Journey to Far North Queensland Day 2: Wild interactions

I wake up early this morning (7.30am) when a stream of light peeks through the crack in the blind into the bedroom. It would still be dark at this hour back home in Melbourne during the winter so the daylight is much appreciated. I open the blinds and am delighted to see patches of blue sky peeping through the sea of overcast clouds with a few rays of sunshine. Although it is dull and breezy outside, it is a mild 20 degrees. At least it is much warmer than home.

The view of the Cairns Marina from our hotel balcony

This morning I decide to eat breakfast on the balcony overlooking the seaside/mountainside vista before going for a walk along the main street and a market being held on Cairns Esplanade. None of the crafty goods take our eye, so we return to our hotel and get ready for the day’s activities. Today we plan on visiting the Cairns Tropical Zoo and the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

The drive to the zoo is an enjoyable one approximately half an hour north from Cairns CBD on the Captain Cook Highway. I absorb the tropical surrounds on the short journey, from the sugar canes to the mountainside. There is a great variety of native Australian animals at the zoo including kangaroos, crocodiles and dingoes as well as animals from overseas like the red panda. The red panda at Cairns Tropical Zoo was the most active one that I have ever seen, so energetic that I found it quite tricky to take a decent photo of it.

The highlight of our visit to the zoo was having our photo taken holding a koala. It was fairly heavy and had sharp claws that dug into my shoulder as I cuddled it, but the experience of holding a koala in my arms was truly unique. The koala’s fur was soft and I would have loved to hold it longer but unfortunately there was a high demand for a cuddle with the koala. Another highlight was walking through one of the aviaries where the kookaburras resided. There were four kookaburras in total and we were lucky enough to be able to stand within a metre of them without scaring them away. Their tameness surprised us: we had seen kookaburras in the wild before but had never been able to see them up close and personal like this.

A friendly kookaburra at Cairns Tropical Zoo

After visiting Cairns Tropical Zoo, we made our way to the Flecker Botanic Gardens. The gardens appear to be a popular location for weddings: we saw two different wedding celebrations taking place on different sides of the park within minutes of each other. The Centenary Lakes in particular interested us, so we walked along the boardwalk towards the lakes. The boardwalk winds its way through forest-like terrain and even crosses a swamp before finishing near the lakes. First we head to the Saltwater Lake, however not particularly satisfied by the view we walked a couple hundred meters up the path to the Freshwater Lake.

Freshwater Lake at Flecker Botanic Gardens, Cairns

After exploring the lakes, we go back to our apartment and relax for a couple of hours before concluding our evening with a leisurely stroll along the Esplanade Boardwalk past the Lagoon and down the main street.

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