Fifteen degrees south of the equator in a land described as desolate and dangerous lays a beautiful tropic. Our first day of Australia brought us to Cairns, a small city in north Queensland nestled into the side of a rainforest. If I had to describe Cairns, desolate is the last word I would use. Massive mountains with luscious green trees surround the city. There isn’t an inch of Cairns that doesn't have green in it.
Our first night was a great introduction into what Cairns is. To start off our night we had a reception which included good food and drinks. After the reception a large group of us decided to venture into town and get a feel for the small city. Most of us found ourselves in the night market to grab some food. I enjoyed some fresh sushi which seemed to be 100 times better than any fish I've had back in the states. After a little more walking around, including some grocery shopping, most of us headed back to the apartments to crash for the night only making it to 9pm at the latest. The next day we had a scheduled visit with the Tjapukai; one of the 500 aboriginal tribes in Australia and the local tribe of Cairns. We spent a good portion of the day learning about their culture and history. Beginning with their creation stories to learning about medicines, hunting, and what they do this was overall a great experience. At the end of the day they taught us how to throw traditional boomerangs and spears. The most interesting thing about the Tjapukai was their willingness and crave to share their knowledge with everyone who was willing to listen. Throughout our time in Cairns, all the aboriginals we met, including those from different tribes, all wanted to share their culture and history to educate those who would listen.
Just two hours off the coast of Cairns led us to one of the most beautiful places I have seen. On our last day in Cairns we took a ship out to the great barrier reef. We visited two magnificent reefs full of fish and vibrant colors. The crew aboard made the whole trip feel lively and fun. After a solid buffet stay lunch we traveled two the second reef which was the bigger of the two we saw by far. There was large amounts of colorful coral and bounty of fish. We spent the second half of the day at this reef swimming in schools of fish and exploring the reef. We were also blessed to see and swim by both a large sea turtle and a smaller shark. Overall, it was an experience that will not be forgotten.