Location: Northern Queensland (QLD), Australia
Dates: 27th March – 04th April 2018
Reason for visit: Sun and Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef
Base: Mad Monkey Hostel, Sheridan St.
After another long day of travelling with my flight being delayed at Melbourne because of a “radar and stabiliser issue” and not arriving at my hostel till nearly 9pm, I enjoyed a nice early night once I’d done a little unpacking.
As with all new cities/towns I visit I always try and leave my first day for getting acquainted trying to see the sights or just generally figuring out where everything is. This was the case with Cairns. I started off by visiting Peterpans travel shop (one of the many different travel companies who work with travellers to plan their trips) to sort out my tours for whilst I was in Cairns (and more to come on them shortly). After that I visited the main shopping centre, Cairns Central, where I went and did a little food shopping (feeding my foodie habit because who doesn’t love food?!) and also did a spot of clothes shopping because Kmart had a sale on and I needed some new shorts. I also had the pleasure in getting to know one of my dorm mates, Aine who I ended up spending a lot of my time with over the next 7 nights.. I then had a nice easy evening having a couple of drinks and another early night.
My first tour in Cairns was the Waterlands Waterfall tour. Jim the guide was amazing and certainly helped give us a few laughs during the day! As we drove to our first stop, Jim was talking to us about all things Northern Queensland; the fruit that’s grown, the history of the area and how the weather affects things in the area. Our first stop was a swim stop at Balinda Boulders and jumping into freshwater at 9am certainly helps to wake you up! Due to the high rivers from the cyclone that had rolled in a few days earlier, the river was flowing super quick but it also meant we could do a small current swim which was pretty entertaining! From there we remained in our bathers and set off for our next stop, Josephine Falls; normally this stop involves a rock slide and swim but due to the cyclone it was too dangerous so instead we took lots of photos and enjoyed the spray. Then it was time to hit Milla Milla falls. These are the falls Peter Andre shot his Mysterious Girl music video and where the waterfall featured in the Herbal Essences ad. From there we headed for lunch and a quick half hour break.
The afternoon began with us heading off towards Mount Hypipamee “The Crater” with some incredible views from the looking platform as you looked down the crater and to make it even better we also had to take a small bush walk to get there where you could hear so many different animals buzzing away. From there we headed over to a small creek to search for some platypus…and we managed to see one just hanging around! To finish the tour we drove to our final stop of the day but not before another quick stop to look at a curtain fig tree (think Avatar). Lake Eacham was the final destination of the day where we could swim in what is a dormant volcano and also keep our eyes peeled for more wildlife. It was a beautiful spot to finish the tour and get some pretty cool photos.
After the 1.5 hour drive back into Cairns, I arrived back at my hostel where as usual it was time to shower, have a drink and catch an early night.
Today was probably the day I was most excited for as it was my day trip to Great Barrier Reef on Ocean Freedom. The day was split in two; the morning involved going to a deeper reef where I did my intro dive and also got to see a baby shark hanging around the sea bed as well as seeing lots of different fish and coral species and the afternoon session was my snorkelling adventure! We were taken to a spot in the ocean where depending on tides, sand beaches are created in the middle of the ocean right next to some shallow reefs. I headed off towards the island exploring the reefs where I got to see a baby stingray (he then started flapping so I swam away pretty quickly). Once I reached the island I got chatting to three other girls and we decided to follow one of the snorkel guides on a look for baby sharks and turtles. Sadly we didn’t see any but it was fun to be taken round the reefs and shown some of the other cool wildlife that lives there including sea cucumbers! We then hopped back on the boat and headed back to Cairns where me, the three girls and some other Norwegian backpackers soaked up some sun on the front of the boat and devoured a fancy cheese and crackers platter.
That night I decided it might be a good idea to deal with the sunburn that had appeared from the snorkelling and have a few beers at the bar attached to my hostel. Easy way to finish a very busy day.
Saturday & Sunday
I spent the weekend simply just chilling out enjoying the weather, making some good food with Aine. I visited the lagoon on Saturday soaking up some rays for a couple of hours, hung around the in the pool at the hostel and on Sunday night went out with some people I met who were working on a private yacht. Safe to say I drank a lot but it was always going to happen when you start off with $11 steins in a German beer house!
Due to the cyclones that had been rolling through and around Cairns, some of the rivers and waterfalls were still flowing quick (as mentioned earlier) which meant that my white water rafting tour was cancelled but I was offered tubing instead. It was a really fun couple of hours of relaxing in a tube and hopping down some small rapids even if I was being bitten by mosquitos. It also included a swim spot in a slightly deeper spot over the river where some went on a rope swing and some swam with current and if you were me you were floating down the river whilst waiting for their tube to be returned even though the tubing had begun again…
That evening I showered and went out again with the people off the private yacht and again drank far too much, danced a fair bit and prepared for another hangover.
For my final day in Cairns I decided that seeing as though I had ran out of clothes to do some washing in the morning before all the machines we’re taken before heading off to the lagoon with Aine to catch a few rays through the clouds and chill out. Once I got back I decided to pack up before getting made up (well, straightening my hair and putting a dress and make-up on) and heading off to the night markets with Aine and two of her friends she’d met during her own travels.
Once I was home it was time to grab some sleep before a 10am checkout and the pre-flight to Brisbane prepping!