"Stepping off the plane when we arrived in Cairns was like stepping into a completely different Australia. Not only were there these things called “mountains” that Melbourne seemed to lack but the climate felt, to me at least, like South America. Then when we arrived in the city there was a definite change in atmosphere. Where everything and everyone in Melbourne felt busy and bustling; Cairns felt absolutely laid back and relaxed. I guess that should be expected when switching from a big business city to a tourist haven, it was still a bit of a shock though. It was a nice change though, a sort of change of pace which was much needed after our busy time in Melbourne. Overall Cairns was smaller than I thought it would be, but it was warm, easy going, and familiar in a sort of ‘family vacation to Florida’ type way."
"After chilly temperatures in Melbourne, it was so nice to step off the plane in Cairns to warm weather! Cairns is BEAUTIFUL. It has everything from mountains to oceans and beaches to even a target! Cairns is a very popular tourist destination as well as a place Australians go on “holiday” (their term for “vacation”) in the winter.
My overall impression of Australia is still that the people are so friendly. You can pretty much start a conversation with anyone, and there is so much to learn. I am still getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road, and it is bizarre to me that the small coins are worth more than the bigger ones!
Although aspects of Australian life are similar to America, I definitely have noticed some differences, especially in Melbourne. I am excited to see what Sydney is like! Melbourne and Cairns are two totally different cities. Melbourne is a bustling city and very fast paced. I noticed that everyone looks very business professional and are always on a mission. In Cairns, it is more laid back and we Americans seemed to fit in more. We went from modern skyscrapers in Melbourne to tropical nature in Cairns. Cairns has more wildlife and looks more like how I pictured Australia to be like!"
"Thursday was our last day in Cairns. We spent the day at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park. It was a great experience to learn and experience their culture first hand. Up until just the past few centuries, the Aboriginal people had not been given the same rights as normal Australians. They have been mistreated, oppressed, and even had their children taken from them. Despite such cruelty, the Aboriginal people survived and now choose to have cultural centers, such as the one we visited, where they show and teach about their way of life. On this tour we experienced: bracelet braiding with beads, live music and cultural dances, painting boomerangs, learning to throw spears and boomerangs (which is much harder than it looks!), tasting some cultural foods and jams, and learned about plants and berries they utilize as medicines.
My time in Cairns has been very educational and adventurous. I can’t wait to see what Sydney holds!"
"Day 8 consisted of the Karanda Scenic train ride and gondola through the rainforest, shopping in different towns and the Wildlife Park. After the first stop in one of the towns we were able to hold a Koala which was amazing and worth every penny. The views throughout the day were amazing especially from the gondola. At the Wildlife Park, we got to feed a Cassowary (most dangerous bird in the world), hold a baby crocodile, and view native Australian animals. We also got to go on a crocodile lagoon tour where we watched the crew feed them. It was super scary, and I was worried that they were going to get onto the boat. We also ate crocodile for lunch which was surprising good. This tour was my favorite day in Cairns."