I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much from Cairns and ended up coming away with 3 amazing weeks in the place, including an unforgettable Christmas day experience that will live long in the memory
Maybe it’s because I arrived so spontaneously or maybe it’s because I was so unprepared for the place but Cairns is definitely an amazing place to start or end your Australian adventure. I met so many people who were just starting off in Cairns and the amount of activities you can do there is unbelievable – from skydiving to scuba diving and many more outdoor adventures you certainly won’t be bored here.
As I mentioned I kind of came here on short notice and sort of by accident. It all started when I actually landed in Brisbane. By the time my train got to Brissie it was already fairly late and I decided to get an Uber to my hostel. The guy driving was actually a Brisbane resident for over 10 years and straight away said that I should get to Cairns ASAP instead of spending more time in Brisbane. Upon this advice I used the Internet to book a flight to Cairns for 2 days time and I was extremely thankful that I did so. Although I really enjoyed the couchsurfing experience in Brisbane I was totally over the big city life and wanted to go somewhere with a bit more adventure, just like what I’d been doing in Asia. Now although Cairns is definitely expensive, you can really do any kind of outdoor activity and meet a host of new people there whilst doing said activities!
I arrived pretty late to the hostel so I was already fairly tired and not really capable of taking in too much new information. The night porter greeted me a day showed me to my dorm and I made the bed and went for a brief wander around. I met Nick the Swiss guy, who turned out to be in my room and we had a quick chat before I retired for the evening. As it turned out Nick was travelling with an Aussie dude called Joe and the next day we met for breakfast and discussed our plans for the day. The boys we dead set on doing the tour of the waterfalls and as Joe had a car we were super flexible with timing. We polished off brekkie and then hit the road for a fun filled day. There were basically 3 waterfalls fairly close to one another and each one was special in a different way. The second waterfall was less touristy and took a bit of climbing skills to get to so it was my favourite. After visiting all 3 waterfalls we started the return leg of the journey and stopped off at a little mountain town where I had the biggest portion of chips/gravy/cheese and it was delicious! Just before returning to the road back to Cairns we visited an amazing lake which totally reminded me of summer in Berlin and we had a lovely dip there.
The next day also involved a cool tour to ‘the blue hole’ in the Daintree forest. This time we widened our group and added a Dutch and a British connection to our growing United nations group. The blue hole was basically an amazingly tranquil place where the small river deepened on a bend and became a massive turquoise pool with fish and everything swimming around. We took our time finding it a day wandered up and down the stream before we stumbled upon it. It was so cool to be off the beaten tourist trail and to really see something so beautiful. After our drive back to the hostel we did our usual thing at the hostel and drank a few beers to close out the day. We ended up in town at an event where we somehow managed to get free beer and free pizza. Can’t say no to that!
When Joe and Nick left I started chatting more and more to the other guys in the room – Philly & Chilly our new American and Chilean friends. They were dead set on doing a Bungy jump and managed to convince me to join in on the fun! I had to say it was a great decision and we had an incredible day and the Bungy place and even jumped again after the original jump. Such an amazing buzz! In the evening I rocked out at the open mic night playing some classics such as wonderwall, hit me baby one more time and of course the Irish classic Zombie! Needless to say the crowd went wild (the crown of about 10 people). Another evening event at the hostel was the trivia night and we managed to win with the reward being 75$ which we quickly invested at the bar. Let’s just say our 36 out of 38 points in the music round was what won us the quiz and a big thanks to Connor “the essex geezer” for that. His music knowledge knew no bounds somehow.
After an ill advised weekend trip to Port Douglas I came back to Cairns. I was basically killing time til I could go out on the liveaboard boat from Deep Sea Divers Den. I’d done the obligatory test day on the day boat, but the next availability for the liveaboard wasn’t until a weeks time so I was just filling up my days til then. Hanging out at the lagoon, chilling at the hostel, going wake boarding with the girls and making friends with the new people arriving was cool, but I was soo looking forward to getting to do some proper diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
Nothing could have prepared me for the 5 days on the boat. It was a hard slog sometimes but made all worth it by the fantastic diving. Basically we worked in the kitchen of the boat – washing, cleaning etc and in return we could dive up to 4 times a day, a pretty sweet deal to be honest. Our jobs as “hosties” included cleaning the whole boat and all the rooms and my most dreaded task – making the beds – what a mundane task! We had a cool crew in the kitchen, with Ben the German, Big G the Frenchie, Charlotte the Brit, and Ruben the crazy Australia chef! I honestly didn’t mind the hard work in the kitchen cause we usually had some banter going all the while or maybe a cool tune on the radio to keep spirits up. The days had the same schedule and once you’d figured out that rhythm it was easier to work had and fast and get out ASAP to the dive deck.
