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May 2003



May 13 - 31

Cairns - Queensland

































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May 13 - 31
We took the Ferry back to Wellington on a wonderful warm Fall day. We packed up the bikes and got all of our gear up to our 5th floor Backpackers room and met Danielle and her friend Jonathon at Kitty O’Sheas in the evening. We enjoyed dinner and a few pints of Guinness and discussed NZ and AU. Jonathon taught us how to speak Ozzie …. Hold one end of your mouth between thumb and forefinger and speak out of the other end.

We spent the next few days revisiting some of the places we visited in December .. the Cable Car to the Planetarium and the Shepard Arms Hotel in Thorndon that is fitted out like the Speights Brewery Pub in Dunedin. Danielle met us for dinner at Red Tomatoes in Kelburn, up beyond the Cable Car termination, and we celebrated Mother’s Day with some pizzas, salads and a nice bottle of NZ pinot noir. It was very windy and cold and made us ready for the beach. We tried to visit the Museum of Film, Radio and Television, but it is closed and in storage waiting for a new home. We also thought we’d take in the Harley Davidson special exhibit at the new Te Papa Museum, but it cost $7NZ each and we just couldn’t justify that on our fixed income. So we just went back to our room and packed all of our stuff for flight.

Early on the 13th we took a Super Shuttle to the Airport. The nice check-in man for Air New Zealand weighed our 6 bags and marked them all Heavy. He said we were 20kg over allowed weight and he could charge us 20 x $12 per kg = $1200NZ. But he was nice and “only” charged us $240NZ. He warned that we’d be paying on our Qantas flight as well. We had a nice flight to Sydney and landed there in a big rainstorm. Customs made us open the bikes and ran through my clothes bag saying the X-Ray showed tools and plant materials. None found. We think they checked the wrong bag. The flight magazine showed us that we’d be taking a bus between the International and Domestic terminals and feared that we’d have to take all the bags with us. But we loaded it all on the Trolleys and followed the arrows to Domestic Terminal. After a loooonggg walk, we got to a security and check-in area where we checked in for our Qantas flight to Cairns and checked all of our luggage without a word about too many bags nor extra $$$ for overweight. Yeah …. Then we boarded the bus to the Domestic terminal with just our carry-on bags. We LIKE Qantas!! We got some $$$AU from an ATM and enjoyed a reasonably priced breakfast and beers and waited for our next adventure while Larry morphed into Rory K. O’Roo.

We landed in Cairns mid-afternoon and it was hot and muggy and tropical. We got a phone card, booked into a Backpackers on the Esplanade on Cairns waterfront a few blocks from the central business district that we selected from the Lonely Planet, and took a taxi there. It was an eclectic arrangement of buildings around a pool … with open air kitchens and TV area. We had a nice double room on the 2nd floor of one of the buildings … big, cool, with a verandah overlooking the street behind the buildings and shared a bathroom with 3 other rooms.

We spent the next few days wandering around Cairns. The business district is several blocks of shops selling all sorts of Australian souvenirs, open air restaurants and Night Markets that are open til 11pm. There is a big mall adjacent to the Train Station and Rory got some new shoes and sandals. There’s another at the Harbor and we just had beers there. They are redoing the downtown Esplanade area and built a new saltwater pool because Cairns city has no real beach area. The mayor announced that topless sunbathing is allowed at the pool but not in the family area. The Backpackers included a voucher for dinner at the Wool Shed Pub. We tried it once, but there was a big queue to get in and food wasn’t grand. You could upgrade for $4-6 to something better, but the nice outdoor restaurants had good food at a good price without queueing.

After a few days we headed north. Rory lowered all of our bags and bikes over the railing and I caught them below … instead of trucking it all through the complex again. He is soooooo clever …. A genius really. We planned to bike to Trinity Beach or Palm Cove for a few days, then carry on to Port Douglas. Trinity Beach was 17 miles and by the time we got there we were hot, tired, hungry, thirsty. After a nice lunch we took a spot at the Trinity Beach Motor Camp and set up camp. A nice guy .. originally from Holland … chatted and gave us our first intro to the place. There were many tropical birds all around, squawking and chattering. And little lizards clinging to the building walls .. maybe chameleons. We kept hearing that there are a lot of hills between us and Port Douglas. Wahhhh ….. The Motor Camp owner suggested that we bike to Palm Cove for breakfast at Cocky’s. So the next morning we visited the next few beaches north … Kawerra Beach, Clifton Beach and Palm Cove. Kawerra and Clifton have houses on the beach and you can only access it at a few spots. Trinity and Palm are all open beach with the buildings across the street. The Lonely Planet says the nearest beachfront camping is at Palm Cove, so we checked that out. It is a nice location, but a grim campground with few bathrooms that are all at one end. Palm Cove is pretty yuppy with several expensive restaurants and just a small shop. Clifton had not even that much.

