First Australian impressions

Monday, September 30, 2013
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
It was going to be the first time since Anchorage that we would have so much time between flights. We were ready for the break. It was nice to not have to rush and come up with tasks to occupy the day. It would also be a couple days before Caroline arrived, so plenty of time to catch up on work emails, receipts, log book entries, and other tasks that were difficult to tackle with lots of flying and no Internet access. Nicest of all was just to be in familiar civilization and its comforts.

Most notable from our normal to-do list (read: laundry) was seeing the "bats" in downtown Cairns . Supposedly they're spectacled foxes flying monkeys, but I don't buy it. They look like bats, they fly like bats, they hang upside down... They're bats. In any case there were thousands of them in the mango trees. It was really quite a sight seeing them just dangling in the trees by day and flying off at dusk. When doing our laundry we stopped y for more pictures. A sign warned that this s nursing season and that babies sometimes fell to the ground. As if on cue, one baby fell on top of a car. Johannes and I called the animal hospital number. By the time we returned from picking up our laundry the rescue for the little baby "bat" had arrived. It really was a little animal, just eager to be sucking the thumb of its new caretaker and happy to have some of its blood-sucking flies removed from its body. We were assured he was going to be just fine. It was our big excitement of the day, so a far cry from the flying over the last couple weeks!

Caroline arrived on schedule, right before midnight on Saturday . It was really good to see her and I was excited to have her with us for the next couple weeks. The next day we strolled the town, caught up, had some drinks on the harbor, and just enjoyed seeing each other again. The three of us also agreed that on Monday we wanted to go for a diving trip. Although it'd be on a bigger boat on the touristy path near Cairns, at least it would give us a first taste of the Great Barrier Reef.

We set off on the Tusa T6 boat for our three dives. This was my first time diving since Thailand so I was really excited about it. We saw some great coral and a variety of parrot and clown fish. On the last dive I also saw a moray eel. No barracudas, sharks, rays or turtles though. And I must say the diving in Thailand and Belize was better. I'm sure there are plenty of much better spots on the Reef, but this at least gave us a taste. It reminded me how much I really love scuba diving. Caroline pointed out that I spend most of my dive vertical and head down looking at the coral ;-) .

Dinners we ate mostly on the harbor, with the exception of so e tasty but overpriced Greek food more in "downtown". Overall everything in Cairns is expensive. A head of iceberg in the grocery stores was AU$3 and a 6-pack of Australian's most popular beers was AU$13.

After our dive on our last night we decided to grill on the many public gas grill stations Cairns has set up along the harbor. This was a really fun service. The entire promenade along the harbor was modern, clean, and well thought out. As we picnicked there were also a couple ├╝ber stereotypical Australian Drunk Crocodile Dundee types. The one guy was fishing and throwing his catch directly on the grill. The other guy even once scrambled into the water to try can gather up a large barramundi. He s incredibly drunk so we copilot really believe his exaggeration that it was a meter long, but they definitely provided us with some harmless fodder.

We'd spent a total of 5 nights now in Cairns and it was time to get the show open the road. We were all pretty excited to be leaving the following morning.
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