Sunday, 25 October 2015

Home Found

Cairns, Queensland

There will always be a few stops on our roads travelled that we’ll want to return to, some of which I’ve highlighted in previous posts, but there comes a point where us nomads will stumble across a rest that’ll make us think, I want to call this place home. Having asked years ago where I should snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, a German friendly suggested the gateway to Far North Queensland, Cairns. This was a fine decision made; I’ve been up there twice, in 2011 when I was playing mega nomad, and 2014 when I wanted to be one of those people who do three trips in the one year.

Cairns, Queensland (taken 2014)

Much like with other destinations visited, what I appreciate most about Cairns is how it inspires me. Because of this, I want to make the move up there, a decision which ‘lightbulbed’ itself during a friendly and hilarious chat with two receptionists at the local YHA. After a few laughs and realising that I wanted in, and because I liked the hammock chairs on the second floor balcony, I asked for an application form. Nothing’s happened yet, obviously, but the seed’s been planted. 

YHA Hostel, Cairns, Queensland (taken 2011)

With that out in the open, Cairns also had a positive effect on my creative side. The gods willing there’ll be some books published in the future, one featuring an ‘aquakinetic’ local and another where the place will go by ‘Treecircle’ after some social collapse, for which I can call my own little creations. My artistic ability has also fallen victim, for which I’m more than grateful; the left hand has been getting a bit lazy. This display of inked up madness started with a black spot which turned into something many from five other continents were awing about.
Drawn by the Sheep, 2011

This is what I find myself cherishing most, what I could create, as well as the memories of some amazing people I will never forget. A few oh so unique hostel receptionists (one of which remembered me on my second stint), some Americans and a Norwegian who showed me some kindnesses (had a vicious headache, which felt like a bullet in the brain, following a live aboard and the latter was there for me) as well as plenty of others. If I haven’t made it clear already, I’ll say it again, ‘Thank you.’

Moving onto the more touristy side of things, this is what I can gladly share with you good people who read this blog of your own volition. Cairns’ for those who want the outdoors, sun on your shoulders, and most especially the opportunity to swim out on the Great Barrier Reef. It is beautiful, there can be no doubt, and there were spots I enjoyed more than others but after snorkelling near Cape Tribulation I’ve realised that there’s something lacking when taking a tour from the gateway’s shores.

The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland (taken 2014) 

This is just a personal opinion though; I don’t care much for diving and for both ‘Cairns originating’ tours I had to share the water with divers. The tours, with Cairns Dive Centre, were of good quality and I’m happy to recommend (the crew were really positive and friendly), but experiences have taught me that these companies will put the divers ahead of the snorkelers; we’ll get the icing whilst they get the cake, so to speak.

I did an intro dive which got me time with a white pointer and a stingray I mistook for a giant underwater mushroom, but unfortunately it resulted in the pre-mentioned headache above. This is why I won’t dive anymore. For those wondering, I only went with the company on my second stay because a third party failed to provide what I’d originally wanted and I didn’t want to waste a day sitting around. When I make my third visit though I’ll look into one of the many pontoons out on the water; I’ve heard good things.

Back on dry land there’s just as much to keep you busy. What many hold out for are the trips to Port Douglas, the Daintree and Cape York up north (there are already posts about these bad boys) and the numerous animal parks abundant where the kangaroos will eat out of your hand.

Port Douglas, Queensland (taken 2011)
Animal Park, Queensland (taken 2011)

Mossman Gorge is a place to keep in mind also. An hour and ten (76km) north of town, I learnt about the gorge on my second return trip from the Daintree and it’s since become another happy accident, and those are good things I will preach. I urge you to give Mossman a shot, for it is some tranquil turf indeed. You’ll find in the water massive rocks to swim around and climb on, a positive atmosphere and some friendly fish; NO CROCS WERE ON SITE... but still, be careful.    

Mossman Gorge, Queensland (taken 2014)

On a far less flashy note, it was some of the simple things that had me smiling. Safe to say, by my second visit I’d mustered up some balls to go out and act like a proper tourist. The Esplanade brings to light good memories of walking by the water and amongst the locals and other out-of-towners (there’s a free outdoor swimming pool for those interested) as well as seeing the fruit bats swinging from the tree branches. I know some have bat phobias (*cough a Glaswegian I know cough*) and there are those who’re convinced Australian fauna has a taste for human blood, but these guys are perfectly harmless.

Esplanade, Cairns, Queensland (taken 2014)

Walking about at night, you should suss out the Night Market which is open from 4PM onwards. You can find plenty here, such as souvenirs, tea and massages, and the food is good. They’ve got some Asian and seafood on offer and it’ll most certainly be fresh; just one benefit of a city being by the sea. However, if it’s a mellow pace you’re seeking, take your book to the park by the Esplanade, find a spot under a tree and start turning pages.

Night Market, Cairns, Queensland (taken 2014)

These are just a retelling of things I’ve enjoyed, not-so-enjoyed, but overall appreciated about Cairns. If your interest’s been seized, make the trip and decide what the far north is to you. For me it’s inspiration and a home found. We all settle on one when making our journey.
Cairns, Queensland (taken 2011)


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