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Amanda and Jim are just ending their two week visit with us. We’ve packed a lot of new experiences into this short time. It gives you a snapshot of what there is to do in and around Cairns.

Day 1:

Leaving Los Angeles at 11 pm Friday, they arrived in Cairns at noon on Sunday, though it was only about 18 hours later.

Day 2:

Our first visit was the beach, so that Amanda could take up her signature pose, marine biologist looking into tide pools for tiny critters. The rest of us went beach combing, exploring the rocks and sandy beach at Kewarra and Yorkey’s Knob.

Day 3:

Seeing a bit of the rainforest that covers north Queensland was next. We rode the Skyrail aerial tramway, stopping to look out over Barron Gorge, then hopped back on and rode to Kuranda.

Kuranda is a small town of tourist shops and restaurants that makes a pleasant visit. There is also a section of small vendors’ stalls, the Heritage Markets. We returned on the old-fashioned train. Originally built for mining and local transport, it is now solely for tourist use. It’s not a long ride, and the line is flanked by thick forest, steep hillsides, and a curve so tight the wheels screech against the rails.

Day 4:

The Big Event of the visit was our trip to go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. (See my previous post “Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.”)

Day 5:

On another beach day we continued exploring the ends of Kewarra Beach in the morning and Yorkey’s Knob in the afternoon. We stopped to photograph the field of wallabies that live in a big park in Kewarra Beach.

Day 6:

More exploration of the shore at Trinity Beach.

Day 7:

Yungaburra Markets, the Curtain Fig, and the Great Platypus Hunt. (See my previous post “The Great Platypus Hunt.”)

Day 8:

At the Tanks Art Centre, market stalls are dispersed in parts of the Cairns Botanical Gardens as well as along the paths of the Art Centre. After admiring arts and crafts and buying a few of the food offerings, we went to the Cairns Esplanade for a stroll along the esplanade and lunch at Muddy’s. This area is a wonderful city amenity, with a bike path, walking path, barbecue stations, children’s water park, climbing walls, and a pool facing the shore.

Day 9 and Day 10:

We revisit Kuranda for a last bit of shopping on our way to Cassowary House for an overnight of birdwatching and a raucous after dinner game of Yahtzee in the middle of the rainforest. (See my previous post “Riflebirds at Breakfast.”)

Day 11:

Beach exploration at Redcliffe Point, north of Gatz Balancing Rocks. Amanda found some strange creatures that look like rocks but move when touched. Hermit crabs hid in shells from the tiniest to the largest on the beach.

Day 12:

The advantage of taking the Crocodile Express tour is that it starts from Daintree Village and is good for as many additional one hour tours as you request. After a break for lunch, we took our second Crocodile Express trip on the river from the Daintree Ferry Landing. We saw lots of crocodiles both times, all chubby and uninterested in moving from their muddy sunbathing spots.

Day 13:

Another tour of Kewarra Beach hunting for the flipflop Amanda inadvertently dropped in the ocean, followed by Amanda and Jim  tasting beer at CocoMoco in Clifton Beach.

Day 14:

Trip south of Cairns to Etty Beach to see cassowaries by the roadside and begging at the picnic tables. We’ve now seen cassowaries in two places.

Day 15:

At the Palm Cove Markets Jonathan made friends with the best trained cockatoo we have ever met. Our market visit was followed by a final stroll and swim on Kewarra Beach. We celebrated the end of our visitors visit with dinner at the Paperbark restaurant at the Kewarra Beach Resort, only a short walk from our house.

Day 16:

The Cairns Aquarium displays sea life of north Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. We spent three hours combing the exhibits and watching the fish–we could have stayed longer. We watched a giant hump head wrasse spit out the squid it was fed for lunch just like a little kid who spits a grape across the room. That’s him in the photo.

From the aquarium, we dropped Amanda and Jim at the Cairns Sheridan Hotel, so they could catch a cab for the short ride to the airport at 4 am for their 5:30 am flight to Brisbane and on to Los Angeles. They’ll be home after a very, very long Day 17 of travel. I am sad to see them go, but we will visit with them in Los Angeles just a month from now.

Summary–Two weeks in Cairns

Attractions:

  • Skyrail to Kuranda
  • Snorkeling Great Barrier Reef
  • Crocodile Express tour
  • Cairns Aquarium

Markets:

  • We visited four markets in two weeks: Kuranda, Tanks Art Centre, Yungaburra, Palm Cove
  • Market stalls sell crafts, local products, food and drink. A few have fruit and veg stalls. We bought pillow covers (fit in suitcase), gifts, and treats (macadamia nuts grown locally).
  • Markets are held in different places every weekend from May through November. During the wet season there are still some indoor markets, but fewer.

Animals:

  • Cassowary House
  • Etty Beach (cassowaries)
  • Yungaburra (platypus)
  • Kewarra has several hundred wallabies in Centenary Park, we dropped by to take photos a couple of times.

Beach Exploration:

  • Five days when beaches were the main event, not counting any of the trips already mentioned.
  • Afternoon or sunset visits to nearby beachesIt was a busy two weeks, yet we didn’t have to rush off early other than the day we went out snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. We all had time to put our feet up, swim in the pool, and read, as well as go on lots of explorations.