Five Days in Cairns

by laur3xplores

We flew with Jetstar and arrived into Cairns around 8:30AM from Brisbane.  Juanita from All Day Car Rental picked us up with the rental car -a little red Hyundai Getz.   It was too early to check into Gilligan’s Backpackers, so we decided to drive south of Cairns to see what was there.

We stopped in Babinda to buy some snacks and water for the road-where we would later return for to see the Boulder Gorge.  First fun (our favorite) activity was our stop at Josephine Falls.

It is about an hour south from Cairns.  There are paved trails leading to the water, and along the way we saw huge blue butterflies fluttering around.  The water was clear and super cold! Waiting on the other side was a huge flat rock with water running down it- inviting us to swim over and use its natural water slide!  We had a lot of fun here- and always managed to arrive when there were little to no other visitors.  We returned to Josephine Falls two more times while we were in Cairns-all before 12PM.

Bruce Highway continued on to Mission Beach where we stopped to relax and stretch out our legs.

The ground was filled with crab balls, and soft sand ridges created from the tides.  The ocean water was warm and serene.  It was nice to walk alone along the quiet beach.  We saw some smoke rising up from Dunk Island, but not sure why that was happening.

The drive south was filled with sugar cane farms and bananas, lots of green and lots of hills.

Checking in at Gilligan’s was simple especially since we made reservations online.  We booked for five nights, but I wish I had only booked one night and tried staying at other places.  There was a stench when we entered the lobby, and other strange smells throughout.  The service was friendly, and the people we met were nice as well.  The only downside is that some people are messier than others and toss their dirty clothes all over the floor.  The room reeked of body odor.  I wanted out, but since we booked online, it would have been a hassle to change or cancel our stay.  Oh well.  It was not too bad.  It seems like a really fun party place for young people who are in the early phases of going out and getting smashed every night.  For me, I am over that stage and I prefer enjoying my days, and having sufficient sleep at night.  It gets loud and stays loud at night until 3 or 4.  To avoid dealing with people who are getting ready and such, we try not to return to the room until past 11pm- when the room is quiet.  The party-goers are gone by this time, and the early birds are already asleep.  To kill time, we saw a movie each night:  Fast Five, X-Men, Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean.

Next to Gilligan’s is Rusty’s which is a pretty cool farmer’s market place to get fresh fruit and produce.

Our second day in Cairns, we decided to go chase waterfalls.  We stopped in Babinda to see The Boulders, then again to Josephine Falls,

Ellinjaa Falls,

onward to Zillie

and then Milla Milla Falls.

My favorites were the Boulders, Josie, and Milla Milla Falls because you have the opportunity to swim.   We continued on to Atherton to see the Crystal Caves, however we did not see the cave itself.

By the time we reached Mareeba for coffee tasting at Coffee World, we were too late, so we just ordered some from the coffee shop.  It was uneventful but a nice break from the road.  My highlight from the drive was getting up close to the cows along the way.

Poseidon was a great choice for diving that departs from Port Douglas at Marina Mirage.  Unfortunately, we did not get to see any minke whales (the season just begun), or huge cod fish.  But there was a sea turtle, giant clam, stone fish among others.

We went along the Agincourt Reef System with three dive sites: the Anybodies, Advanced, and Maze.  A piece of coral got stuck in my hair during one of the dives, but no harm was done…I hope.  All in all it was a fun dive trip.  The visibility was great and we got some really cool pictures.

Reef Teach in Cairns helped me appreciate all the stuff I saw while diving.  I highly recommend signing up for the lecture before you go in the water.     Cool facts I learned about the Great Barrier Reef:

  • There are three types of reefs: Fringing reefs (the ones closest to land), Patch reefs (outer Cairns), and the Rim (further north).
  • Corals are plants and animals.  They reproduce sexually (coral spawning and asexually (cloning).
  • During low tides, the corals are exposed onto the surface.  They excrete jelly substance for sun protection which is equivalent to SPF 100.
  • Many fish change their sex from female to male, but a damsel fish (Nemo) can change from male to female if their female partner dies/disappears.
  • The sand that you walk on are fish poop.
  • There are over 1500 fish species on the reef.
  • Sea cucumbers are commonly black and help filter our the sand which keeps the reef clean.

The fourth day, we drove up to Cape Tribulation where we stopped at Waluwurrigga Alexandra Range Lookout Point.

We drove all the way up to Kulki-Cape Tribulation Beach with stops along the way to lookout points, walks, and beaches.

We turned around as the roads turned into dirt-not a pleasant road to drive on.  On the way back we stopped at Floravilla Ice Cream Factory.  The ice cream are all organic- and the flavor options are hard to choose from.  In the end we chose Chocolate Ginger, and Dragonfruit.  VERY TASTY.  It made me happy.

We had driven past Mossman on the way so when returning we stopped at Mossman Gorge for a swim.

There were a lot of other visitors as well enjoying the waters.  The currents were stronger here than at Josephine’s, and colder, too!  It was a refreshing break.  We later stopped at Palm Cove, which was a bit busier compared to the other empty beaches we have seen.

We returned to Cairns and walked around the Esplanade.

On our last day, we returned to Josephine Falls for a quick swim and headed further south to Tully River.

We got back to Cairns early and walked around the tourist town and along the marina.

Later that evening we ate at Bush Fire –a Brazilian-Australian BBQ restaurant.

It was a pure delight! All the juicy meats were delicious.  However, my favorite items were their salad, and the cinnamon roasted pineapple!   Also the drink I ordered was so amazing!  It is called Flavoured Caipirinha (kie-pur-reen-yah), and it is Brazil’s national cocktail.  I love it.  It is made fresh lime, sugar, and Brazilian Cachaca (sugar cane alchohol) with the flavour of passionfruit.   Bush Fire was a great treat!  One of the best meals I have had in Australia.

Ochre Restaurant was a great experience as well!  It is modern Australian food, and I loved the Tempura Bay Bug and Papaya Green Salad.  I don’t know how to describe it, but I highly recommend it!

We also ate at Banana Leaf (the Tom Yom soup was tasty –eat it with white rice), and Ichi Ban Ramen has really good ramen! They know how to make it spicy!

Cairns was a wonderful trip, and a must see for those who visit here.  I hope I will return and see the things I have missed the first time around.