It’s Getting Cold in Southern Australia, Get me to the Tropics!

by Brian Carroll on May 25, 2012

Post image for It’s Getting Cold in Southern Australia, Get me to the Tropics! While Melbourne was a nice city that I could see myself spending more time in, it was a bit chillier than I would prefer.  That's why I was excited to be headed to Cairns, a town based in a tropical climate that is also home to The Great Barrier Reef.  My hope was that from here on out until my return to the States, I'd be spending my time on beaches, soaking up the sun (fingers crossed).  In all, I spent 4 days in Cairns which was just about right for me.  To the brief highlights we go: 1) I ended up staying at a very nice place for 4 days that while a little bit out of town, provided a really relaxing environment with hammocks hung between palm trees, a pool and a socially conducive atmosphere.  If you go to Cairns, I'd highly recommend Tropic Days as the staff was great as well.

Aussie BBQ including Kangaroo, Croc & Emu

2) On one of the nights at the hostel, they hosted an Australian barbecue, which provided an opportunity to try such native delicacies as Emu, Crocodile and Kangaroo.  While I can be a picky eater at times, I saw this as a great opportunity to try some things I'd most likely not have in the states.  Overall, the kangaroo was pretty good, the crocodile tasted like chicken and the Emu was simply okay- it didn't have too much taste.  Also during this barbecue the owner of the hostel put on a great performance showing all of us how to play a didgeridoo, which by all means is much tougher than it looks (and surprisingly, can be done with a vacuum hose as well!) 3) While Cairns has tropical weather year round, what it lacks is a real beach.  In fact, over much of the northeast coast, the ocean water is not safe to swim in due to jellyfish - something you just never worry about in California. With that limitation, the city itself has a free lagoon (a large pool) where most people will congregate and hang out during the day which is a nice alternative. 4) Ultimately, the main reason people visit Cairns is to go to the Great Barrier Reef, which I did through a one day tour.

Great Barrier Reef

Minus the feeling of seasickness on the way out, it was a great experience.  I did an intro dive on the reef and then spent the rest of the day snorkeling.  Having never dived before, I really enjoyed it as you take for granted the silence that comes with being underwater and really do feel like you are in a different world.  Plus the variety and colors of the fish you see are great  -I didn't rent an underwater camera so have none to share at this point :(, though know there will be more opportunities. 5) As it so happened, I was able to meetup with my former NZ travelmate Nuria, who was in the area after spending a little time working on a farm.  We ended up spending a day traveling to the Daintree rainforests (noted as the oldest rainforests in the world) with another one of her friends.  It was nice to reconnect and catch up on one another's travels since our separation and just goes to show you never know where those opportunities to meet up again will be. 6) Cairns is backpacker central so if you're looking to go out, there will not be a shortage of opportunities.  The caveat to that (if you consider it one) is that often with the backpacker crowd here, the general age is that of university students, which at times can make you feel pretty old if you stumble into the wrong bar.

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