This week was a busy one chaotically trying to finish all my deadlines whilst getting myself reading to head off on Thursday morning to Cairns.
The early week was spent as expected living in the library and in front of my laptop screen. One of my deadlines for my module ‘Globalisation, Justice and a crowded planet’ included a group project to make a 5 minute video which will then later be presented in our tute. You chose your own topic as a group then create the video, we chose the impacts of the emergence of fast food chains into China and it was a really interesting task. But not being media students creating a video for the first time took a lot longer than expected resulting in a 5 hour stint in the library on Wednesday night but we were pleased with the end product! Leaving the library at 8pm and with more work to do before my 6am flight Becca and I decided to stay up till our taxi at 4am to finish our work oh and pack. It was a long night but I got all my work done and was happy with it all, next stop Cairns!!
It was only a three hour or so flight to Cairns so it wasn’t so bad and Taylor made a good pillow so I slept most of the way! Only half of the 12 of us headed out today with the rest joining us the next day and day after due to presentations etc. In Cairns we were staying at Gilligans a popular hostel and with this we got a free pick up from the airport which was great. Arriving at the hostel we all got straight into beachwear and headed out, Becca and I headed out for breakfast after we rejected the boys breakfast of hungry jacks so we went for the museli, fruit salad and raisin toast option instead. After filling our stomachs we headed out to the lagoon to sunbathe and chill which was much needed.
Whilst at the lagoon we bumped into some of our friends from Leeds who are also doing a similar route on the East Coast to us which was lovely. Later on I fell asleep in the sun resulting in a burnt face and some great tan lines but sleep rules over. After too much sun we checked into our dorms and headed out to the mall for some shopping. Back to the hostel for some drinks by the pool and then dinner where I had a steak with a drink for $10 (£5) and it was delicious. Tonight was the final of the Bachelor AU so much to the boys dismay Becca and I refused to miss it and found a tv room in the hostel and put it on. Lots of other people joined us to watch it too including one guy who was hilariously into it. Then we joined the boys downstairs and headed out for a night out which was great fun and our leeds friends came too which was lovely. Taylor decided to sign me up for the pole dancing competition whilst I was in the toilet which was just great but after realising that the girls on stage were actually taking it seriously Chloe and I grabbed the free champagne and ran!!
The next morning five more of the group arrived which was lovely to have them join. They were all pretty tired from their early morning flight so we showed them around a bit then went to the lagoon and all chilled. In Australia public BBQs are everywhere so with lots of them by the lagoon we decided to have one tonight. India and I headed to Coles and brought food and then we had a BBQ whilst watching the sunset which was stunning. We booked our trip with peterpans so we had already booked tours and all our hostels throughout the trip so it meant we didn’t have to book anything which was ideal! Tomorrow was our boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef so with an early morning we had a few drinks downstairs then headed to the room to pack our bags and get a good nights sleep.
Much to our dismay we were woken up by our alarms at 6am and all headed to the Cairns’ Reef Fleet Terminal to check in with our tour company Ocean Freedom. We boarded the boat at Cairns’ Marlin Marina at 7.30 and were greeted with the most amazing array of danish pastries, fruit, tea and coffee then we headed out to Upolu Cay Reef. I have previously scuba dived gaining my Padi in England and then my advanced in Thailand on my gap year so I signed up to do a certified dive on the trip with the rest of my friends doing an introductory dive. Unfortunately whilst filling out the paperwork for the dive on the medical I automatically ticked yes to asthma and not realising how strict Queensland is this meant I wasn’t allowed to dive. After a little moment I perked up and went out on the glass bottom boat with my friends and got taken on a tour around the crystal clear blue shallow waters surrounding the reef seeing different types of corals, reef fishes, cucumbers and sea stars. After this we then went out for the most amazing snorkel, the waters were stunning and I ended up seeing more snorkelling than my friends did on their dives so that made me feel better!
After a long snorkel we moved to the outer edge
of the Upolu Reef in the afternoon whilst enjoying a gorgeous lunch full of seafood and all sorts followed by tropical fruit, cheese and crackers-we were fed like kings and queens! Arriving at the reef we were taken on the boat over to a sand island where we could snorkel back to the boat along a reef. A few of the group were on their scuba dive so we waited for them to come over to the island before we snorkelled the reef which left a perfect photo opportunity on the beautiful island.
