As we prepare to leave for Sydney, I am still wrapping my head around exactly what Cairns is. This city is Utopian as I have ever seen. Few, if any places in the world can offer a lively city in a mountainous tropical rainforest, wrapping around the ocean with the Great Barrier Reef nearby. It is hard to fathom. The Esplanade is the main strip around the coast, boasting beautiful hotels, shops, a marketplace, a public pool with fountains, a Marina with million-dollar yachts, a Casino, and more. We were lucky enough to spend our week in the Aquarius hotel on the Esplanade, experiencing everything Cairns had to offer.
My last two days in Melbourne were spent touring the Great Ocean Road, Melbourne Aquarium, and watching a footy game at the MCG.
As if those two experiences weren’t incredible enough (they were), we spent our first day in Cairns at the Great Barrier Reef. We were told the weather and sea sickness were issues on past tours, and my expectations were shaky. Things turned around when we arrived at the marina, and the Evolution yacht greeted us.
While the sky was not at its clearest, the cruise to the reef was still fantastic. The views of fog over the mountains early in the morning were great from the water.
The water had some swells, and many people got seasick, including two of our group. Luckily, they still managed to get out and enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving. I cannot overstate how beautiful the Reef is. The coral and wildlife are a living spectrum of color that greeted us like we belonged. The water was a warm 80F, and I could not believe how close the fish would let us get to them while snorkeling. I opted to try scuba diving for my first time here, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Learning to breathe underwater, stabilize my body pressure deep underwater, and viewing the reef made for an incredible experience I will not forget for a lifetime. There is no doubt why the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Back on the topic of Cairns, there was much more to explore. We walked the streets looking for anything to get into, and there was plenty. The nights were enjoyable, and there were no insects or pests thanks to our thousands of nocturnal friends.
The next day in town was spent once again on the water. Plans of parasailing and aerial views turned to Jet skiing and crocodile hunting due to high winds. Although I did not come too close to any crocodiles, flying through the inlets into the forest on a WaveRunner made for a great experience. As tourists, we ended the night finding a koala to hold- naturally. (Pictures coming soon)
Today was our last day in Cairns, and we made a trip to the Tjapukai cultural park. Here, we heard stories of ‘Dreamtime’. The stories of Dreamtime have been passed down countless generations and tell a representation of the time before creation. We then moved on to have our faces painted, in a similar fashion to Aboriginal people to show their Totem, or role in the tribe. The tour demonstrated the ingenuity of the Aboriginal people, who were isolated for such a long expanse of time, and how their society developed self sufficiency and order. For a group of society who has brought so much to Australia, it is a shame they were treated with indignity for so long. I am happy to see that their culture is being shared with the world with such decency and respect today.
In conclusion, I cannot believe that we were in Cairns for only three whole days. Time to discover Sydney!