What we planned:
Off we go toward the Great Barrier Reef. Day 7 is primarily a travel day with an early pickup from the Melbourne hotel and an early afternoon arrival in Cairns. That’s pronounced CANS in Australia, just like tin “cans.” This city that I thought was 30,000 people is now told to me as having a population around 100,000. Either being true, that makes it the biggest city in north “Queensland,” our second of three Australian states that will be visited.
Cairns is a one-night layover convenient to the tour attraction we have booked for Day 8. It’s a major hub for the Reef and a seaside port.
What we saw and did:
Pickup in Melbourne went as planned. A van took us through early morning deserted streets of the city, past Queen Victoria Market, all shuttered on Good Friday. QVM is one of those places we didn’t visit, but with luck there is a Sunday market waiting for us “in two days’ time” as the Australians might say.
Our flight was three and a half hours, so maybe like flying non-stop Raleigh to Phoenix. We were traversing two-thirds of the country south to north, and flying to the area of the cyclone (hurricane) strike just a week ago. No worries, there wasn’t damage in the areas we are visiting.
Flying time in-country featured an array of movie choices likened to the ride over on Quantas, the airline for all our travel. Betsy enveloped herself in the second of the three shows in “The Hunger Games” series. Having read all three books in that series, she could jump right into the story. Her report: Jennifer Lawrence is a highly capable actress at a young age, but the film, as usual, just does not capture all the background nuance of story portrayed in print. Still, a good show.
Doug watched “The Book Thief” and found it to be a well done story about a young girl growing up in Germany at the onset of World War II. It starred, as the girl’s adopting parents, A-list actors Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. Most of the movie was in English. But enough was in German with subtitles to achieve a level of believability and context that the engrossed film watcher needed a few moments of reality to reset his brain to Australia when the show was done. That’s certainly the definition of an “engaging” film.
Airtime complete, our ride to the hotel was under fifteen minutes from the Cairns airport. Being a day of few plans and fewer expectations, the hurdle was low to make us happy: the hotel room did it! We were the first occupants of a renovated room on a special floor with modern features. For the most part I think photos will give you the flavor of the experience.
One side story is that we had the fun of diagnosing that apparently the electricians had wired the room a little buggy. All our outlets worked well, but the overhead lights and bathroom lights were a challenge. After getting help one time from the maintenance engineer to reset a circuit breaker down the hall, we still found that the lighting went OFF when the air conditioning fan was set to “auto,” “low,” or “medium.” Once we determined that all was well with the fan set to “high,” the lighting became stable and predictable. We reported the diagnosis to hotel staff and took our commission (not).
The other surprise of the day was that Betsy made an impromptu decision to invest in UGG boots while shopping main street in Cairns. For many years that footwear style has been quite the rage in the U.S.A. Once termed “ugly” boots down-under, these have become a fashion trend, and now another convert has joined the flow.
This travel journal entry started with a question: “What’s in Cairns?” Apparently not much for us, as Doug crashed into bed early, Betsy had a bite in the hotel restaurant, and we slept with dreams of the tropical paradise that would be our next stop, after a cultural tour in the morning to come.
Main Street in Cairns along the waterfront reminded us of an old Myrtle Beach (here looking to the right, while another photo looks to the left), except Cairns has no actual beach, just a mud-bottom bay into the Coral Sea.