Newest Review: ... If you don't have sea legs and stay in town then you can enjoy the nearby AJ Hackett bungee jump site or the many adventure sports to do ... more
Not a Cairns in the world...
Member Name: thedevilinme
Date: 13/10/12, updated on 13/10/12 (53 review reads)
Advantages: Tropical and safe place to see the Great Barrier Reef
Disadvantages: Long way to travel there
A deep sea channel was been blasted into the rock and sand below the salt water to allow bigger military boats to base there during the war to the present day and now an ideal port and marina to take punters to see one of the great wonders of the world and well worth the trip too. You can set off for the reef on other stretches of the Queensland Coast but the colorful and shallow stuff is somewhat nearer to the coast at Cairns, why it's so popular to GBR here. And don't hang around on thinking on doing the trip as the coral on the Reef has shrunk 50% over thirty years, they say mostly due to acidic jelly fish and increased storms, I say because tourists ,especially from South East Asia, have been snapping off souvenirs on mass, carrier bags full when I was there.
If you don't fancy snorkeling and diving on the reef you can do the rather tacky booze cruise above it or a spot of sea fishing below. If you don't have sea legs and stay in town then you can enjoy the nearby AJ Hackett bungee jump site or the many adventure sports to do in the beautiful rain forests in these parts, usually involving a springy rope and some sort of aerial decent. If you don't fancy plunging 100ft into an artificial pool with a piece of elastic around your feet then you can view the nutters from the platforms below to marvel at this stupidity. But if you're young you are going to jump and get the T-Shirt anyway, as did I, all for $100 Aus dollars, T-Shirts and photos extra. It's not an enjoyable experience and you will shut your eyes and open your wallet big time, however much bravado you summon up.
There are no beaches in Cairns and the muddy Trinity Bay seafront is patrolled by 'street gangs' of pelicans who can't help teasing you with all manner of threats to relieve you of stuff and grub. They are all full of coke cans and polystyrene trays, judging by their obnoxious diets, the roots of the nearby mango tree forests holding the sludge in place they love to wallow in. It's Mumbles Bay near Blackpool without the tropical bits and sunshine. You need to take the bus up north about five miles to find sandy beaches to enjoy, fairly deserted ones too, real backpacker heaven. But beware as the jellyfish and stingers run the show up there and you can't go in the sea most of the year, however tempting. It's always very warm here and beach weather although when it rains it rains, Jan-March producing an average of 16 inches per month, hardcore tropical storms bending the trees down to the ground.
Other things to do around the town are to go on the many local walks into those rain forests or hire a bike to weave your way through the nearby hills to look down upon the ocean and stunning rain forests. These tropics are one of the few in the world where the mosquitoes can't give you malaria so well worth a poke around in. But beware as the insects and plentiful and some are huge in the greenery and the common Huntsman spider as big as your face. Even the garden spiders are the size of your hand. I was chased by a wild pig! You can also take the local novelty railway trip through the trees on the Karundo Express if you are lazy, old or have kids, a pleasant and noisy amble.
The trips out to the reef vary, from the more expensive party boats full of 300 youngsters to the more rustic converted fishing boats, the type Chief Brody found himself on in the Jaws films many a time. I went on the old Noah's Ark tour, a creaky old thing but good fun all the same, $40 dollars I recall for the extremely long day. It takes a good two hours to get out to the reef and you are soon encouraged into the water to snorkel and dive. The captain and his mate will try and push you to pay extra to try a basic diving course. Snorkeling was enough for me as I have never figured out how to stop the water coming down the tube and so the idea of relaying on tanks and regulators to breathe even deeper down there does not compute. But whatever you do get in there as the stuff under the water is stunning. The fish are indeed as colorful as you can imagine and all shapes and sizes. The Angel fish will leave you gasping. Do not stand on the reef or miss your boat back or you will be in another sea monster movie tale.
Cairns also launch's the more daring travelers north towards the genuine wilderness of the Northern Territory at the end of the Bruce Highway. It is sea snake and crocodile territory up there and very few people live and work here, Cook Town the last stop before Crocodile Dundee territory. Here you are in the exquisitely green Daintree Rainforest national park, complimented by the iridescent Coral Sea that laps the endless miles of deserted white sands that accept the bored mocking bows of the lazy palm tree's that rustle in the gentle breeze. You can drive the 1000 miles of the northern coast to Darwin but you will need a four wheel drive and full supplies. The locals are all drunk up there so wilderness crime not like as it elsewhere in the world. It is truly stunning and a long way away from your commute to work in the British rain and gray with Nicky Campbell on the radio.
Getting there is easy and quite a trip. You can be boring and fly in on a jet but the train journey up from Brisbane is pretty comfy and great views from the windows, about a $100 for the 1700 mile one-way trip. You can crawl up the tropical fun coast on the bus and stop off at places like Townsville and Airlie Beach to enjoy the beautiful Magnetic Island or the more exclusive Whitsunday Islands, many a small holiday town to rest up in. Australia is like no other country you will visit and to me it's like what Africa could have been if it populated by white people and we all got along. It's such a fabulous and safe and sunny place for holidaymakers and backpackers alike and should be enjoyed by more, the expensive cost of the flight from London that puts you off soon reduced by the savings you make on hotel and living costs there.
Summary: The real Australia !