Sunday, September 09, 2007

Being a tourist again

Jeff's been visiting for the last few weeks, so I've gotten to be a tourist again.

It's fun rediscovering my city again. The first day in Cairns, I showed Jeff around. We walked down the Esplanade which is my favorite feature of the city. Cairns doesn't have a beach, it has mudflats. It used to have a beach, but years of dredging the Trinity inlet to make room for bigger boats and placing that mud along the shore has created a marsh. The Esplanade is a 2.5K stretch of coast that has been developed for community activities. There are free gas BBQs and picnic tables, playgrounds, a skate park, bike and walking trails, the Lagoon (a pool), and public performance spaces. For a city like Cairns that doesn't have very many locals (population only 130K), it seems very important to have space like this that is dedicated to public use, not just tourist traps.

Also visited is Rusty's market. The produce market is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and sells the freshest, cheapest produce available in Cairns. They also offer some prepared foods, various jewelry, clothing and second hand stalls, thai massage and tarot reader. I only wish it was open every day.

Last weekend, we traveled up to Kuranda which is "the village in the rainforest". It's up on the tablelands above Cairns. We took the Scenic Railway up to Kuranda. It was beautiful, but touristy. Thankfully, it was not kitschy, there were no train robberies along the way, just lots of tunnels, a few waterfalls and some spectacular views back down to the ocean. While in Kuranda, we broke down and went to Koala Land. It would have been a wholy unsuccessful trip to Australia if Jeff had not seen some marsupials, so we gave up on seeing them in the wild and paid out $15 each to check out this small park in Kuranda. There they had freshwater crocodiles (not native to this part of Australia - and much smaller than the salties we have here). We also so kangaroos and wallabies, including one joey that was still hiding in its mother's pouch. They offered koala snuggling, but I don't believe in it. Koalas are naturally like Cooper. They sleep 22 hours out of the day. If you disturb their slumber, they get angry. They have sharp claws. So in order to provide a good tourist attraction, the koalas are drugged into submission. No koala snuggling for us. Then the highlight of the trip. We took the cable cars back down the mountain. This was oustandingly beautiful, floating over lush green rainforest, with almost no sounds except those made from the trees below. I think the best tourist thing I've done in Cairns.

There are a few other random pictures here. And I'll put up more from Sydney shortly.

Jeff's visit to Cairns


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