Australia was immediately a big hit. Well, almost immediately. Right after cursing the customs for doing their job too good. First by acquiring extra knowledge about myself and then scanning and checking our luggage on the airport for potential hazardous life forms that could throw out the balance of their ecosystem. Surprisingly the international terminal of Cairns airport was almost deserted at the time of our arrival. Outside we were met by spacious streets and much milder but pleasant warm climate.
After a short walk to the much busier domestic terminal and boarding a prearranged airport transfer we are met by even wider streets relaxed to the point when things are about to fall apart. After hustling and bustling Southeast Asia we are falling in love with Oz almost immediately. At last fried rice is swapped for honest chunks of medium rare beef, mash potato and other well missed western world heart stoppers. The town has not much to offer, except of being the springboard for Great Barrier Reef 'adventures'. There is a couple of night clubs that alone seem to be enough to fill up a few walking distance backpacker hostels with teens and twenteens. But more often than not almost every single one comes for the reefs. Snorkelling and scuba diving, surfing or skydiving. So did we. Only decided so a week earlier when the news broke that the reefs are suffering the worst bleaching in history, so we thought this may be the last chance to see this natural wonder. OK, hopefully I'm exaggerating as the news did, the fact is coral reefs are extremely vulnerable and humanity unbearably ignorant. The 'jelly fish' or better known as 'stinger season' did not help our experience much. We are told that for our own safety a Lycra suit overall is necessary for snorkelling. We comply, the box jelly fish's reputation has caught up with us fairly quick. We want to live. And so our comfy and expensive catamaran takes us to the outer reefs, Agincourt Reef to be specific. I went for a couple of dives while Majka snorkelled in her sexy Lycra. The waters near the reefs are shallow, warm and full of life. Indeed, jellyfish too so thanks god for the suits. Although the swarm of jellies are the harmless Moon Jellyfish, upon seeing them in large, happy flocks no one wants to risk. The trip was well worth the money, although not cheap. Australia isn't cheap. Usually a good value for what you get, though. An absolute 'surprise' is the abundance of drinking water taps and free barbecue grills in public places like parks or beaches. You just press the button, add food and wait for it to cook. Free! Well, you still need to pay for your food, obviously. But you can forget about portable grills or those useless disposable trays. Talk about BBQ culture! One evening after a long walk and good dip on The Esplanade we have run into a couple of very loud trees around the corner from the library. It turned out to be a gigantic flock of flying foxes. Basically large, and I mean huge, bats. It was interesting to watch them migrate in those large flocks in the dusk of the setting sun right above the streets and our heads.
People are cool as a cucumber, relaxed atmosphere everywhere, unrelated folks chatting up for a talk before moving on, ocean is 'oceaning', beaches are pristine... What's not to love?! ...is the price of everything if you're not working here. One good news for our upcoming road trip is the price of petrol. Around 1.15AUD for litre!