After the dive boat experience at the Great Barrier Reef, a group of us coincidentally found ourselves in a boat together again-this time visiting Cairns. That delightful and random occurrence encouraged us to band together, and it was great to be in the company of friends when it came time to explore the city as well as the rainforest nearby. Some of us ended up lodging at at the Galligan’s Traveler Hostel wherein the party scene was prevalent. The liveliness and vibrant energy made me reminiscent of my partying years; although I longer categorize myself as part of the partying demographic, I still found the hostel’s energetic vibe to be entertaining and well-spirited.
A couple of us expressed our desire to visit the Daintree Rainforest the following day. To be quite honest, I wasn’t really expecting anyone to show so I was pleasantly surprised when the turnout tallied seven people, enough for our designated driver Alex to resort to renting a van. We had so many adventures lying ahead of us and it felt great to set out on them on this family-style trip knowing that we’d be sharing these experiences with each other. We formed a bond through those shared memories, and that is something we can all hold no matter where we may find ourselves after this trip. Once we made it to the Daintree Rainforest National Park we were informed the this is cassowary hatching season, meaning that an actual sighting would be something of an far-fetched event. We also came across some other travelers that had been there for days without spotting one, so although we let ourselves hope for the inconceivable, we minimized any expectations we had harbored for a possible cassowary encounter.
We set off on a hike at the entry of the rainforest and attempted to locate a beach at the end of the forest. We soon learned that Australians are having a hard time swimming in the ocean due to the presence of jellyfish and just as hard a time swimming in freshwater lakes due to the crocodiles. Having been told there was a beautiful beach situated just before the 4WD required zone, we spent hours avidly scouring to find this hidden gem. During the course of our search, we came across two German girls that has been living in their car-which happened to break down in the rainforest-for the past four months. Funnily enough, we had a German guy named Hendrick in our group who just so happens to be a mechanic; he ended up fixing their car while we continued on our mission to uncover the Legend of the Elusive Beach.
On our way out of the forest, we witnessed the rules of inconceivability be defied in the form of a cassowary followed by two chicks. The German girls had spotted them just as we were approaching the outer parameters of the rainforest. After a moment, the cassowaries became aware of our loud and very visually apparent presence and proceeded to continue inwards into the rainforest. I immediately scrambled to follow their trail until the abundance of spider webs became too big a hindrance for me to continue. Later on, I learned that that following after them was a crummy move as these birds are extremely aggressive and would have likely chased after me had they known I was alone. Thankfully I came away unscathed and our group came out of that forest with an air of privileged demeanor, having been graced with what felt like a small miracle. If there is such a thing as perfect timing, we witnessed it in full effect.
The entire road trip/forest expedition-including food-costed us approximately $40 AUD which almost felt like a steal for such all fulfillment and excitement we received for it.
On Day 2, a couple of us visited the tropical zoo at the Palm Cove wherein we were able to see most of the native and exotic animals that inhabit Australia. We were afforded the opportunity to feed the kangaroos, which was memorable to say the least. They didn’t show much fear or apprehension towards us, making the feeding feel like a casual and natural dynamic, which was inspiriting to be a part of. I also got close and personal with a koala that didn’t mind being held (as opposed to wild koalas’ reaction to being held, which I learned may potentially reduce their life span because of how unfamiliar they are with human contact) and hopefully doesn’t mind that he’s featured in what is now my Facebook profile picture.
I have just one outstanding complaint to make about Cairns-their crying lack of cocktail choices. We came across a nice, standard bar with great decor and a vibrant atmosphere, but their consumptive selections threw me off entirely. While a sweeping sector of their inventory was solely dedicated to beers, I found that they didn’t even have something as basic as vermouth in stock (meaning they can’t even throw a simple vodka martini together!). This struck me as odd and considerably underwhelming for a liquor establishment.
The Esphalana area was a unique experience: when looking up we would see the sky fluttering with colonies of bats circling overhead; we lapped the scene up, as we did with the majority of Cairns’ sights. There’s something magical about seeing things that don’t belong or exist in your usual surroundings. I realize that as we get older, we are less enchanted by life because new experiences and feelings seem to be so few and far between, so much so that sometimes we’re convinced we’ve seen all there is to see, and experienced all this world has to offer. But coming to Cairns-and more generally, exploring these new and foreign regions in the past month-I feel that prime sense of child-like wonder that comes with moments like this.
My days in Cairns hold so many meaningful and fun-filled memories of experiencing new and enthralling things with great company. As I left Cairns, I felt such appreciation towards the city for imparting to me these good times, ones that I know I’ll be telling for a lifetime.