Cairns' beautiful, free - and most importantly safe from deadly critters
- seaside lagoon.
Other than Sydney, tropical Queensland's Cairns is probably Australia's favourite tourist destination, hub for a hundred
activities out on the Great Barrier Reef, up at Kuranda and Daintree
and the start of the great Australian waltz down the east coast back
to Sydney, though beaches ain't what Cairns has got.
angle on Cairns' lagoon and seafront. The beach is artificial and
the sea is the dark grey slice in the background
Previously a backpacker boogie town, Cairns buzzes with urban energy
and now embraces upmarket visitors as well and seems particularly
attached to its Japanese clientele, with Japanese signs, language
spoken and flights direct from Japan. In fact some adrenalin activities,
such as white-water rafting and parachuting often entertain a 4-1
ratio of Japanese to Caucasians. This is not a problem as Japanese
are well-mannered and considerate though noisy in packs of university
students and they do insist on pictures capturing every moment of
centre, Shields St and Lake St intersection.
waterfront has had a serious and successful makeover recently with
the construction of a large, free salt-water lagoon, attractive tree-lined
esplanade and extensive, tree-shaded kid's playground beside the muddy
shore that was previously a fine place to meet hungry salties and
toxic jellies - and still is, for that matter, if you choose to stagger
onto the mud after too many beers at the toad races.
Cairns is loaded with accommodation of all types but the core of the
town is clearly the lagoon so try to get a place within a couple of
blocks of it unless you don't mind hanging out in your hotel's pool
and eating in their restaurant.
Plenty of kid's stuff to keep the rugrats occupied too. Click for Great
Barrier Reef Photos
original raison d'etre was The Great Barrier
Reef, and still transports thousands out the the reef every
day. However, whilst the reef - at about 2,300kms long - is the largest
on the planet, a World Heritage site and the only living thing visible
from space, the view from sea level or below is less impressive.
trip that may be a little less colourful than expectations, is the
Kuranda /Skyrail event,
a day starting with the throughly sanitised but worthy aboriginal
theme park - the Tjapukai Cultural Park, then a 7.5km Skyrail ride
over the rainforest to totally tourist overloaded Kuranda - though
if you can manage to stay overnight the town changes for the better
after the last train leaves.
Kuranda offers rainforest walks, markets, and various wildlife sanctuaries,
aka zoos. The return to Cairns may be on the Scenic Railway - again,
pictures of those follow.
where tropical rainforest meets coral reef in north Queensland is
also pretty tame on a day trip, but go a bit deeper over several days
with a good guide and you will find flora and fauna that may surprise
Most mammals are nocturnal (possums, tree kangaroos) but there are
plenty of colourful birds, parrots, kingfishers, cassowaries, as well
as ornamented lizards, frilled dragons, frogs, snakes and butterflies
that slither or flutter through the dense forest of rose gums, palms,
ferns, and strangler figs.
time to be in Cairns: May, June, Sept, Oct. May-November has
least clouds and rain but July-August is winter down south and school
holidays so expect prices to be high, accommodation scarce and activities
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