Friday, 4 July 2008

Dodgy and quaint

Yup, if I can describe Cairns in two words. But don't get me wrong, I did have a good time. The following is a photo log of our 6 days trip in Cairns.

Day 1, 28 June 2008 Saturday

Our flight from Perth was delayed by about 1.5 hours... Qantas staff union strike, apparently the flight control tower in Cairns would only open after 5am. But it was to our advantage, as we would arrive in Cairns in a more reasonable time rather than 4.35am as earlier scheduled.

We arrived at Cairns airport at 7.10am, after 5 hours of flying. Greeted by a delightful warm weather of 17 to 27 degrees as compared to Perth's 5 to 15 degrees. When our shuttle bus dropped us off at our accommodation, Koala Beach Resort, our room wasn't ready yet. So we had to walk around the city for quite a bit.

Here's us looking very sleepy and needed some coffee...

Cairns city is an odd place. It has many nightspots, clubs, taverns, bars and pubs, which could be the reason why there are so many dodgy people. It seems like we were in a red light district in Thailand!

But I have many praises for how much effort the city council put into beautifying the place. The boardwalk at The Esplanade, places to sit and relax decorated in a fancy manner all across the city.

The place is also pretty tourist friendly. We have translations for Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean etc. from information centres to fine dining restaurants and even your local ice cream stall!

Also, most of the shops open till late at night, unlike Perth. We spent the first night visiting the night markets, which is on from 4.30pm to 11pm EVERY NIGHT!

And also having a look at the Reef Casino dome. Again, adding to Cairns' dogdiness, we were worried that we would not be let in as I did not have a buttoned up shirt... but there were people there dressed in shorts and thongs!

Day 2, 29 June 2008 Sunday

We arranged for a bus pick up to Port Douglas at 7am, and arrived at 8.10am. Port Douglas is an even smaller town with coconut trees and tropical sun. Kind of remind me of another PD... Port Dickson hehheh.

We had a look at the Sunday markets, which had some interesting display.

Then, we had a look at the marina before taking a hike up to Island Point lookout.

After that, we went to the Four Mile Beach. It was a bit of a disappointment though. The sand was a bit rough. The water was not very clear and the waves were just dull. Looks like there is no beach like our Cottesloe Beach.

We ended our trip with a $9.90 fish at Ironbar pub, which apparently has toad racing on some nights.

Day 3, 30 June 2008 Monday

We had a full day tour, visiting rainforest and waterfalls in the Southern Tablelands. The bus picked us up at 7.40am and we arrived just in time for morning tea and freshly baked scones at Lake Barrine just about 1.5 hours later. This was also where we had our 45 minute rainforest lake cruise.

The first water fall we visited was the Millaa Millaa Falls. Wasn't intending to jump in the water as it was pretty cold but a Canadian guy in our tour went in first, so I couldn't resist following suit. And it was REALLY COLD!

A short turn to the Curtain Fig tree after that, followed by cheese and yoghurt tasting at Mungalli Creek Dairy. We then had lunch by Mungalli Falls, the tableland's tallest falls.

This was where my camera fell into the water. Good thing I was able to take some pictures with my phone, but its battery was dying out too.

Our final stop was the magnificent Paronella Park, a castle built by an eccentric Spaniard in the 1930s.

We returned to Cairns at about 6.30pm and decided to have Korean for dinner for a change.

Day 4, 1 July 2008 Tuesday

It was a good thing my camera started functioning again, thanks to hours of blow drying! As today was the main reason of coming to Cairns after all... snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef!

We chose the cheapest cruise available, Compass Cruise for $60 a day trip. But we were pretty lucky as I think we got upgraded due to small numbers. The ship was elegant with cute decorations. We had bacon and egg rolls for breakfast. The ship left the docks at about 8am.

We were each given a snorkeling mask, flippers and a wetsuit, which was really useful as the water was really cold and it helped us float, so we won't be too tired snorkeling for hours in the open sea.

We stopped at two different outer reef locations. One before lunch, one after. I found the snorkeling mask a bit uncomfortable, water kept coming in through my nose. And with my poor eyesight, I could barely see any fish. I opted for my own prescription goggles after a while. I had to swap my flippers too as the first pair were hurting my feet.

