Cairns ~ Australia

Cairns is the most popular departure point to the Great Barrier Reef. Originally this city belonged to the native Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people then later named after the governer of Queensland, William Cairns in the late 1800s. The aboriginal tribe still hold the native title rights to the land. Outside of the cultural history, it’s a beautiful beach town with sweeping views of the ocean all around.

The biggest bats in the world live here.  They are spectacled flying foxes.  This bat is the size of a kitten with large leather like wings. They look like cute little foxes with a furry face.  I loved seeing them every night.  A nearby tree  to our hotel hosts one of the largest bat colonies (bats in trees) in Queensland.  Every night at sundown, millions of bats flew over Cairns into the mountains and forest.  They eat fruit off of trees all night then return before dawn.

Spectacled Flying Fox colony
Spectacled Flying Fox colony

Seeing them sleeping in the day was incredible.  They were constantly fanning themselves in their sleep to stay cool from the direct sunlight on them.

Cairns is a popular tourist destination for Chinese tourists.  During our day trip to Green Island, ninety percent of the passengers on the ferry were Chinese.  These signs were posted on the doors of the women’s public bathroom, I’m guessing it’s referring to squat toilets that are used in some areas of Asia.

in the women's public bathroom
in the women’s public bathroom

Crystal Cascade is a beautiful waterfall that leads into a chilly stream throughout the park. People were swimming in the creek but it seemed dangerous just to walk in. The rocks are very slippery in the water, not worth it at my age now. I’d rather take my chances in the ocean then mess around swimming in a creek.  It’s still beautiful to see and sit around.  

Crystal Cascade
Crystal Cascade

The stinging tree (also known as the Australian nettle tree) grows throughout this forest and can be extremely painful if rubbed up against.  I had never heard of a stinging tree until reading all of the warning signs  around the path.  I read the stinging can last from hours to several months.  The sad thing is animals have to worry about rubbing against them too.

Stinging tree warning
Stinging tree warning

Rusty’s Market has been around since 1975 and well known to locals and tourists.  It’s only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, luckily we were there during the weekend.  There are over a hundred vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cooked foods, clothing, soaps, jewelry, oils, hair accessories and seafood.  This is where we had a homemade Vietnamese pork sandwich, fresh fried spring rolls  and bought exotic bananas.

I knew we were in a beach town after seeing a flip flop vending machine.  Aboriginal artwork designs were on each pair.

Flip flop vending machine
Flip flop vending machine

Didgeridoos are wind instruments invented by native Aboriginals of northern Australia. I I learned they the world’s oldest musical instrument. Stores and shops around the entire country sell these instruments. Some of them are painted and they come in all sizes.

Didgeridoos for sale
Didgeridoos for sale

Since Chinese tourism is huge here, Chinese buffets and food places were all over the place.  The buffet we chose had three different plate sizes and prices (ranging from $10-15). You pick a plate size and fill it with all the food you can (one time visit only) before sitting down. It was comical seeing how much food people could fit onto their plates. My plate was piled pretty high too.

Green Island  

Arriving on Green Island
Arriving on Green Island

Green Island is a coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef with an island rainforests surrounded by a white sandy beach.  There is only one hotel on the island but that’s the extent of services there.  We went on a day trip to enjoy the beach and snorkel.

Green Island
Green Island

Unfortunately, it was jellyfish season so I had to rent a full nylon suit to swim in the ocean. The suit even had covering for hands and feet. Knowing killer jellyfish were everywhere made it really scary to swim and relax in the water.  If we had known it was jellyfish season we probably wouldn’t have spent the $120.00 (for two people/roundtrip) to get there.

Jellyfish warning sign
Jellyfish warning sign

Cairns is a fun city. I especially liked the outskirts of the tourist areas the best. Outside of the Great Barrier Reef, the only thing to do here is relax and enjoy the surroundings. The most puzzling thing was not being able to swim in the ocean but there is a huge public pool to keep people cool during the summer.

Public pool in Cairns
Public pool in Cairns

 

Being surrounded by beautiful beaches, we couldn’t wait to relax for hours at one of them. The problem is the ocean isn’t swimable in this area.  We read there was a swimable beach in Palm Cove and drove the sixteen miles from Cairns to swim there. Thanks to the volunteer organization Life Savers Club, a small patrolled netted area was created for swimmers.

Netted swimming area in Palm Cove
Netted swimming area in Palm Cove

The netting prevents jellyfish (Australians refer to them as stingers) and sharks from entering the area. The Australian box jellyfish is the most feared because its the most venomous marine animal in the world. The Australian box  jellyfish’s tenticals can grow up to nine feet long and wrap around an entire body at once.  They also have twenty four eyes and are fast swimmers. Just knowing these facts makes me shiver thinking of going in the ocean without the net.

Jellyfish and shark net
Jellyfish and shark net

Another dangerous jellyfish here is the bluebottle jellyfish, these look like a clear bubble with a dark blue bottom and one extra long blue tentical extending from it.  I saw a lot of these washed up along the shore.

Cairns is a beautiful place in Australia. There are  alot of very touristy areas but also serene areas too. This visit we chose not to visit the Great Barrier Reef and instead went to Green Island for a daytrip. Due to global warming, huge parts of the reef have been bleached out. My only hope is tourism and global warming won’t ruin this magnificent wonder of the world.

Cairns
Cairns

 

 

 

 

 

2 responses to Cairns ~ Australia

  1. Mom says:

    I can’t get over the preponderance of assorted jellyfish! Too bad you couldn’t enjoy the water even with a wetsuit. I wish you had taken time to see and visit the Great Barrier Reef before mankind destroys it and disrupts the delicate ecosystem it supports. If I ever visit Australia, that would be my most important excursion. Did you see any of it? I understand it is visible from the moon! Bats have never held favor with me and it was impressive that their numbers are so large there. Thanks for another great documentary. Safe travels until we meet again. Love you, Mom

    Like

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