We were about to drive back to Melbourne, but decided otherwise when T’s friend from Melbourne told him about how bad the weather was, and that a lot of people were getting sick because of the weather. I guess we both got easily convinced because we both were not ready to go home yet. So, we quickly researched where could we possibly fly to, where it’s warm and cheap… Cairns! The flight was ok, but most accommodations were expensive until found this backpacker hostel called Mad Monkey.
So, Cairns, since we weren’t able to hire a car (all fully booked), our movements as tourists were quite limited. We generally were only able to go to where our legs could take us. Bus rides were ok, but sometimes, we had to wait long for them, so, we rarely used them. Uber wasn’t cheap either. We were able to explore the Esplanade, Botanical Garden, Earl Hill Conservation Park etc. I managed to go to Palm Cove and walked the Red/Yellow Arrow Lookouts too. There were more popular places to visit like the Great Barrier Reef, their world heritage rainforests, and waterfalls, but visiting these would require more money and of course, transportation (a car which we didn’t have). Though we couldn’t go/do the “must-visits”, I still enjoyed myself.
Why? Because I managed to get back to working out consistently. I ran along the Esplanade many times, I even joined the organized Cairns’ Parkrun (but I didn’t know the route and missed a loop😂), and we went to the gym a lot too. I will never forget Cairns’ council’s fitness initiatives. There were plenty of free fitness activities such as Zumba, Aqua Zumba, meditation, bouldering lessons etc. I attended some of them. Also, by the Esplanade, there were three different tracks, one for walking, one for running, and one for cycling…good job council 🙂 !
Cairns CBD was also different from places we visited earlier because this city was surprisingly so alive from morning until late at night. It’s adorably diverse in terms of culture. There was a night market (like Bugis in Singapore). There were Thai massage parlors and Asian restaurants on every corner. Though prices were slightly more expensive than in other places, I was still amazed by the abundance of options. I also felt safe because the police visibility was good; maybe because there were a number of drunk and slightly rowdy people around. The CBD felt like a huge, enjoyable, vibrant, easy-to-navigate, and laid-back themed park.
Where did we stay?
Mad Monkey Beer Garden: I haven’t stayed in a backpacker hostel in a while now. I used to when I was younger, and of course, years ago, I used to feel like I belong. Haha This time around, it still felt like I belong, except that it felt like I was a teacher or a coach or a guardian…staying there surely made me feel older (opposite of staying in caravan parks). We had our own double bedroom, shared bathroom, kitchen, and everything else. With the price we paid, what we got from it exceeded our expectations, as they also provide free breakfast (hot pancakes!!!) every morning, plus cheap pizzas and beers at the connected businesses -a beer garden/pizza shop-. And oh, 2hr gym use was also free. So, this is a hostel we could stay in again. Though it was a bit noisy at night, and some staff was unfriendly, we still liked it. It was generally ok…basic, but more than essential.
Cairns was our last holiday stop. After it, we flew back to Newcastle, took the bus to Nelson Bay, then drove back to Melbourne via Gouldburn – Jugiong – Gundagai – Euroa. As in everything in life, this possibly-once-in-a-life-time adventure had to come to an end. The last few overnighters were bittersweet. It’s good to be away, but it’s also good to be home. It hurts that this adventure had to end……