I’m in Australia! Today I went on a really long tour that look almost 8 hours and we saw everything in the area around Cairns, but that’s not all I’ve been doing.
After my last post I decided I had to get new shoes on my last day in Singapore as after disintegrating my old ones were hurting my feet too much. First I sat down for breakfast which was only a simple buffet but consisted of things I wouldn’t have thought about for breakfast normally – chicken sausages, rice etc. It was nice to just relax in the morning sun with a filling breakfast and orange juice before walking a few minutes down to the shopping centre. It was a fairly small shopping centre but had a few outdoors shops with good walking shoes in. I figured at least these would survive the heat!
The rest of that day was mainly spent relaxing, walking around the area near the hotel and watching a bit of TV. I had been watching all of the Jurassic Park films which had been on TV every night since arriving but decided to sample some Asian programming before heading off to Australia. One thing I watched was this weird family swap show with a difference – they swapped kids from different backgrounds (Malaysian and Indonesian in this case) to let them experience new things and even though it’s not my sort of show I really enjoyed it.
Later in the day I checked out of the hotel and transferred to Changi Airport for my late evening flight to Cairns via Darwin. The flight itself was smooth. They served an Asian Curry with rice for dinner and was good considering it was airline food! We stopped at Darwin in the early hours of the morning to refuel the plane and let a few passengers off although most of us were continuing to Cairns so were kept in a transit lounge with a cafe while all this took place. I relaxed with a mocha before re-boarding the plane.
Sunrise over the Australian Outback was amazing. Such lovely scenery it’s hard to describe so I’ll just show you with one of the photos I took. I had my iPod on random and it played Avril Lavigne – “Nobody’s Home” at about this point which, while random, added to the atmosphere.
Our flight arrived at 7am into Cairns and after clearing customs I made my way out to the pickup point to wait for my minibus to my hotel – The Cairns Colonial Club. It never turned up though so I made my way there by taxi. Even though it wasn’t even 9am when I arrived they let me check in to my room as they weren’t busy. The service at these hotels has been great so far! After checking in I took the hotel bus into the city to get lunch, explore and take some photos. Lunch was at an Italian restaurant near the beach and after letting my meal sink down I walked along the Cairns Promenade up towards the airport, as recommended by my guide book, before cutting in past the Centenary Lakes towards my hotel. Unfortunately half of the roads weren’t signposted and by the time I found the hotel the heavens had opened and I got soaked, much to the amusement of a group of Aussie teenagers who drove past me. I spent the rest of the evening relaxing in preparation for the long day I knew was ahead of me today.
The next morning I was picked up from the hotel at around 745 by a minibus driver for my tour around the area. After managing to throw loads of money at him while looking for a dollar for the fuel surcharge I got on the minibus and we set off into the rainforest. On the way I got talking to the others and I think everybody else on the minibus was Australian – mainly older people but there was one woman that was there with her daughter who I talked to quite a lot throughout the day.
We saw a LOT of things throughout the day today. We started off by visiting Heale’s Lookout for some good photo opportunities where we were posed the question by our driver “what is the difference between a lookout and an outlook?” (the answer by the way is a lookout is more of a peninsula than an outlook, which is just an area with good views). After the lookout we made our way to Lake Barrine for tea and scones, a nature walk and then a cruise around the crater lake. We were told lots about the area while on the boat and took some good photos including one of a huge snake that was sunbathing on a branch. My first piece of Aussie wildlife!
Next stop was the Giant Curtain Fig Tree which is a fig tree that was living off of a huge tree that has created an impressive canopy effect. Weird, but a good sight, and it’s one of the most visited tourist locations in the area. Then we made our way to Millaa Millaa Falls which are beautiful and provided great photo opportunities. The falls weren’t as spectacular as they could have been but there haven’t been any heavy rains other for a while so the river wasn’t flowing as fast. Next to Mungali Falls for lunch at this really nice cafe they had there. The food was basic but good quality and I really enjoyed the apple crumble they made – especially how they mix fresh coconut into the crumble topping. I’ll have to try that when I get home. A Kangaroo hopped near our minibus as we were arriving but it was too quick for me to take a photo.
The falls made me and the woman with her daughter think about Salmon and then about that “You are not a Salmon!” advert. Unfortunately we couldn’t remember what it was so spent quite a while thinking about it… in hysterics most of the time. (Kitkat by the way). After lunch we went to Paronella Park which is a really nice Spanish Castle in the rainforest. There was time for a short tour and free time to explore before our last stop of the day at Babinda Boulders – an area of natural beauty and Aboriginal Myth. Most people were tired so didn’t want to walk it – only me, the woman and her daughter did and I’m glad we did as the experience was really special.
The tour then finished back at our hotels in Cairns early this evening , but not before we managed to make the tour guide laugh. He asked if there were any questions and nobody had any so the woman asked him “So, why aren’t we Salmon?” which made everybody burst out laughing. This guide has been the best tour guide I’ve ever had and he was born in London too. I was one of the last drop-offs so had a chance to say goodbye to everybody. They were all really nice people and I was glad to have met them.