Cairns / Cape Tribulation / Port Douglas (Australia)

CAIRNS –
20 years ago, arrival in Cairns was like arriving in Japan.  Today, arrival in Cairns was like arriving in China.  Despite the fact the Japanese are way more polished than the Chinese, I am cool with this transition as we were greeted with the worlds greatest Chinese buffet I have ever seen on offer upon arrival in Cairns (check out the video below).  Just like in SE Asia, the Chinese move in large packs with selfie sticks in hand.  We set out on a day trip to snorkel and hang out on the tiny Green Island where we were joined by one of these large Chinese packs.  We were amazed by the unique style of dress the Chinese thought was fashionable for this tropical beach island.  They arrived arrived fully clothed in long pants, hats and many even wearing jackets despite the 95 degree climate.   The Chinese march to the beat of a different drummer.  Their mannerisms are so different than any other culture.  I attempt to be open minded and try to understand them but I remain perplexed.

Cairns, in the Far North Queensland is one of Australia’s biggest tourist towns.  It is the main jumping off point to the legendary Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest and the hinterlands.  It’s realllly steamy tropical hot here and the pace is slowwww.  Cairns has a young vibe as it’s a main stopover on the backpacker circuit for those traveling up and down the east coast of Australia.  Consequently, the town has a real party atmosphere.  There is plenty of action at the nighttime pub parties and tons of paid daily excursions to the reef and beyond that will keep you busy every day.

A new addition to Cairns since my previous visit is the construction of a massive lagoon pool alongside the ocean.  Definitely a favorite feature of the Tropical North Queensland towns are these man-made pools by the beach.  The one in Cairns was equally impressive as the one we saw in Brisbane.  The grassy area surrounding the pool was a cool place to laze around, listen to Dead tunes on your iPhone and meet other travelers.  The pool is free and they even have free public wifi to surf the net since there are no waves to surf in Cairns.

This pool really comes in handy as the main beach in Cairns is more of a mud flat and unswimmable.  If you are craving the beach and ocean, you can head a bit up the coast to Trinity Beach, Palm Cove, Ellis Beach or Port Douglas.  However, you must watch out… just in case you didn’t know, you need to be careful swimming in the beaches in this area up north because of box jelly fish that can seriously put a hurting on you and can even kill.  There’s also a few crocs around too.  So, given all that, the massive beachside pool serves as a good alternative.  The big activity are the various versions of trips out to the Great Barrier Reef.   Bungy jumping at AJ Hackett is big and many other assorted action packed activities a human can thing of are waiting to be booked.  My fav was a visit to the Crystal Cascades outside of town.  The Crystal Cascades is a cascade waterfall on the freshwater creek with numerous waterfalls and swimming waterholes.  The landscape is really nice as the falls are surrounded by a spectacular green rainforest.   It’s a great way to take in the natural beauty Cairns has on tap.

 

DAINTREE / CAPE TRIBULATION / MOSSMAN / PORT DOUGLAS –
The 1 1/2 hr. drive north from Cairns hugging the coastal highway to Daintree and Cape Tribulation is spectacularly beautiful.  A good stop off on the way is a swim in the refreshing Mossman Gorge waterhole.  Once you arrive in the massive Daintree Rainforest, you will be consumed by nature and all the outdoor experiences that go along with that.

What is really BAD about the Daintree/ Cape Tribulation Rainforest is there is No Internet, No TV and No Cell Service.

What is really GREAT about the Daintree/ Cape Tribulation Rainforest is there is No Internet, No TV and No Cell Service.

It is going back to basics, as you are:
Forced to listen
Forced to make eye contact
Forced to converse
Forced to socialize
Forced to observe your surroundings
Forced to slow your mind
Forced to find peace and serenity
Forced to play board games with Barbie
Forced to break into the Nimbin stash
Forced to trust a paper map and follow oral directions.

And guess what?  I found it so relaxing and enjoyable that I plan to seek out more places off the grid as we enjoyed this experience which was similar to our Fraser Island multi day excursion.

Australia is an awesome country and it’s not just in the rainforest that you will come into contact with some wacky wildlife.  You must keep your thinking cap on at all times whether on land or in the sea to avoid what nature has in store for you here in Oz.

The cute ones we have come in contact with:
Kangaroos
Koalas
Dingos
Wombats
Wallabys

And If you venture into the Rainforest, I cannot forget about the plethora of insects, plants and bugs that will light your ass up at any given moment:
Spiders
Stinging Trees
Electric Ants
Horned Beatles
Scorpions

And if you step into the wrong ocean, beware of:
Box Jellyfish
Saltwater Crocs
Great White Sharks
Blue Ringed Octopus
Man O War (not the horse)

On any single day in the Tropical Far North of Queensland, you are bound to see a sign warning you of a scenario on how you can potentially get really fucked up or die by something mother nature has created (check out pix of some of these signs below)

If you are lucky enough and do survive all of the above, than you just may run into a cassowary and they can really knock your lights out.  They are one of the largest non flying birds and can stand larger than a human.  God gave them a razor like attachment claw on their feet which they use to slice their prey.  They will carve you up real nice for a green card.

The other nasty little bastard here is the Tanzanian Devil who is also out and about lurking around.  With their super powerful jaws, they can devour your ass in two shakes of a lambs tail.

We had our first kangaroo burger in Cape Tribulation.  I loved mine but Barbie folded her cards halfway thru as it started to set in with each bite exactly what she was actually eating.  I could see it in her watery eyes after her first 2 bites that she was cooked.  Being the value guy and hating to see things go to waste, I polished off the remainder of her Kangaroo burger right after I devoured mine.  Funny though, she had no problem enjoying the kangaroo satay on a stick a few days prior in Cairns.  She claims that the kangaroo burger would not have been a problem in the right setting, like in a nice air conditioned restaurant…. but eating the Roo at a shack in the middle of the jungle with them hopping around seemed to overwhelm her a bit.   And to top it off, Flashpacking Barbie was hand feeding some cute little wallabys just the day before so her mindset was not right prior to the Kangaroo burger lunch (check out video below).  I, on the other hand found the Kangaroo burger quite tasty and have my eyes on either the meaty crocodile or Emu penis burger at the next burger joint.

 

THRU THE BINOCS –
Here in the Far North of Queensland, we have come across a large number of indigenous Australians called Aboriginals.  There is a history here with the Aboriginals.  I would best compare them to our Native American Indians.  They were in Australia first and subsequently got their shit taken away by the white man and I assume they are pissed.  Aboriginals have a distinct facial facial structure that I have never seen before. The color of their skin is also quite different than any other race.  Many can be seen hanging out on the streets (mostly in the shade as it scorching hot) doing pretty much nothing.  I had been told they are subsidized by the Australian government.  They appear to be basically ignored by the Australian population.  I do not know their exact history, but I am sure it is sad.  We said hello and smiled at a few but I assumed If you pulled them aside, they would probably tell you how they are getting screwed and how their living conditions are not on par with the superior living conditions of other Aussies.  In 1999, the Australian Parliament passed a Motion of Reconciliation naming mistreatment of Indigenous Aboriginal Australians as the most “blemished chapter in our national history.”

Our time is up in the tropical state of Queensland.  It is now time to change our mindset and prepare for the bright lights and big city life in artsy Melbourne which has been coined the “most liveable city in the world.”  In an effort to blend into this urban lifestyle, I may even have to become a bit more fashionable and break out one of my ‘smart’ t-shirts that has been sitting freshly pressed on the bottom of my backpack.

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