To Cairns

Quickly shoving all our things into our bags and making sure we’d grabbed our food out of the fridge, we took one last look around the room and headed out to reception to check out. Today we left Mission Beach for what we think is our last northern leg of the trip up to Cairns on the Greyhound bus. As we headed down to catch the free shuttle bus to the bus stop, we were both pretty disappointed that it was the same girl driving as yesterday but got on with things joined the rest of the guests waiting to leave. Whilst standing outside the reception area, I heard an argument happening behind me and was stunned to hear that it was the guy from yesterday moaning that guests shouldn’t come first and that he should have been able to stay on the bus. I couldn’t believe that he was still going on about it! I did feel that perhaps we might have unfairly judged the hostel and regretted not giving it more of a chance but he changed my mind instantly and I looked forward to leaving. Having said that the area is very beautiful and I would have like to have spent a bit more time just taking it all in just perhaps not at the Jackaroo hostel.

As we hopped into the minibus, I really hoped that the 25 minute journey would pass quickly to escape the tension. It wasn’t great. I made sure I was looking outside and taking everything in for one last time (and trying my hardest to block out the ridiculously loud music) when something black caught my eye. It was a cassowary! It crept out of the bushes and crossed the road just behind us, allowing me just enough time to tell Codie and look at all it’s markings. I was so pleased I actually got to see one as I’d been told that people spend ages looking and never get the chance to and it was very exciting! It was a bit annoying the the driver had spotted it too but had refused to slow down so everyone could have a proper look but I suppose that’s the attitude we’ve had the last 2 days so it wasn’t much of a surprise. More than anything she should really have slowed down as soon as she saw it to prevent any accidents as it’s car accidents that kill so many of these endangered birds. It would have been horrible to have witnessed the death of one of those majestic birds and I just hope that she slows down next time.

We soon pulled up at the bus stop and then grabbed out things from the boot and went to sit on a bench for a bit. I really liked Mission Beach with it’s wildlife and it’s relaxed and friendly atmosphere and I’d definitely recommend a visit. There’s perhaps not a lot to do for backpackers unless you’re off doing tours and trips all the time but it’s a lovely relaxing place to just unwind for a few days. The bus turned up not too long later and after signing in and loading our things on, we got on, found some seats and sat down. It was at this point that I realised that somewhere between getting on the minibus and getting on this bus, I’d lost the antibacterial gel. Grrrrrr. Quite annoying as it was an almost full bottle and I hate leaving things behind but there was nothing we could do as the bus then pulled away and we were off. The journey to Cairns was short at only 2 hours so I sat back and made the most of travelling through the country and looking at all the beautiful scenery. I had some bad news from home and tried to focus on watching for cassowaries instead but couldn’t see any; they are endangered and rare after all!

Upon reaching Cairns, we hoped that there would be a shuttle bus to the Jack Backpackers hostel where we’d booked a night but there wasn’t and we sat down and debated what to do next. Perhaps we shouldn’t just assume that there’ll be somewhere waiting in future! There was a couple of other people wondering what to do as well but they were going to another hostel called Gilligan’s and we weren’t sure how far away that was from the Jack. After calling them, we discovered that they don’t actually run shuttle buses to the stop as it’s not that far away and you can walk it. In the end, we decided to just get a taxi as it just wasn’t worth the pain and hassle of dragging everything along the road without really knowing where we were going and in temperatures we weren’t quite used to yet. A taxi pulled up but as we went to get it, the other group ran ahead and got there first. Hmmmm. How long would we have to wait now? Luckily not long as another showed up soon after and we climbed in with the taxi driver laughing at us as the hostel was just down the road. Yes it was just down the road but it was quite a long road and it was a lot further than I thought it was. I’m so glad we got the taxi, it just removed any unnecessary problems and wasn’t even too expensive.

Opening the sliding doors to the Jack Backpackers reception, we were met with a blast of cool air and the friendliest receptionist ever. There was another guest in front of us who was also checking in and so we all heard the information together so she didn’t have to repeat herself which was understandable. I was particularly pleased to hear about the free meal they offered as it meant that we got the night off from being trapped in a stuffy kitchen and that was such a relief. I just hoped it was something nice and that the portions weren’t too stingy. After collecting our keys and a map of Cairns, we left to go and find our room which turned out to be a lot further away than I thought. The reception isn’t actually connected to the hostel section and so you had to leave there, carry on walking to the cross roads then turn right, go through double doors and up the stairs. A lot further when you’re carrying all your things so it was lovely to eventually make it to the room. I’d booked another double for the night as after the last two nights of having that luxury, I didn’t want to give it up so soon. It wasn’t too much more expensive either which was great and the free food made it even better! As with the Jackaroo, the room was quite basic but for what I paid, it didn’t really matter and it even came with a single bunk on top, perfect for storing all our things out of the way. One thing did confuse me though, a sign that said no food or drink in the rooms which had been placed above a fridge. What? Is the fridge there to just torment you or are you allowed to use it? We went with the decision to use it and crammed all our tasty food in there, hopeful that we wouldn’t need it for the night.

