Christmas in Cairns

I made it to the summer heat of Cairns, Australia in December! The Christmas trees here just look out of place.

My first night in Australia I went to a barbecue and I started to see what the fuss was about. They served kangaroo meat, emu, crocodile and barramundi. It was a ton of fun. We drank beer and played the didgeridoo by a fire. Exactly what you’d think would happen on a trip down under.  I was also walking downtown in Cairns  and two guys pulled up in a Volkswagen van and both leaned out the driver’ side window and shouted, “Hey! You want to go to a barbecue?!” One was holding a beer and both had ridiculous grins like they were headed to claim their lottery checks. Vans in the US offer candy to children, I guess in Australia they offer barbecue to girls like me.  Obviously, Australia knows my weaknesses already.

So, Cairns (pronounced Cans) is where you go to see the Great Barrier Reef.  Pretty much anywhere you go in the downtown area sells different diving options but I booked one through my hostel for $250.  It’s a day long and also my first time diving.  Part of me isn’t sure why I waited to dive until the Great Barrier Reef, it’s kind of like waiting to fly until you can get on a private jet.  Still, I hadn’t had a lot of expectations about what I would see when diving but I was completely blown away by what a lively circus it was. It was absolutely one of the most beautiful and amazing things I had ever seen.

There are two things I’d do differently if I go back.  One, I would rent a waterproof camera.  It would be completely worth it to have underwater photos of that day.  Everything I saw was incredible.  The second, is that I’d spend more time diving.  I’d probably do a dive class or at least 3 days at the reef.  It is so incredible and with all the climate issues that are impacting the reef, it would be worth spending the time to appreciate the reef now.

You can also see the Daintree Rainforest from Cairns.  I took a bus from the city and spent two days and a night in Australia’s rainforest.  I think if you are going to Cairns this is definitely a worth-while trip.

Humans have no natural predators in New Zealand but in Australia, everything kills you. These signs are posted on all the good swimming holes 🙁

If you look closely you can see tourists in the water.


My next and last stop in Australia is Sydney.  Sydney is beautiful.  Unfortunately, my time there was a little bit tampered by a terrorist holding up a chocolate shop on my birthday near my hostel so the public transport was shut down to the hostel and navigating back was tricky.  It was also stressful because I stop at almost every appealing chocolate shop (basically all shops) so I had friends and family worried I would’ve been one of the people in there since it was my birthday and my neighborhood.  Thankfully I was not.  It was sad to see the city in shock at someone who would commit acts of violence in a chocolate shop of all places.

Since my time in Australia has gone way too fast, I haven’t gotten to see many of the animals here so I went to the zoo. The zoo was really cool. You take a ferry to cross the harbor to get to it. Then you take a cable car to the top of hill and wander back. No uphill walking required.

Male and female kangaroos
The females have longer eyelashes








Also, did you know koalas sleep 20 hours a day? Apparently eucalyptus leaves aren’t the super food we might’ve hoped.

My time in Australia was way too short.  It’s a country you really need a few months to see right but, if you are like me and only have about two weeks, Cairns and Sydney are a good start.  Most of the other travelers I met there were on the work visa that is available to people under 30.  That is something I’ll have to consider.