We arrived in Cairns, our final stop in Australia at around 6am after another fairly sleepless overnight bus journey. We hopped into a taxi and headed to 'Cairns Beach House', where we would spend our final four days in Oz. Annoyingly we couldn't check in until 1pm so we dumped our bags and headed to the town centre. Cairns is a pretty big place, with its main Esplanade overlooking the beach and very popular lagoon. The weather was hot (34c) and the atmosphere a relaxed one (no change there then!). With our heads still weary we fell asleep on a comfy looking patch of grass by the lagoon and waited for the clock to tick around to 1pm. After checking in we got a nightly free meal - a bowl of rice, mushed with some sort of meat. Yum. Then we did what we did for every night in Cairns, partied in the town centre. Cairns is either the starting point or stopping point for many travellers on the East Coast so it was full of like minded backpackers and we enjoyed some moderately priced beers (at last) and danced the nights away, fun times. We spent our remaining couple of days venturing into the depths of the Great Barrier Reef and the jungle of Cape Tribulation, a few miles north of Cairns. Our trip to the Barrier Reef was incredible. It was a perfectly clear, calm day and the sea was immensely still - perfect for snorkelling and underwater camera action! We set sail on the 'Falla' boat at around 9am and cruised along the water for around 2 hours before finding a good snorkelling spot. Geared up and ready to go we jumped into the water and went looking for tropical fish and reef. Often it was like being in massive aquarium with fish everywhere, but still we both think that the best snorkelling we have done is in Phi Phi Ley in Thailand. We got some fun photos though and after all the hard work we had put in we took time out to have some lunch from the platter provided. After lunch we headed to what can only be described as paradise - whilst the 8 others on the boat sailed to a tiny sand island in the middle of the sea, me and Dunham chose to swim there. The water was the clearest and most turqiose we have ever seen and the sand as golden as any other we'd come across. The island itself was about 10m by 10m, so you could walk across it in about 6 seconds. Amazing. It was literally completely in the middle of the sea with no other land for miles around. We think this may be the most incredible place we have seen since we have been away. Several photos and comments of disbelief later we headed back to the boat for some jumping in, snorkelling and wine with cheese. Another good day came to and end we headed back to chill out by the lagoon as the sun set. For our last full day in Australia we headed on a day tour to Cape Tribulation, a famous jungle area in northern Australia discovered by Captain Cook. Our bus driver for the day picked us up at 9am - little did we know at this point how irritating his voice would become. He loved the sound of it and he wasn't afraid to use it. If I hear someone say "No worries at all" again I think I may fly into some sort of rage. That aside, the trip was pretty good one. We saw beautiful waterfalls, tropical plants and trees and got up close and personal with some kangaroos and crocodiles in the local animal sancturary. Exhausted by it all, we headed on the bus back to the beach house and prepared for our final night in Australia. Like most of the nights out we've had there it was great fun, the East Coast is definitely party central. I think next time we come back, we will have to see 'real Australia' though - the east coast is great fun but we reckon the real 'adventures' are happening in the outback, or, as we are finding out right now...across the pond in New Zealand!
Mark & James