"My first impression of Cairns was that it was much more laid back and lots of less people than in Melbourne. A bus picked us up from the airport and then we were on our way to the hotel. At the hotel we were very excited about the ocean front view and the balcony! We immediately went down to the boardwalk and got an idea of the area around us...
On Tuesday we woke up early and embarked on the best tour of this trip so far- The Great Barrier Reef tour! We were forewarned about the chance of seasickness and spent $2 for two pills that saved the trip. The ride out to the reef was about 2 hours long and those were the biggest waves I have ever seen! A lot of people on the boat were sick the second we left the dock, but most of us felt fine and we enjoyed the top deck. When we arrived to the reef we snorkeled and were amazed by the sight of the reef. I saw so many fish I never knew of and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The best part was that I didn’t see a shark! We hopped back on the boat and tanned as we went to the next area for some more snorkeling. If I was to do this tour again, I would definitely wear lots of sunscreen (even if it seems cloudy and cold on the boat)...
On Wednesday, a few of us decided to rent bikes and ride them around the area and to the botanical gardens. We were thrilled and it was the best idea yet! We hopped on the bikes and rode over to the gardens where we were able to walk/ ride through the rain forest and along the ocean side. After our biking we stopped for lunch and then to the hotel pool. Then we had our pictures taken with a koala named Vovo, ate gelato (again), visited the night market, and then had dinner. The biggest difference I noticed here is that there are many more residential areas and much more vegetation to see than in Melbourne. Also, people do not seem to be in as big of a rush as they were in Melbourne.
On Thursday we headed for a day tour of the Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park. I was very excited for this tour and to see a different type of culture of Australia. We each had our faces painted and then went in for many demonstrations and activities. It was very interesting to see their story of creation acted out and making the boomerangs and bracelets was a great way to dig into the culture even more. I also enjoyed the lunch and finally had the chance to try kangaroo! It’s not something I would normally order if I had the chance, but I can’t wait to tell people back home that I tried it. After lunch we learned about all of the different weapons they use and it was amazing to me that some of the punishments are still used to this day in certain tribes. We then attempted to launch spears and boomerangs. I think we all need some more practice, but we all did great for our first tries. After that we went on a tour of the different uses of popular plants and then to taste jams. It was a great day and extremely informative!
Cairns has the Australian “vibe” that I expected when coming to Australia. I am glad that we were able to experience a different side of Australia that is much different than the city of Melbourne."
"Early Monday morning we left Melbourne to head for the warmth and sunlight and a few days of play in Cairns. Upon our arrival in Cairns I immediately noticed the heat, seeing as I was dressed in leggings and a long sleeve.
We departed the airport on a shuttle bus that took us to our apartments - which might I add were right along the beach and boardwalk. We had a spectacular view of the ocean...
We went to get our daily serving of Gelato where I had the best combination of Ferrero Rocher and Kinder. If I was ever going to move to Australia I would come to Cairns solely for this....
We went to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Center, which was the main reason we came to Cairns. Our tour guide was very informational seeing as he is part of Tjapukai tribe. He showed us the Creation Story and how they were at one point one of the biggest tribes in Australia and they are the oldest. We were also able to learn how to throw spears and boomerangs. We also painted our own boomerangs and made bracelets out of straw/grass and got our face painted.
One thing that I found really interesting was how the aboriginals get married. They would have to marry their opposite; so wetland people can’t marry wetland people because it would be like marrying a cousin so they would marry a dryland person. Overall the Tjapukai village was a highlight of the whole trip. I really enjoyed learning about them and their beliefs; and if anyone was to ask me where to go in Cairns this would be my #1 recommendation.
Overall Cairns was an exceptional place to be in. It was nice to get to see the warm weather and see this side of the Australian Coast. Next we’re off to Sydney for the last leg of our Australian Adventure..."
"The trip out of Melbourne and into Cairns was like traveling to yet another country. Upon arriving there I immediately noticed that there were very little similarities between these places.
First of all Cairns was at least 35 degrees warmer, had more of a laid back atmosphere, and was a lot more colorful in scenery. Personally I love the beach and I knew right away that this would possibly be my favorite vacation spot that I have ever experienced.
The first big event that we did in Cairns was the Great Barrier Reef tour. The boat was huge, but still shook with every wave. This took a while to get used to, as the first half of the trip I lounged on a couch. When we got to the snorkeling area it was a relief because I could get into the water and get to finally see the Great Barrier Reef. When I got in I was amazed at the sight. The most colorful fish swam just feet below me, and I was so close to a sea turtle I could reach out and touch it. And the coral was amazing, but I did notice that it was not as colorful as all of the pictures that I have seen on TV about it. This was kind of a wake up call to me because I never really believed that the reef was dying, but now I see first hand the effect of climate change on the ocean. Out of everything out of this entire trip I think that this may have been the thing that sticks with me the longest.
We went to see the Tjapukai aboriginal tribe. I was surprised at the technology that their center had right off the bat. We got a story of their history on at least 10 projectors bringing paintings to life all around us. Learning about their tough history opened my eyes to the hardships of not only them, but tribes all over Australia. This reminded me a lot of the situations that America’s Native Americans went through. We got to see many things like their weapons, food, and paintings. They have such a unique style that uses dots. We also got to paint our own boomerangs, throw boomerangs, and throw spears which was a great experience. Overall, the experience was amazing and something that I was grateful to learn about from their friendly tour guides and tribe members.
Cairns is a place that I would love to hopefully come back to one day with my family. Experiencing Cairns culture is something everyone should do at least once in their life."
"As we arrived at the airport in Cairns, it was immediately obvious that the atmosphere here would be significantly more relaxed than what we experienced in Melbourne.
I elected to pass on the Great Barrier Reef tour on our first full day in Cairns since I wanted to have at least one free day to truly explore the area. On this day I walked around and saw most of the Cairns CBD which has a very tourist-centric feel and layout. I also visited the local casino and aquarium. The casino was rather small; however, the aquarium was actually extremely interesting and informative while displaying only wildlife native to Australia.
My next day in Cairns consisted of my participation in the Kuranda Train/ Wildlife tour. I found this tour to be far more entertaining and useful than our Phillip Island tour in Melbourne. The views from the train and sky rail were truly stunning and spectacular.
It was fascinating to think about how all of these infrastructures were constructed in such a steep rainforest environment. The massive water falls, and rock formations were very cool to view as well. The other portion of the tour was the Hartley’s Crocodile Farm. This attraction had a wide variety of Australian wildlife, but the main attraction was certainly the crocodiles. We had ample opportunities to see the shear size and power of these interesting creatures."