After staying in the room for a bit, unable to work the air con and getting hotter and hotter, we decided to go for a wander around Cairns. The first stop was a trip to the Post Office where we hoped our bank cards would still be waiting for us after ordering them weeks ago in Hervey Bay. Somewhat conveniently, it was just across the road from the hostel which was useful as I managed to forget my ID and had to go back. I’m so protective of my passport usually so how I ended up leaving it behind when I actually needed it I have no idea! When we eventually made it into the building, we joined a queue and a friendly woman asked us what we needed and then told us where to go (in a nice way!) I liked how friendly everybody was in the Australia Post Office, it was really refreshing. I know at home in Longton, the people in the post office there are really very warm and welcoming whereas in Cardiff, not so much. I suppose it depends on where you are but I really appreciated the service in this one in Cairns. We asked the guy behind the desk if they had our cards and after handing over our ID, he went off and came back with two envelopes. Hooray! No more having to rely on the phone app for careless cash or having to predict how much money we’ll need in advance to get around the daily cash limit. Yay!

Once we’d connected our cards to the app (grrrr, still no escaping that) and sorted out a pin we set off for a wonder. I have been enjoying how up-to-date Australia is in terms of card payments and things like that. The fact you are in control of your pin is very useful and even the fact that every machine in the shops allows you to use contactless payments means it’s so much faster and easier to pay. I really hope at home they catch up with this as certain places, like McDonalds, allow you to but most places I’ve tried have said they’re machines aren’t working and that’s a shame. It’d get rid of queues a lot quicker! Anyway, we walked down the road towards the sea as I thought it’d be quite interesting around there. It wasn’t. It was a terrible way and after walking in the blistering heat we ended up walking in a huge loop and ended up back in the centre and then in a Subway. Mmmmmm lovely subway. Codie had a meatball marinara and I had had a delicious tuna melt one and it really was tasty. I’ve missed tuna as it’s quite expensive here so I really appreciated it! As a looked out of the window taking in Cairns and people watching I was faced with quite an unpleasant view of a woman itching…a private place. I opted to stick to watching my sandwich disappear instead.

The next stop was the Woolworths across the road for some bottles of water, snacks and the obligatory cuddly crocodile keyring and after our shop, we headed back to the hostel. But wait! What was that little koala doing in the corner of my eye…and why was there a line of cuddly crocodiles…could it be we’d found our first proper touristy shop? Without any hesitation I was inside and had already picked up a pack of clip on koalas within about 30 seconds. After a good 20 minutes inside the shop debating various things I ended up with the koalas, a towel with Australian road signs on it and some road sign stickers too. I love a good tacky gift shop and I’ve missed them so far on the trip. It was great. I found Codie looking at the wallets to find one to replace his one which is so packed full of things, it’s split. He was so picky about how many card slots there were in them and how each one felt that he ended up without one. The best bit was that once we’d found our way back to our room, he then dug out my sewing kit and proceeded to sew his old wallet back together with red thread. It was so funny seeing him concentrate so much and even though I offered to buy him one, he wasn’t having any of it. So so stubborn!

We’d been in the room for a little while when Codie decided to have a go at tackling the aircon again and this time it worked! Finally, we could have some cool are and not sit sweating for the rest of the day. Not too long later it was after 6 at that meant it was time for our free tea downstairs in the Jack restaurant. There were rules about what you could wear in there like no flip flops but why we bothered to stick to them I have no idea, nobody else was. As we reached the counter and looked at the options we saw that there were two choice; sausage curry or vegetarian pasta. It was not a difficult decision at all and we both asked for the sausage curry straight away only to be told that there was none left. Oh no. It was only half 6 and the food was served from 6-8, how had they run out already?? I was fine with the pasta as it was full of tasty mushrooms but Codie was quite cross. We ended up demolishing the small portion and then heading off to find a McDonalds to try and fill us up. It was nice pasta there just wasn’t enough.

After a little wander about getting a bit lost and ending up back by the hostel, we finally discovered that there was a McDonalds on the Esplanade. Since we’d only be sitting in the room, we decided to wander off again and go and find it and I enjoyed getting to have a look around another little part of town. I’m looking forward to seeing more of it tomorrow and getting to see what Cairns lagoon is like compared to Airlie Beach. Once in McDonalds, Codie was a little pig and ordered a burger whilst I stuck to just some fries as I was really craving salt and potatoes. I suppose that’s from losing so much though sweating though and who am I to deny my need to replace it….As we ate, I looked at things we could do in Cairns though there doesn’t seem to be too much. There is a tropical dome zoo thing around here and for the price of $42, or something like that, you get to return for 7 days. It seemed very generous and we might have a little look at that though it depends on what else we do really.

We walked back to the hostel and into the air conditioned comfort of our room. It’s amazing how hot it is at night still, I think the lowest temperature is about 26C and if it reaches that in the UK everyone’s out having BBQs! It’s very strange to see the difference between reactions though I’m surprised how well we’re coping with it. I love being cold and snuggled up, especially in Autumn and Winter, so I expected to find it quite difficult but it hasn’t really been at all. I do miss the frosty mornings and the crisp grass but there’s always next year and now I know I’ll appreciate it a lot more! After we’d sorted our things out and sorted the bed out, we settled down to use the internet to talk to people at home. The hostel says they provide free wifi however it’s only 300mb which doesn’t last long at all and within no time at all, Codie had run out and I did soon after. That was that then so we decided to watch a few things and then have an earlyish night ready for some more exploring tomorrow.

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