Best friend mini breaks are the best! But they are a lot harder to achieve when you live on opposite sides of the world! Luckily for us, there’s always a reason to make it happen. This time I was in Sydney for work, so we were able to sneak in a few days up in Cairns and do something neither of us had done before: see the Great Barrier Reef
We got up there late on the first night due to a work conflict, so it was straight to our hotel and bed for us. We stayed at the Pullman Casino & Hotel which was really nice- big rooms, comfy beds and a nice pool to lounge by (much needed). Our trip kind of had to change on the fly due to the work mix up (mine, not Jax) but we still managed to get the things we wanted to get done done, and at the same time not get everything we wanted done!
So here’s the 2 things that really surprised me about Cairns:
- There’s lots of yummy places to eat – could not get through then all
- There is a tonne of art around! Who knew it was so artistic?
Things to do in Cairns:
Well, we looked around the town a little and saw a few fun things that weren’t pub related 🙂 but don’t worry, there’s plenty of them. Bear in mind though, we really only explored the center of town.
- Walk down the main strip and check out the galleries
- Cairns night market: a bit of food, massages, souvenirs etc. you know, the usual stuff.
- Rustys market: mainly produce (great looking produce) but some ready to eat food and handicrafts as well. Jax picked up an awesome fish decoration. My jealousy level was high, but there was no way it was fitting in my suitcase
- Cairns central shopping center! Because we can’t go past the shops! Picked up some great swimmers in the anger sale and outfits for @kevinfromfinance at Kmart. I swear all these shops seem smaller than they used to, but I still love them!
- Sit down on the water and watch the sunset with a glass or 2 of wine. This is probably my favourite thing. There’s nothing better than a gorgeous view, wine & a bestie by your side 🥰
Then there’s the main event: the Great Barrier!! I thoroughly recommend the people we booked through: Seastar Cruises
Great Barrier Reef
Wow!! This place may be dying, but it is still amazing! So this is what I learnt (from Jax doing the research)
- Book ahead
- Get a fast boat, so you don’t spend all your time getting there
- Don’t go for a giant boat, the less people the better
- Make sure they go to the outer reef as well
Seastar Cruises ticked all the boxes. Plus they have all your equipment for snorkeling and do a good little tour around before you have free snorkeling time. There wasn’t any point where I felt like we didn’t have enough time, which is the sign of a good tour.
You can also do a scuba dive. They do the trial guided dive as well as dives for experienced divers. I had a horrid cold so no diving for me, but the snorkeling was so good I didn’t feel like I missed out.
About 2 hrs drive from Cairns, this is a must do. We headed straight to the Mossman Gorge Visitor as Jax & I really wanted to do the Dreamtime walk. The Kuku Yalanji tribe are the traditional owners of the park, and it is members of the tribe that do the walk. It’s a great way to respectfully learn about the park.
Once you get there, you book your tour time in the visitor center (conveniently full of irresistible things to buy). We had to entertain ourselves at the local cafe while we waited for our tour 😬
The Mayi Cafe is delicious! They use the local bush flavours to compliment the food. We really wanted to try the damper sampler but held off, because the Dreamtime Walk starts with damper muffins and bush team (yum!)
I love how here, the cafe, gallery & gift shop are all staffed by members of the Kuku Yalanji tribe.
So, the tour. It was so interesting. We found out about the Kuku Yalanji people, how they use the resources of the forest and more about the actual forest it is. I did not know it’s the oldest forest- estimated at 180 million years old! Far out! Anyway, I can’t recommend this tour enough, it was amazing.
After the tour, you can then go and explore the park a little. We were the end of the day so didn’t have a lot of time. It’s a gorgeous place, you should definitely save more time than we did 🙂
The town of Karunda is up in the mountains about 30 mins from Caurns. You can take the scenic sky rail up, but we got a car for the day and drove up. This town is so cute!!! We went up originally as one of Jax’s friends lived up there as a baby, and I’m glad we did. The Karunda pub looks great! We were stuffed from breakfast, but managed to fit in an ice cream 😂😂
The town has a stack of galleries, I am surprised we didn’t walk away with any art! We did however, walk away with stuff from the little stalls: the standout item being cocktail shakers with aboriginal art on them😄
Not far from town is a nice hike for you to do. It’s not far, but the views are beautiful.
So it was a busy few days, there’s heaps to do on and around Cairns. It’s a great place to visit, I could definitely go back.