Cairns was our final destination in the trusty campervan and our final stop being heading to Sydney. So off we drove from Port Douglas, along a beautiful winding coastal road all the way to Cairns, stopping off a couple of times to admire the views.
The rock piles photographed above are ever changing as humans come and rebuild them everyday. Fun fact: a cairn is a mound of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark.
After arriving in Cairns we went with all our luggage (including 2 surfboards) to check into our hotel for the next couple of nights. Then mum and dad drove the campervan back to Britz. After getting settled and marvelling at how much more space our hotel rooms had compared to the van it was time to rediscover Cairns.
We decided to walk into the centre to hang around the lagoon for a while as it was far too hot to do much else.
We took another stroll down to the centre and after walking along all the restaurants by the lagoon we went back to the dependable Rattle n Hum, the same company as the one in Port Douglas. While we were here we broke a long serving drought and ordered our first cocktail of the holiday…a jug of passionfruit mojito.
With a food baby and a cocktail brain we went to check out the night Markets where I got some presents for mum and dad to take home for family members (can’t even remember what I got or if they even made it home but that’s all part of the fun right?!)
Another walk along the esplanade took us back to our hotel where we had an early night ready to be at the train station for 9am to see Cairns and the surrounding areas from a railway track in the rainforest.
With humidity at an almost unbearable high and a sky filled with grey clouds we got a taxi and headed to the Kuranda Scenic Railway to see the rainforest from a new perspective.
We were allocated a carriage and were optimistic that we had the entire space to ourselves. This quickly changed as we stopped at the second and only other station where a family of around 20 people all got on. However they only added to the experience and reminded us of our family at every get together.
All the way up the track we were surrounded by stretching views of greenery combined with someone informing us of the history and the making of the steam train track. As we climbed higher through the trees we passed waterfalls and over bridges and big bends in the track. This really was an impressive track for the age that it was built in.
After an hour and a half we finally reached the end of the track and the start of the village: Kuranda.
Not really knowing what to expect we headed up the walkway and out into the village. With hippy style shops, opal jewellery shops and aboriginal artwork combined with more cafes and restaurants than you could need we were surprised. This really was a hidden hub for tourism and an unlikely retreat for locals. We went on to find Markets and heaps of gift shops as well as a bird centre, butterfly house and various over tourist attractions. After going around almost every shop and having lunch overlooking the rainforest we decided to go on a walk through the rainforest. Because of the overcast, humid weather the walk felt extremely authentic, complete with rustling leaves, loud insects and the occasional raindrops but was probably a stupid idea considering it was so hot and after 2km we were all severely sweating and in need of a pint. We started the 2km walk back to the village and stopped in a bar near the station.
By this point we had all seen enough of Kuranda and wanted to head back and change into clothes that weren’t soaked in our own sweat. For the journey home we had been told that the sky rail was a must so we got in a cabin and started our descent. This gives you yet another view of the rainforest, this time looking down at the trees below you with your head literally in the clouds above.
There are 2 stops on the way to the bottom, both give you a chance to walk between the trees and look down onto Barron Falls, a big waterfall that can be seen from both the steam train and the sky rail. After we got to the bottom we got a taxi back to the hotel just as the rain began to fall.
That evening we had planned to go back to the centre for our final meal before Sydney, however the nonstop rain put us off the walk and we instead headed to a nearby Chinese restaurant. With a recommendation from the hotel receptionist we were expecting good things. As opposed to your usual Chinese restaurant we walking into a tennis club and upstairs into a disco hall style room with a few Chinese lanterns and tables set up with chopsticks.
We soon realised this wasn’t going to be the meal we had hoped for, after the waiter misunderstood our orders continuously, everyone’s food arrived at random times and every other table was served and fed before us. Luckily mum and dad didn’t let this get them down and 2 bottles of red wine later they were tucking into there beef and honey with no cares in the world.
Then it was back to the hotel, the next morning we were all going South to Australia’s biggest city – Sydney.