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Cairns and North Queensland

Written on: Saturday July 4th, 2009

A journal entry from: In the spiced Indian air....

We flew north to Cairns to spend a week in the tropical north Queensland area.  Their 'winter' consists of sunny 25 - 30 degree weather, so we thought that was the place for us to be!  Not only that, but Cairns is one of the best locations from which to access the Great Barrier Reef.

 

We found ourselves in a gorgeous hotel just off the marina with beautiful views of the bay that looks different by the hour due to the ever-changing tides.  We started off some of our days with long (i.e. 5 hours!) walks down the boardwalk, one time ending up in a beautiful botanic garden with the most incredible orchids either of us had ever seen.  A few days were spent lounging by the pool and enjoying the sun, a few afternoons were spent browsing the shops and buying clothes, and a few nights were spent dining by the ocean and drinking wine and watching movies in our room.  Oh yeah, and there just happened to be a gigantic US Navy ship docked for shore-leave while we were here... 4000 sailors!  Yum! ;)

 

We took a full day to spend aboard a large boat that took us out to the Great Barrier Reef. It takes a full hour and a half travelling in one of the high-speed boats to get to what they call the Outer Reef to access the best diving spots. Mom and I both did 3 dives at three different sites.  The diversity and sheer amount of marine life was staggering!  Although we didn't see any sharks or turtles, we did see a huge squid, large trumpet fish and millions of other tropical coloured fish, some even travelling in schools in the hundreds!  The coral formations were absolutely grand, and one dive took us through a canyon 15 meters deep which at it's widest was about a meter across, and narrowest only a few centimeters.  We had to swim through right at the bottom so we could fit through. It was a true test to our buoyancy skills to not disturb or ruin the corals.

 

On our last day we rented a car and drove further north of Cairns.  First thing in the morning we went about 2 hours north to cruise down Daintree River where we saw wild crocodiles and many different species of birds.  The landscape was quite 'mountainous' with rainforest on one side of the river, and paddocks on the other.  Our lunch break there included a Croc Burger and Fresh Prawn and Avocado Salad.  If you're curious what crocodile tastes like, it's a white meat and tastes just like chicken.  I felt badly about eating a poor crocodile so I think next time I will just stick to chicken since they taste similar anyway.  Next stop was about 30 minutes back towards Cairns at Mossman Gorge which is a pretty river that winds through rainforest with a nice clear swimming hole.  We dipped our feet in the water and watched the kids play.  Further back towards Cairns we saw a sign for a Tropical Fruit Winery, so we stopped there for a tasting.  They had dessert wines, liquors and ports made of mango, grapefruit, lime, lychee and other tropical fruits I hadn't heard of and can't remember the names of now. We bought a bottle of Limecello which is a lime liquor to drink at the cabin...yum!  Our last stop was Port Douglas which is a really nice little beach and marina town that made us wish we had time to stay for a night or two.  There were far fewer junky tourist shops like there are in Cairns, and the general feel of the town was quite quaint and comfortable.  Not to say we didn't like Cairns (we loved it!), but Port Douglas was smaller and just a different feel.  We went to a lookout where there are amazing views of Four Mile Beach, stopped at a local marina restaurant to see them feed a 1.5 meter long Groper named George, did some more shopping (addicted!) and of course had a nice dinner to end off our little day trip.

 

We are now on our way to Sydney where we'll spend our final few days in cold and wet 16 degree weather.  Both of us were so sad to leave Cairns, everything about the tropical north is amazing.  We're hoping we really like Sydney, but we just can't see how it can possibly top Cairns!!!

 

From Ger/Dad on Jul 6th, 2009

Love your hotel view in Cairns! Have fun for your last few days and see you soon.