Post Author: Rachel
Following up on our adventures down under, after Sydney we flew north to Cairns to explore the Kuranda and The Great Barrier Reef. It's a very hot, humid and rainy part of Australia, but still an absolute blast!
When we arrived mid-afternoon, we checked into our Airbnb, found a restaurant nearby, walked along the coastline and explored the small town. We also made a stop at the nearest grocery store to stock up.
Budget saving tip - We were really excited about some tours and excursions we had planned, but they can be a bit pricey so we stretched our budget by making breakfast and packing our own snacks and lunches when we could. At the grocery store, we picked up fruit, breakfast bars, bread, peanut butter, jelly, etc. Having coffee and breakfast at our Airbnb, saved us both time and money. Plus, with the long days we had planned while in Cairns, it was nice to have our snacks and lunch ready whenever and wherever we happened to be exploring. We were willing to trade the luxury of eating all our meals out at a restaurant for the convenience and savings of making our own.
Pictured above is the view from the Airbnb we stayed at. It was breathtakingly beautiful! Although it's sunny in this photo, I would highly recommend packing a rain jacket. We discovered that just when we were convinced it was going to be a beautifully sunshiny day, all of the sudden there'd be a 10 minute rain shower! It wasn't ever a downpour luckily, just a pesky drizzle.
Our first full day in Cairns was all about adventure! We scheduled the Kuranda Scenic Railway tour through Down Under Tours. Turns out, this was one of my favorite tours and the best tour company of the whole trip. They were phenomenal and I highly recommend them!
The bus picked us up in front of the hotel that was directly across the street from our Airbnb. After a quick bus ride to the train station, we hopped aboard for an hour long trip to Kuranda. We enjoyed some of the most magnificent views of cane fields, waterfalls and the rain forest!
Once we arrived in Kuranda, our tour guide handed us a schedule of the days events and kept us moving. First stop, the zoo area. We met up with our zoo tour guide - basically Steve Irwin - and learned about some of the incredible animals native to Australia. Plus, get this, there were kangaroos just hopping around in the open space! All the other animals were behind fences but these friendly, which is rare, kangaroos were out saying hello and eating some treats right from our hand! How awesome!?
After seeing dingoes, spiders, emus, crocodiles, wallabies and many other amazing animals we were able to hold a croc and a koala! Did I mention this tour was incredible? Because it was!
After our thrilling morning, we enjoyed a wonderful buffet lunch - it was quite the spread, with lots of really tasty choices.
When we were sufficiently stuffed, we hopped on an Army Duck for a unique view of the rain forest. Our driver was a plethora of information about the various trees, poisonous leaves, edible plants and the insects native to the area. It was all very interesting, and a little terrifying to hear about what was in the rain forest!
Back on land, we strolled to the amphitheater where we were treated to a performance of native dances by The Pamagirri Dancers. They were not only entertaining, but funny too.
We broke into smaller groups and were led by one of the natives we had just met. They showed us how to throw spears at targets, how a didgeridoo works, and even taught us how to throw a boomerang ... it's surprisingly more challenging than you'd think, but fun!
So much adventure, but we weren't done yet. Next, we caught a bus for a quick ride to the gondola where we got an entirely new view of the incredible sights from above. On our way down, we were able to hop on and off the gondola to explore different parts of the rain forest. The waterfalls were massive and magnificent and the foliage was beautiful. We also saw lots of very strange insects.
I can't say enough great things about this tour. It far exceeded our expectations and was an absolute blast!
As you can imagine, by evening we were wiped out. Back at our Airbnb, we made sandwiches for dinner, enjoyed a glass of wine and relaxed. A good night's sleep had us ready to hit the ground running for Day Two.
Another full day on the agenda! We woke up early, had our smaller backpacks packed, sunscreen on and met up with our tour bus for our Great Barrier Reef adventure! The bus took us to the pier where we boarded a boat and made our way out to the reef, about a 45 minute boat ride.
Tip - bring Dramamine. This was a LIFESAVER for us! We popped some Dramamine while we were on the bus in preparation for the long boat ride ahead and it definitely saved us from feeling sick on the water.
The Great Barrier Reef is unquestionably one of the world's most fascinating destinations. Imagine pristine blue water filled with colorful reef and equally beautiful marine life. Simply gorgeous!
It was a fun-filled day! We snorkeled, spent time at the beach and took a tour on a semi-submarine boat!
Take a look at the gallery below for all the photos, which by the way, don't even begin to do it justice.
We had a great time on this tour, but realized that if we could do it again, we would scuba dive so we could see more of the coral and fish. Still an amazing experience though.
That evening we were craving some American food and we found a place off the pier called "Howlin Jay's" featuring some of Nashville's Hot Chicken! We grabbed a couple of beers, some hot chicken and enjoyed kicking back and listening to the lull of the waves rolling in.
After dinner, we wandered around the small town once again, enjoying the sights and the sounds before heading back to our room to pack. The next morning, we headed down south to Melbourne. That blog post is coming soon!
Thanks for coming along with me to Cairns and enjoy the gallery of pics below.
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