Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cairns, oh glorious Cairns!

The Cairns Esplanade
We had the pleasure of going to Cairns for vacation last week, our only regret was that we have not gone sooner because we would of already been back, so much to do and see.  We stayed in a beautiful house near Clifton Beach, the house was full of louvered windows that we got to open every night to feel the beach breeze. We could not wait to walk on the beach!  Check out the sign you see when you get to the beach, apparently if the marine stingers or crocs don't get you, the sun will burn you to bits in 6 minutes!
Clifton Beach

The first day was spent in Cairns, we spent the day on the Esplanade and at Muddy's playground, which has to be the best park I have ever seen - the boys wanted to stay for 5 or 6 hours.  After lunch we happened upon a bumper soccer area, this was one of the funniest things I have seen in a while - the boys were in plastic bubbles trying to kick the ball, but mostly knocking each other down. Every time they fell over and could not get up it reminded my of the girl turned blueberry in Willy Wonka. Of course there are no words for the Australian mom who decided to join in wearing a mini skirt, a treat for JD!
1 of the many areas to play

Jake upside down
Day two we took a scenic drive north to Port Douglas, beautiful winding road with coastline on one side and mountains on the other.  Port Douglas is a beautiful beach town and home to Four Mile beach, one of the most famous beaches in the area.  The Sunday markets are huge, full of wonderful things - I bought a glass tray that was a must have.  The beach was beautiful, I think the boys enjoyed playing on the rocks more than anything though.  I thought the "munch buggy" driving around with snacks was hilarious.  We went to the Iron Bar for lunch and got very excited when I saw the Cane Toad Racing sign, only to find out the races are at 8:00 PM - we were ready to add toads to the list of animals we have seen racing!  We then went to the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas, they had a rain-forest, wetland and kangaroo area that you could walk through pretty freely.  Even though we are now experts on Kangaroos and Wallabies, we still enjoyed hand feeding them as they hopped right up to us.  The highlight for me of course was getting to hold a koala, Queensland is the only state in Australia where you are allowed to hold one.  Dillon enjoyed the birds the most, he was whistling to a parrot that appeared to be talking back and following him.  Pretty sure Jake and JD's favorites are the crocodiles.
Four mile beach

"Munch Buggy"

Monday we headed off to Green Island which is on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the day was beautiful and the waters fairly calm - we spent the 45 minute ride on deck until we hit a wave and the boat dipped, and all four of us were soaked - the boys and I laughed hysterically!  Green Island was wonderful, beautiful crystal clear water with white sand beaches, and being a little off season it was not too crowded.  There were no stingers (jellyfish) this time of year but Jake still opted for the wet suit because of water temps. Dillon loved snorkeling, we ended up getting him a life jacket so he could go out further with JD and see more - Jake, who did not love snorkeling stayed a little closer in. Jake's highlight was the glass bottom boat ride, we saw huge sea turtles, a bull ray and some amazing fish.
Green Island

Tuesday morning we headed back to the water for some fishing, my first time! JD and the boys were very excited.  We did calm water fishing on a small boat on the inter-coastal waters.  Our guide, Tim, took us into some hidden coves to net for bait (shrimp, or prawns as they say here).  I managed to catch 5 fish without ever touching the bait or a fish, I considered this an accomplishment! Both boys caught 4 and JD caught 3, but one of his was the largest catch of the day.

One of the sunken ships we fished near.

Wednesday was one of the best days on the trip, just great family time!  We started with the zoo followed by lunch in Palm Cove (my favorite spot in the area). Palm Cove was perfect, the beaches were gorgeous, the palm trees swaying and there were wonderful bistros and shops all around.  I could of stayed all day but we had to be back at the zoo for the 2:00 croc show, once again (just like Darwin) we were treated to a croc jumping out of the water to snap at a chicken, pretty cool! The rest of the afternoon was spent riding go-carts and mini golf, might I point out that I won the round of mini golf.....  Dinner was at an amazing restaurant called Colonies on the Cove back in Palm Cove, sitting with a view of the ocean and eating an incredible meal was the perfect finish of the day.
The Cassowary bird

Palm Cove

Thursday,  our last full day in Cairns, was spent going to Kuranda, a small village in the rain-forest. We took the scenic railway up, it is about an hour and a half trip - going over bridges, through tunnels and going past the occasional waterfall.  Kuranda itself was mostly a touristy village, full of souvenir shops and cafes.  We went to the butterfly sanctuary in the village which was neat, Jake was a little taken back by the hundreds of butterflies flying around but they must have loved Dillon because he  had them landing on him constantly.  We took the gondola ride down the mountain, this of course it out of my comfort zone (fear of hanging from a wire), JD and the boys loved it and I did enjoy the view! At the end of the gondola ride they snap your picture, what a nice surprise to walk into the building and see a giant picture of JD, the boys and my hair on the TV screen, have I mentioned how humid it is in Cairns?


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