Sunday, 13 January 2013

In With the New

The first day of 2013 and my first thought on waking up was to make sure I was somewhere with a signal at 11:00 since that would be midnight back home. I managed to get through to my mother just as they were bringing in the New Year, failed to reach my brother and got a ring back from my in-laws. Not bad considering the time differences and the number of other people making calls at that time. Fab as it was to say happy new year to them my parents were with friends and in-laws just about ready for bed I think so the calls were kept short with promises of proper call later.

Phone calls made the morning started off lazy as my friends discussed what to do with their day and I organised to meet up with my host friend once she was up and about. Before long I was headed to the train station and a short train ride to meet said host friend who drove to meet me half way between her town and Sydney so I could see the spectacular ocean views along the coastal road. She even made an adventure out of it by running out of petrol on the way home. Before the are cries of “typical female” abound her petrol gauge was claiming there was a quarter of a tank left. Lesson of the day: don’t trust the petrol gauge. Whilst we waited for assistance we put on the iPod and made ourselves comfortable. Before too long the road side assistance man was there to save the day. A quick emergency top up and stop at the next petrol station and we were safely on our way once more.

On our return we were greeted with much hilarity and I was convinced to take a relaxing dip in the pool. Well I was promised relaxing what I got was shot at by multiple water guns and climbed over by a small child, which was much more fun than merely floating around would have been. Of course allowing small children to shoot water at you and climb all over you makes you their instant best friend which was lovely but I was glad when later in the evening they transferred their attention back to my host friend who glad kept them entertain for the latter part of the evening. For all I had slept well and not been out partying as such I still felt myself tiring as the day came to an end. I love other people kids but I don’t know who they manage to keep up with them. Any parent reading this I have major respect for you and your stamina levels. As lovely as it was to meet my friends family friends and their kids I was happy to head straight to bed once they had left the building.

On the second day of the new year we did attempt to be productive and go to the cinema but there were a lot of kids (I like them in small numbers)  and we had cut our timing a little tight due to both of us being held hostage by our beds that morning. We soon determined that neither of us was that bothered about seeing the film and went for coffee and cake instead. It was a grey day and the rain seemed to have settled in for the duration so we head home  or another day of films and in my case photo sorting and editing. I know there are some purists who think photo editing is cheating but I love messing with my shots, for me it’s half the fun. Of course a day of film watching means a day of snacking on chocolates and sweeties but since that is something I rarely do when travelling I ignored the calories and simply enjoyed our last day together before I headed north back to the tropics. Not back to Broome but to the east coast this time and Cairns where the rainforest meets the reef, or so I was told.

On the day I left I got up at a reasonable time as packing was going to be a challenge. Somehow I managed to fit everything in to my rucksack and even more surprisingly it was within the weight limits for my flight. My impulse to stop and take some last minute photos of a damaged top I was going to throw out (and ended up packing anyway) meant I made my train to the airport without a second to spare. I had a hasty goodbye with my friend which I think suited us both as neither of us like them which is fine because I knew I would be seeing her again sooner rather than later this time.

My train got me to the airport in plenty of time which I was glad of when I saw the check in queue as it was very long however much to my surprise for once I was one of the people asked to go to an empty check in desk and before I knew it I was free of my large backpack and heading through security. I used my spare time to get some dinner as the flight was too short for it to be included and I knew that by the time I got to Cairns it would be too late to go hunting for food. It also allowed me time to book a spot on the shuttle bus from the airport to my hostel which I had forgotten to do previously, thank goodness for the internet is all I can say. My flight was uneventful. No moving of seats or free wine or iPads this time but it was a calm flight and the Virgin Airways staff are pleasant and helpful so it was an easy enough journey and gave me plenty of time to work on my blog.

Once in Cairns I quickly found the bus and was soon dropped off at the hostel. I had decided to stay at a non-YHA hostel on the recommendation of another traveller and based on the online photos I thought this place would have more character. Instead of a six bed I had booked a three bed dorm on the understanding that the hostel try to make the smaller dorms single sex. Try is not a guarantee though and I ended up sharing with a couple my first night. Thought they were pleasant and very polite I felt a little awkward about this. Thing improved the following day when they moved to a private room and I had two new roommates. One was a Norwegian girl and the other an American guy who was currently living New Zealand. Both were there for the diving and made for interesting roommates.
The Dreamtime Travellers Rest Hostel
I didn’t do much in my first four days in Cairns but I did make a point of being more social that I had been in Broome. I went for walks around the city centre to get my bearings and see what kind of place I had landed in this time. My initial impressions were that Cairns was large, confusing and full of people. Whilst I liked it well enough I didn’t think I would be hanging about, especially as I had spent 4 months in the tropics already. Therefore in-between wandering around the shops and esplanade I planned my trip south looking up hostel a nd trip costs and determining the places I really wanted to stop. The choice of destinations was helped along by some lovely facebook friends who gave me their thoughts and impressions of the various places I was thinking of stopping. Since I was still thinking of looking for work in Tasmania I decided to stop at a limited number of places and picked my top three Queensland destinations then decided to stop at Byron Bay in New South Wales before skipping down to Melbourne with a possible quick stop in Sydney if any of my friends were going to be about when I was passing through.

As well as planning my future travels I decided to use my UK Christmas money (thank you in-laws and big brother!) to book a couple of trips up into the rainforest. After all I was going to see the reef so I had to see the forest as well,it's only fair. So through the ever helpful hostel staff I booked a day trip tot he Atherton Tablelands and a trip up to Cape tribulation which would leave me at Port Douglas on the way back. On the recommendations of the staff here I booked myself in to a hostel for two night thinking it would make an excellent start to my travels. I did notice the work available message but I had made a plan and I thought for once it would be nice to stick to it so I went back to my dive book and trip planning happy in the knowledge that life was about to get very interesting once more. 

Markets at the Esplande
Cairns CBD

The Lagoon at the Esplande - No stingers here!


  1. That all sounds good Lyn.
    If you get to Sydney then give my love to anyone who remembers me please.
    Travel safe,
    Sally xx