With Easter break coming up, that meant that there would be no classes on Good Friday and Easter Monday…What does that mean? Another opportunity to take a trip! But Cairns wasn’t the first thing on my mind. Earlier in the weeks before Easter I was looking at wanting to take a trip over that break. The only problem: it gets expensive to fly on Holidays, and everything else is expensive- And we already know that in general Australia is EXPENSIVE. So a few of my friends and I were looking at taking a weekend trip instead up to the Gold Coast- it’s only an hour drive/few hours bus ride away from Lismore. And then also making an Easter lunch or dinner on Sunday. We still would be doing something over the break, which would be cost efficient.
Well…like I have said in the past: Plans change. A week and a half before the Easter break would approach, my friends Lindsey, Brett, Sunny, and Eric had booked flights to go to Cairns over the Easter Holiday. They convinced me that I should come with, and with good convincing I last minute booked a flight to Cairns – (and the day before told my parents I would be having a low key Easter)…Not any more!… After booking my flight, my friend Kelsey was also convinced to come with.
I also should add that after booking my flight, the weekend before we would be heading to Cairns a cyclone would be coming through.
“Just my luck” I had thought to myself. It rained most of the time while I was in Sydney, now there will be a cyclone while I’m in Cairns…”Do I see if I can cancel my flight? Will it be canceled? Do I wait and see? I don’t want to be out of money” were thoughts that I had going on in my head.Luckily the cyclone had passed through during the weekend, and there was minimal to no damage to Cairns. The Great Barrier Reef though was “shut down” for a few days due to the cyclone, but we were informed that it should be fine by the time we would arrive.
All I can say: I do not regret a single thing or the amount of money I spent on this trip. It was well worth it. We would be flying out Tuesday April 15th and then coming back on Easter Sunday Morning- it was the cheapest day to fly out.
Another nice thing since I have been studying in Australia: Having an uncle who lives in Japan and who has also traveled around Australia and surrounding countries. Before going to Cairns I had sent my Uncle Robert an email if he has ever been – I should also mention Cairns is a popular touristy spot to go see the Great Barrier Reef. He replied back saying he had been there three times and enjoyed the city very much. He also gave me info on things to do and see while in Cairns, and also that it had a fun night life..Thanks Uncle Robert! – He was spot on with everything he mentioned. Cairns was my most eventful and fun trip I have been on…yes I know I keep saying this about all my trips, but each trip just keeps getting better and better!
Once we landed, we took a shuttle over to our Hostile. We would be staying at Traveler’s Oasis for three nights, and then us girls had to find another place to stay for the next two nights. I would also like to mention/shout out/reccomend for anyone traveling to Cairns to stay at Travelers Oasis! The staff is so nice, friendly, and helpful with everything. They helped book some of our activities, and if there ever was a problem or issue they helped us right away. By far it was the best hostel I have stayed at while traveling.
Back to my eventful week. Once we got situated in our room, we ventured out to check out the city. My Uncle mentioned to go check out the Night Markets. So we went there first. It was so cool. Again it was this huge market with all these vendors and their goods. I was in shopping heaven. After walking around through the market we stopped at the Gelato shop next door. Best decision ever. It was the best Gelato I have had – and I have been OBSESSED with ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt since I have been here…also “cough cough” to any of those looking for birthday gift ideas for my birthday that’s coming up soon :Cherry Berry, or any Frozen Yogurt Gift cards will do :).
After exploring the markets we last minute decided to check out the night life. We ended up going to a place called the Woolshed – let’s just say we went there another two nights we were there. So it definitely was a fun place to go.
That night they had a drink special going on. $12 buckets. So us girls decided to split one. It was Massive. “Who needs a glass when you can have a bucket.”
It was a fun night.
After a fun night out we decided to have a relaxed day on tuesday. The rest of the week would be busy and filled with all these activities we had signed up to do: skyrail, Great Barrier Reef, White Water Rafting.
We went to the Lagoon. In Cairns you can’t go into the Ocean, and there are no beaches. So the Lagoon is the closest thing to a beach of some sort.
