I ended my east coast of Australia trip in Cairns, like most people. Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef so for this reason, the city is very popular to see this wonder of the world. My accommodation here was Gilligan’s which is notorious for young people/ students/ travellers to stay at. The accommodation is very cheap and also the hostel has a lively night scene with different activities on each night, this is why it proves very successful with people who lack money.
I visited Cairns at the end of January to early February which was very risky as this is their rainy season. Luckily the weather for me held up and I saw minimal rain and a lot of sun. The temperatures stayed ranging around 35 degrees. I know people who visited Cairns 1 week before me and weren’t as lucky, all they saw was constant rain and they felt like they didn’t enjoy their stay. The problem with Cairns is that there is not a whole lot to do in the city itself. The main things to do are day trips, mostly about 1 hour away, the people I knew staying when it was raining felt as though going on a day trip would be a waste of money as they wouldn’t enjoy it in the rain.
One of my day trips was the Great Barrier Reef which I was lucky enough to have as a birthday present. My trip was booked through Silverswift and I recommend them highly. My day trip started at 8am and finished around 5pm, this meant I had a full day out at the reefs. Other companies I considered booking through often left around 10am and came back at 4pm for similar amounts of money. I just felt that I you were going to be spending 200 odd dollars on visiting the Great Barrier Reef (a once in a life time opportunity) you might as well make the most of it. With my trip we visited 3 different locations on the reef. At two of these locations I scuba dived and the other location I snorkelled. I had never scuba dived before and had a great instructor who talked me through what I needed to do and calmed me down when I started panicking. It is natural to panic as breathing underwater is a very unusual sensation. Each dive lasted about 30 minutes and then after this I was able to continue at this destination snorkelling. The trip as a whole was worth the money. The downside to the Great Barrier Reef was that it’s not nearly as beautiful as everyone makes out. When visiting you can really see the implications we as humans have had on the corals. The corals lack a lot of colour and the sea is not crystal blue like it should be. Often you saw tourists that were being stupid go too near the corals and climb them accidentally breaking them. For this reason the Great Barrier Reef is dying (not to mention global warming). I know visiting the reef went against some of my moral values however it is an experience I felt like I had to do.
Another trip I went on was the Skyrail trip to Kuranda and the scenic railway back down. I found this trip while searching on the internet ‘things to do in Cairns’, not many people I met had heard of it so wasn’t as popular as it could have been. Again this trip was a birthday present which I am very grateful for. I saw beautiful views of the rainforest, met Koalas and visited butterfly sanctuaries.
The final trip I went on was to Cape Tribulation. I booked this tour quite spontaneously without really knowing what it was (I still don’t really know) but none the less it was a great day trip. The day started off with me visiting Mossman Gorge then travelling down the Daintree River to go Crocodile spotting. I saw about 5 crocodiles. We learnt that due to the warm weather all the crocs were mainly in the water. We learnt that if wandering by yourself they can hear you coming from miles away. The guide told us a fact that if you were to attempt to swim from one side of the river to the other you would come across a crocodile, he told us this just for us to visualise how many crocodiles were lurking underneath the waters that we were unable to see. To end the day we were led on a guided rainforest looking for Cassowarys. Cassowarys are gigantic birds (bigger than ostriches) that are multi coloured and can easily attack to kill you. Unfortunately, although you could say luckily, we didn’t see any wild cassowary on our walk. We were all left disappointed and got back into the coach to head back to Cairns, while driving along we came to a halt to realise there was a giant male cassowary in the middle of the road with its baby. As we were in the coach we were able to get close to the bird and have the safety of the bus to protect us from its attacks. It was amazing to see, especially with its baby. I ended this day trip in the ice-cream shop buying myself a chocolate and banana flavoured ice-cream, which in my opinion is an underrated flavour and more places need to stock this.
Next stop Sydney…