Follow the travel diary of Val and Rosney (The Man) as they travel from Brisbane to Cairns. First travelling by tilt train from Brisbane to Hervey Bay – where they pick up a rental car and continue on an unhurried drive to Cairns.
Townsville to Cairns, the final days
Weather toasty hot.
It was a long scenically-uninspiring drive to Cairns (population 160,000). We stopped along the way at a settlement called Tully, which is basically a sugar-cane town. It was here we were served the worst cup of coffee while on tour, and the food was not flash. A dismal town – maybe great to live in with everyone knowing everyone, but not for tourists.
We shared the driving along the way and on our arrival in Cairns were ever so impressed with our accommodation, a second story apartment with a beaut terrace overlooking the swimming pool. Palm trees, ceiling fans, sure has the real tropical look . . .
Went for a walk at a nearby park to stretch our legs. There a boardwalk over the watery bits with sign saying: beware of crocodiles. Being keen-as ‘jumpers’ they can apparently leap up and grab you while you are wandering along the boardwalk. So yes, no daydreaming, be alert. We were approached by a man who wanted to know if we had ‘the time.’ He recognised our Kiwi accents and questioned: You haven’t abandoned paradise to move to this god-forgotten hole have you?
No we hadn’t . . .
On the way home we found a big shopping centre just blocks away from our accommodation, so stocked up on breakfast goodies, then it was back to base for a rest before heading down-town for an evening meal.
Come tucker time, we found the main drag to be totally tourist orientated and throbbing with the masses all out for, ‘a feed’ too. The place was swinging. The night-markets were open and were filled with every man, dog, and teenager in town, while the Romeo-boys drove around and around the city blocks eyeing up the chicks. This was certainly a change of scene from other places we had stayed at. We had trouble finding somewhere to eat, everything was crowded, people queuing up to get in. We were looking for something ‘vegetable’ but the most were offering the standard chicken/steak and chips. Aussies are huge on the ‘chips.’ We ended having a basic uninspiring meal (mashed potato and stew) then wandered about the place tourist watching.
Home for a shower, to cool down before bed.
I find a twice a day shower is a necessity in this humidity.
A day in Cairns:
Hot rain this morning.
We walked along the waterfront. A huge variety of flash-as apartments, hotel and motels, impressive. Also on the move is a variety of nationalities – every country seems to have a representative. Found the wharf and watched as the tour boats loaded up eager passengers, noticing that once they had them seated they (too late to change their minds) they warned of maybe rough conditions and handed out sickie-bags, with the words: ‘That it is perfectly acceptable to chuck-up, that people do it all the time’. Well, rather them than us, we are calm water sailors.
After wandering around a fancy portside development, we headed back to town and sorted out going to the RSL club for an evening meal. The Man then went back to our apartment for some ‘feet up’ time while I went shopping for my Mother’s Day prezzie at a nearby mall. It was busy-as and one had to queue for zonks to get into a fitting room – no fun!
A great meal at the RSL. Afterwards we played the pokies and came out ahead by $70 – which paid for our meal and wines. We have a policy of not playing pokies unless we are on holiday, it’s just a fun thing. On the walk home the wind had come up, but hopefully a nice day tomorrow for a day trip to Port Douglas.
Big sunshine out this morning:
Off to Port Douglas via Palm Cove. The Cove is purely for tourists, apartment upon apartment with a netted beach for swimming. The tourists look flash in tennis whites, fancy hats, chic swimsuits and beamers parked in drive-ways. Not our style of holiday . . .
Port Douglas is indeed a beauty-place. Once again decorated with apartments, and more apartments for the tourists, combined with eateries and tempting shops to buy ‘that souvenir’ to take home. Very pretty and ever-so-pleasing to the eye, with a sweet-as relaxed holiday atmosphere. We had ‘Lunch with the Lorikeets’ which was pure magic. You love birds? You’d love this place!
After lunch we travelled on to Mossman on the windiest road we had seen in Aussie. The road follows the coast and coming into Mossman you run out of the ‘Tourist Zone’ and it’s dinkum Aussie stuff. Houses take over from apartments, school children doing rowdy stuff like school children do, not as prosperous looking as its neighbours. We wandered up and down the main street, had an average coffee and cake and then headed back to Cairns.
That evening went to the casino for a meal and a flutter. It’s a classy Casino and a great place to go for a meal at the right price (as casinos usually are). After eating we played the pokies and The Man scored a $90 win straight off (for a $5 investment), it was too early to go home (8.30pm) so we decided to stay for a decadent night of gambling. We left at 10pm when the $90 had been fed back into the machines, but for a night of senior-citizen debauchery it was fun, in the easy come and easy go category.
Our last day:
Today it’s head up into the hills to Kuranda a rain forest village, with a strong tourist flavour. Even though we found the place crowded with mostly Japanese tourists this is a ‘must’ place to visit. There are markets, walk-ways and more walk-ways, the magnificent Barron Falls, river walks, more markets and more sarongs – sarongs and T-shirts are everywhere. You want sarongs, T-shirts, this is the place to come. An enjoyable relaxed day out, and the food and coffee were good. On the way home we checked out how to get to the airport for tomorrow we will be heading back to Kiwi Land.
We returned our rental at the airport, to find that we had not broken the taillight.
It was noted it was broken by the previous driver.
We learnt from this: Check your rental car carefully before accepting the keys.
It was a fast flight home. There was a hearty tail wind behind us, and we landed in Auckland before due time.
This a was a carefully planned holiday. All accommodation booked in advance and our ‘driving schedule’ was to be comfortable, no rushing. We stayed two nights at each stopover, with three nights at Cairns. This gave us time to explore and get the ‘feel’ for the real Australia. I made a point of trying to find accommodation that had an ‘eat-in’ restaurant so there ‘no fuss’ trying to find somewhere to for an evening meal.
A warning: don’t expect magnificent scenery while travelling the Bruce Highway, it is all very much, the same, the same, the same.
Did we have fun? YES!
And fun is good, especially combined with happy memories.
To be continued….
By Val Bird