Monday, May 13, 2013

What to do if you’ve got 5 Days in Cairns.

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I’m baaaaaaaaack! After 5 glorious days in tropical north Queensland, I’m back and settled into reality and whilst I know some of you may have seen or heard what I’ve been up to if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram it’s time for a little summary…ready?

Here we go.
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Alleyway to Caffiend in Cairns
Thursday/Day 1: We flew up to Cairns on a super early Virgin Australia flight and after making our way to our hostel we booked our activities for the next few days before heading to Caffeind for a delicious bite to eat. After refuelling in this funky café it was time to get high – high in the sky that is. We got a coach to the Kuranda Skyrail and caught the gondola straight up taking in the magnificent views of the rainforest.

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View from the Skyrail
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When we reached the top we explored Kuranda and I introduced our English visitors to that old Aussie favourite 'The Golden Gaytime', before catching the skyrail back to earth. This was a great activity to do in the half day we had available – especially as we were all tired from the flight and were looking for an option that didn’t require a stupendous amount of energy! The views of the rainforest are stunning and it’s quite a relaxing journey.

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Our first night out in Cairns we stuck close to home. Our hostel – Gilligan’s – had both a bar and club downstairs but with my friends diving on the reef the next day it was a relatively reserved night.

Friday/Day 2: While my three companions opted to do a scuba dive on the reef I not to. Yes it is a little crazy but I have been snorkelling on the reef a few times and aside from the cost (diving is expensive!)  and exhaustion holding me back I get bad seas sickness and didn’t feel comfortable going without any diving knowledge or experience behind me so I chose to dedicate the day to improving my mindset.

Yes I was super jealous when they came home with tales of scuba diving with a shark but I honestly really needed some time to myself. It was lovely to sleep in a bit, take my time getting ready then go to the Paleo Café for a healthy breakfast…I then wandered around cairns, basked in the sunshine, dipped my toes in the lagoon and ate fish and chips by the water followed quickly by a massage. Whilst certainly not as exciting as their day the R&R was just what I needed to feel alive again

We went out for a lovely dinner before having a few cheap drinks and a bit of a boogie.
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Saturday/Day 3: Today was a big day. We were up early for a tour to Cape Tribulation, stopping along the way for a croc-cruise down the Daintree and a rainforest walk too. The beautiful Cape Trib – where the rainforest meets the reef – hosted us for lunch, and although my second visit there it was still utterly spectacular. Icecream at a local plantation, an educational presentation by local aborigines and a trip to Mossman Gorge all followed after lunch and by the time we got home we needed a short rest before we started preparing for a big night out.
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The Daintree River...full of crocs
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Cape Trib - where the rainforest meets the reef
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Cape Tribulation
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Mossman Gorge
Anyone who’s travelled to Cairns as a backpacker or young adult will have heard of the Woolshed, a seedy bar renowned for being a good (if not completely un-classy) night out and basically a ‘ must-do’ for travellers . Do I need to say it? We went there. The drinks were cheap, the music was loud and the dancing on tables was quite possibly had by all. After a few hours of dancefloor domination we decided to head home but somehow we managed to get sucked into the Gilligan’s once again…the lure of LMFAO was just too strong and crazy dancing (think hopping around like kangaroos) ensued….thankfully there is no photographic evidence of this part of the evening.

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Sunday/Day 4: Goodness gracious..we needed a bit of a lie in today – which was ok because our only planned activity was the Minjin Swing at AJ Hackett Bungee! We’d got a 2-4-1 deal through our hostel and as we bundled into the AJ Hackett shuttle, blasted some example and pumped ourselves up for flytime. We each got two swings so the girls went together first and then we were each strapped in with the boys. It was mental! The rush of adrenaline was intense and it was totally different to the feeling you get when bungee jumping and paragliding. I definitely felt safer due to being strapped into the swing so if you’re not quite up to doing a bungee the swing is a good starting point to extreme activities!

On Sunday night we treated ourselves to a lovely meal down by the marina at Dundees. Dundees specialise in Australian fair, seafood and pasta and everything we ate was superb – between the four of us we sampled the seafood tasting platter to share, seafood chowder, mushroom soup, and we shared two epic Croc rocks (volcanic rocks with fillets of barramundi, eye fillet, crocodile and kangaroo served with honey sweet potato), as well as a sticky date pudding, dessert taster plate and coconut-lime ‘Malibu’ parfait. Yup, we went all out. Then we wandered around the night markets (a whole lot of tackiness but there are loads of cheap souvenirs and cool friendship bracelets if you’re into that kind of thing on offer) trying to ‘digest’. We took in the awesome band that were playing outside at Gilligan’s before being submitted to a ‘wet t-shirt competition’ (a classy establishment it is not) and heading to bed…

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Monday/Day 5: With our flight leaving at 5 we unfortunately couldn’t partake in another day trip so we jumped on a half day tour to Green Island. This was by far the highlight of my trip. As I’d missed scuba diving I convinced/pestered the boy to come snorkelling with me and after donning our sexy stinger suits and swimming out we found ourselves making friends with a gorgeous, green turtle. I saw him munching on the sea grass and quickly alerted the boy – it was such a magical experience swimming alongside such a beautiful creature. I think we are so lucky to still have these animals in our oceans and we really must do our best to help them survive. I will say that the coral at green island was not spectacular but the turtle and the colourful parrot and rainbow fish we saw completely eclipsed my expectations and simply made my day.

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I now have a new goal of saving up and doing a proper scuba diving course so I feel ready to dive next time we go to the reef as I am certain there will be a next time….and I want to say hi to Mr sea turtle again.

When we got back to Cairns from Green Island, we had lunch at the Paleo Café so the others could experience it before heading to the airport to board our Qantas flight home.

Overall it was an amazing trip – action-packed and loads of fun but also really eye-opening to the amazing things 
Queensland has in our own backyard.

Now to start saving for the next one…

Some other details you might like to know:

Where we stayed: We stayed in a deluxe dorm room at Gilligan’s Backpacker hostel on Grafton St. Our room had an ensuite, balcony, mini-fridge and tea and coffee making facilities which was really all we needed. The rooms were really clean and were serviced daily but I will say that if you want a god night sleep do not stay at Gilligan’s. It has a huge bar and club downstairs which has great deals for those staying at the hostel but the downside is pumping music until the early 4am.

Getting around: We made the mistake of getting a shuttle from the airport into town then we discovered that the taxis are actually cheaper! To/from the airport to central Cairns you shouldn’t have to pay much more than $20. Our hostel was smack-bang in the centre of town so we walked everywhere. We were given a half-day free bike hire from our hostel for booking so many activities but didn’t have the time to use it although we were told that the ride along the esplanade to the botanical gardens is lovely.

Booking Activities: We booked all our day trips and activities the day we arrived though the travel agent at our hostel who was excellent (Thanks Tracey at Gilligans!). There are loads of options for different budgets and we had no problems with not being able to get what we wanted. That said it pays to check the weather (try for low wind levels if you're heading to the reef) and know what you want to do before you go. If you are going in peak season it may be worth booking a couple of things before you arrive.

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  1. Definitely hope to get to Cairns next year and see the sights. It looks beautiful!

  2. Great blog post and now I am itching to get to the beach and back in the snorkeling gear! Cairns is such a lovely place to visit.

    1. do it! I know it's not on your list but you have to go snorkelling with a turtle - they are seriously amazing :)

  3. It is soooo beautiful and relaxing! You would love it!!