Day 19 – Cairns intro – Fri 4 July 2008

Loadsa birds at Cains Esplanade

Loadsa birds at Cains Esplanade

After a swim in the Lakes Resort pool we head into Cairns City for a look around. We walk down to the Esplanade and see the Lagoon pool. We are questioning why they have the swimming pool beside the sea when a local advises us it is so that people can swim safe from ‘stinger’ (the local term for Jelly Fish). A closer look of the “beach”, which looks more like mud flats, shows more serious concern. As well as the sign to indicate the danger of stingers ……. And sharks in the water there is an add-on that advises that crocodiles have been seen in the water!!. A swimming pool makes perfect sense. On return to the hotel I book a trip to Kuranda for tomorrow. We will be picked up at 7.15am. Yet another early start!

Day 18 – Sydney to Cairns – 3rd July

Bláithin under the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Bláithín under the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Time to pack up and move again. This is where we should have been flying to Darwin but because the travel agent hadn’t confirmed the tours we had planned for Darwin all tours .. and all accommodation was unavailable. There was a formula race car rally on in Darwin which is apparently extremely popular. I learned about it when the travel agency told me that I would have to stay in 2 different hotels at either end of the tour (the tour included two nights safari camping). When I went enquiring about hotels I was immediately advised by one of the hotels I got in touch with that the rally was on from 4 to 6th July and that both accommodation and tours would be completely booked around that time. I wasn’t concerned because I thought the travel agent had confirmed the tour, so I reckoned that maybe we could just stay outside Darwin after the tour. When I went to pay for the holiday Austravel advised that they hadn’t confirmed the tour and that it was fully booked. They offered us some alternatives, all dearer than we wanted and none ideal for what we had wanted. I tried some other tour operators. www.topendescapes.com.au was very helpful. They were able to get us a good tour, but because of the V8 all hotels in Darwin were insisting on a minimum 4 night stay. We only needed one night. At this late stage all accommodation outside Darwin was also fully booked. Reluctantly…. And at a cost of €300 we cancelled our flights to Darwin and booked to go from Sydney straight to Cairns.

We had suspected that we were been taken the long way around on the way from Sydney airport to our hotel, but had it confirmed on the way back. The taxi fare to the airport was only $30, compared to $60 dollars on the way into Sydney. Because it is a domestic flight the customs was uneventful for a change. Although I was selected for a random check for explosives at Sydney Airport, it took less than a minute to clear me and my bag.

Tropical North Queensland

Tropical North Queensland

The flight is just under four hours, short compared to our other flights, but still pretty long for a domestic flight on the same land mass. No choice of films on this flight. The film was “21”. It is about college students who are trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently take millions in winnings at Vegas casinos.

We take a taxi from the airport and take what turns out to be a 5 minute drive to our hotel. The Lakes Resort & Spa. We have a 2 bedroom apartment here for 3 nights. The accommodation is fine. It has a large living room, a dining table in the well-stocked kitchen, laundry room and 2 reasonably sized bedrooms. The complex is well laid out with 2 swimming pools, a bar and 2 restaurants. We ate in the Rambutan Bistro on the first night. It is a bit pricey but we had our first taste of Kangaroo here. It was nice, but I think I prefer beef steak. Internet prices here were the worst we came across, working out at $2aus for 15 minutes. The big down side though was that it was so far from town.

Day 17 – Finally the fat lady sings – 2 July

Íde writing … 

de Burca girls at the Opera House

de Burca girls at the Opera House

We have seen Sydney Opera House from the water.  We hoped to be able to see the inside for a performance. I had tried to get tickets for “My Fair Lady” playing at the Opera House, but it is completely booked out until August.   So we get a taxi to the Opera House and book a one hour tour.  It gives a good insight into the history and the politics of the building, but I have to admit that while the outside of the building is spectacular I am very unimpressed with the inside.  Even the main Opera theatre, which is being set-up for ‘My Fair Lady’ is quite small and has none of the architectural features to compare with theatres in Dublin or around Europe that I have been too.