Cairns trip round up

Be ready for a photo heavy post!

Well, in five days, we saw as much as we could – and we paid the price :p  Quite literally – travelling in Australia is most certainly not cheap.  However, Cairns clearly lives on the tourist dollar as it’s main export crop, sugar, has seen prices dip of late.

Our Vietnam holiday was incredibly leisurely, involving lots of lying around and ‘now what?’.  We didn’t go on one tour, and apart from the relaxing parts, we walked around places and ate. This is largely how my family travels, absorbing the country and the culture, rather than learning through day long tours and trips to even known monument and museum.

The rainforests!
The rainforests!

With Cairns, I decided we’d try the alternate side of the travel spectrum – try to do everything that appealed!  Being near the Great Barrier Reef, a cruise with snorkeling was a given.  Then there are amazing rainforests in all directions, so decided I wanted to walk amongst the rainforest canopy – until I saw I could zip line through it! I also thought it would be nice to swim in the pristine waterways, which converted into tubing down the river (instead of the more expensive white water rafting) and a tour that included swimming holes.  The result of this list was many number of calls to tour companies, and our wallets a WHOLE heap lighter!

Beach abutting the rainforest
Beach abutting the rainforest

Our first full day in Cairns I marked as ‘planning’ day – where we booked in all our tours, starting from ‘hardest to get into’ (the reef boats) to the easier ones, or at least so we thought.  As a result, we ended up with a half day tubing on day 2, a day in on a bus tour to the south on Day 3, a reef tour on Day 4, and THEN… a frantic scramble ‘up north’ in a hire car to Cape Tribulation to stay overnight, before leaving in the afternoon of Day 5.

Me, ready to tube
Me, ready to tube

Sadly, some activities, I managed to get no photos of.  Our tubing adventure saw us hike up river, and then proceed down three sets of rapids.  If only I had my waterproof phone still in action – or even a waterproof camera.  I heard they were (only?) $150!  Likewise, the best parts of the Great Barrier Reef trip were again underwater.

Happy tubing face?
Happy tubing face?
Patriotic footwear for tubing (of course, I BYO'd)
Patriotic footwear for tubing (of course, I BYO’d)

Here’s some observations of Cairns

  • tattoos are incredibly popular – and there’s always a parlor open no matter the public holiday!
  • children are incredibly well catered for.  There are great parks for playing in, and almost every ‘tour’ offered a kids price, and were equipped to handle children
  • not all rainforests is the same – between what we saw north and south of Cairns there was incredible difference.
  • the best advertising is word of mouth (every tour we went on, we were told this at the end!!)
  • housing is incredibly affordable, whilst consumer goods such and things like clothes remain at the national prices
  • there is no lack of places to drink in Cairns, and it appears there never was! There are SO many old hotels.  I suppose sugar cane also makes rum…
Running as the sun rose over Cairns
Running as the sun rose over Cairns
Returning from my run, the sun had crept higher.
Returning from my run, the sun had crept higher.
Of course, my favourite butterfly!
Of course, my favourite butterfly!

Sadly we didn’t see any butterflies like this, but we were able to see a cassowary in the wild. I did attempt to take photos, perhaps they are on the BF’s phone? We only slowed to see it because the car in front of us had stopped.

A relic of historic Australia - the 'old school' way for paying for parking!
A relic of historic Australia – the ‘old school’ way for paying for parking!

I’ve not seen a parking meter like this in Sydney, ever! So perhaps they are a Queensland thing only? In any case, I thought they were quaint.

All the warnings, and fishing zones and restrictions. And vinegar for those who get stung...
All the warnings, and fishing zones and restrictions. And vinegar for those who get stung…

How generous, there was a bottle of vinegar at every beach we passed. There’s a season when you can’t swim without a stinger suit. Thankfully, we avoided that, but I did see the (sexy) Lycra one pieces around! They do nothing for you – I’d even go as far as say a wetsuit makes you look good in comparision!

Casulty of our car hire - that's a frog. We didn't see any live ones :(
Casulty of our car hire – that’s a frog. We didn’t see any live ones 🙁

For Breaking Bad fans ‘Who washes a hire car’? Well, Skyler, we did, cause we didn’t want to be charged more for the mud splashes!! We found this when we were finished.

From the top of the rainforest, using the canopy walk at Cape Tribulation
From the top of the rainforest, using the canopy walk at Cape Tribulation

This was one of those things I was really hoping to do, it was great to see beyond the ‘ground’ level and walk among the trees, and then up and over them!

