Cairns to begin with struck me as a diamond in the rough right off the bat. Its beautiful coastal views, Florida-feeling beach scene and local flavor was very striking to me, yet it is such a small city when compared to the most cosmopolitan cities in Australia like Melbourne or Sydney or even Brisbane for that matter. It seemed very much a unique, isolated paradise unto itself. The group and I fell in love with it right off the bat exploring the wharf, seaside esplanade, and the local culture. If I could describe my initial feelings of the Australian people when compared to Americans, I’d say they are incredibly similar, but quirkier, carefree, relaxed and generally seem more content with life. Their demeanor and behaviors and general individual interactions were friendly and what you’d expect in a similar American venue, but the biggest difference was their ability to live life at a very comfortable, lax pace. Compared to the United States where time moves as fast as the most anxious everyday person, Australia felt so much slower, and easy-going, which was a breath of fresh air to all of us. I can safely say that if I were to visit Australia again, Cairns would certainly be on my radar.
The second parts of the journey to Cairns consisted of the Aboriginal Village visit, and the boat ride to the Great Barrier Reef. I thoroughly enjoyed the village visit. Comparing the natives of Australia to the Native Americans, the contrast was that of night and day. The outlook for the natives of Australia was inspiring, frankly, and optimistic, which propelled them to create a unique cultural immersion through their visit while providing them a means to show that you can in fact maintain your heritage while adapting and flourishing in a modernized world.
The Great Barrier Reef while being churned on some less-than-favorable tides and winds, was still an awe-inspiring experience and snorkeling in such shallow waters out in the middle of the ocean was a bizarre, but thrilling experience that I would definitely do again… Due to the white-capping tides, however, it also proved to be a high quality endurance workout.