Cairns, Australia 2010 – Day 7 & 8

05/01/10

We went to Kuranda via SkyRail Rainforest Cableway for a full day experience – Tjapukai Aboriginal Experience, Scenic Skyrail ($103.50CAD), Koala Gardens and Bird World ($28CAD). We got picked up from Cairns Central and headed to the Skyrail Station.

Our first stop was the Tjapukai experience from local aboriginals that inhabited this area/village. We got to throw with the aboriginal spear thrower and also throw boomerangs. The spear would be held in the throwing stick holder where the spear is held by a hook before it is launched. I threw it past the targets. The guy that was teaching us boomerang said that he didn’t expect me to have so much power as I threw the boomerang too hard. You need to throw at 1 O’Clock for the perfect throw to return. The boomerangs were actually used as weapons to hunt their prey. I bought a plain boomerang so I can throw it back home while Andrew bought a nicer looking one for the shelf. They did a little performance for us about their culture and about the animals and performed a bit of didgeridoo for us.

We then hopped on the Skyrail and went straight up to the top of the rail line (well a 40min ride) after bungee jumping, heights aren’t really too bad except for the rickety parts when the gondola passes the towers. We decided to B line past the towers to Kuranda Village that was filled with multiple arts and crafts shops. The locals seem to live off the tourism. We decided to eat lunch in this area and I finally was able to grab myself a Crocodile Pie! The taste is similar to chicken but with the texture of fish. I also picked up some homemade salt water taffy that was made in front of us.

We made our way to the Koala park. You can carry a koala and take a photo with one but for 16AUD I felt it wasn’t worth it and a little cheesy but I did however get some good shots myself of them! Did you know that there are different rules on touching koalas depending on what state in Australia you are in. In Cairns because it is so hot, the koalas are smaller in size thus the laws allow you to be able to handle a koala however if in Melbourne, you need to stay at least 10 meters away from a Koala because they are larger and their claws could kill you.  Koalas are so weird looking but cute nonetheless.

Nearby, we were able to go into the area where the wallabies and kangaroos were and we fed them. There was one kangaroo that was a little aggressive and grabbed me with their claws but no bloodshed but there there was one that was really gentle. The wallabies are my favourite because they are so tiny, cute and gentle. Andrew was actually really excited to goto Birdworld and I was greeted with a bird that said hello. Trying to train it to say Andrew didn’t quite work though.

We then headed back down on the skyrail to visit the stops along the way. We saw the Barron Falls where we walked through some rainforest and had some beautiful views. Second stop was Red Peak – the highest point on the Skyrail with some huge spiders and trees. There isn’t too much to do in the city so we called it a early night.

05/02/10

Jungle surfing is in Cape Tribulation which is about 2 hours away from here. We decided to skip renting a car to make the 2 hour trek there and back for a 2 hour activity. Bad decision. We ended up leaving our room at 9am-ish and made our way to DFO (direct factory outlet) which was a 20-30 min walk. Both Andrew and myself aren’t big shoppers but that place was very unexciting and didn’t have anything that we liked. We decided to come back to Central Cairns Mall and roamed separately.Didn’t end up buying anything besides a nice lychee gelato and watched bats flying over me around 3PM.

If we knew earlier that Cairns doesn’t have much to do, we would’ve taken a day from Cairns and spent it in Melbourne instead but you live and learn. Melbourne tomorrow!

Cairns, Australia 2010 – Day 6

04/30/10

Today we went on a day tour with Passions of Paradise to discover the Great Barrier Reef (169AUD). Its a local tour and the crew was fun and very helpful. We started at 830AM and we sailed out about an hour away into Michaelmas Cay. The catamaran was pretty full of people and there were part of the vessel you can lay out on roped areas but BE WARNED: the O Zone layer is very thin especially in Cairns so the UV rays are strong and you will get burned (coming from someone who doesn’t burn that often) so please put on sunscreen and re-apply. We encountered a few Canadians from Vancouver on this tour but for some reason they have weird accents…?

We decided to go scuba diving (70AUD). The instructors give you a quick lesson and into the water you go after being suited with your flippers, goggles, water tank and respirator. So water and me are not the best of friends. After jumping into the water with the gear on, we were told to start by sticking our head under and breathing through the respirator. Naturally, I breathe through my nose so my first breathe made my goggles pop up and I started to panic and didn’t want to go down and at that point wanted to give up. The instructor Steve tried to calm me down and told me to keep looking at him underwater. Then he pulled me, Andrew and another deeper and deeper. I haven’t swam in years so I kept a hold of Steve’s hand. He brought me right over a sea turtle and over the home of clown fish – we found an anemone! He even threw 2 jellyfish at me to hold… They look like longan/ lychee.

