My last stop in Australia was Cairns. This is very common, as it's one of the furthest north places on the east coast that's "worth visiting" and has a "major" airport. I use "speech marks" rather than 'inverted commas' as I'm actually quoting what somebody told me about the "city". As you can tell, I've come to regard their opinions as somewhat flawed. The fact it's the last stop on many travellers' Oz adventure means you end up having numerous versions of the conversation mentioned in this post.
In the universe where I grew up, Cairns isn't a city. It's a town. It's small, full of very short buildings and may have got stuck in a time-space wormhole at some point during the 1970s, because a lot of it doesn't look like it has progressed since then.
Regardless. I actually had a lot of fun there! I learned a valuable lesson; enjoyment isn't always about where you are and the tools or money at your disposal. It's who you're with. This isn't always true and, yes, it seems like a really obvious thing to say. But I stayed at a really rundown, odd little hostel (about a 15-minute walk from the town centre), that turned out to be awesome! And all of a sudden I just relaxed again. Lovely.
Here is a delightful picture of the slightly odd room I shared for eight nights with three girls and two complete legends. Thanks to Emma for the massively unflattering photo.
I know you want to hear about Cairns, but let's consider what's really important here: Cheesy beans on toast. When I have beans on toast, I just whack a bit of cheese on top. But no. Emma truly changed my life when we were cooking in what alleged to be a hostel kitchen and she explained that you can mix the cheese in with the beans. Here is a picture of her doing what can only be explained as wizardry and/or mind/cheese control.
Just look at my amazed face and her satisfaction at altering the course of my existence forever.
Culinary magic aside, we did the following, among other bits and bobs, in Cairns:
1. Sunbathed - there is no natural beach, so instead, the centre of the city has a manmade lagoon. This is fab, because it's salt water and surrounded by lush grass and some sand, as well as little shops and eateries. The temperature, in Australia's WINTER, was about 31C every day.
2. Came second in a hostel pub-type quiz and lost by one point after I got a question about Manchester wrong. How was I supposed to know City now play at the Etihad Stadium? I said Arsenal. But that's the Emirates Stadium. Whatever.
3. Watched Emma have to get a gone-wrong piercing near-beaten/ripped out of her ear.
4. Said goodbye... to Australia and some amazing people. Despite my weird ol' time there, I'd go back to Oz. I'd like to visit Melbourne, for sure. Just maybe not for a couple of decades.