Cairns in general was much more exciting than I had ever anticipated. The first night we visited a boat restaurant called Prawn Stars (which was more boat than restaurant) that served seafood fresh from the ocean and cold beer.
Following dinner we explored the city a little more and saw a Koala at an indoor wildlife dome, and experienced the Cairns night market, which was surprisingly amazing. The market had many craft and food shops and gave a very county fair type of vibe. At night after visiting an awesome pub called Rattle N Hum, we had a few beers on the balcony of the girls’ room overlooking the Pacific Ocean and called it a night.
The Tjabukai Aboriginal tour on day 2 was surprisingly more entertaining than I had expected. I looked forward to the spear and boomerang throwing, but was genuinely interested to learn about the Aboriginie culture and how their society functions.
After returning to the apartment to clean up a bit, we went to Outback Jack’s for dinner. I was fairly surprised by both the steak and egg burger I had, as well as the XXXX Gold beer that Professor Ormsbee recommended as the local beer. We went back to the apartments and relaxed on the balcony just as we did the previous night.
The last full day (day 3) in Cairns consisted of the Great Barrier Reef tour. As expected, this trip was life changing. It was very windy which decreased underwater visibility and created huge waves; however, the scuba dive in particular was amazingly unreal. I can honestly say that right when I first got in the water, for the first couple minutes I was having trouble getting used to using the respirator, and was unsure if I would be able to complete the dive. After a few minutes though, I was fine and able to enjoy the remainder of the dive.
I saw dozens of species of fish, giant clams, and many different corals before surfacing. Snorkeling and the glass bottom boat didn’t yield many sights in particular, but it was awesome to just float in the huge waves in the ocean. The hardest part was definitely getting around the boat due to me still being on one crutch at this point, but I made it work hopping around the boat and holding onto the ceiling.
When we got back on land, we showered before heading to Cotton Club for dinner. Most people had pizzas and drinks and stopped back to Rattle N Hum to kill time until the Woolshed dance club above the Cotton Club opened. We were pleasantly surprised at the number of people and cultural diversity in the club (people from at least 10 different countries).
After meeting up with another group from the Great Barrier Reef earlier in the day, we had a couple drinks and were invited to dance on the tables with them (which is apparently welcomed here). We went back to the apartments a little after midnight and finished packing for Melbourne the next day. We got all 15 students together for a community breakfast to finish off the groceries and have breakfast on the balcony before heading to the airport.
If Melbourne is even half as fun as Cairns was, I think we all will be completely satisfied.