We spent about an hour at the first spot. Lunch on board was mainly salad with BBQ chicken and ham for the bread rolls. Then we cruised to Hastings Reef, where we spent about 2 hours here.

The marine life and coral reef at this second spot was much better. Too bad I didn't have an underwater camera with me. Darling was pretty excited. We didn't snorkel for the whole 2 hours... I had to take a break as I was freezing.

We returned to Marlin Jetty at about 4.45pm.

That night, we actually watched Kung Fu Panda at Cairns Central. It was Cheap Tuesday, tickets were $8.50 each. I didn't find the movie very funny. It was entertaining nonetheless. The kung fu moves were pretty cool. Jack Black was a bit annoying though.

Day 5, 2 July 2008 Wednesday

Our bus transfer brought us to Caravonica Skyrail Terminal at about 8.15am to catch the cable to Kuranda Village.

There were two stops before arriving at the village. Both had rainforest boardwalks and lookout points to the Barron Gorge. The whole cable journey took just over an hour.

Arriving at the village, we find ourselves visiting markets again, selling some pretty interesting stuff.

We visited the Venom Zoo, which claims to be the only anti-venom producer in Australia. The display of spiders, snakes, lizards and toads were pretty cool. Then we talked to an eccentric old bat lady at BatReach. It was pretty amazing how she spoke to the dozens of bats and how they listened to her like obedient puppies.

Lunch was at German Tucker, where I had crocodile bratwurst. We spent the rest of the evening taking pictures of the odd looking pathways and shops.

We managed to do one of the walking trails by Lake Placid before catching the Kuranda Scenic Railway back to Cairns, which took just under 2 hours.

That night, we treated ourselves to Tjapukai aboriginal nightshow. We were greeted by flaming torches and big men dressed in loin clothes.

We each were given a choice of wine, beer or juice for our welcome drink. Then the evening started with some traditional face painting, followed by a fire making ritual.

This was followed by a scrumptious buffet dinner with excellent dessert. The night ended with a stage performance as we enjoyed our meal.

Day 6, 3 July 2008 Thursday

Our final day in Cairns... we checked out of our room at 8.15am in the morning. The reception was kind enough to let us keep our luggage in their storage room. We then caught a public bus to the Flecker Botanic Gardens.

We spent just over an hour there before returning to the city centre for lunch. Buy one get one free pizza at The Coffee Club, courtesy of the vouchers at our resort reception... hehheh.

Our shuttle bus picked us up at 12.15pm to Cairns airport. That's where we bid farewell to our holiday... and back to the cold weather in Perth and reality. For more pictures, please click here.


Tropicalone said...

Disappointed to hear you comment about our town being "dodgy"

Most nights it is visiting party animals in inner city nightspots, clubs, taverns, bars and pubs, which could be the reason why you think there are so many dodgy people.

As for not being able to check in at 7:30 am, where can you? If you were staying 5 star maybe. Most 3 star and below don't let you check in before 2 pm, even in Perth.

One of your West Australians must have lied to you because Cairns has a 24 hour airport, and control tower.

kev said...

Oh don't get me wrong, I don't mean the place as dodgy in a bad way. Like all tourist spots, it has it's character. The rowdy crowd of the nightspots did put me off a bit but I am full of praises of the beautiful facilities.

I do agree that most hotels have check-in times of 2pm. It was just that I notified the reception that I would be arriving early that morning and they said they could arrange for an early check-in.

The comment about the control tower staff strike was made by our flight captain, who could very well be NOT from West Australia.

Just curious, how did you come across my blog? Is it the way the tourism industry in Cairns work? By tracking down their visitors?

I hope not.

Jasmine said...

ooo.. all my cairns memories came back..
and we stayed at koala beach resort too!! =)

Good to know both u and ann had a great time there... =)

kev said...

Hehheh yeah, but we didn't do white water rafting or hot air ballooning mah. But the other stuff like Tjapukai was fun too.

Koala Beach Resort was your recommendation after all. The rooms were clean and new, it was just the bar area that didn't seem very presentable.