Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Nunnery in Cairns

When we arrived in Cairns, we showed up at the hostel which we had booked based on a recommendation from Lonely Planet, which regarded the Cairns Women's Hostel as "the best" in Cairns.  It was very clean, the manager Dawn was super friendly, and (as stated in Lonely Planet) she referred to each of her "guests by name.  Alison and i were a bit shocked when we headed to bed at 10 pm on that first night, that 5/6 of the girls in our room were already in bed!!!  This is very ironic, considering at the hostel we stayed during our first week in Australia at Byron Bay (the Arts Factory) has a pretty active party scene, however Alison and I were so Jet Legged it was all we could to to stay up until 9 (and then we were wide awake at 4am, when our bunk mates were just stumbling home from the bar).

As all tourists do in Cairns, we did a one day Great Barrier reef trip, which included an intro dive and snorkeling.  We went with a company called Reef Experience, based on Dawn's recommendation.  They were good.  There were only about 30 others on our trip (if you go with a cheaper trip, you could end up with 100+ people on your boat) and the ship crew were very friendly.  The first reef we went to was awesome- lots of fish and we even saw a shark!! (calm down mom, it was only a meter long!)  The second reef was a bit disappointing as it was very "dusty" due to cyclone that had passed through several weeks ago.  the coolest thing we saw there were "sea feathers"- a type of star fish that looks kinda like sea weed on a piece of coral. 

We also did a tour of the tabletop region, which is the rain forest region that surrounds Cairns.  Our tour guide "Captain Matty" was fun, but also told some pretty tall tales.  For one, he had us all convinced that we needed to beware of "drop bears", a carnivorous cousin of the koala bear. 
Captain Matty and his tour bus

Alison with the Cathedral Fig tree we saw.  It was giant.  And beautiful.

Our day with Captain Matty was full of waterfalls (we saw 5), a couple of trees, a couple nice lookouts, and lots of swimming (Ail was in her glory).  The thing about the rain forest is, 80% of what is in it is poisonous (or so said our exaggerating tour guide) AND IT IS ALSO FULL OF LEECHES.  gross.  I spent the day walking very carefully (this was probably the worst day to wear flip flops.  ever.)  And the tally at the end of the day was:
Caryn: 0 leaches
Alison: 2 leaches.

Alison and some boys from our group swimming in the waterfall.

Here i was being a creep, taking pictures of these people who were definitely not on our tour.  What can i say?  I love polka-dots and photo good photo ops.

Alison on big rock next to the river after one of the waterfalls.

Another thing we did in Cairns was go to the Art Gallery.  There were some really great exhibits.  This one with birds, and a glass exhibit.  Some pictures:

One of our favorites.  These were blocks, and there were bird images on every side of them.  It was pretty stunning.


  1. Beautiful pics! Thanks for the update (minus the shark!)

  2. aaaah - drop bears. Apparently, that's a common thing they try to get with tourists. I had my first 'drop bear' comment 2 weeks ago. They even have stuff up on youtube as a joke!

  3. Caryn: 0 leaches
    Alison: 2 leaches.

    EEEEEEEKKKKKK I think I would have probably lost my shiat for sure. Holy poop! Ps THe leech and flip flop scenario made me think of that one time Mom and Dad wanted to go camping...then hiking during TICK season. Im sure we were super fashionable with our pants tucked into our socks!!!

    Love you both! ~Chel xx