So we decided to try and stay in Trinity Beach for a few months and check out Port Douglas later. A few places we saw advertised didn’t answer when I made my first try … so LUCKILY I tried an ad from the newspaper for a 1 bedroom Holiday Apartment. The people answered, it was still available for $245AU per week, and it was just a short way from the Motor Camp. So we biked over and met Dorothy. She was surprised to see us show up on bikes. We loved the place and took it for 2 months and moved right in. They have a lovely home on a quiet street off Trinity Beach Road and about .5 mile to the beach and less to the shops … grocer, bottle stop, butcher, pharmacy, bakery, Videos, Doctors, Take-Away places, Newspaper store. They built an apartment at the left front of their home and that’s where we’re staying. It is about 16’ square with TV area, kitchen with microwave and little oven/stove appliance about microwave size, laundry, bed, closet space and bathroom with a little sitting area outside the patio door. It’s just like playing house again. And we have our own little lizards. They’re in the garden, jump on the patio door when we come in for the night and turn the inside lights on … and we have one inside as well crawling along the wall near the ceiling and living in the concrete block spaces. We took it outside a few times, but one always returns and there are no flies or ants when one is in residence … so we’ll not disturb it again.

So now we sleep til 8 or 9, I bike to the shops for the newspaper(s) and groceries, we have breakfast, bike to the beach from about 11 – 4:30, have Happy Hour and read the newspaper(s) and later watch TV and have dinner. Larry plays the Harmonica and Tin Whistle a lot and I read. Sunset is around 5:30 and dark by 6 .. so the nights are long which is the main reason we aren’t camping. It is fun to read AU papers and watch AU and British Television. Current news topics include the war and SARS, thus the economy, pedophilia in the Anglican church, the topless sunbathing issue, boy racers, drink drivers … the usual. We’ve heard people complain that San Diego weather is sooo boring … always sunny and hot … so we want to see if we can get sick of this paradise weather.

We got rid of all our food in NZ except for some coffee, tea and a few jars of spices. So we started all over with peanut butter, jelly, salad dressings, tomato sauce/ketchup, mustard, tartare sauce and such. We’re having lots of fun doing our own cooking. We haven’t had a bad meal since the very mediocre lasagna with chips and salad at the Hotel the night before we took the apartment. We’re having stuff like beef stir fry, pasta primavera on a bed of sautéed silverbeet, sausages and sautéed cabbage, bitchin’ pasta salad, steak onion mushrooms with baked potatoes, and pan fried crumbed Hoki fillets (that’s fill-its) with coleslaw and Take-away potato wedges. Two young girls had a stand Sunday and I bought a green capsicum (pepper), a lime, 2 oranges, a banana and some mushrooms for $3AU. Too cute ….

We aren’t doing our Pub to Pub tour just now … instead enjoying Victoria Bitter and XXXX Gold Lager from the Bottle Stop. And Diet Coke with Southern Comfort and boxes of Merlot wine.

The air temperature has been about 29C/84F and the water 25C/77F or so. We are on the Coral Sea and the waters around here have Box Jellyfish which can kill you with their stinger tentacles. So we swim in the area enclosed by a stinger net and with a lifeguard. This is the nicest water to swim in. It is warm enough to just jump into. It gets waist or shoulder deep in a short distance and is like swimming in a big salty wave pool. You just roll over the waves and sometimes with more wind and lower tide you get bigger fun waves that knock you … but they’re not one right after another like in Florida.

In June we’ll take a cruise to the Great Coral Reef and enjoy some snorkeling and such … and take the train to Kuranda with 45 minute cable car back. And later visit Port Douglas, Daintree Village and Cape Tribulation.


But for now … it’s just time to enjoy the beach.