You've heard about New Zealand and Tasmania, so now I must share my Cairns and Gold Coast trips. When I ventured to NZ and Tassie, I was by myself, though for Cairns and the Gold Coast I had one of my friends from uni, in fact, my first friend from uni, to enjoy the trip with me. Traveling alone is nothing to be afraid of as long as you’re careful. And it can actually make everything much easier. But, having someone to travel, enjoy everything, and talk with is also really nice. I missed her, and since I had been gone for seven months by the time I saw her again, we had tons to catch up on.
We headed up to Cairns for Easter. We both had long weekends and I’ve spent every major holiday doing some sort of travel so far, so why not? I was going to take the train, but the day I was leaving the train wasn’t running, so I hopped on a plane. It ended up being cheaper. The flight was only 55 minutes and the plane I traveled on had a total of 18 rows, with two seats on each side. If you’ve ever been on a normal commercial airplane, you know that the rows normally go up to about 30, and they have three seats on each side. So this plane was tiny. It was honestly so adorable and so roomy because there was only 11 other passengers on board with me. We arrived there on Saturday and left that Tuesday morning.
Cairns is a small, quaint place, much like Townsville but with more tourists and definitely more greenery. When we arrived, we checked in, and went to explore the town. We stopped by the Esplanade, which is where those giant silver fish statues are, and then went to the movies later that night. We did tons of shopping and it was really great. There’s a lot of pubs and shops in the town and it’s honestly a really lovely place with nice people. It can be easy to get lost though if you don’t know where you’re going; we had to help a few people out that night, so just be careful, or ask around if you can’t figure it out. My friend and I walked everywhere because everything is pretty close, just be sure you wear sunblock and have water with you. The sun and humidity in Cairns is no joke.
On Easter Sunday, we went snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef! It was incredible and an experience that I would do over and over again. We caught our hostels shuttle bus to the boardwalks for our meeting point and got briefed about safety on the boat and in the water. We went to two different diving spots and saw so many amazing fish and corals. Because of the reefs fragility, you are to refrain from touching it at all times but if you could touch it, it was only an arm’s reach from the surface. Aside from all the adorable little fish around, you get to see the big ones the size of you, jellyfish (not the mean and dangerous ones that you normally hear about here in Australia), and even reef sharks. Sometimes there are turtles, but unfortunately we didn’t get to see them. On our way back to the docks we were given a buffet lunch which was delicious. I know that there are some people who are afraid of boats, open water, or are bad swimmers; I am all of those people. Don’t let your fears get in the way of this experience, trust me! It is beyond worth it. Aside from providing the standard gear to snorkel, they also provided pool noodles for people who are a little more scared or a little less confident in their swimming skills than others. Tons of people used them and you shouldn’t be ashamed to need a little extra to help to feel confident; me and my friend used them! And remember no one is there to look at you, they’re there to look at the reef.
Easter Monday we went to the botanical gardens, which was small but still nice. It was an easy twenty minute walk from our hostel and an easy thirty to forty minute walk to go around the entire gardens. It was almost closing time so no one was there and it was really lush and green when we went. If you enjoy flowers and trees and nature, and some really great photo opportunities, I definitely suggest making a stop there. There are also some tracks that go around lakes and through forests around the gardens as well, unfortunately we weren’t able to go travel them because of the time. It was getting dark by the time we finished at the gardens and lakes around the forests are known to have crocodiles in and around them. Way better safe than sorry. By the way, never go to where crocodiles live at night/in the dark. They will attack you and will not see it; I’m not trying to scare you, but it’s just the reality of the situation. On Monday we also got tattoos together. She got two, one on her foot and one on her shoulder, they were her first. And I got mine on my finger, which is number six for me. There are TONS of tattoo parlors in Cairns. Every other block was a pub or a tattoo parlor. The shop we went to was really nice and the artist was incredible. And it was a really nice way to end our Easter break.
Tuesday morning we got a taxi to the airport and said our farewells until lecture recess when we would meet up again, but this time in South Queensland...
We took on Gold Coast for our version of ‘spring break’. It was really nice and really big. Gold Coast (GC) is NOT a place you can a walking city. Buses are your best friends. It is also very expensive to get there and stay there. Hostels were almost double what they normally are everywhere else and plane tickets were almost the same. Because of that I took a plane from Townsville to Brisbane and then took the airport train from Brisbane to GC; it was more time consuming but it was a lot cheaper that way. The part of GC that we stayed in was called Surfers Paradise and that’s exactly what it was. I don’t surf but I could see how surfer’s love the place because of the waves. In Townsville there are no waves, so to go down the the southern half of my state and find these magnificent waves was such a delight and the beach was just gorgeous.
Aside from their awesomely known beaches, the reason we went to GC in the first place was because that’s where the amusement parks are! Both of us have gone to a few different parks in the states and we wanted to experience them here too. It was definitely worth it especially because they have holiday tickets that are perfect for travelers. We went to Sea World, Movie World, Wet n Wild, and Dream World. My favorite was Dream World hands down, but there’s a big debate about whether Movie or Dream world is better. I’m from New Jersey so I have Six Flags to compare it to by me and my friend lives in Pennsylvania near Knoebels. It is definitely more like Six Flags, with a little bit of a Disney World mixed in. Movie World, Dream World, Wet n Wild, and White Water World are basically next to each other on the same road. The only one not near them is Sea World. Sea World in Australia is very different from Sea World at home. At least from the last time I had gone which is over ten years ago. It only has one show and that is the dolphins, everything else is basically like an aquarium. It’s really nice though and they have a few rides to go on too. Which brings me to the biggest difference between the theme parks in the states versus here. The rides and lines for them are MUCH shorter. The longest line me and my friend waited in was an hour and the only park to have lines that long, was the water park. All the dry parks, the lines were only 20 - 30 minutes long which is really crazy if you’ve ever been to a six flags and definitely to Disney. Waits are easily an hour long, usually longer. The parks are also A LOT smaller. We were concerned that we would run out of time at all the parks because they were only open from 10 - 5. But, as it turns out, it’s perfect timing to be able to do all the big attractions and shop around and eat a little too. The main reason I say buses are your best friends is because each park has its own stop on the buses; you just have to make sure you get on the right one, which is easy enough to look up.
GC is a really big tourist attraction but there’s a reason for that. It’s beautiful and definitely worth a stop by. And if you’re going, even only for a few days, I definitely recommend making a trip to at least one of the parks.
Unfortunately and fortunately, my time in Australia is coming to an end. Finals are starting and I’ll be home by the end of the month. It’s insane that this is one of my last blog posts, but it’s an incredible insane because it’s been an incredible experience.