snorkelling was out of this world. Pretty quickly we were within 1 metre of a maori wrasse, which is a massive friendly fish which is roughly 1.5m x 1m long! We saw quite a few nemos, and loads of really beautifully coloured big fish. One wee black and white showl kept on following us and swimming round our faces which was really funny. So we're really really glad we got to see all of that. I'd recommend it to anyone.
So overall we had an absolutely amazing time in Cairns area. The people are incredibly friendly and there's a fantastic mix of reef, beach and jungle to explore. Culturally I'd say it was confused. I was pretty shocked to only see aboriginal people absolutely pissed in shopping areas shouting at each other and passers by. There seems to be a massive race/class divide which seems pretty unfair given their land has been taken from them. As an outsider looking in I reckon more support is needed for these families so they fully integrate. At the moment, they are no where near it. That was another reason I thought we were stepping back in time. Like something you'd have heard of from the 60s, not today. Actually we've just found out that Aboriginals were only taken off the Flower and Fauna Act in the sixties and actually recognised as a fellow race. Incredible.
The other reasons for stepping back in time are the music, the fashion (singlets and bare feet), the tv (all UK and US stuff - even The Bill. The only aussie things we saw were the news, home and away, neighbours and bondi rescue - like the easyjet programme but with surfers and drunk irish people everywhere - funny) Kind of left feeling... so what is Australia all about?
Next stop Darwin and Kakadu national park.