Cairns and the surrounding area was like nothing else we had seen in Australia. This is where I felt we would be testing the theory of deadly species…where there was a good chance I would see a huge spider or snake and, I was not disappointed!
We stayed at a great hotel in Cairns that had a nice balcony overlooking a courtyard with a pool, and also included a community BBQ, and washer and dryer. We were five minutes away from the center of town however very close to stores, the beach, and the boardwalk.
We quickly came to realize that there were not as many sights in Cairns as there had been in Melbourne or Sydney. Cairns has some great shopping, a nice beach, a man-made lagoon, and a casino. Since shopping and the casino were not our favourite things to do, we basically walked around the city, explored the boardwalk, and gazed at the beach. Yes, we gazed, since we did not realize that there are Box Jellyfish in the month of January so you are told to avoid swimming. That was a little disappointing however we found a lot of other things to do around Cairns that were very exciting! Tropical North Queensland is exactly what you would expect from its name however not what I expected to see in Australia. I never thought there would be a Rainforest in Australia – I had always imagined it would be deserts and ocean. I guess it is comparable to those who think people in Canada live in Igloos; I was clueless!
There was so much to do around Cairns that we decided to rent a small car for a couple days and explore. We spent the first day exploring south of Cairns. We drove down to a Rainforest Canopy walk where we got an amazing view of the Rainforest from above. We soon found out that even if you are 37m above the ground, you are still nervous of bumping into a Cassowary. Secretly I wanted to see one from afar, like one wants to witness a tornado from afar however there were no Cassowaries in sight.
After the canopy walk, we headed to Josephine Falls. The drive there was so beautiful with rolling hills, farms, and luscious green forest all around. We arrived at the parking, enjoyed a quick lunch and headed towards the falls. I was amazed when I saw the falls and also saw these amazing pools of water where you could go swim! I have to admit I was a little nervous to go into the water at first, especially when I saw big fish swimming around, but I quickly got over my fear when I saw others swimming and having fun. We spent quite some time there and left as the sun was setting. It was an amazing day and were happy to find our bed that night!
Daintree National Park
Our second day brought us north of Cairns to the Daintree National Park. The drive to the national park was amazing and we stopped many times along the way to enjoy the sights. On our way to Cape Tribulation, we took a detour and went on a Daintree River cruise and spotted some crocodiles. We also walked some of the trails in the rainforest; this time we weren’t 37m above the trees so we were a little more nervous!
You have to take a small ferry to get to Cape Tribulation. It was very easy to get to and there are many crossings during the day. Cape Tribulation has a great beach (that we could not enjoy due to the Box Jellyfish) however was nice to walk around. Cape Tribulation is definitely worth the drive if you are in Cairns. Having had more time, I would have liked to book a trip in an off-road vehicle and spend a couple days in the rainforest. Next time…!
The Great Barrier Reef
We went diving at The Great Barrier Reef!!! This was the main reason I wanted to go to Cairns and I was so happy we were able to dive. If you are in Cairns to go diving on The Great Barrier Reef, I would recommend reserving your dive as soon as you arrive and preferably even before arriving in Cairns. We only reserved our dive when we arrived in Cairns and as such, were only left with one option and it happened to be on the worst day. The morning of our dive, which happened to be on New Year’s Eve, we were greeted with rain and wind. Everyone felt the effects of the storm on our way out to sea; I think 75% of people were either vomiting or about to. The rest of us were outside looking towards the horizon trying to think about our dive and not the boat rocking violently from one side to the other. At one point, some people actually flew across the boat…
The dive included three different dive spots. Since I was a certified diver, I was able to enjoy a lot of time in the water. My dive master was amazing and took us to great places where we saw turtles, rays, and beautiful fish. Due to the storm the colours were not as bright as usual but still amazing nonetheless! I did the tourist thing and purchased a couple pictures but I think it was totally worth it!
After a great day at The Great Barrier Reef, we returned to Cairns and celebrated the arrival of 2013!
Australia was amazing and I will go back…actually, I would move there in a heartbeat!