Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cairns, Gateway to the Coral Sea

10 August 2013

We've spent a few days in Cairns, which is an interesting town.  Tropical and a party town, like Darwin.  But this is Far North Queensland, which isn't quite as rugged and wild as the Northern Territory - there aren't croc attacks on a daily basis, there aren't wild fights on weekend nights.  This is a more upscale and more sophisticated city, although it seems as if most tourists pass through on their way to the Coral Sea to the east, or the rain forest and mountains to the west.

We've been enjoying relaxing at our hotel, exploring our neighborhood, and also exploring town.  There's a night market every night, sort of an artsy souvenir and tchotchka market (yeah, Yiddish doesn't transliterate well) - every imaginable version of Australian animals in candies, toys, jewelry, tee shirts, hats - you name it, a koala or 'roo or wombat or whatever is rendered in opal, chocolate, wool, leather, cotton, polyester, crystal, plastic.  

And then there are the tours - dive trips to the pontoon out on the Outer Reef, where you can spend one night to a week, sleeping in the posh rooms and diving to your heart's content.  River rafting.  Hiking.  Visiting every waterfall in a 50-mile or so radius.  More snorkeling and scuba diving.  Swimming with minke whales up north.  Flying to see Migaloo, the rare white humpback whale who has been cruising the coast.  A trip for every body and every budget.

I'm planning a trip to an artsy town in the rainforest, which also has a koala sanctuary, and I can hold and cuddle another cute little koala before we head out.

Cairns doesn't really have a beach, just mud flats stretching out to the shoreline.  Tourists occasionally wander out onto the mud flats, get stuck, have to be rescued.  Some burglar ran out into the mud to escape apprehension by the police, but he also had to be rescued.  So, in lieu of a beach, there's a huge fountain pool along the waterfront, where children play and frolick, and parents cool off for a bit.  It seems to be a big social thing.  Mostly I liked the flying fish sculpture along the skyline.

The big excitement (you can see how relaxed we've been) was watching the man climb the palms around the hotel and chop off the old palm fronds as well as taking off the bunches of coconuts.  I guess so they don't fall on anyone's heads.  Thrilling, huh?  Actually, it probably is more thrilling up on top of the tree - but there was no way either of us were going to do that.  So we watched, and I took photos, as the palms were trimmed. 

We're winding down our time in Australia, and taking care of the usual business of moving on - laundry, then sorting and repacking, with some culling of unnecessary or unused items, restocking toiletries, and getting ready to head elsewhere.  

As Richard says, life is good Down Under.

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