A lovely rainy day put a dampener on the idea of walking to the train station so I managed to rope in Danielle to take us to the station. Like a taxi driver pro she honked the horn when she arrived and confirmed that it was the correct house by screaming my last name loudly. The big blue volvo provided ample space for the one suitcase we were taking. Since the train station window was closed and the machine doesn’t take notes we got on the train illegally without a ticket. Do they expect us to carry $13 each in coins? The domestic terminal has machines that take notes, why can’t the suburban stations do the same? At Central Station we had enough time in the train swapover for me to duck upstairs and buy the tickets. No I didn’t lie and say we came from Central – I paid the full fare.
20 mins later and we were scanning our tickets through the cool Virgin Blue self checking station. We got excellent seats (3A and 3B) which was right up the front with window and middle seats and no one took the aisle seat. All the time we saved though with the machines was wasted though when trying to hand our suitcase in. The ladies manning the station kept walking off for some reason and the family of five were pains in the asses with the amount of farting about they did. If only you could get a computer to accept the bag too. Finally handed it over then headed to be microwaved through the x-ray machine. I made it through scott free but Pauline made it beep. They all pulled their guns on her and told her to get out spread eagled on the ground. I’m kidding. She had to take off her shoes and go through again. Serves her right, because the last time she gave me her keys and I went through with a swiss army knife. I had to take it back to the car and was then stalked by security until I waved goodbye to her and her sister.
The flight was pretty uneventful. We watched Harold and Kumar go to White Castle which is an extremely humourous movie in the way that American Pie, Office Space and Porky’s were. Watch for Battleshits and when they ride in the jeep with the music. I had to hide the screen at some points cause it was a bit rude. The hosties kept trying to catch a peek but I think that was more to look at the powerbook than the movie. It ended just in time for us to look out the window and see the islands with the reefs around them. It’s a bit of a shock to go from a cold almost wintery Brisbane to a tropical paradise Cairns. The thing that surpised me most when we turned towards the airport was how mountainous it was. This is the only place in Australia where the Great Dividing Range meets the sea.
The last and only time I had been to Cairns was 12 years ago when I had a 2 hour stopover on my way to Japan and England. I remember it being rainy and aqua. The aqua came from the airport – everything was highlighted in the colour (even the toilet doors). I decided I would research if it had changed by taking a short visit to the lavatory and was pleased to discover that it was still the same. By the time I was out of the loo Pauline had the bags and was hanging up the mobile. We turned around to greet Dianne and Deb. Dianne is a longtime friend of Pauline’s and Deb is Dianne’s partner. They were our hosts for the duration of the holiday.
Greetings over we headed out to the car and the Cairns Esplanade. It’s about 5 mins from the airport and is reminiscent of Mooloolaba if it was looking over the Redcliffe mudflats. Lots of outside dining establishments, backpacking hostels and units. Part of the street is one way so the shops are on your left and the swimming lagoon is on your right with the bay beside that. A lot of money has been spent on walkways, grass and facilities to make the area a lovely place to swim or have a bbq or picnic. I got some idea of how laidback the place is when I saw 4 council workers cruising down the pathway in a golf buggy licking ice-creams. They have it sorted.
After the quick drive-by we headed back to Dianne and Deb’s house. On the way back we passed a huge Captain Cook statue outside a backpackers. Apparently the owners had wanted to pull it down but the locals fought to keep it as it was an icon. The poor guy is looking a bit decrepit now though. Turning left further on we passed the Red and Blue Arrow walks where a Cassowary used to harass the walkers (it left Deb alone though) and the Botanic Gardens. At the house we caught up on all the gossip, wandered around their luscious garden, admired the creek at the back of the house and the authentic rustic shed.
Dianne said she had to go and get some breadrolls, milk and swap over her face mask. She has sleep apnoea and didn’t like the mask she has been using. Pauline and I said we’d come with thinking it would be a short ride around the block. We were unaware that a short trip in Cairns usually means 15-30 mins of driving. It’s not because of the traffic (there isn’t much) but because the place is so spread out. You sort of have to bypass mountains to get to anywhere. It was a good trip though because we got to see where the Kuranda Skyrail comes down, a cable skiing place and try the local KFC chips.
Back at the house we were treated to an incredible bbq with rissoles, chatted some more and then headed off to bed for the big trip to Port Douglas the next day.
More photos here.