Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I flew into Cairns yesterday. The flight is only about 2.5 hours from Sydney, but it’s amazing how much the landscape changes during that time. From red-roofed suburbs, to yellow and purple farming plains, to lush green mountains and mossy rolling hills, finally out over the bright blue reef. Cairns feels a lot like Maui to me: tropical weather, beautiful coast with mountains looming to the west, every corner has a tourist agency, big hotels and small cinder block houses, tons of backpackers, it even has a big mall with a target in it.

I checked into my modest apartment which is situated in North Cairns. My apartment is sweet and seems to be family-owned and operated. The owner has offered to reassemble my bike for me as he’s “a bit of a cyclist” himself. But the apartment lacks a few things that I think are necessary for the stay. First, drawers – there’s a closet with 10 hangers, but nowhere to put things that don’t hang. Second, guest space – unless people want to share the bed with me or sleep on the floor, the rattan loveseat is probably not going to make them comfortable. Finally, internet – which I’ve decided, since it’s my best connection to back home, I need in my apartment.

For the first time in the trip, I felt truly lonely. In a town where I don’t know anyone, in an empty apartment, on a Sunday afternoon when everything was closed and no one seemed to be out. I decided to walk into town. The most singularly amazing feature of Cairns is the new boardwalk area. It runs a couple of miles down the coast of the CBD (central business district = downtown). The coast line is salt flats not beaches. Cairns is situated where the Hodgkinson River meets the Pacific for easy shipping of the sugar crops it was founded for. It wasn’t til 1984 when the airport was built that it became a major tourist destination for the reef. The boardwalk goes from the harbor all the way up to North Cairns and includes both a pedestrian and a bike path with trees, grass, a large swimming lagoon, monuments and memorials. And this is where everyone from Cairns is on a Sunday afternoon. Most shops close between 4pm and 6pm if there were open at all on Sunday, so the rest of the town has a ghost town feel to it, but the boardwalk was teeming with people which put me at ease.


Jon July 3, 2007 at 12:54 PM  

Will you eventually be able to get internet at your apartment? I went without for a while and it started to feel as though I was missing a piece of my brain.

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