Friday, January 8, 2010

Cairns Central

Driving into Cairns once we got down the dreaded mountain, I came to the realisation it was a fair size city. Big wide roads, and even a Sizzler which we unfortunately didn't dine at over the course of our stay.

We checked into the Cairns Central YHA, which was completely different to what I expected. I was expecting some sort of towering building, something like a smaller version of Sydney Central, but it's more like an island resort, which has the pool in the centre.

We had ourselves a family room with our own bathroom. Unfortunately however, there was a big bunch of blokes having themselves a wild time, directly outside our room. One of them had made the purchase of a didgeridoo, which I'm sure he will regret once he leaves Cairns, and various people were having turns, making a similar sound to a foghorn.

We went to find something for dinner. The reception advised that the Green Ant made delicious meals, unfortunately for us however, it was closed for the Christmas period. We headed down towards the water and ended up at a Vietnamese restaraunt, Bobby's. The food here was pretty awesome, and the prices were quite reasonable, which is not customary anywhere in the north of Queensland.

We walked down by the lagoon, another artifical lagoon just like in Airlie Beach. It is not quite as deep as Airlie, I think it might take up more space, but the one in Airlie seems bigger. We timed it quite well as there was a game of canoe polo taking place. This was a surprising omission from the book I bought the next day "World's Weirdest Sports". Basically it's similar to water polo, but you paddle around in a small canoe, and shoot at a goal which is suspended above the water.

Unfortunately for these guys, there was nothing behind the goal, so every missed shot meant someone having to run after the ball. On the way home we actually got incredibly lost. I had smartly left the map we were given inside the room, where it was definitely going to come in handy.

At some stage we just caught the end of the sports news, which was incredibly Canberra-centric for somewhere that's, well, not Canberra. These were the three articles that came up: "Patrick Mills (from Canberra) makes his NBA debut", "Canberra Vikings extend their lead in the George Bass surfboat marathon" and "former Raider Todd Carney in trouble again". The footage that accompanied that story was of him walking past the statue of Laurie Daley at Bruce Stadium dejectedly after being thrown out of the Raiders.

I hadn't really been paying attention at the time, but the story turned out to be that whilst celebrating New Year's Eve, in, of all places...Airlie Beach, one of his "mates" ended up with burns on his buttocks, scrotum and thigh as a result of a "prank gone wrong". I wonder if he was associated with the two blokes who ran in for a dip sans clothes in water that is infested with box jellyfish.

We took a swim in the pool. The Cairns hostel has an excellent sized pool. The one in Airlie is pretty small, if there's anyone else in there, it gets a bit overcrowded for my likings. This pool is a great size, and has two spas adjoining as well.

I had to sort out some work things on the internet, and once I came back, who should I see but our old friend the schoolteacher. I restrained myself from saying "what happened to the third night on Magnetic Island" but tried to make my way off as quickly as possible, as I really didn't want anything more to do with him. Not far away from him was old mate with the 99 year old father, busily planning further adventures. Before he could catch sight of me I made it into the safety of the room.

We didn't really have a plan for the next day. We were hoping to make some sort of trip but our financial resources were dwindling quickly and I had to be back at work the next day and there was a long bus trip in between.

Francisca told me if she was inspired by the city she would stick around a few more days. We took a bit of a wander and then a bit of a drive, decided against going on any tours, and booked tickets on the next bus.

There was a shopping centre across the road across the road and I had some JB vouchers I needed to spend so I got myself Propaghandi- Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes, Miles Away- Rewind Repeat, Rise Against- Siren Songs of the Counter Culture, Converge- Jane Doe and Parkway Drive- "The DVD".

We got some kebabs before boarding the bus, however I don't think we were mentally prepared for the journey. 11 hours...There are a lot longer trips available, especially on the Greyhound network (for example I booked a guy today to leave Airlie Beach at 2.15am before arriving in Alice Spring at 9.30am the next day with changes in Townsville, Mt Isa and Tennant Creek).

However, this was a long trip in itself. The first section didn't go so bad, it was light, I had a couple of books to read- the aforementioned "Worlds Weirdest Sports" as well as Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest". I also had an ipod with full battery (thanks fantastic car) and it was light so we could look out the window.

We stopped in Cardwell, just as we had on the way up, however we weren't ready for dinner at this stage, so Annie and her kitchen didn't have a second chance to give me a heart attack. Cardwell is just across the water from Hinchinbrook Island (picture at the top of this post) and has some impressive views. It was dark on our previous visit, so it was great to see the town in the light.

In Townsville we had to change buses. At this point it felt like we were nearly there...just five more hours! The worst part though, was the "dinner break" which Greyhound always schedule at inconvenient hours in inconvenient places. The dinner break on this trip was in Bowen, less than an hour from our stop. So we had to stand around a horrible, horrible service station for an hour. I ate a chiko roll, which was probably the worst thing I've ever eaten in my life and later a packet of corn chips, which cost me exactly one arm and one leg.

The feeling of relief upon arriving at the Airlie Beach bus terminal was simply unfathomable. The fact it was just a short walk and we were home made things even better. On arrival we simply crashed in the bed. I was certainly glad we took this option rather than going overnight to arrive just a few minutes before beginning work.

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Daniel is now living in Santiago de Chile. You can find some more writing at I Love Chile

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