After about an hour down under, we surfaced and our scuba diving was over. We then traded in the tank for snorkels and headed on our way to Paradise Reef for snorkelling. I took random photos at Michaelmas Cay but unfortunately the camera somehow malfunctioned for our second session of snorkel at paradise reef with no land mass nearby. It was much prettier here. I swam into schools of fishes.  It took about 2 hours to sail back and I was on the brink of getting seasick but just stayed curled up as a ball inside the catamaran and made it through! A few decided to let it all out in the water which brought fishes to our vessel. I must say that it was a once in a lifetime thing to snorkel/scuba at the great barrier reef. Got back to the hostel and booked our flight and accommodations for Melbourne in which we would leave for in 2 days.

Cairns, Australia 2010 – Day 5

04/29/10

Uncle and auntie woke us up at 4-430AM and we got to the airport by 530AM for our 7AM flight. We will have one more day in Sydney at the end of our trip. I really did enjoy the atmosphere of Sydney – very similar to Toronto atmosphere I think. I could picture myself living here one day although driving is still something that I’m still getting use to. We flew with Jetstar from Sydney to Cairns; roughly a 3 hour flight. It would’ve taken us 48 hours by train to travel Sydney to Cairns so we were happy to fly.

We arrived in Cairns around 1030AM and got picked up by Leah who works at Dreamtime Travelers Rest Hostel (189 Bunda St, Parramatta Park QLD 4870, Australia) where we are staying. Chris working reception was really helpful and friendly. We booked a private room with 2 single beds – shared bathroom/toilets. The room has A/C but otherwise is quite humid and has a mini fridge but no table with 2 single beds and a fan. Internet is available with purchase of a internet card. I had gummy bears with me from my flight over and put those in the fridge and they were such a nice little treat after coming home from the heat.

Cairns (which is prounouced as “canes/quanize”) is very humid and its been raining a lot lately here. It is indeed very tropical here.

My brother doesn’t care to make decisions so since we only had half day, we didn’t book jungle surfing, I decided that we would go bungy jumping.  We booked AJ Hacketts – bungy jumping – $169AUD+$49AUD photos. The van picked us up and off we went. 20 ppl per bus, on our original van only 3 decided to bungy while the rest did minjin (fastest swing).

They get you geared up and you let them know what you would like to do – Bungy jump or Minjin. Next step is they weigh you to ensure they adjust your ropes for your weight. At this point, it just makes me feel so bad about my body and a workout is dearly needed. I will tell you right now that I am not one for heights but what the hell, when in Cairns and the opportunity comes up, you should just go do it. To reach the top you must walk up the stairs. Getting up those stairs was probably the most difficult part for me. Once you get up there and have time to watch others go first made my nerves calm.  Andrew went first and well he wanted to take a dip but he was too light that he didn’t even reach the water. He was in a diving position the whole time but didn’t quite break the water barrier.

I don’t know how to explain my jump… I wanted to push off so the photo would look cool but I looked down as I pushed off and lost all the strength I built up. The only thing you could hear from me on my jump was me yelling “oh shit!” I hate roller coasters and bungying is beyond that. Flinging my body on my own free will 43 meters down. They tell you when you reach the bottom (recoil) to just tuck your chin in so that you don’t get whiplash. My first recoil, I curled up like a ball and practically made it back upright maybe 5 meters under the jump-off platform. All I know is my head immediately started hurting after that and it was incredibly hard for me to breathe smoothly. So there you have it, I, Rosanna U bungy jumped in Cairns, Australia. Probably won’t ever do it again but now I can say I did it (and have a shirt and photos to prove it!). There was a guy named Michael (Irish guy that looked like Alexandre Despatie) and some other girl who did about 9-10 jumps each. There was also a girl up on the platform that started to cry and was afraid to jump and unfortunately the only way for them to come down, the staff will push you off the platform because there are no refunds. She did enjoy it in the aftermath.

We arrived back around 530PM and walked down to Spence St to find food. We found ourselves in the marketplace and wow… The Japanese population takes over…. Its like Cairns is a J-town. We bought a few souvenirs in this one jap souvenir store. We ended up eating in the Daily Night Markets at a place called Good Food Cafe. We both ordered kangaroo burgers and chips. The meat is tough/gamey but good. We then proceeded back to the hostel and I edited images and passed out.