November 16-17 Monday (Day 21-22) Anna's post
16.11.2012 - 17.11.2012 31 °C
We arrived late in the evening in Cairns via Quantas (great airline, comfy plus they served us decent free food) and were startled by the news that despite it being the low season the city was jammed with tourists who’d descended from all corners of the world to see the ‘lunar eclipse’. Apparently there are people who track their occurrence as if seeking the holy grail and travel for days if necessary to watch the 2 minute event in whatever country it’s occurring. For those of a like mind, we’ve been told the next one is in Ghana in 2012 so book early.
I think what this unawareness says about us is that we were really disconnecting; not watching TV and keeping up with only major world news. I can happily report that Elmar and I had not discussed work since we left the US and were totally relaxed and enjoying being with each other immensely. We’re still at the beginning of the trip so in many ways it still feels like a vacation but we’d not experienced any challenges to our relationship yet although I’m sure that will come. So, Cairns is in the north of Oz which is their tropical region (feels odd when you’re used to north being cold and south hot) and is one of the gateways to the Great Barrier Reef. The town thrives on tourists so it’s very accommodating for all types, from back packers (of which there are many) to big spenders. If you speak Japanese or Chinese you will have no difficulty getting around as both languages are posted throughout the city. Restaurants, shopping, tours are readily available but for most you need to be ready to spend quite a bit. The two things that are free and are quite lovely are The Esplanade with its public pool that’s integrated into the lawn and walking area, and the botanical gardens. We had hoped to do a live aboard diving excursion of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) but none were available in Cairns and the best we could do was a one day trip departing from another town (Port Douglas). Our alternative with the unplanned days ahead was to rent a car and see as much as we could of the area. This is a good option as there’s so much to experience. The tropical terrain transitions very quickly to arid then to rainforests so it’s best not to snooze during the trip. The agent at the car rental company was very helpful and divided the map into sections for us so we had a good sense of what would take a half vs full day’s journey. There are many national parks and enough tourist attractions at and between them to satisfy everyone (e.g., swinging through forests on cable lines, cool swimming holes and waterfalls). We enjoyed the drive; stopping whenever something caught our interest and eating at local jaunts.
(View over Cairns from the mountains to the West)