20.07.2010 28 °C
We are in AUSTRALIA!!!! Woohoo!!
Monday July 19 we were wakened from our fitful slumber at the Holiday Inn Auckland at a rather early 3:00am. After a small snack and some quick showers we headed to the Auckland airport for a 6:40am departure for Cairns Australia. The five hour flight over the Tasmin Sea or “ditch” as many New Zealanders call it, went very well. An amazing sight was the view of the Great Barrier Reef from the plane as we approached the airport. When taking in this incredible sight we could not help but wonder what this living organism would look like from the moon!
Baggage collection (yes, all of our bags arrived in one piece...we were worried for the case containing our tent is starting to look pretty rough) and customs proceeded without a hitch. We are getting pretty good at this whole air port thing and have figured out systems for the smooth processing of 4 people!
When we walked out of the airport we were greeted with bright sunshine and temperatures of 25 degrees. A welcome change to the chilly temperatures felt while in New Zealand. We are in the winter season in Australia. During the Australian summer in December and January the day time temperatures in Cairns can soar to 40 degrees.
We collected our HUGE rental van right in the air port and then we were off. After taking a rather scenic route of the roads around the Cairns airport, (yes, we got ‘lost’ in the maze of roads around the airport...and they are not even close in comparison to the labyrinth of roads around Toronto’s Pearson! )we headed to Crystal Cascades holiday Park just a few minutes outside of the town of Cairns. We are staying in a small cabin in this park for 2 nights.
The cabin is just perfect! It has a kitchen, triple bunk bed, queen bed, bathroom , table, couch, and air conditioning.
Our first order of business was to get food. Ayden was not feeling the best on the plane so had not eaten much since 3:00am. So, while Paul and the kids arranged everything in the cabin Gwen went searching for food. She found a “Woolworths” store and spent $165 for some basic food for our first 4 days....yup food is still expensive! One purchase was an Australian grown pineapple. We have determined that locally grown pineapple has a slightly different taste and a very different texture.
Just a few steps from the front door of our cabin is a salt water pool that we all have already enjoyed cooling off in. While at the pool it was interesting to talk to a few locals and find out some of their suggestions for things to do while in this area.
One thing that is rather odd. To us, it feels like summer weather in OZ BUT it gets dark around 6:00pm. Although we knew this before we arrived it still feels odd to be turning on light while cooking dinner
Tuesday July 20
Our mission today was to purchase the camping gear that we need in order to comfortably camp while we are in OZ. Many recommended that we bring our own tent which, now that we have seen the camping equipment available, we are very thankful that we did. It was also recommended to us that we try to pick up as much gear for camping at the Big W store here in Cairns. Well this was the spot to shop!! Fortunately we hit some great sales and were also able to outfit ourselves all from one store! This also left us the afternoon to explore the town of Cairns a little bit.
The town of Cairns is actually rather small and very much oriented to tourists. A lot of restaurants and shops to buy opals, T-Shirts, boomerangs etc. The town is squished between the ocean and a mountain range so there is not a lot of room for the town to spread out. You can walk the whole downtown in about 15 minutes, this time estimate includes the occasional browse in a shop. Besides being smaller than we thought, we were also surprised that there are very few points of interest in the town. The key feature of this town is its access to the Great Barrier Reef. In the down town alone probably every third shop is a tour company offering the “BEST” tour of the reef that you will ever get.
Something that we did find interesting in Cairns is that along the esplanade that runs right next to the ocean there is a man made lagoon. This lagoon is a 4800 sq meter salt water pool that can hold up to 1000 swimmers. Hundreds of people were lying around the pool tanning or playing in the water. Most people were under the age of 30. I think this was the ‘meat’ market of Cairns.
We finished our afternoon in Cairns with a visit to the botanical gardens. The orchid house alone made the trip worthwhile.
Everywhere we turned on the path we came across species of plants that were totally fascinating. Cocoa trees, bamboo trees, snake cactus trees etc.
Cairns Botanic Gardens (Snake Cactus); Wildlife.
I'm not sure what kind of bird this is, I think it is the "The Great Red Headed Man Eating Pidgeon".
Only two people responded to the tree "What is it". As it stands Michelle was closest so she'd get 4 points and Cork would get 3. Still time to get points for your guess.