Mission Beach

Becca Choi James Cook University, Australia


October 10, 2017

One of the things I love about Arcadia is the way they are always offering up opportunities for us to do amazing things. This weekend we went on a road trip to Mission Beach. We started on Friday at 3pm, made a short stop at Babinda Boulders, and Alligator Creek and arrived at Jackaroo hostel that night.

Saturday was busy and bright. We started the day with sightseeing, a rainforest hike, and wine tasting.

Tully has a giant rain boot lookout that represents their record annual rainfall. Tully is known as the wettest place in Australia and boasts of the massive flooding that they have received in the past. Hiking in the rainforest is always a treat, but I made the mistake of forgetting bug spray. The mozzies ate me up terribly. The rainforest has the most mosquitos I’ve ever seen. The Murdering Point Winery only sells wines produces from tropical fruits—not grapes. We had passionfruit, pineapple, banana, mango, coffee, plum, and other interesting wines. They were unique and delicious!

After a relaxed morning, we met our guide, Attie for some kayaking. It was a phenomenal first for me. We kayaked in lukewarm seawater. Amazing is an understatement. I saw the biggest turtle I've ever seen. It must have been at least five feet long. I thought it could have been a dugong, a species of manatee. They're sort of like fat, tusk-less walruses. They're the only marine mammal that only eats plants, and they have a funny sort of suction-cup face. We didn’t spot any, but they are native to that area.

At Mission Beach, there are small crabs that burrow holes into the sand. They take mouthfuls of sand, eat the microorganisms in it, then spit it back out into little balls, which they spread in geometric patterns across the sand. Seeing this natural sand art was awesome. It was so beautiful and structured.

On Sunday we left early to catch a ride to a nearby island. We stepped into the warm seawater and walked towards a small boat--it sat about twenty people. The waves sloshed up to our thighs before we stepped up onto the boat, rocking in the wind and the waves. It was ten minutes to Dunk Island, the boat skipping across the waves. When we arrived, it was paradise. The sand was fine and soft. Sea shells and pieces of coral lined the beach. Palm trees cast shade to sit in. The water was a translucent teal. Dense rainforest covered most of the island, but there were trails that led to the beaches and to the top of the mountain. We spend the day tanning and swimming on Muggy Muggy beach, surrounded by fringing reef and warm winds.

After a chill beach day, we drove back to Cairns. I loved driving home through seemingly endless fields of sugarcane and dense plantations of banana trees. We stopped at Babinda Boulders again for a freshwater swim, and I rinsed the salt out of my hair. The clean water leaves your skin silky.

I think some of my most vivid memories of Australia will be swimming on the coasts of tropical islands, in water holes and waterfalls. As my time here shortens with each passing day, I’m realizing the importance of making the best memories while I’m still here. I think tomorrow will be a good day to go to the beach.