Woke up around 630a… Yes without an alarm. Grabbed my banana and nut bars and 2L camelback and headed to the bus stop to catch the 131 bus to the botanical gardens. I hiked the red arrow and blue arrow trails in about 2hours. Gorgeous rainforest scenery. At some points along the trail, I was pretty scared. Narrow passages, slippery leafy debris in the trail, and random noises of the forest all played with my head. There’s a stunning and worthwhile view of Cairns city and the beaches and airport at the highest point (but that scenic view can also be appreciated right at the start of the blue arrow trail). The red arrow trail is a very nice paved trail that is beginner. I would give the blue arrow trail a medium rating. At the end of the hike, there was the botanical garden cafe and I rewarded myself with a yummy green juice and avocado smash on toast with rocket (arugula). Took a stroll throughout Cairns botanical gardens (it’s huge… And it’s free!)…. Beautiful tropical plants everywhere! Caught the 131 bus (it runs every hour) back to town to check out the esplanade. Walked around the esplanade area. Very touristy with shops. A lot of asian shopping and food. Just an observation. Grabbed some asian food for dinner and headed back to the hotel before getting dark. Tomorrow, I hit the airport again and travel to Sydney with a minimal layover onto Christchurch, New Zealand. Australia, you’ve been wonderful to me. Fabulous people. Terrific hospitality. Beautiful landscapes. I highly recommend a visit. You won’t be disappointed.
Skyrail and Kuranda railway train to Cairns
Had a lazy morning. Slept in and got packed and checked out of Dougie’s by 10am. Had a beer and steak sandwich. Was picked up by Brett for the Skyrail and Kuranda train ride and half day tour. The Skyrail is currently the longest in the world and it gives an aerial view over the rain forest. Very peaceful. I’ve joined an older (but feisty) group of Australians and Brits who are a really friendly bunch. Saw some wallabies along the way. A lot of urban sprawl pushing out the local wildlife. After the Skyrail, we spent some time in the small touristy town of Kuranda. I tried an Aussie pie (beef with some gravy sauce in it–almost like a chicken pot pie). Next we’ll make our way to the train (we all upgraded to the “gold” train — complete with wine, cheese, fruit). Tonight I’ll stay in Cairns. And figure out my itinerary for tomorrow. This will most likely involve an early morning hike and a tour of the esplanade with a swim. I checked into my hotel and the ladies at the front desk drive me to pickup a group order of Thai. Everyone has been so extremely nice!
Great Barrier Reef
I booked a tour with Wavelength in Port Douglas specifically because they tour the outer reef. This mostly translates to being healthier and livelier with more aquatic species thriving! It was a 30 person boat with snorkel. Half the boat was full of really friendly older German tourists. We took a 1.5 hour boat ride to Opal Reef. The conditions were amazing: low tide, minimal wind, warm water, and no storms. We snorkeled at three different sites along that reef and the views were spectacular. I felt like I was swimming in an aquarium…. A beautiful, well-maintained, colorful aquarium. I rigged my GoPro to capture some amazing videos. Can’t wait to see how they turned out!! It’s an amazing experience. Checked that one off my bucket list!
Sydney to Cairns to Port Douglas
The three days leading up to this trip were pretty hectic: long days at work paired with errands, meetings, hangouts, and unpacking from the Boston weekend. I left work on Wednesday around 4p and made it to the airport at 7p (90 minutes before my international flight).
SAN → CAIRNS
Virgin Australia International Flight 6763
San Diego SAN
Los Angeles LAX
Virgin Australia International Flight 6551
Los Angeles LAX
Fri, Oct 31
Virgin Australia International Flight 1413
Sydney is 18 hours ahead of Cali time. And Cairns is 17 hours ahead of Cali. I felt extremely short as the Sydney Kings were on my flight and occupied at least 4 rows. Another 5 rows seemed to be usurped by a presumed bachelor party (their rowdiness was definitely felt in the plane). The stewardesses definitely had their hands full. As soon as I landed in Cairns, I saw a shuttle kiosk that sold round trip tix from the airport to Port Douglas. $90 later, I grabbed my luggage and hopped onto the bus. The drive was gorgeous. Beautiful winding roads with Aqua blue water and inspiring mountainscapes. It seemed very similar to Kauai. I checked into Dougie’s backpacker resort and changed my existing reservation of a quad share room to a private room. Purchased wifi…made contact with my loved ones and headed out to see what Port Douglas was all about. It was quite the trek from my hotel to downtown PD, but it was a beautiful walk! I checked out the marina and various stores/shops along the way. Very cute downtown area. After doing some grocery and gift shopping, I headed back home (hadn’t taken a real nap since the plane ride)…. Had dinner, showered, and now making plans for tmw and the rest of the week. Tmw I’ll be checking out Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation, and Daintree Forest.
**my wifi is slower than molasses… Pics to follow in an edit**