I stumbled out of the airport, in that magical stage between hungover and still drunk from the night before, I landed in Cairns early morning, bleary eyed after my three hour hop from Melbourne to Cairns, most of it spent nicely sprawled out on my empty row. Despite the impending headache I was excited to be back in the Tropics; I longed to be lounging under palm trees, by the pool or whiling away my days exploring the capital city of Far North Queensland. I was living a deliriously happy tropical daydream as I waited for my shuttle to my hostel, I waited and I waited, an hour passed in a way that I’m certain the minutes went forward by one, and back by two. Whilst perched upon the kerb in the midst of my tropical happiness the skies began to open, little by little rain began to drop from the sky, first a drizzle shortly followed by comically large drops which landed with heavy splashes upon my head, with each second of my natural shower my idealistic view of the the Tropics vanished. After what felt like an eternity my shuttle arrived, I hopped in for the short ride to my Hostel, Dreamtime Hostel, the driver, like most Australians was happy and welcoming, talking about Cairns as we drove from the airport, I was considering how small the city was when, as if reading my mind the driver pointed out the city centre “The city centre is just to your left, follow it through and you’ll get to the esplanade where there are great restaurants and bars”; Perfect! I thought, I must be situated just outside of the city, his voice cut through my thoughts “Don’t worry though, it’s only five blocks big”; “Oh” I said, “that’s good” unsure of if a place with five blocks is could really be classified as a city, as it turns out, in Australia it can be, the rest of the short ride was spent in relaxed silence.
I arrived at Dreamtime Hostel happy to be greeted by a tropical exterior, palm trees hugged the wooden building, saturated colours lined my path as I left the bus, I entered the hostel to be met by an exceptionally handsome man at reception who smiled at me with one of those huge smiles that make you reciprocate it without even thinking. My bag was taken off of my back as I was led past a small swimming pool and a few lounging travellers to my room where I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a small dorm consisting of two bunk beds and just behind them an adjoining room with its own single bed and privacy, my little private den away from the hubbub of the hostel, I couldn’t have been more happy. I thanked the handsome man and slunk onto my bed where I slept off my hangover, the rest of the day was spent quietly.
I woke up the next day refreshed to discover what Cairns had to offer, I walked through the city down to the lagoon, a beautiful pool situated right on Cairns mud flats, with sand gracing one side of it and platforms jutting onto the water on the other, it was exactly what I was looking for, I spent more than one day relaxing on the lagoon, enjoying the heat as it bypassed 30 degrees.
After a couple of days of not doing anything, finally reaching my optimum sunbathing level, I found myself itching to explore, luckily there’s a lot to do around Cairns, from beautiful beaches, cascading waterfalls hidden in the rainforest and to top it all off the glistening crown on a place that already kicks ass with its Natural beauty there’s The Great Barrier Reef. Now, I didn’t do any of these things, I opted to spend my days wandering to attractions which lie directly beside Cairns, more specifically Mt Whitfield National Park and The Cairns Botanical Gardens, I walked from the city alongside the railway track (obviously singing ‘Stand by Me’ the entire time) to the gardens and the National Park, when I finally reached the edge of the tropical rainforest walks, I was greeted with beautiful trees jutting up, humming birds and parrots coloured the sky, a mixture of colourful flowers lay between the shades of green. I felt totally in my element as I explored the lush rainforest, I walked around with a big goofy smile slapped on my face, stopping for a freshly pressed juice, smiling at the people who wandered past me, I felt like I had reached my happy place.
I walked back to my hostel where I told my friends of my day out, I was delirious with happiness from the tropics, I was dying to see what else Tropical North Queensland had to offer, plans were made with hostel friends to visit Secret Waterfalls, beautiful beaches and finally to tick off one of the Big Five on my Bucket List – Explore the Great Barrier Reef, to make things even better my good friend Pawline was flying up from Melbourne to spend time in Cairns, I was so excited. Then, as fate would have it, I saw a job offer for a Berry Picking job situated just outside of Cairns, my dollars were running low and I knew I had to find work sooner rather than later, so I applied and got offered one of the ten farming jobs. I was due to leave a few days after, leaving no time for any of the fun excursions that I had wanted to do, instead I went for a big night out with Pawline and said goodbye to Cairns in the same way that I said Hello to it, with bleary eyes and a strong feeling that Prosecco isn’t as good of a friend as I once thought it was. There’s only seven weeks to go before I’m back in Cairns and this time with some amazing friends, ready to explore what I left behind, I’m so excited to get back.
Disclaimer: After heading off to the farm and rural regions of North Queensland I can agree that Cairns can be classed as a city, towns around here (half hour drive away) have all but a few shops, five blocks to me will now seem massive.