We ended up staying on the island for a good hour enjoying the crystal clear waters and idyllic scenery, definitely one of those ‘screenshot’ this moment occasions. Then we snorkelled along the reef seeing hundreds of different schools of fish and even came across a stingray just beneath me. All aboard the boat we headed back to the terminal enjoying the scenery from the top deck and with coffee and cake too! We all headed back home for much needed showers revealing all of our tan lines and sun burn after a long day in the water. Tonight we had planned to all go out at Gilligans so after lining our stomachs with steak (too good to change options) we had a fun night out enjoying ourselves into the early hours.
On Sunday, Erica arrived (YAY) so our team of 4 Belgians, 2 Canadians and 6 of us poms was finally complete (the amount of times we reeled that off was uncountable). Today we were booked on for a waterfall trip in the rainforest with waterfall wanderers so we were up early to check out before catching our bus which luckily picked us up on our door step. After picking up the rest of the people for our tour we were off south into the rainforest to discover North Queensland’s most iconic waterfalls. Our tour leader Jim never stopped talking (in a good way) which meant on the way there he was explaining all of the scenery to us which was great.
After about an hours journey we were up in the mountains and after morning tea we headed out into the rainforest for a walk to see the Babinda Boulders. Along the way we learnt about the different plants and animals of the rainforest, he showed us a stinging tree which is like stinging nettles but instead of a few hours of stinging you get left with pain for over a year (ouch!). Then it was onto Josephine Falls where the rocks had eroded into a natural waterslide going into a freezing cold pool/lake (it reminded me of Chang Mai in Thailand). It was so much fun sliding down the rocks even if some patches had hidden bumps at the end causing plunging not so gracefully into the water, but hey when am I ever graceful? After taking us seconds to get into the water it took us much longer to get out with the slippery rocks making it near impossible to get up, I went for the slug motion and hey ho it worked. Someone then pointed out to us at the end there was a small path that had been cleaned which was for us to use (idiots) but why use the easy route hey? After this we went to Millaa Millaa waterfall which was where the famous herbal essence advert was filmed so as anyone would we took the opportunity to embrace the hair flick in true style. The water here was even colder but I managed to swim across to the waterfall to go underneath it and feel the impact of the water then sit behind (even if I had to go back to take my inhaler to get me through the mass cold air-it was crazy).
Jim had a rule throughout the day where the last person back onto the bus after each stop had to wear this ridiculous chicken hat for the journey till the next destination laying eggs throughout making the noise whilst doing so. So as I was approaching the bus in the last batch of people Jim decided to come out and act as a barrier from me getting into the bus resulting in myself being the chicken. It was then to lunch at Australia’s largest timber pub still wearing my chicken hat where I had a delicious fish burger and chips. Next was the Mount Hypipamee, the crater and Dinner Falls. Here we took a bush walk, explored the waterfall and threw a rock down into an 85 meter deep volcanic crater hearing the echoing noise. On the way back to the bus we were lucky enough to see a Cassowary very close to us which is a bird a bit like an ostrich or emu which is multicoloured, we were told to stay back as they can be dangerous so we spectated from a far.
Back on the bus to the next destination where I enjoyed a quick nap but was woken up with Becca (who was currently the chicken) ‘bwaaaakkk’ at me causing me to scream and jump up with the whole bus laughing causing Jim asking whats happened thinking a spider was in the bus (thanks becs). We then arrived at Curtain Fig Tree which is a tree of 15 meter high tree roots, it was incredible! It was then onto a quiet little creek to search for platypus and after a bit of searching and only seeing a giant spider some of us were lucky enough to catch a Platypus swimming around, amazing! It was then onto our last stop at Lake Eacham which is a dormant Volcanic Crater lake filled with turtles and surround by rainforest. Here we enjoyed afternoon tea and watched the sunset whilst some people had a dip, it was a great end to an amazing tour.
This evening we had our greyhound 12 hour night bus to Airlie Beach leaving at 12.30pm so we had a lot of time to kill. After freshening up we had dinner then the girls walked around town doing a bit of shopping and having a last walk around Cairns. Back to the hostel I taught everyone how to play my favourite card game Nomination whist so that killed a good couple of hours and everyone really enjoyed it! Then after a little walk around trying to find our bus stop we were onto our long bus journey, next stop Airlie beach!!