24th january - 55 hours travelling from ...
Trip Start Sep 19, 2002
129Trip End Sep 22, 2003
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Cairns Central YHA (there are 2 YHAs in Cairns) really deserves a mention as it's one of the best places we have stayed in terms of facilities. Nice leather chairs in the air conditioned TV room, a nice big pool with loads of gorgoeus wooden patio furniture (still haven't worked out how to get the loungers in my rucksack) and a well equipped kitchen with a ....a......only a bloody oven!!!!! They also give you free foil, clingfilm & kitchen roll and there are loads of dry tea towels, cleaning cloths, different sized pots and sharp knives. This all seems trivial but I know the travellers amongst you will appreciate the scale of this acheivement. It came at just the right point for me as well as I was really starting to get a bit miffed and house sick. They were quite busy so we had to have a family room but it means we have air conditioning and a pine double bed! We booked a couple of trips and wandered into the night markets for some cheap eats but were sadly disappointed as this was the most expensive food court we had come across. We'd been told that Cairns was really cheap as it was such a back packer place and that pubs often offered free food to get you in and buying the beer. So far. 3 days later, we haven't found any free or even cheap places.
25th - Had a really relaxing day of doing nothing which is just what we both needed after quite a period of planned activities and travel. It was raining really heavily on and off which was actually quite nice as we ad forgotten what it felt like! We walked around town and visited the waterfront (which seemed quite ugly, especially in comparison to Townsville) and then excitedly headed back for our roast potatoes! Oh aren't we living the high life! We did venture to the pub next door for a well earned pint. Yes pint. After identifying that we were English we were offered our first pint since leaving home in September. This beverage slipped down a bit quick when we realised what sort of place it was (a bit rough for our liking) but we were just in time to see England lose the last 1 day cricket match by 6 runs. We hastily made our escape before the barman told the entirely Aussie crowd where we were from.....
26th - Kuranda Markets. I had been looking forward to this since we booked our tickets many months ago as the thought of visiting an alternative community high up in the rain forest was quite fascinating. This day trip involves a gondola ride high above the rain forest canopy for about 40 minutes and I have to admit to being a bit scared, especially after the recent Melbourne cable-snapping incident! We got off twice during the trip up for a boardwalk through the middle layer and a visit to the interprative centre and views of the waterfalls. Despite the heavy rain (well it is a rain forest) it was really beautiful and everything smelled so green and clean and refreshed and so different to the Australia we have seen so far.
At the top is the Kuranda village but the high number of tourists visiting the markets have destroyed the alternative feel and it is just like any other resort high street now which is a real shame. There were a couple of authentic / non souvenir type places though and one in particular is where we decided to buy our didgeridoo! We were impressed by the saleswoman who was aboriginal and could tell you the story depicted on each one and who it was by etc. She also taught us how to play and as usual Pip picked it up straight away and sounded like he'd come from a tribal village in the outback. All the artists are local and she told us how the instruments were made and the various ways of decorating them and she showed us pictures of the different tribes that they purchase from. We were therefore satisfied that we were buying a genuine article and not one that some backpacker had painted as this is often what happens!
The trip down from Kuranda is also part of the fun and we boarded the Kuranda Scenic Train at the collonial style station for another trip through the rain forest. We passed several waterfalls and went through 15 tunnels and overlooked beautiful scenery on our journey which lasted 1.75hrs and took us back into Cairns. Even though we were dissapointed with the so called markets we had a good day out.