Our first night’s sleep was pure bliss. And what’s more we weren’t covered in red outback dust as soon as we stepped out of the shower. Although strangely I’d become used to having a slightly red dusting to everything, so being outback free felt like we were in another country, not just another state.
The only thing we had planned today was a welcome meeting at 2pm to meet the rest of our new tour and our leader Alan. As we had most of the day to ourselves we decided to head to the lagoon area Leigh pointed out to us last night and we weren’t disappointed!
The lagoon is a purpose built public pool area which was extremely clean and set in a great location along the Esplanade. It was within walking distance from our hotel and there were plenty of bars and restaurants nearby. Not to mention there was a market too! The market had all sorts available. Most of the items were home made arts and crafts which I loved, so of course I treated myself to a few things.
After exploring the lagoon and the market, we grabbed a bite to eat then headed back to the hotel for our welcome meeting. After meeting our tour guide Alan and the rest of our new group a few of us headed to the Cairns wildlife dome to have our pictures taken with Koalas and crocodiles. Inretesting fact – Queensland is the only state you can hold a Koala.
After the wildlife dome we headed towards the harbour to take in the sights. It’s strange to say but sometimes it didn’t feel like we were in Australia. It was amazing how one country could have so many different climates and landscapes. The harbour of course was beautiful. We walked along towards the lagoon admiring the boats as we passed them.
We decided to head back to the Rattle & Rum bar for a quick drink before grabbing an ice cream and heading back to the hotel to get ready for tonight’s welcome dinner at the Union Jack Bar.
We met everyone in the reception area and walked to the Union Jack bar where we enjoyed live music and a free drink with our meal. I opted for steak and I wasn’t disappointed!
Alan had explained to us earlier (and reminded again at dinner) that we were headed for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef on a catamaran tomorrow so it was for our own benefit that we had an easy night. Safe to say we headed back to the hotel shortly after dinner for an decent night’s sleep.
Great Barrier Reef
Up early for breakfast, met everyone in the lobby and made our way to the Quay all before 8am. This was a lay in for us girls who’d come from Alice Springs, not so much for the people on our tour who’d only flown in the day before.
Once we were all on the catamaran and headed out to the reef, we could relax and soak up some sun on deck. We also got sprayed with sea water on occasion which while quite a hilarious surprise, the after feeling was quite refreshing.
After an hour or so we made it to the reef so we got our snorkel gear on and jumped in. It was amazing! The water was so clear and the colours were beautiful. I’m a bit of a nervous swimmer anyway so the fact that I’d sailed out to the Great Barrier Reef and jumped in the middle of the ocean with nothing but deep blue surrounding me, it was a pretty big deal I’d made it this far. Some of our group went scuba diving, but I wasn’t quite brave enough to take that step yet. When we returned to the boat lunch was served which was a selection of meats fish and salads. Very welcome after a snorkel around the reef.
After lunch they took us or to Michaelmans Cay, which is a small Island home to a number of birds and fish. As Michaelmans Cay is a protected site, visitors are only allowed on a small part of the island which is roped off. Visitors are taken to the island via a glass bottomed boat which can carry about 12 people.
I have to say it was worth it. That sand was so soft and warm, the sun shining. Boats just out beyond the shore and bright blue horizon in every which direction. The birds were a bit noisy, but guess we couldn’t complain as it is their Island after all. The closer you were to the shore the less you could hear them, almost nothing but the sea breeze blowing in.
There were small silver (almost invisible) fish in the shallows that swim right up to you if you stay still enough.
After an hour or so chilling out on Michaelmans Cay we were taken back to the catamaran to start making our way back to Cairns. When we got back on board, drinks and biscuits were provided which was a nice touch. The catamaran staff also provided games for some on board and about half way back we stopped to feed fish.
Once back on dry land we made our way to the night markets for last minute shopping before the hotel to shower and change for dinner. Tonight was a free night so a few of us headed to Barnacle Bills restaurant for dinner. It was one of the few places in the town that while popular, tonight was surprisingly quiet as the Australian Rugby final was on and everyone was watching it elsewhere.
After dinner we had a few drinks and wandered around the town before heading back to the hotel for yet another early start in the morning.