This is another long post, so I'm splitting it up... Here's part 1!
Before Christmas, we made our first road trip, heading northwards up the coast to Cairns in Far North Queensland. Cairns is a bit smaller in population than Townsville, but it has an international airport and the Great Barrier Reef is closer to the mainland here, so that puts it firmly on the backpacker trail and makes it much more well-known than Townsville.
Heading north, we passed so many signs for various national parks, swimming holes and small beach communities. So much to see if only there was time! We made our first stop at the small beachside town of Cardwell. Stopping for coffee from a mobile van at a waterside stopping place, we had a spectacular view to accompany our drink.
No sharing with the crocs though!
Along the road, we saw these signs a few times. We didn’t make use of them on this trip as the first one came when we had already had coffee, and the later ones were closed… but what a great idea to offer a free caffeine hit to weary drivers! A good incentive to stop and take a break if you’re tired :)
Our first planned stop was in Tully. Australia loves its ‘Big Things’, and we planned to stop for lunch and visit the Golden Gumboot at Tully. This is a monument to the most rainy place in Australia, which is an ‘honour’ usually shared between Tully and another nearby town, Babinda.
|You can climb to the top inside the boot.|
The town was pretty small, although it would be a good place to visit again and explore the countryside nearby. This sign caught my eye though!
Driving north, we noticed the scenery getting greener and lusher along the way. Townsville is much drier and correspondingly browner. It was beautiful to see such great scenery, although no photos came out too well while we were driving… Our next stop was at a tiny place (less than 500 people!) called El Arish, where we turned off to visit the heritage-listed tavern for a cold drink:
Back on the road, we passed Walsh’s Pyramid, the highest freestanding natural pyramid in the world, apparently. You can hike up it, and there’s even a race up it if you’re feeling crazy! So this also went on the list for things to do in the future…
Then we arrived in Cairns, via the Big Captain Cook,
and continued a bit further north to Trinity Beach, where we were staying. As the name suggests, Trinity Beach is on a beach,
but in typical Queensland style, the water seems a little uninviting!
The next day was a lazy day, a late start followed by a quiet mooch around Cairns itself, including realisation that we couldn’t afford a trip out to the reef on this occasion – gutted! Instead, we enjoyed the livelier atmosphere here in cafes and bars. We went for a swim in the esplanade’s pool. I didn’t remember to get a very good photo of this, but it was gorgeous. You can just about see it in the background of this picture.
I love the decorations up in the trees on the esplanade:
And this pavement art, a little faded but still very good!
Then we went to a bar for a little while, before heading to night markets when they opened. As well as touristy tat, the night market has a few foody stalls and plenty of massage places. My favourite shop was a gemstone jewellers called Silver Gem, with the most beautiful semi-precious gemstone pieces (I looooove semi-precious gemstone jewellery! Even more than diamonds and things!) There was also a glass sculpting stall from which I got a glass tree frog for my mum – she loves glass sculptures and frogs, so win-win :) This stall was great as you could watch the chap making the sculptures. Very impressive to see simple sticks of glass getting stretched and squished, and then suddenly become little sculptures.
Cairns looked like a fun place for a night out, but we had the car with us and were staying a bit of a drive away from the city itself, so after this we had to call it a night in Cairns. We drove back to Trinity Beach - where there was no such fun happening! - and looked forward to the next day's plans :)