22 Replies to “Cairns trip round up”

  1. I would love to do a canopy walk and a zip line and tubing! It's great you did so much. And even got up at daybreak on vacation! So the BF appears on blog 🙂

    You came back without a new tattoo?

    How long did it take to get there – quite a distance from Sydney. All in all, sounds like an excellent trip!

    1. I did get a lot in, didn't I (sorry we!) I know I couldn't believe I woke then – and it wasn't the only morning I worked out either. But I balanced it with over eating so…

      Oh I didn't realise the BF hadn't been revealed in his entirety before – he is more than OK to be shown though (I think!?)

      No, I am NOT a tattoo person, and nor is the BF, so that is off the cards. We joke about it a bit though.

      The flight was about 3hrs in a 737 style plane (3-3 seating). It was a touch longer than 'short', in the sense that I kept thinking 'surely we're there already'!

  2. Those photos are beautiful! Nice to see the BF make his debut (and that's a great pic of you!) I love Cairns and far-north Queensland but haven't been up that far since we were kids. Great to hear there are lots of family-friendly tours available. It sounds like you had a great trip!

    Melbourne must be a bit behind in the parking meter situation – we still have lots of those old-school meters everywhere! I had to google stinger treatment – we were told by all the lifeguards in Sydney that vinegar is 'out' these days and immersion in warm to hot water is 'in'. But apparently they are different species. Vinegar is best for Queensland and warm water for Sydney. Out of interest, how much is the 'affordable' housing?

    1. Thanks for your compliments, you are too kind.

      Yeah – I'd heard vinegar was out too, so I'm glad you cleared up the confusion for me too. If you get a chance take Mr 9 there, I think he's at an age he might enjoy it – especially if he learns about rainforests or something.

      There were 2 and 3 bedroom units from less than $150k in Cairns. I realised, at a stretch, I could potentially buy one for cash if I sold what I have in Sydney. What I didn't consider is the vacancy rate. The BF's sister used to live there, and she said she had the pick of places to live. She also said, even if you get renters, it can be very transient with tourist and backpackers.

  3. Very nice! I've never been near a rainforest, but that looks really neat. How did you like the more adventurous style of vacationing? Looks like you had fun!

    1. It's so lush and lovely in a rainforest! I did really enjoy all the things we saw and did, and knew we had a few days of 'holidays' left on our return. I wouldn't like to do so many activities then go straight back to work the next day though!

  4. Love this post. You've made me want to go to Cairns rather than another laze around on the Whitsundays. (See, that old word of mouth advertising!)

    Didn't look warm though.??

    And you young 'un. I remember the old coin parking meters. Though who carries coins now (except apparently in old school Melbourne). I love we can now pay with our credit cards. (Except of course it makes it easier for councils to raise the cost, which is kinda why I need to pay with a card. No one has that many coins in their purse.)

    So can you give more details on the tubing. I never want to go white water rafting. Hate the speed and lack of control. Is tubing adrenalin inducing? I did love liloing on a rive in the Snowies.

    Where'd you stay in Cape Tribulation? Had you already paid for accommodation for that night in Cairns and just left it early?

    And food? Best place? Worst place?

    And was the flying fox exciting? (South Park had an episode on them – judgement: boring) And don't tell me they use the American term in Cairns?

    OK, enough with the 20 questions. Looked like a fantabulous holiday. And you look cute in the photo!

    1. I'm so glad you loved this post – I sometimes feel they are a little 'look at the cool things I did, nah nah!'

      It was warm – I packed jeans and never wore them – I'd have been too hot. Even when it was rainy, it was tropical rainy, not wintery rain. I'd say we seldom experience below 20 C.

      I do remember the coin parking meters, but in Sydney, you'd need a stockpile to pay some! I've seen $6.60+ an hour on the street, which is a lot of shrapnel for a two hour stay!

      Tubing is the dulled down version of rafting (I think the backpackers all raft, we didn't have any of those sort on our tour). You have an inner tube with a mesh part (for the butt). There's lower grade rapids, and sometimes, there's just flat water with a current. The two 'instructors' have inflatable canoe/rafts, and they ensure you are safe, and if you get stuck (by a bank for example) they come and help. The speed was too slow for the BF, but perfect for me – a few 'woohoo' moments to break up the peaceful lolling about! I wish I could have taken photos, it was so pretty!

