The past 2 days have been spent in Cairns, a medium sized east coast town abuzz with young international travelers. It is a place where quite literally the ocean meets the rainforest. So, you go from being worried about crocs right away to worrying about the jellyfish! However, we found what we were more worried about something we were all too already accustomed with at home, the mosquito (or mossie for short here in Australia)
Unfortunately, it is the wet season, and we have been getting a fair bit of rain. I can officially attest to the old saying “when it rains it pours,” because oh boy does it. However, a few bonuses to the weather are lower crowds, cooler temperatures, and hey I can now say it was raining in the rainforest! As our tour guide would later tell us, it is really all about attitude. Moving forward, it is all about seeing beyond the rain.
On day 1 we spent our time getting to know the town, and took a walk along the famous esplanade. As water is not safe to swim in, the town provided a large public swimming lagoon, which we took a dip in (later we found out is is essentially a hobos bath tub….but c’est la vie). We discovered a great little restaurant called Grill’d where we split a salad and burger. A few days later, we were filled in that this is actually a chain, so I guess there are many more burgers to come! Later in the day, we embraced some backpackers deals at our hostel, Gilligans, and had a free meal with drink purchase! In all honesty, it wasn’t half bad! As of now, we are loving the backpacker vibe surrounding the town, filled with lots of 2000s alternative rock.
Day 2 we booked a tour of the Atherton Tablelands with Captain Matty’s Barefoot Tours to escort is around the flat forested area filled with waterfalls and crater lakes. Raphael and I can now both say that we have swam in the crater of a volcano, and flipped our hair under a waterfall (let the bucket list begin)! One of the waterfalls was so perfect it was actually the site for a famous shampoo ad! To access these spots, we blazed the trail in dense rainforest vegetation, thinking about the thousand things that could kill us all around. Speaking of disgusting creatures, Raphael discovered upon removing his shoes a bunch of leaches clinging onto his feet.
One of the highlights of the tour was our guide, Gilly. Speaking of “it’s all about attitude” he was bubbly, and energetic. While he said he couldn’t wish the clouds away, his attitude shone a light on the rainy (to put it lightly) day. During the day he picked is up some farm fresh bananas and cut us up a few papayas (not sure about what the plural of papaya is, papayai?). Overall, we were never left hungry, and realized the true bonus to going on a tour–pure relaxation and enjoyment. Quick-witted and hilarious, he would respond to any random (and I really mean random) questions the group would throw at him. Of his many obsessions, obnoxious and filthy dive masters (his words…) was maybe the funniest.
Finally, driving back towards Cairns, we stopped the van to a surreal scene. At the railway crossing, the train had run over the front of a car (no casualties though) and the local police officer was contemplating with exasperation the mess created. No one could explain how such things happen. On the tour, we met notably Max the Canadian daredevil, Ria from Switzerland and the great Ross our Kiwi rugby player whom we will travel or meet up with further down the coast. On this note, we always have good fun meeting fellow Quebecers all the way down here.