second in a series from Queensland, Australia
Much of what is accessible to travelers in northern Queensland, Australia, lies between Cairns and Cooktown. From Sydney, I flew into Cairns, then made my way north through Daintree National Park.
The primary reason to go to Cairns is to book a snorkeling or diving boat to the Great Barrier Reef, either out of Cairns or nearby Port Douglas to the north, where I ate my first spangled emperor for dinner (look it up). The Reef, at 1,200 miles long, is the world’s largest living organism.
Getting to the outer reef and back by boat takes a full, long day, though there are shorter snorkeling and glass-bottom boat trips to inner portions of the reef. Prices are $80 and up.
Tour operators can arrange bungee jumping, white water rafting, and a Skyrail cable car above the canopy of a rainforest. You can do hot air ballooning to spot wild kangaroo, or hug a koala at the Cairns Tropical Zoo.
You can swim for free in a large pool beside the ocean, built by the city because the ocean beaches are not safe from sea crocodiles that hide in the mud. Crocs do not venture ashore (local folks promise).
I never saw a Cairns croc. The most difficult task for me in Cairns was figuring out a way to say the name of the town. It’s not Canz or cahns. Somehow, you are supposed to sneak the “R” into the pronunciation without actually saying it, as I did, “carns” with a long “A”.
The city name was as difficult for me to say as kvetch, which nearly everyone knows has a very soft “K” which I don’t seem to be able to say the proper way. Thing is, everyone in Australia knew which city I was talking about when I mispronounced Cairns, just as my friends at home know which Yiddish word I mean when I say kvetch, my way, so I’m not complaining.
Photos by David G. Molyneaux, TheTravelMavens.com
David Molyneaux writes regularly about cruising news, tips and trends at TravelMavenBlog.com. His cruise trends column appears monthly in U.S. newspapers and on other Internet sites, including AllThingsCruise. He is editor of TheTravelMavens.com