Australia - Cairns (23rd-25th April)

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Dec 29, 2008

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Friday, April 25, 2008

Arrived in Australia very early in the morning after a short 5 hour,  overnight  flight from Tokyo.   So early were we, that dawn had yet to break and as the flight was early landing by about an hour, we decided not to wake up our hosts at the guest house but to sit for a while on the chairs on the back terrace.  Suddenly a lady from Alabama emerged from her room and we had a chat waiting for dawn.  Big hearty breakfast for us, and after a bit of  snooze just a local wander when we had lunch  -  again very hearty (huge!!).  After Japan and small dishes of food, it comes as quite a shock to be dished up portions of gargantuan size.  So no dinner for us. 

Morning here seems to start with a dawn chorus of  birds singing and as it got lighter, we could see they were very brightly coloured parrots  -  red wings and green bodies.  They are stunning to look at but very camera shy.

Our guest house is about a 20 minute ride from the centre of town and about 10 mins from the airport.  The building is a traditional "Queenslander" style home and apparently once belonged to the mayor of Cairns.   Our hosts, Pat and Mike are very helpful with tips of where to go and what to see, and we are delighted by the space that the accomodation offered, which included a guest lounge and kitchen. 

Cairns is very much a gap-year type destination with a young average age  (particularly noticeable by the beach where tanning was the priority of the day).   As a major town for the area, we are surprised at how small it appears to be.  There are a disproportionate number of boomerang and bikini shops and a large number of car and campervan hire places.
The weather is amazing.  Bright blue skies and sunny weather.  The sky at night has more stars than I ever imagined would be possible to see.  We were really sad to leave Japan, the first completely new country we had visited on this trip but we made our way by the Narita express to Narita Airport where we caught the overnight Quantas flight to Cairns.  We experienced immediate culture shock with a G'Day mate from the stewardess on the plane - such a contrast to the rigid, but friendly formality of Japan.
After 7 hours or so on the plane we arrived in Cairns airport at around 5.00 am!! Not the best time to arrive!  After a brief bit of baggage searching (apparently they are very keen you don't bring any plant or wooden materials into the country), we grabbed a cab and made our way to Lilybank B&B .  As it was still dark we decided to crash out on the veranda rather than wake the owners.  Soon we were joined by a woman from Alabama and her mother who were staying - I guess we were a bit of a shock as they were still in their night clothes and it was their veranda we were sitting on!  However with true southern manners, they didn't let this show and were chatting away to us until the rest of the house stirred and breakfast was ready.

Our first few days in cairns were partly to recover from the fast pace of Japan and partly to organise other parts of our trip here in Oz, so we set off into Cairns city centre by bus to fix up a hire car, do a bit of shopping, Cairns is a bit of a strange place in that its main purpose, as far as we could tell, is really as a transit place to fix up trips to other parts of Queensland.  It is absolutely jam packed with back-packers and the average age seems to be around 18 years!  The city itself is really small and easy to walk around.
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