It’s time for the final stop of our Aussie adventure (boohoo). It’s time for Cairns (yay). As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, the further north you go, the hotter things get. Up here is hot!! The drive, however, is beautiful.
So much so that we actually drove on through Cairns and up to a little place called Port Douglas. Side note; I don’t actually know if it’s little I just said that for effect!
Port Douglas is pretty. Very pretty! It reminded Mike of Barbados but I haven’t been there yet so I’m afraid I can’t confirm. For me, it brought Florida to mind. Palm trees galore, plenty of resorts and easy-going vibes; what more could you possibly want?
We parked up at the Port in search of ice-cold refreshments and we were not disappointed. There are lots of lovely spots to eat, drink and pick up souvenirs. And the main attraction? Boat tours to the Great Barrier Reef of course!
Sadly for us, our Australia budget was virtually non-existent by this point, so we’ll have to save the reef for next time (hint, hint). It was nice to have a sneak peek though.
Whilst there isn’t a huge amount to do when your pockets are empty, we certainly tried our best! Behold, a list of free (or almost free) activities in Cairns:
1. Cairns Botanic Gardens. They aren’t super big (like in Melbourne) but they will provide you with a great reading spot and some luscious views.
2. Cairns Esplanade: Probably the best find in Cairns. The Esplanade is a man-made lagoon where you can tan away all day. They even have public facilities, communal bbq’s, and free wifi (always a plus when you’re travelling)! The best part is that everything is incredibly clean. If you’re heading to Cairns, you have to spend a day here.
3. Shopping Malls. We particularly enjoyed perusing the cheap book shops in Aus. These are obviously ideal if you love reading, but your baggage allowance won’t let you stockpile. Read them then donate them! Alternatively, be more prepared than we were and buy a kindle…
4. Cinemas. I know what you’re thinking. You went travelling to wonderful Australia and you went to the cinema?! I just have one thing to say about that my friends: Aircon!
We had stayed in some fabulous free camping spots around Australia, but trust me when I say that you cannot free-camp in Cairns! There was only one place nearby and it was like something out of a horror film. You literally drive through the woods, over abandoned railways tracks, and end up in a bizarre sandy lay-by. There isn’t even a long drop; though I’m not sure if this is a blessing or a curse.
After that nightmare, I had to loosen my purse strings and let Mike book us into a real campsite! We used our camping App to locate a place called Cool Waters Holiday Park, and it was blooming brilliant.
It’s a very peaceful and picturesque place with a divine Cafe (I know I said we were broke but girls gotta eat). And that’s not even the best part! The camping sites rest on the banks of a Freshwater Creek. Not only is this super pretty, but it’s home to turtles – which you can feed. They even sell turtle snacks at reception. Maybe this is my inner child coming out but I mean, come on. Who doesn’t want to feed the turtles?!
If I’m being totally honest we enjoyed our time in Cairns, but there aren’t copious amounts of things to see and do. Whilst we would definitely go back to explore the Great Barrier Reef, I never ever want to see (or smell) those flying foxes again…Google it ;).