Hi again. We are now in Airlie Beach after whizzing down the East coast from Cairns. Cairns as a town was lovely, and had a cool open air pool right in the middle of the town centre, which you can enter basically from the pavement! But after being so spoilt in Asia by the prices, cheap hotel rooms and eating out every night, Australia is definitely still a shock to the system. We were therefore delighted to discover that our hostel in Cairns came complete with a free dinner! Our delight turned to dismay when we realised that this involved standing in a queue with about a hundred 18 year olds in a hideous pub called the Wool Shed. No thanks. This was too depressing. I felt like an uncool mature student in freshers week.
Luckily we managed to hire a car, for the bargain price of 12 pounds a day, so we purchased the cheapest tent we could find and quickly escaped from Cairns. We drove up to Port Douglas and then onwards up the coast, a gorgeous drive through amazing rainforest, which reaches its finale at Cape Tribulation, which i think is the only place in Australia where the rainforest meets the sea. After that we retraced our steps a bit and then headed inland to the Atherton Tablelands, where Jord and I were planning to do some walks in the Cairns 'Highlands'. Unfortunately it rained almost from the moment we left Cairns until the moment we reached Townsville 3 days later, so most of these walks were abandoned and we spent a lot of time eating sandwiches in the car in the rain! However, the drive through all of this was beautiful, and despite the weather, well worth the trip.
Finally we escaped the rain and landed in Townsville. Having fled Cairns so quickly, we had not arranged to dive the Great Barrier Reef yet, so this was our chosen spot. After a long chat with a very enthusastic girl at the tourist information, we eventually decided to dive the Yongala ship wreck instead, supposedly Australia's best wreck dive, and quite exciting for us as we have never done one. So, we set up camp ready for our 6am rise the next day to get to Ayr in time for our dive. The weather had been pretty bad on the reef for the previous few days, but everyone was confident that the next day was going to be fine and the dive would be on. So we were very disappointed when we finally reached the dive centre the next day after a large number of wrong turns and arguments to discover the dive had been cancelled due to high winds. As we were now an hour South of Townsville we decided not to go back, but to press on to Airlie Beach.
So here we are, very excited as we have booked ourselves onto a 3 day 3 night sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands, which luckily incorporates 2 dives on the Great Barrier Reef, so we haven't missed our chance!
We are enjoying Australia alot, but we're really glad that Tan told us to go to Western Australia first, as the East Coast, as everyone warned us, is quite different. Firstly, it is populated by English people, and secondly it is populated by 18 year olds. Also, it is packed from top to bottom with amazing things to do, but which are all extremely expensive, so its a constant dilemma working out which bits are not to be missed. Also, after the initial excitement of purchasing our tent, camping has lost some of its appeal, partly due to badly chosen campsites (like the one right next to a motorway)! Also, I have never heard such NOISY birds in all my life! It seems like the whole bird population wakes up at 6 o clock every morning, searches for the trees nearest to our tent and then starts to screech as loudly as possible until we can stand it no longer and have to get up! Also I have discovered that I do not enjoy roughing it as much as I thought I did, and I can't believe I ever got sick of going out to dinner every night in SE Asia, now that we can't!
Well, that's about all for now. We will write again after our boat trip. Hope you are all well, Emily and Jord x