Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Australia: Cairns

Following on from my American adventure I didn't know what would happen to this blog. However, as I have just returned from 2 months in Australia and New Zealand and I intend to do much more travelling in the near feature, I thought this could become a travel blog. I love reading other peoples blogs about travelling and find them not only super interesting but very helpful too! Therefore I am giving back to the cyber world and recalling my adventures too. I hope my trip inspires you to go on a trip yourself.
Let me give you a brief background: I was in a job but not really enjoying it because a recruiter misled me on the job role. Anyway, I spent my entire 6 months in the job looking for another job and also dreaming of getting away. When I was asked to return to the company I worked for on placement to cover a maternity leave I jumped at the chance. Now this role didn't start until late March, and it was only January. So I handed in my weeks notice, booked my flights and flew out a week later - spontaneous I know! I was going half way across the world all on my own, what was I thinking?! But it has been the best thing I have ever done!  (also look how small my rucksack was! Best decision ever taking as little as possible, trust me you don't need a lot of stuff!!)

I flew into Cairns with no plan whatsoever, except for 3 nights at the Caravella Hostel. The Caravella Hostel provided a free pick up from the airport, so I headed to the pickup destination and waited for the transport. It was baking hot and such a surreal feeling being in a completely new country.
I arrived at the hostel and even though it was only 9.30 in the morning and way too early for check in my bed was free. I was taken to my dorm, which was a 6 bed with private bathroom. I decided to go exploring and get my bearings so headed out. I wandered around the lagoon and into the centre.
I headed back to the hostel and sat by the pool reading my book, I got chatting to some girls who had just finished the Oz Experience trip and really recommended it.
I headed into the centre to go and book myself onto it. After going to the wrong place and getting into a little panic I finally ended up at STA travel where I met a lovely girl who helped me book the trip. As it was so last minute I couldn’t get onto certain trips for a week, so that meant spending a little longer than expected in Cairns.

My first trip was the Great Barrier Reef boat trip with Passions of Paradise I arrived for check in at 7.30 in the morning and got taken to the boat. I found myself a table with other travellers and we all got chatting. We set sail to our first stop. The trip was choppy and many people started to feel sea sick including myself. However once we stopped I felt miles better. I had opted to do an introductory dive as I have never been scuba diving before and always wanted to. We had a briefing and then we were sent to get all the gear on. Once all kitted up we were taken to the side and told to jump in the water, which was much harder than expected as all the equipment was so heavy!! We then had to practise breathing and going under water. I couldn’t grasp it at all and started to panic, I felt really out of my comfort zone, but kept telling myself that I needed to do it; it was an experience of a lifetime. The guide could tell how determined I was so he took me off underwater swimming on my own and I was fine. We all linked arms (6 of us in a group) and swam with the guide to the bottom of the ocean. Once the guide to see we were confident he let us swim on our own. The scenes were incredible all coral and all the fish were breath-taking.  It is something I will never forget. Once our session was up it was back to the boat to take the equipment off and then we had some free time for some snorkelling. Following from this we had some lunch that was provided, there were a selection of salads and meats to choose from and also bread. Once lunch was finished we set sail again for the next stop Michaelmas Cay. This is a remote island that humans are only allowed on a small part of as the rest is habited by puffins! We decided to take the mini boat to the island first and then snorkel back to the main boat.  The snorkelling here was incredible, and we took advantage of the free snorkelling guided tour. We saw lots of nemos, turtles, sting rays and a reef shark too! Once back on the boat it was time to set sail back to the mainland. The gang decided to sit at the front of the boat on the ‘trampolines’ for a sunbathe. We also enjoyed an afternoon snack of cheese and biscuits which went down a treat!
We arrived back in Cairns and I headed back to the hostel to freshen up.

That evening I met everyone from the boat for dinner at Gilligan’s, and then we stayed there for a night out. I also met my friend from home who had moved to Sydney there too, which was fab! Travelling on your own is great but seeing a familiar face is the best feeling ever (I will mention more of this later!)

The next day was a free day so I chilled with my new friends who had just come off a ‘’TopDeck’ tour from Sydney.

The following day was a Barefoot Tour of the Atherton Tablelands. Again this was an early start but I got picked up from the hostel. I made friends with a girl who was waiting for the same trip. We first headed to a lake that was very cold. Myth had it that a woman died in the lake and her remains are the water which is why it’s so cold! We were then provided with breakfast of pastries and fruit which was delicious! We stopped at a village to buy some lunch, I grabbed a sausage roll from the bakery and then we headed to the next stop. Here were some incredible waterfalls with rocks that were slippery so you could slide down them. We stayed here for a while going down the ‘slide’ and taking lots of pics!We then took the long drive to Millaa Millaa Falls. Here is where Peter Andre filmed mysterious girl and also where the herbal essence advert was filmed.  We did the standard hair flick photo (mine was pretty sweeeet!) and also swam under the waterfall.Then it was back on the minibus to the next stop of the day, not before we had enjoyed many packets of Tim Tams. We stopped briefly at some more waterfalls, these were very secluded and we were the only people there. We enjoyed some afternoon tea and then onto the final stop of the day.We stopped at a huge lake, but as it was coming to the end of the day and I was finally starting to dry off I chose to sunbathe instead. However you could jump into the lake from the trees which was pretty cool! Then it was the long journey back to Cairns and dropping everyone off at their hostels/hotels.

Once home I went for dinner with two of the girls from the trip who were both at my hostel. We went to the thai restaurant at the front of the hostel which is apparently one of the best places to eat in Cairns – it was tasty!

The next day was another chill day so I spent it with the TopDeck gang by the lagoon. We then went out for dinner that night and I got an early night as was leaving to Magnetic Island the next day.