We arrived in Cairns late on Friday night and after the quickest bag collection and airport transfer ever we arrived at our backpackers called Dreamtime Traveller’s Rest. It is a great hostel in the centre of Cairns with an amazing atmosphere. It had a big area in the centre of all the rooms and kitchens where people could all chill out and they had even converted an old VW Camper into a lounge area. The staff were great too.
Cairns was warm too which was a massive bonus for us, we stepped off the plane to the classic heat you would expect on holiday. A nice change from the cold of Alice Springs.
Now as you may know the main reason we were in Cairns was for the Great Barrier Reef, so early on Saturday we headed to reception and booked a trip to the reef for the following day. We were very lucky as we got an amazing deal for a full day boat trip to the outer reef with $100 discount.
For the rest of the day we decided to explore Cairns, which was alot smaller and different than I expected. Its a lovely little town right on the sea with a lovely promenade walk all down the sea front. Something that surprised me was that the reef was very far off the coast, and the sea immediately off the coast you cant actually swim in as it is full of crocodiles and groper fish. Due to this they have created an innovative little lagoon for the locals to use on the sea front with an artificial beach which I thought was great.
The first thing we did was head to Rusty’s Market as we had heard good things and they sold every fruit and vegetable you could imagine I saw some of the biggest veg I have ever seen (keep it clean). I really wanted Chris to try a custard apple, as I had tried one in India so we bought one for him to try. As we walked into town Chris spotted a pancake house, we were both starving so we stopped off to refuel – I had Caramello pancakes and Chris has his with eggs and bacon (food features very heavily in this blog).
We wandered through the sea front markets and as we walked further along the promenade we spotted a group of Pelicans which was really cool to see. So we had been given alot of vouchers for food off our backpackers so we thought it would be rude not to use them, so after a look in the art gallery we went for lunch at the Wool Shed. We had a voucher for this place, its in Lonely Planet and Chris’ friend told us to go so I had high hopes, I had been recommended the salads by the lady on reception so thought I would give one a try. I have never been defeated by a salad before but it was amazing- Thai chicken (beansprouts, cashews, crispy noodles- the full works) my mum would have loved it. We went back to the hostel to re-pack our bags and get ready for the following day and ended up having a nap, we had a quick drink at the hostel happy hour and then went out for dinner (considerable time had past just for the record).
We got another great deal at an Irish bar called PJ O’Briens which gave us a meal and a drink for $9 (£4.50). We went for another drink at a bar called the Salt House right be the sea and I had such a good raspberry Mojito!
The next day (today) was our Great Barrier Reef tour! We set off on the boat at around 8.30am and we were given tea, coffee and scones we felt right at home. We were given wetsuits etc. I was given a small so I was well chuffed! We were snorkeling at two different parts of the reef, it took 1.30hours to get there and at the first we did about an hours snorkeling, back on board for a buffet lunch and to another part of the reef. We were sat with two English lads on the boat who were hilarious like half of the Inbetweeners.
It was so beautiful!!! The colours were unreal and there were so many amazing fish swimming around. The coral was out of this world unlike anything I have seen before. I found it so peaceful as the waves were quite rough with your head above but as soon and you put your face in to snorkel it felt so calm. I am not the best in the sea but I am a fairly confident swimmer but by the end I was enjoying it much more diving down to see fish. We saw so many different fish, starfish, sea cucumbers and lots and lots of gorgeous coral. I cant describe to you how great it really was, at one point we swam through what I can only describe as a coral valley stretching up at either side. We took an underwater camera so I will let the photos do the talking although they really don’t express the colours like they were. I really thought 3 hours snorkeling would be too much but it really wasn’t as there was always something new or interesting to see. We unfortunately didn’t see any sharks or turtles but we have lots of snorkeling to do in Indonesia which I know has lots!
I am typing this (I still feel like I am bobbing) as we wait for our bus to the airport for our flight to Bali – onto the next country! Australia has been alot more than I thought it would be and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.