      We stayed at a place called Ferntree Rainforest Lodge. It was a big campus, with cabins with two 'rooms' per cabin. It wasn't 5 star, but it was adequate. Sort of reminded me of the way they set out the hostel at Ayres Rock, save for the different flora and weather! We were also surprised to find they did b'fast, and had a pool. We last minute booked it, to try and zip line, which ended up being booked out, so the canopy walk had to suffice. As we'd prepaid all the accom in Cairns, we checked out in the evening before we were due to leave Cairns. In reality, it was OK to pay, as we had a long drive after a day on the reef, so a proper shower was 'worth it'. We could have chased up Expedia for a refund but it seems not worth the bother.

      The food… The worst is we had McDonald's and Red Rooster drive through, and I had suss sushi (which is weird in Cairns with so much Japanese centric tourism). Nothing was AMAZING food, but the first place we breakfasted which was attached to the art gallery was innovative – corn bread with the eggs benie, and that sort of thing. I could have gone back there to be honest. There's heaps of gelato too – and the froyo craze isn't quite there yet.

  5. Looks like an amazing time! I'll have to add it to my Australia must-do list. We travel differently depending on where we are headed; if it's a once in a lifetime trip, we'll pack in as much as we can as long as it's not so much that we'll go insane. If we have more time or know we'll be able to come back again, we take more of the "traveler" approach vs. the "tourist." We recently went on a tour that took us up a canal…I was so sad that we didn't get any pics cause it was kind of amazing, but at the same time my camera would have gotten soaked.

    1. Thanks for stopping by FemmeFrugality! There is SO many must do's in Australia, and so many of us Australians never make it to so many of the great touristy spots.

      I never think of a trip as once in a lifetime! I'm ever hopeful! No matter where I travel, I do like to squeeze in some naps and even seeing a movie.

      The canal sounds like it was positively lovely – where was it?

      1. I think that's so true of all of us….we never stop to appreciate what's in our own "backyard!" I'm glad you indulged in this one!

        I love the hopeful attitude! Probably a better way to approach these things. It was in Mexico…I'll have a post up on it in a couple of weeks. 🙂 Although my photo-taking abilities are in the stone age compared to your beautiful shots.

        1. Oh please- all my photos are taken with a camera in my phone. I'm too lazy to carry around a special camera, and let's face it, the best stuff happens when life is being lived!! I look forward to your post about Mexico!

  6. Looks and sounds like a fun trip! I love the face you're making before tubing – made me laugh!

    I've never done true scuba diving (only snorkeling – which I loved) and I really want to see the Great Barrier Reef! The rain forest looks amazing! So lush. Friends of ours visited Costa Rica and all they talked about was the zip lines through the rain forest there. I guess they're more popular than I thought! I think just the canopy walk would be more my speed.

    There are plenty of places around here with coin operated parking meters (though we are quite a bit more rural than Sydney). It's usually about $1.00 – $1.50 an hour here, but it's $3 – $6 in San Francisco (we were shocked by prices in general while planning that part of our California trip). So glad to hear you enjoyed the trip!

    1. I'm a bit of a ham – better than smiling and critiquing myself!

      I'm sad I missed out on ziplining, but I just saw the movie Divergent – now THAT was an amazing zipline! But I did start the holiday thinking 'if I just get to see the rainforest from the canopy I'll be happy'.

      We have coin operated meters, but they *also* take credit cards. Supposedly out of date credit cards still work – some scam cause they don't dial up when you swipe them supposedly? Prices here are as bad as London or NYC I would think!

  7. What a fabulous, full-on holiday! Thanks for details. That tubing adventure sounds like a lot of fun – it was interesting to read your extra comments also in the comments above.

    Where did you stay in Cairns?

    1. Tubing was great and a nice introduction to the area – it's the one place we saw evidence of the cyclone.

      We stayed at Mantra Esplanade. The other Mantra seemed to have a nicer foyer, but you can never know if that means the rooms are nicer. They were spacious holiday unit style, so easily could have fitted in another person or two on the fold out sofa.

  8. This is a great trip round- up! Squashed frogs (poor frog), tubing (yikes!) and legs!! Mine look so boring in comparison lol! Glad you had fun 🙂

  9. Girl, what a trip! LOVE the octopus sign. Hilarious!
    I love traveling with you! Thanks for taking us along!!
    Jennifer (A.K.A. greenmilitarywife)

    1. Wow, isn't that weird – to be there at the same time.

      I think we're both pretty sensitive to tattoos – but there were also 'parlours' open on an otherwise quiet holiday weekend, that helped draw more attention.

      Oh yes – the asian/white guy thing. You see it a lot in Sydney, so I suppose I'm desensitised, but I do feel like it must be tough for those couples to travel in countries were there's lots of sex tourism (namely Asia – like Bangkok), cause I'm sure people aren't thinking the kindest thoughts!

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