Well, we did it, but not happily. We spent the night in the Brisbane airport attempting to sleep, but ended up listening to the cleaning crew wash the floors, the light jazz coming out the speakers, and our fellow overnighters being rowdy. We each got about 1 hour of sleep each over the course of 4 hours and were exhausted. Thankfully, the lack of sleep combined with the sun coming up at 4:30 a.m. enabled us to get our stuff together and to catch a bus at 5 a.m. to the domestic terminal. We had plenty of time and were one of 3 people on that shuttle.
We reached the domestic terminal after quite a few turns around the airport grounds with plenty of forest but still no kangaroos in sight. A nice Qantas man helped us check our bags using a fancy, new (to us) machine which scans your luggage tag then conveyors it off to the airport underground. Normally this is done without assistance, but we were unaware Americans. After seeing us chug all the water from our water bottles, he was also quick to inform us that that is unnecessary in Australia and you can proceed with liquids. Awww, Australia, we already love you, despite the lack of ‘roos.
Starting to get hungry, we walked the terminal attempting to find something of a reasonable price. There are roughly $1.4 AUD to $1 USD, so prices look exorbitant especially after coming from the backpacker-friendly Asia. We finally settled on Pie Face, which we have come to learn is an Australian chain of meat pies and pastry rolls – not the healthiest option by any mean, but filling enough. Doug ordered a steak and mushroom pie and Lynn, not willing to let the abundance of lamb in this country pass her by, ordered a lamb and rosemary roll. Both were delicious, but we would certainly need some exercise later.
The flight itself was delightfully uneventful, other than the free quiche and muffin served (seriously, America, get your airlines together) and after about 2 hours we were landing in the land of fish, Cairns. We’d finally made it! Only 3 days late!
After collecting our bags we agreed that we’d rather get some exercise than pay someone to drop us off at our Airbnb. So, off we set on foot, along the road leading to Cairns airport. Was there a sidewalk? No. Was there shade? No. Was there the potential for crocodiles? Yes, but we didn’t know that until we were already a ¼ of the way there! All, in all, the walk in the humidity and heat may not have been the best idea, especially when the rain clouds starting rolling in and we starting seeing warning signs for crocodiles amongst the nearby mangrove forest. But, you can probably gather that we survived!
50 minutes later we arrived at our Airbnb to the north of Cairn’s CBD, sweaty and exhausted with the first order of business being to get a shower. We had hopes during our walk that post-shower we’d head into town, but the A/C got the best of us and we laid down for a 2 hour nap instead. Luckily prior to the nap we thought to put our dirty clothes in the washer so that we could hang them on the provided solar drying unit when we awoke.
Rousing ourselves awake around 2 p.m. we gathered our things and took off to find the Esplanade, a walking path along the coast of Cairns, which was only 2 blocks away. We must say, Cairns really knows how to treat its residents. Not only was the walking path beautifully paved alongside the beach, there was a separate biking path. It also featured free filtered water stops, free fitness equipment, free splashing fountains, and free swim lagoons (overlooking the ocean mind you) all along a 2 mile stretch of beach.
We briefly stuck our feet in the lagoon then walked further into town to take care of the rumbles in our tummies. Doug led us to Frydays to satiate his fish and chip desires where we each ordered a plate which was a mistake because we easily could have split one.
The next mission would be to check in with our dive shop to get fitted for gear for our Great Barrier Reef trip and luckily it was only up 2 blocks from where we were. There Doug got his diving equipment all set to go while Lynn arranged her snorkeling equipment. Food – check. Dive trip – check, well sort of. Lynn decided that she would like to see what local pharmacists recommend for seasickness because she would be sitting on a boat for 3 days straight under who knows what conditions. Doug did some quick Googling and found one nearby but was immediately wary from its name: Discount Chemist. We did a quick walk over to check its legitimacy – it looked legit – and hopped in to get an opinion. The pharmacists showed us what they typically recommended, more pills, and after learning that the active ingredient is the same as what she already had, she chose to pass on the purchase.
It was roughly 4 p.m. by this time and we had some blog posts that needed catching up on, and sleep, so the next step would be to get some items from the grocery store for dinner and head back to the Airbnb. This also gave us an excuse to do some price perusing at the store for when we would be doing extensive cooking during our time in Victoria. Some much needed items were purchased – sunscreen and beach towels – along with dinner items – lettuce, tomato, carrot, salad dressing, a nectarine, and kiwis. Can you guess what we were planning on making? A salad was certainly required after all the fried and buttered food we had thus far ingested.
Making our purchases we took off on foot back to our Airbnb, a few block inland this time. Though not as pretty as the coastline, we did get to witness a tree overtaken with fruit bats, GIANT and restless fruit bats which both made us quickly want to keep walking!
We arrived at our Airbnb, folded our now-dry clothes, and suddenly remembered that we wanted to go to Reef Teach, the #1 rated thing to do in Cairns on TripAdvisor, which is a 2.5 hour long lesson on what to look for on your dive/snorkel trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Inconveniently, this was back where we came from. Oh well. We quickly bought tickets for the evening’s show set to start in 1.5 hours. At the same time Doug was debating what to do about underwater pictures during our trip, so he grabbed his GoPro for the walk back into town.
We took the Esplanade again, and made our way to some camera shops, only to learn that they don’t have any accessories for the GoPro 2 that we currently own, described as “ancient” by one of the saleswomen. Doug had wanted to swap out the round lens for a flat one and get a red filter, both things he had been recommended back in Bali where we learned that while it may be great for snowboarding, it’s seriously lacking underwater. We didn’t have any luck finding these things after visiting 3 stores and with time running out we instead chose to purchase one of the new GoPros. When would we ever be back at the Great Barrier Reef? Also, we could use it to watch our puppies during the day with its additional WIFI features. Obviously a plus. We also got a great deal which included the red filter, a handle, a dual battery charger, a spare battery, and a wrist tether. We think the lady felt bad for us.
Having made that purchase in the 10 minutes prior to our lecture to start, we quickly made our way over to Reef Teach. It was definitely worth it. We learned the various types of coral – mushroom, brain, honeycomb, sea fan, etc. – and the many types of fish – damselfish, anemone fish, parrot fish, sweetlips, etc. – and others – giant clams, sea turtles, sharks, rays, etc. – all while being hilariously entertained by a South African man with sex jokes since we were now in mating season for a lot of the reef. We even got sheets to take home so that we would have a better chance of remembering what we learned.
We were pumped for our trip tomorrow! After another 30 minute walk back to the Airbnb, avoiding the bats, Doug made us some dinner salad, we packed our bags for the boat, and then headed to bed.
Daily Walking Mileage: 14.1
- Coral is an animal most closely related to jellyfish.
- Corals’ color comes from algae living on its exterior and not from the polyps themselves.
- Fish and coral are really unorginally named: golf ball coral looks like a golf ball and chocolate dipped damselfish look like they have been dipped in chocolate.
- We are arguing over whether Australia looks more like Florida or California but we are both agreed it is very similar to the U.S.