On Thursday we would be taking the skyrail rainforest cableway. It is a scenic cableway running above the Barron Gorge National Park. Before going on the skyrail we stopped next door at the tjapukai aboriginal cultural park. There we learned about the aboriginal culture and history. We got to throw spears and boomerangs – which they do actually come back!, get aboriginal face painting, and participate and watch an aboriginal dance. It was a neat experience.
After spending some time there, we then went to go hop on the skyrail. We would be going over the top of the rainforest, along with having three stops along the way. Our first stop was to walk around the Rainforest. We got off at perfect timing. There would be a guided tour by a Ranger in the next few minutes. We decided to wait for that. I’m glad we did. The ranger told us and pointed out things that we never would look at or consider while walking through the forest.
Our next stop from the skyrail was at Barron Falls.
Our third and final stop from the skyrail would be the Aboriginal Village Kuranda. Its a small little town that we were told had some cool markets to check out. And that it was a fun little town to walk around and explore. Since we had a guided tour with a ranger we spent a little longer walking around the rainforest than we had planned….Which brings me into the next part/adventure of our day. We got off our last spot from riding the skyrail: Kuranda. We got off, and things were looking a bit quiet. Let me add it was 3:30 in the afternoon so it was a bit odd how quiet the town seemed to be. While walking around everything we walked by was either closed or shutting down. The markets, stores, everything was closing. After walking around a while, we decided to find our way back to Cairns. We were planning on catching a bus back, or taking the train.
Little did we know…that everything stopped at 4,4:30pm. The train was no longer running, the skyrail was shut down, and after searching everywhere for the bus stop, when we finally arrived and found it, the last bus had left 15 minutes ago…We were stuck, stranded in Kuranda. We also had signed up to go to the Great Barrier Reef Friday morning so we HAD to get back to cairns. We called our hostel to see if there was anything they could do. It also would have been nice if someone would have informed us that everything shuts down in Kuranda so early. Luckily that day we also had packed our own lunches. So while trying to figure out how we were getting back, we snacked on some trail mix and made peanut butter and honey sandwiches. At least if we were stranded for the night we had food and good company of each other. Even though we were stuck, none of us seemed to mind really. We enjoyed the scenery around us, tried hitchhiking to the few cars that drove by (we only put out a thumbs up sign-jokingly but at the same time we were serious on possibly hitch hiking back. We were desperate.) We also had a little swing dance lesson 101 from Brett, dancing in the middle of the street, having a good time.
Our hostel eventually called us back. The only way we could get back would be by a Taxi cab…which would cost up to $200…Yikes!
All I can say is thank goodness that we had Lindsey with us. The other day while at the Lagoon she met a guy and they had exchanged phone numbers….Let’s just say we were some desperate Americans who didn’t want to pay $200 for a cab, and were desperate for anyone to give us a ride. After some good persuading he came and picked us up..probably not the smartest decision on our part to catch a ride from a total stranger..but …we were desperate…He was.our life savior!! We each gave him $20 for petro money-which was cheaper than I would have had to pay if a taxi came and got us. In return he gave us all hugs goodbye and wished us safe travels.
Which adds to another thing I love about Australia. The people are so friendly and nice here. Since I have been here I have been greeted with smiles by everyone I have met, and not once have I not felt safe at all.
Once back at the hostel we had a chill and relaxing night. We would be waking up at 7am to go to the Great Barrier Reef!
Which leads me into Friday’s festivities:The Great Barrier Reef!
Out of luck we got the last 6 open spots on a company called Reef Experience to go scuba dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef on Friday. The rest of the days while we were in Cairns were booked–and we called a lot of companies. The Reef was such a cool experience. Something I will never forget. We hopped on a huge boat and had an hour to two hour boat ride until we arrived at one of the Many Reefs of the Great Barrier. We would be stopping at two different reefs that day. The first one I would be scuba diving. Something I considered, but never thought I would actually do while in Australia. A lot of people have taken a class to become certified in scuba diving since I have been here. It was nice with the company we went though because you didn’t have to be certified (while on the boat we had an informational meeting on scuba diving, and then in the water had to complete and accomplish certain tasks to be able to dive- if a task couldn’t be completed, you couldn’t dive), and it costs a lot of money to be a certified diver.
