The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cairns - Gateway to the Reef

Days 454-456, February 24-26, 2012

Coming to Australia so soon after getting my dive certification, it shouldn’t be any wonder that a trip up to the Great Barrier Reef was high on my list of things to see and do. Even with its immense size, probably the easiest jumping off point to visit the Reef is from the small city of Cairns in northern Australia.

To get to Cairns, I opted to fly. Strangely enough, flying ended up being much cheaper, and obviously faster, than any other mode of transportation available to me. And so, at stupid o’clock in the morning, I left Paula’s home, caught a bus to central Sydney and walked to the Central Train Station to grab a train to the Domestic Terminal.

It’s so empty

The flight from Sydney to Cairns was quick and uneventful. For being so cheap, it’s not like I was expecting much. We landed quite early and I found the hostel shuttle vehicle fairly quick just outside the main doors. That was something that I hadn’t come across before and it was a pleasant surprise. Made getting from the airport to the hostel extremely easy.

After being dropped off at the hostel and checking in, I spent the next few days relaxing, exploring the surrounding the city.

Dreamtime HostelIMG_1672

The main area of Cairns is really quite pretty and walkable. The hostel I was staying at is directly across the street from a large mall, and just beyond that, no more than a few blocks, is downtown Cairns. While most people are in town strictly for the Reef, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some other amazing things to see. In those first few days, I stuck to downtown, checking out the boardwalk area along the coast, as well as a few areas set up with geocaches (because of course I would).

One place I toured was the old City Council building, now housing the Cairns Library. From mosaics imbedded in the sidewalk around the building, to the dozens of bats that make their homes in the trees, it was an interesting little stop. And with no other soul in sight.

City LibraryCity_Library,_Cairns,_North_Queensland,_Australia

Mosaic outside the City Library2696a4e1-43b6-4e71-bb05-8b5525645ffd

So many bats!46597336

From there, it’s just a short little walk to a place that seems so unassuming on the outside. St. Monica’s Cathedral is a Catholic Church just a couple blocks up from the boardwalk, yet few people seem to know about it. I certainly didn’t.

St. Monica’s Cathedralimgp1894

It’s not even close to being as grand as most Catholic churches I had come across. But St. Monica’s is a mighty fine example of beauty being more about what’s inside than what’s outside.

Ta Da!imgp1904

Behold the Creation Windows. The entire perimeter of the main hall is made up of stained glass windows that depict an absolutely stunning portrayal of creation. I have never seen stained glass done in such a beautiful fashion.


It is definitely a place that should be seen when visiting. Unfortunately, I missed the daily Story of Creation that accompanies the pictures and I never managed to get back to the church on any subsequent day.

From the church, my wanderings would take me down to the Esplanade, the large boardwalk style walkway that runs along the coast. This is where I saw the majority of the tourists, outside the hostel and tour boats that is.


Beyond the random wanderings around the city, my first few days were spent researching the different dive and snorkel tours I could take over the course of my time in Cairns. I knew that I wanted to be back in Sydney in time for the Mardi Gras celebrations, so I needed to get everything I wanted to do done within a short time span. I eventually settled on a company for both sets of tours. A one day snorkelling trip, and a two day, one night  live aboard dive tour.

Nothing from these first few days, however, compares to the extremely odd occurrence that I found myself in on the second night over at a bar/pub just down the street from the hostel. Great food, my first introduction to hard apple cider (on tap!!), and the last place I would think of that I would meet someone. And yet I did.

I was sitting at the bar, finishing up my dinner when a small group of people came in. The only spots left to sit were at the bar beside me. One of the guys and I began to talk and lucky for me, my gaydar went off spectacularly. Though, I remained coy at first. Perhaps because I was still not 100% sure if we played for the same team

Though all doubt went out the window when we stepped outside and started to make-out. Doubt continued to fly out the window when he invited me to his friends place. And then into the swimming pool.

Not much sleeping happened that night.

Oh, and I went to the theater to watch Chronicle, but that’s mostly an aside to the whole story.

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