The day began with a 6am dive, followed by breakfast, then the 9am dive and afterwards we were extremely busy til lunch at 12:30 and even afterwards with there being a load of customer rooms to clean. At 4pm we had our next dive and the final dice of the day was the night dive at 7pm. Between all the dives there were always some tasks that need doing and by the time the day was over at about 9:30pm even just one beer would knock me out and I’d be heading straight to the male quarters below deck. The diving was pretty awesome and it was such a different feeling to be going off on your own instead of with a guide or a dive master. I mostly buddied up with Big G and we managed to never get lost, which was nice. We saw loads of cool stuff like sharks and turtles and massive parrot fish, but we also go to see some vibrant coral which I wasn’t expecting after such poor diving on the day trip. We moved around to a few different dive sites and each one had its own highlights. The first night dive was pretty amazing and quite a strange experience. The sharks were plentiful during the night dive and sometimes they would give me such a fright. We had such a cool time with the whole team and all the guides and crew on the ship we so nice and friendly and even some of the customers were really funny and up for a chat so there wasn’t a boring moment. After 5 days on the boat I was very much looking forward to being on dry land and sleeping in a non rocking bed!
So after coming back from the dive boat I was absolutely exhausted and could only really think about bed and just sleeping. After all we’d slept so little on the boat. By the time I’d gotten back to the hostel on Christmas eve it was already the evening time and of course Thursday evening in the hostel means trivia night. Even though I basically knew nobody I wanted to enter so I joined forces with the girl sitting at my table. She was from England which would prove to be advantageous as the quiz was written by an English dude. After the first round two other girls joined our team when they happened to sit at our table and get recruited by yours truly. They weren’t so good at quiz nights due to the fact that they were from The Netherlands, a country famous for Peter Pan and everything Orange. They said they were called Larissa and Melissa, but we thought they might just be code names – it seemed too convenient. After failing abysmally in the quiz we decided to play some pool and have a chat, which was a fun way to spend Christmas eve. In the end I stumbled to my bed having drank too much beer as usual.
I was kind of dreading Christmas day to be honest. Even though we didn’t really celebrate much last Christmas in Saigon, at least I wasn’t alone, but this time I was at a loose end I the hostel and didn’t know what to do with myself. The hostel was having a BBQ at 2pm and I figured that’d be the thing to do. After chilling on the couch for a bit and having a decent shower to wash the dirt and grime off me from the dive boat I joined the Dutch girls table and we started playing cards. It wasn’t long before everyone wanted to join the cool kids and play some cards too. My new number one French mate from the boat, “Big G” came along too and the game of cards escalated pretty quickly to a sort or version of truth or dare, with the loser being spanked by the winner with a big inflatable hand. I managed to avoid losing that time, but did fail in the next game and I won’t repeat my punishment. Needless to say the booze was flowing and we were all thankful for 5$ beers. Everyone had a bit of food from the buffet and the atmosphere was great with a DJ blasting out the tunes. Even our American friends from the dive boat came by and we started playing pool with some random crazy people. By 10:30pm the bar had closed but we were all still in a party mood so we walked to town to visit one of Cairns’ finest establishments ‘the woolshed’. This was a place of happy memories for me as only a week of two previous I’d won a dance competition there. After busting some serious moves it was time for a 3am bedtime and looking forward to the ensuing hangover on boxing day!
Cairns definitely won me over in the 3 weeks I was there and it was so cool to finally meet new people, try new things and really just go a bit wild! Next up on the adventure: a trip back to Melbourne for New Years and maybe longer! Stay tuned folks.