The crew split us up into groups. Each group would contain 4 people/divers along with a certified instructor for our dive. I was in group 8 so I got to go snorkel for a bit before I had to get ready for my dive. Another experience I have never done in my life. I’m not going to lie snorkeling was a little scary for me at first. Trying to figure out my breathing techniques, ect. Once I got the hang of it though I absolutely loved it. I saw soo many fish! Through out the years there also has been damage to the Great Barrier Reef, due to natural disasters/causes,ect. One issue is bleaching of the coral. Where parts of the reef are dying and are bleached white. I saw some of that while exploring. Also too since there was recently a cyclone the water was not as clear as it could have been. But it was still a fun experience and I got to see a lot.
After snorkeling for a while my group number was called! I would be scuba diving! The four members of my group sat on the back of the boat to get geared up to go scuba. After getting harnessed up it was into the water we went! I was the first person who had to go through the procedures to be able to scuba. I had to show my instructor the hand symbols and that I knew what they meant/what to do, I had to go a certain amount of meters down into the water, and I also had to be able while in the water take out my mouth peice, put it back in, and get the water out of it and end with the “im ok” hand signal. The whole taking the mouthpiece out while under water was a little bit of a challenge for me, just because I was kinda freaking out to do that. But after three attempts I did it! I now was about to go scuba diving! After the others all passed their tasks it was now time to venture deep in the sea. It was such a cool experience. I got to pet a huge fish, saw a giant clam, and a whole lot of fish. One thing I also would like to say about scuba diving: having a breathing technique is key. A few times while under water I started to get a little nervous and hyperventilate, which increased my speed of breathing, which is not a good thing to do. I managed to calm myself down though. I was down in the water for a good 20-30 minutes. Then it was time to come up.
After all the scuba groups went we then all got back onto the boat to head to the next reef. If I wanted to I could have signed up to scuba there as well but after my experience I felt that one time was good enough for me. So instead I snorkeled the whole time at the second reef. There also was a guided snorkel tour by a marine biologist I could have paid to do if I wanted.
While snorkeling for probably a good half an hour, I saw a huge group of people in one area, so I swam over to see what was going on. I had completely forgot about the guided tour that would be going on and that is just what I happened to swim up to. I’m glad I did because I got to see a sea turtle and a shark! AAhh! SO COOL! Overall scuba diving and snorkeling was such a captivating experience I have done while in OZ.
To add more to my busy fun filled week, on Saturday we signed up to go extreme white water rafting all day down the Tully River. We would be going through Grade 3 and 4 rapids with a highly experience guide. Besides just water rafting, along the way down the river we also took pit stops to go cliff jumping, rapid swimming-where we got to hop out of our rafts and swim down the rapids, and we also got to go raft surfing. Such a cool experience! While on the way to the rapids we had to split up into groups of 6. The six of us had group together, and as well we got the name “Team America.” Everyone else who was rafting were European travelers. The weather was beautiful, along with the scenery we passed by. It overall was a great fun filled day.
On Sunday we would be flying back to good ole Lismore. Our flight left at 11 that morning. I was supposed to have a window seat, but a little boy was sitting in it and through a huge temper tantrum when trying to be moved from it. I said it was fine and that he could sit there. Which then put me sitting in the middle of a family of 5. Since it was Easter Sunday I had my family on my mind. Back at home I have always spent Easter with my family. Having a big lunch and dinner with my relatives, and enjoying each others company. This year it was a little different. With the fact I was sitting between this family on the plane, on Easter… I got a little home sick on the plane and started to tear up. By now I have been missing my family a bit, and since I have been gone I’ve realized how much of a big part they are and play in my life. I am truly blessed to have such a (big) wonderful family, since I know a lot of people can’t always say that.
To make Easter a little special, my friends Kelsey, Kristen and myself decided to make an Easter dinner. We made a pasta dish, along with twice baked potatoes, a bread roll, and Kelsey got a recipe from her mom to make cheese cups to then make a salad in. And we also can’t forget dessert! We made a cream cheese chocolate oreo cake. It was delish! It wasn’t quite a traditional Easter meal we would have at home: (ham,mashed potatoes, a bunch of salads and desserts), but it was still just as good. We then sat around the table talking and sharing about what we typically would do on Easter back at home. It was a nice ending to an eventful week, and to be able to still celebrate the holiday.