In July 2012, I embarked on a journey to Australia’s favourite local tropical getaway destination – Far North Queensland, or FNQ. The region spans from Queensland’s regional city of Cairns north to the Torres Strait and covers an area of approximately 273,148 sq km (or 105,463 sq mi). During my 10-day holiday with my family, I explored the tropical city of Cairns all the way to Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef. Over the next few weeks I will be posting a day by day recount of my most recent holiday.
Finally the day has arrived. I am overwhelmed by feelings of excitement and missing home as I rush around this morning, making last minute preparations for my family holiday to Queensland’s tropical north coast – throwing things in the suitcase, eating breakfast and taking our dog for a walk before giving him a big snuggle goodbye. Already it is 8.30am and time to drive to Melbourne Airport.
We walk into the domestic terminal and check ourselves in prior to waiting for 20-25 minutes in the Bag Drop queue. One of our suitcases is 0.8kg over the 23kg baggage allowance, but luckily the airline worker let it slip. Maybe it was because 4 of us were sharing 2 suitcases. Now that the administrative business of catching our flight is taken care of, we quickly progress through the airport scanners on our way to the departure lounge. We make it to the gate with ten minutes to spare before boarding commences. Before long, we are seated in Row 5 of the aircraft – a pleasant change from the wing seats we are usually allocated – and prepared for take-off. Unfortunately there was a minor delay in take-off time since there were a number of other flights due to depart at the same time as ours. I am sitting in the window seat so I take great delight in watching the ground gradually become further and further away as the aeroplane ascends.
Shortly after take-off, we are treated to a complimentary food and drinks service. For the remainder of the 3 hour 30 minute flight to Cairns, I entertain myself with my Keith Urban playlist while I begin to write my first travel blog post. We eventually land at Cairns Airport just after 1pm and proceed to the baggage carousel to collect our luggage prior to picking up our hire car for the duration of the trip.
It takes approximately 10 minutes to drive ourselves to the Mantra Trilogy located on The Esplanade. We check into our modern three bedroom apartment and are pleasantly surprised by its size and partial view of the harbour and mountains. After inspecting our place of residence for the next four nights, we head out for a walk around town to find something to eat for lunch. By now it is well after 2pm, so we all agree on ordering McDonald’s and eating it at a table on Cairns Esplanade overlooking the beach (although it isn’t really a beach) close to the Lagoon. Poor Noah dropped his ice cream on the ground before he even had the chance to taste it.
At the conclusion of lunch, we walk around the shops before heading back to our hotel to take a dip in the pool. And a dip it was! The water was ice cold despite the mild air temperature. We made an effort to warm ourselves up enough to fully submerge ourselves, as we were eager to swim like we do on every holiday; however we eventually gave up on swimming and decided to go for another walk instead. This time we amble along the Boardwalk on the Esplanade and look at the Pier, a sight that would have been more spectacular had the sun been shining. We also wander through the Cairns Night Market, which was predominantly filled by jewellery stalls and Chinese massage booths. Once again we return to our hotel to retrieve the car and drive to Domino’s Pizza for dinner. We eat our Hawaiian pizza in the comfort of our hotel room. Before the night ends, we wander back to the supermarket to buy a few more supplies and we happily enjoy the rest of the evening in our hotel room. First impression of Cairns: a busy regional city providing a much welcomed change of scenery from the suburbs of Melbourne, but it is nothing compared to my experiences in the USA. But who am I to compare America to Tropical North Queensland?