Finding Our Feet
Day 72 Downtown
Our accommodation for the five nights in Cairns is a first floor 2 bed apartment on Digger Street. This street is just 2 back from the esplanade, in a quiet area, that is except for the planes which have a flight path directly above us! Luckily there are no night flights and we won’t be in much during the day.
After being woken by a cacophony of sounds; birds and other creatures we have coffee and make our way to the centre of Cairns via the esplanade, passing joggers and those exercising on the gym equipment provided in the shoreline parks. Cairns hospital is front line, when you’re ill at least you’ll have a great view.
Muddles playground looks huge fun for small children. It’s directly on the front and is an adventure wonderland of play equipment and water. Our attention however is drawn to the sign which advises that there should be no swimming or even playing on the beach due to the saltwater crocodiles!! That’s the reason for the children’s play area on land. We wonder if there is anything like this for big people.
A little further we see two fishermen with nets out in the water. They are catching what look like sea bream along with more tropical fish, which they throw back. They must be brave as they could be attacked by a croc at any time, apparently.
They are a wide variety of birds along the shore; waders, curlews, ergots and pelicans to name a few. The pelicans are the biggest we’ve ever seen, about 3 ft tall. They are all in one area which we assume is where the fish are; the fishermen are here too which may also be a clue.
At last we come to a man-made lagoon where both adults and children can swim. There is sand, fountains and piers and life guards. This is surrounded by parkland with trees under which to shade, toilets, changing rooms and showers. Thank goodness we won’t need to risk life or limb to have a swim in Cairns.
The rental car office is easy to find and we pick up our vehicle for the next 45 days. Not as luxurious as our upgrade in the US, but comfortable and with a boot large enough for all the luggage. The good thing is that it is right hand drive and we’re back driving on the correct side of the road even if it is not the right side.
Once Mark has got used to driving the new car we park up in town and go for breakfast, well brunch really. There are a multitude of shops, cafes, restaurants and tourist offices. One of these answers our questions on what is available for Great Barrier Reef and gives us a number of options to go away and consider.
On the way back to the car Marcus stops short in the middle of the road. ‘What are you doing? You’ll get knocked down’ I say. He points into the large Banyan Tree and there are literally hundreds of fruit bats hanging with their babies clung to their chests. They are about 1ft long and when one flies, we are able to see it’s wing span is about 2ft. We then realise that this isn’t an isolated colony, there are bats in all the trees.
Food shopping done, beach towels bought and lots of trip leaflets in our hands we go home and plan the next 3 weeks itinerary. Mark makes dinner while I book airbnb’s (he thinks I have the easier job, I think he has).
When finished eating we take about 25 minutes to walk to the cruise liner terminal on Cairn’s wharf. Mark saw an advertisement for a beer festival being held at Hemingway’s brewery tonight. The bar is in a heritage listed building with views across Trinity Inlet. It boasts a 19-metre-long bar that offers Hemingway's brewed beers, guest beers, and ciders as well. The atmosphere is welcoming and the bar is full. We sit inside at a high table where we are able to see the brewery.
We enjoy beer, cider and wine whilst people watching and then make our way back along the sea front.
Day 73 Plants and Water
Those pesky birds wake Mark and I again, the perils of living in a jungle. There are trees everywhere in Cairns and therefore the birds and other animal life to go with them. We decide on the barrier reef trip we are going to take and after breakfast head into town to book it.
The drive out to the botanical gardens is north and we come across a small suburb with lovely shops and eateries. The Botanical gardens are free to the public and are like a tropicl paradise. Parking at the side of the road we walk towards the saltwater creek and the saltwater lake. Here there are many mangroves and it is said we could maybe see a croc. We don’t, but we do see turkeys and orange footed scrubfowl, lizards and lots of butterflies.
There is a grove of bamboo which is extremely tall at least 30ft. and it dwarfs all three of us. Walking on we reach the Chinese garden which has a gate, a pagoda and a water lily lake as well as other plants with red flowers (as a tribute to China). This is a really peaceful area and the water lilies are really unusual.
We follow the rainforest boardwalk which is dense with trees, plants and vines to the Flecker Botanic garden. These gardens are more formal and include the Gondwana Heritage Garden which is devoted to aboriginal plant use.
Popping back to the apartment we grab some lunch and our swimwear. We are going to the lagoon for a swim and to relax for a few hours. The pool is free to use and packed. It is Sunday and there are lots of families enjoying the good weather. We go to get changed. Oh no! I have mix and match bikinis and I have brought two tops and no bottoms. I decide to just sit on the beach in the sun and let Mark and Marcus enjoy the pool.
I spend a couple of hours people watching and having a paddle when I get hot. Mark and Marcus enjoy the cool water, it is 33F. As the sun goes down and the shadows lengthen the BBQ’s are lit and the smell of cooking food is very good.
Once back home we eat and agree that the day has been very enjoyable. Cairns has a really chilled and relaxed vibe which we are beginning to catch.