Cairns

Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
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18
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Trip End Apr 01, 2011


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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Saturday, October 23, 2010

I had heard mixed reviews about Cairns and although they were generally positive, I had never really considered visiting. I guess i thought it was too clichéd, as everyone goes there as part of the beaten track, but then where along the east coast isn’t clichéd and part of the Backpacker Trail?

As i travelled north from Airlie Beach on a 10 hour coach journey, i could distinctly feel the temperature increasing with every stop, as we climbed in latitude, up the earths surface towards the equator. It was a pleasant relief from the unrelenting cold of Melbourne which i had endured over the past 6 months, so i did my best to expose myself to the solar rays in an attempt to acclimatise myself, to avoid the shock when i arrive in Bali in just under a week.

In the Lords Lodge there was a Book of Big Things across Australia, including the giant banana, the massive lobster and the huge potato etc. All of these being man models and not mutant hybrids as a result of genetic engineering. I had to smile when, along the route, i unexpectedly saw the Giant Mango, the Huge Welly with a Giant Frog on it, and the Massive Cassowary. The scenery was enthralling and i couldn’t stop watching the rainforest pass by, draped over the Misty Mountains, which we seemed to be driving besides for three hours. That's their actual name - The Misty Mountains. A Perfect home for a Wispy Warlock i reckon. The picturesque houses in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by landscaped tropical trees, bushes and palm trees made me reflect back upon my awesome scooter adventures through Langkawi, but with the rice paddys replaced by sugar cane and banana fields.

I took the premier Motor coach instead of the greyhound that Marie took, to save $50 so i arrived 1 hour after she did and checked into the cheapest hostel I've found in Australia so far at nearly half the price of some I've stayed in. Being tired from the coach journeys we crashed out for a few hours and then woke up to go to the Woolshed Bar for a free meal, had a few drinks and then retreated to the safety of bed.

We decided to utilise the next day by visiting Kunanda just north of Cairns, which is right next to a rainforest. Organised tours are around $100 so we got a local bus up there for $4 instead and had a pretty cheap day, whilst still managing to see everything we wanted to. Walking through the rainforest was refreshing and the canopy of trees overhead provided a welcome shade from the beating mid-day sun. Halfway around the walk, we saw a signpost for  a waterfall a few Kilometres off track, so we decided to take a look and began a long trek through the baking  hot mid-day sun. Finding a lookout point advertised in a book we had seen, we made a
further detour to see a pretty nice view between two hills into a valley. But the view was obscured a bit by a badly placed tree. I suppose you cant have everything.

Continuing our way to the waterfall, we entered a protected rainforest and began a canopy walk through the various trees, being taught a bit of history of the area along the way by signs and information plaques. Expecting a small waterfall, a couple of metres high, which it would  maybe be possible to swim under, i was pretty shocked when, to the increasing roaring sound of water, we stepped out from under the tree canopy to behold this monumental natural water feature.
The valley dropped away about 300 Metres below us and on the opposite side of the valley, were hundreds of tons of water cascading down the 300 metre cliff face, splitting off into various pools along the way days, creating countless mini waterfalls on the way down. This had definitely been worth the journey and had easily exceeded our expectations. The thing was, that after marvelling at natures work of art, we only had just about enough time to get back before our bus, if we walked really fast and we were both pretty tired and hot by now. Feet complaining from the flip flop trekking.

We walked down to the end of the path where there's a railway track and asked a couple talking to an aboriginal if they knew when the train was and apparently there was one in about half an hour, but it only went back to Cairns. This would have been very handy if it wasn't $60 each! Luckily the Aboriginal offered us a lift back to town, which we were extremely grateful for as we would have probably had to run about 4Km back in the baking heat to get our bus. I forget his name, but he was telling us the he was half Aboriginal and half Native American and his Aboriginal tribe which live in the village was called something like Cuckoowarrachichi.

The drive back to town was long, with me and Marie sat up front in his pick up truck. As we pulled into town, we obviously drove through his area, as suddenly the streets were filled with Aboriginals and there wasn't a white person in sight. Films like Wolf Creek and Wrong Turn flash through our minds at this point and we wonder what we have got ourselves into as this guy could actually take us anywhere. I feel a bit bad for even entertaining that idea, but i suppose that's evident of the kind of fear that the media is instilling in us on a daily basis, fear of our fellow man and suspicion of genuine kindness. Sometimes its only natural to be aware and wary of any situation out here. But this guy was really sound and was just helping out some fellow humans and we were extremely grateful as even though we drove, we still only just made it. We would never have made it walking, meaning we would have had to spend the night here and wait for the next bus in the morning. Surprisingly we had walked about 10 Km that day when we added it all up, so were fairly happy to get home and chill out.

That night we went out to the Woolshed again to get our free meal and to take advantage oh happy hour a bit more. Tonight there was a backpacker night on, with competitions, culminating in a dancing competition where being scantily clad was actively encouraged. It was a fun night and for the first time in the 11 Months i have spent in Australia, i actually felt like i had found a nice backpacker town, with a proper backpacker bar. I wasn't really sure what to expect from backpacking through Australia when i embarked upon this adventure nearly a year ago, but here it was, right in front of me, staring me in the face. I only wish i had some extra time to spend here, to really immerse myself in the scene and soak up the vibe.

The woman running our hostel, who seemed really nice to begin with, suddenly turned nasty when it was time for me to check out. She wouldn't let me wait in Marie's room who was staying there an extra night, or to even put my bags in the corner of Marie's room, while i waited for my flight at midnight that night. She practically threw me out of the hostel, so i waited till she closed at lunchtime and then sneaked back in to put my bags back in Marie's room. What a pointless waste of time, all for the sake of a few rules over human decency.

Being a stunningly hot and sunny day, we decided to make the most of it and head down to the awesome man made lagoon down by the beach and complete our Australian Experience by Barbequing Kangaroo steaks down by the Lagoon with a beer. I couldn't think of a better way to spend effectively my last day in Australia, cooling off from the roasting sunshine by swimming in the cool lagoon waters and splashing through the fountains. Perfect.

Boarding the plane at midnight, i began the longest days travelling of my life. Just to get to Bali from Cairns, i had to fly to Melbourne, arriving at about 5am, spend the entire day in the airport, then fly out at midnight the next day to Perth, where i would spend a couple of days and then finally make the flight to Bali. Its a crazy, drawn out, roundabout of a journey, but after weeks of trawling the internet for every different flight possible, this was the cheapest way, by a considerable amount. It wouldn't be fun, but it wouldn't be travelling unless i spent a bit of time actually travelling so it comes with the package. I see Perth as more of a place to gather my thoughts, wrap up my time in Oz and prepare for the real adventure to begin in Indonesia. So for the next few days I'm going to be taking advantage of western conveniences, as i have no idea what's in store for me once i leave this amazing country and venture forth into the world.
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