On the day after the reef trip, I had to check out and still wasn’t entirely sure where I would go. I had wanted to extend my stay at the Global Backpackers Central but when I talked to the women at the counter the first evening (when I was feeling very tired and lonely), she was so rude to me (if she’s always like that she really should look for a different job), that I just wanted to start crying and leave Cairns. Luckily, the Peterpans night and the reef trip shed a better light on Cairns again. But I obviously didn’t stay at that hostel anymore and was really lucky with the couchsurfer I then found. He lived near the botanical gardens and so I took a bus (2.90$) there with all my luggage. Brenton was an amazing host! There already was a German couchsurfer at his apartment and so she had the couch and I made use of my mattress again. Finally, I had two quiet nights of great sleep :)! I was a bit afraid that a big huntsman spider that was hiding behind the microwave would come crawling over my face in the night but Brenton then kindly moved this tenant outdoors.
The three of us then went for a walk at the botanical gardens. I then realized that they were huge and I would have to come back again. It was basically a rainforest jungle, which was pretty cool. However, we hadn’t put any mosquito repellent on and since they were attacking us, we ran back to the house again soon. Just in time before a pouring rain started. It seems to start raining out of the blue often here.
Since it was a Saturday, we then drove to Rusty’s market. That’s something you don’t want to miss! We found some really cheap vegetables (perfect Guacamole avocados for 10 for 2$!!! à I was eating avocado for the rest of my days here :)). And there is good food and amazing drinks. Later in the afternoon, I came back with Jenni and Jess from my group on Fraser Island. We each had a fruity drink and I had the best smoothie I ever had!
The three of us were renting a car together with the German girl for the next day. After asking around a little we found one for 60$ with insurance. This made me feel so grown up! I can rent a car on my own! When did that happen?! The same feeling comes with booking a hotel room. That sometimes you rather pay a little more for a nice room and you can actually afford it, instead of a cheap, loud dorm bed.
Anyways, I was excited about the next day and so at 8.30am we were already packed in the small white car, ready to go. If only it would have been an automatic…I have been doing so well with avoiding manuals over here and now I had to drive a stick shift a whole day. With the stick on the left side!!! Considering that, I think I did pretty well :). There only was one embarrassing moment when I took about half a minute to turn the car back on at a one way street at a construction site (it was an uphill start…). Funny was, that the indicators and windshield wipers were on the same side as in Switzerland in this car. Apparently, Australians don’t know what they want.
After a 40min curvy mountain road drive, we reached Kuranda, which was supposed to be a similar hippie town as Nimbin, just bigger. There is a market on everyday but it wasn’t very busy and I don’t know if it would have been busier later in the day. It still was worth a stop but most of all, due to the Barron Falls. They are another short drive from town. 2min from the car park, there is a lookout with a great view over the falls. It surely would be a nice walk to the bottom of the big falls with a refreshing swim in the pool. However, we wanted to save our walking for Mossman Gorge, our next destination. We drove straight past Port Douglas and then parked the car on the big car park at Mossman Gorge. I didn’t expect this place to be that touristy! You can pay for a shuttle bus to bring you to the entrance of the gorge or you can walk for 20min on a normal road, where the shuttle busses will pass you every few minutes. We walked and passed an aboriginal community and already a few lovely creeks. There were beautiful blue butterflies but they were always too quick to catch them on camera!
We then decided to only do a short walk to the bridge and then swim at a small beach on our way back. The longest walk you could make is only 45min too, so we didn’t really see a point for the shuttle bus.
The rainforest was very lush and green and I loved the fern trees that looked like palm trees. The bridge was actually partially a suspension bridge. It moved when people walked on it!! The water of the stream was very clear and beautiful, so I just had to jump in. Very refreshing! Then we walked back to the entrance and had lunch at the picnic area. We felt very luxurious with our guacamole sandwiches and nachos :). On the way back to the car park it started raining. But you didn’t really need a rain jacket because the drops were so small that it was more like a rainforest spray shower at a spa (I guess the rainforest name makes sense now :)).
