My time in Cairns is over, and I’m now in Brisbane. Cairns was a pretty touristy city but luckily my hotel was far enough out to let me experience more of the traditional Queensland than most people do. At least I saw the Great Barrier Reef though which is the highlight of any visit to Queensland and no trip to Cairns can be complete without a visit out to dive or snorkel it.
The day after my long tour through the rainforest I was picked up in the morning by Quicksilver for the short ride north along the coast to Port Douglas. After arriving we went through the security procedures for the Quicksilver vessel (we had to look into a camera and say our name) and then we could go on board.
Our destination was a permanent Quicksilver pontoon about 40 miles off the coast although the sailing time was only about an hour as the vessel was a high-speed catamaran. I thought a permanent, fully serviced pontoon was the easy option for my first time in the area but next time I’ll probably use a smaller operator who goes different places each time as the sheer number of people that Quicksilver caters for is damaging the reef – mainly through sun lotion and other creams.
After arriving at the pontoon I waited for lunch to be served and then had about 2 hours of snorkeling time which was more than enough as I was travelling on my own. I took a couple of disposable cameras and used up all of the photos on them – I’ll see if I can scan them and upload them later. There were plenty of fish of all different kinds – small and large. My mission for the day was to find a clownfish so I could say I’ve seen Nemo in his natural habitat. I had almost given up when I saw one on the way back to the pontoon right at the end of my time on the reef. He was only tiny but I managed to get a photo.
I got back onto the pontoon and got dressed before checking out the official photos that had been taken throughout the day. I knew a couple of me had been so bought them – expensive for what they were but they were a good souvenir. They were ready for us when we arrived back in Port Douglas and came out quite well.
On the way back I sat next to this family from Tasmania. I got talking to them after we went over a big wave just after the Grandmother said the ride was nice and smooth. We ended up talking most of the way back and they were a really nice family. The mother squashed past me once and we went over a wave – she fell onto my lap and said “ooo… you’re cofortable. Thanks”. The daughter was polite too and said sorry every time she had to come past me. Nice people – glad to have met them.
We then made our way back to Cairns where I relaxed at the hotel for the evening.
Yesterday was my last full day in Cairns so I decided to make the most of it and see all of the things I wanted to see but hadn’t had a chance to so far. Firstly I bought breakfast at the hotel then wandered up the road to the Centenary Lakes. A small attraction but they were inside the front cover of my guide book and looked nice so wanted to see them. I highly recommend walking through the lakes area if you find yourself in this part of Cairns – there is a lovely rainforest boardwalk that you can wander along and loads of great photo spots. If it’s summer you can also relax with a barbecue or maybe take one of the walks up the hillside overlooking the city. I spent some time exploring the area and taking photos before walking back to the hotel to get the bus into the city again. I had lunch on the seafront in the city (pizza again), did last minute shopping in the touristy bit of the city and finally explored around the marina area before getting the bus back to the hotel to relax for the evening.
This morning I got up early and took some photos around the hotel before my bag was collected and taken to the reception ready for the complimentary minibus back to the airport. I only had one bag and it wasn’t heavy but I needed to make sure I was up for my flight so used it as more of a wake-up service than a bag-collection service. I was taken to the airport quite early as they wanted to combine me with somebody else that was leaving at a similar time. I checked in when I arrived but had to wait quite a while in the departure lounge before my flight. It’s a small airport but I picked up a few last minute souvenirs.
Brisbane is still in Queensland but the state is huge and the flight was 2 hours which is almost as long as from London to Rome! The transfer from Brisbane airport to my hotel (The Mercure) was smooth and there was somebody waiting for me at the airport. I arrived at the hotel mid-afternoon and went out to explore the city, had dinner and took plenty of photos. While walking along the riverbank I received a phone call from somebody at my University who was trying to get me to work for them for a few months. I accepted, but declined the offer of doing a doctorate with them – don’t think it would be for me. It’s strange the things that happen when you travel.
Tomorrow I’m off to Australia Zoo which was made famous by Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin before his death. It looks like a nice place so can’t wait and it’s one of the things that made me decide to visit Brisbane and Australia as a whole!