by Dean Scott
Going North to the tropics is an odd statement for me to say and think about. For those in Australia, though, it’s just the way it is. So, when I was done with Bell’s Beach, I headed back to Melbourne, where I quickly went up to Cairns. The weather and environment were totally different. Cairns and Melbourne, while around 2,000 miles away, seemed much further from one another. Cairns is in the far north eastern section of Australia and is really the gateway to Australia’s tropics and the Great Barrier Reef. I was so excited that I had the chance to make it there. I really wanted to get to the other cities of Australia (Perth, Darwin and many more) but I faced the same challenge we all do as travelers: we only ever have so much time!
A Trip into Cairns
As I said in my last post, I had always been a fan of the ocean and the tropics. I felt really excited about this next phase of my trip, visiting the famous views of Australia’s tropics. After my flight landed, I set off to my hotel to get settled. I immediately headed right out to take a walk around town and check things out. In Cairns and the surrounding countryside, you have everything from “salties” to the biggest bats I have ever seen. I certainly didn’t have to go very far to see that the bats were everywhere.
These bats were amazing to watch at dusk. They took to the sky as part of their daily routine. They were all over the place! It was truly a site to behold as undoubtedly hundreds of bats flew around the city. Seeing them during the day was quite the site for me, too. If you were to take a nice stroll down the sidewalk – yep – there would be a giant bat hanging in the tree next to your head. After a while I got used to it, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a bat the size of a cat next to your head!
Cairns of Australia
Cairns definitely had a touristy, backpacker feel. By the way, Aussies certainly know how to do it when it comes to backpacking and road trips. This is especially important if you’re planning on staying somewhere in Australia’s tropics. I frequently saw these amazing SUV/Vans. They weren’t quite Mad Max style, but Imperator Furiosa would have been proud nonetheless! Cairns has a whole subculture devoted to the outdoors and the rugged lifestyle. You better believe that they know what they’re doing! This vibe, at least in Cairns, was combined with a pretty good mix of Europeans and a sprinkling of North Americans. Overall, there was a pretty neat feeling to the town. It felt like a transition point from a modern city to Australian tropics. It felt as if I was at the stepping off point to some of the most rugged, remote tropical places in the world.
Lifelong Goal Completed in the Tropics of Australia
While I was in Cairns, I got to fulfill one of my lifelong desires. No, it was not to drink a Fosters in Australia (Fosters is actually not held in a favorable light at all by the Aussies – many don’t like it). I was able to dive into the Great Barrier Reef and see it up close. I have gone diving in places from the Red Sea to the Marianas.
No dive site I have ever been to held the amazing coral that I saw on the Great Barrier Reef. It was truly a sight to behold. The fish life and biodiversity were amazing, too! There was a whole variety of fish I had never seen before (and I’ve seen a lot of what the ocean has to offer)! It was an incredible experience. I saw fish that ranged from sharks, to eels, to turtles and yes, the giant cod fish, too. Absolutely incredible!
After a few short days in Cairns, my trip to Australia ended. Overall, I spent about 2 ½ weeks in the Tropics of Australia. I was headed back home to the US. I’ve been very few places that captured my imagination like Australia. Australia’s tropics and the Great Barrier Reef left a lasting impression on me. All of these places are places I would go back to at any opportunity. I hope to have the chance to visit again. I loved Cairns and Australia! It had amazing, natural beauty and great people. I would highly recommend a trip to Australia’s tropics!