Then, we had about another hour of driving ahead of us to get to the river, where we had to take a car ferry to get to Cape Tribulation. They asked 23$/car for a return trip on the ferry. Seriously?!?! It only takes 2minutes to cross! Half joking, I asked the guy whether we could get it for 22$ to make it easier to split it through 4 people but to our surprise he just agreed 🙂
Then, the fun part of driving started. The roads were very windy and up and down and narrow curves through the rainforest. It was the first time since WA that it felt like being on an outback road again, where you actually had to concentrate on driving and where it rather felt like a roller coaster ride. All the (some of the quite big) holes in the ground were quite dangerous. I’m glad we were with a rental car, I wouldn’t want to expose my own car to this road. I had a great time driving there (and that with a manual :)), I hope my fellow passengers did too :).
Unfortunately, we did not see one animal (except the red headed turkeys, they are everywhere). That was a bit disappointing. We would have needed more time to find better walks but since it started raining again, we just went to one beach. It was still pretty with all the mangroves in the water and Alexandra Lookout would probably be amazing on a nice day.
We had no idea where the time went but it was already late afternoon and we had to start driving back. We didn’t want to end up in the rainforest in the dark. The ferries would cross until midnight though…
On our drive back, we made a short detour to Port Douglas and had a walk around town. It looked very cozy and pretty and I would have liked to spend one or two nights there too.
There would have been many more nice places to look at north of Cairns. A lot of waterfalls. But you just need a car to get there and unfortunately, my flight to Darwin is already around the corner. The road between Cairns and Port Douglas was beautiful to drive too, because a lot of it is directly along the ocean. Only, we didn’t see any of it anymore on our way back in the dark. Luckily, we didn’t see or hit any animals either.
It was a great day and I am so glad I could meet up with some friends I met previously on this trip. Travelling is worth so much more if you can share it with nice people. And I wouldn’t have rented a car on my own. Like that, the day only cost us 30$ instead of 150$ with a tour.
The next day, my last day at the East Coast, Lauren and Jamie had arrived too. Them, Jess and Jenni and I went on another exploring tour in the botanical gardens. We did the red arrow walk up a hill, from where we had a nice view overlooking the ocean and the airport. Catching our breath and trying to cool down a little (it gets very hot when the sun isn’t covered by clouds), we were philosophizing how this was possible that a heavy thing like a plane can just stay in the air.
Then, I moved back into a hostel for my last night. It is extremely inconvenient to get to Cairns airport and the only way really is to take a shuttle from a hostel in the center for 12$ (it gets cheaper the more people you are).
My hostel (Bohemian Resort) had a nice pool and whirlpool and after enjoying that, I had to organize a few things for the rest of my trip (still don’t have any accommodation in Darwin, it’s crazy expensive there!). Later, I met up with the others at McDonalds for a 30cent ice cream cone :). Then, we went to the night market, which was pretty much a small Asian tourist/souvenir market. Now, a few other known faces from the Whitsundays and Fraser had arrived in Cairns too. I didn’t think anybody would catch up with me and so it was great to see them again!
For dinner, we ended up at the best pizza place in town (unfortunately, I forgot the name but it’s on Sheridan St and has a little pool in front of it). At home, I want to try to make a bruschetta exactly like that!! It was DELICIOUS!!! Good food and great company was the perfect end to my East Coast trip. I almost wished the volcano in Indonesia would still be spitting ashes, so that my flight would get delayed for a few days. But it was on time and so I had to get up at 5am the next day to take my shuttle bus and then board the JetStar plane. They aren’t very strict for domestic flights in Australia. I could take liquids in my hand luggage (great, why did I spend so much time thinking about how to pack my things?) and I didn’t have to show my passport once!
Anyways, now I am on the plane to the Northern Territory. I didn’t think I’d be sad to leave the East Coast since for the first three weeks, everything looked nice but very similar. But then, I got to these stunning islands and was able to snorkel and dive at these amazing spots and met all these cool people I really hope to see again soon! If not over here, I have even more reasons for some European city trips 🙂