australia · Uncategorized

Last Days Down Under!

Originally published on 17 August 2013.

It’s our last day in Cairns, and it’s time for breakfast! We found a place near the Esplanade with a buffet that reminded me of Ireland’s breakfast because it included baked beans! Also on the buffet were stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs (so it tasted like spaghetti sauce), eggs, sausages, bacon, two types of pasta dishes, yogurt with honey, fruit, cereal, toast with jams, Vegemite, and/or peanut butter, juice, coffee, and tea. We had quite the feast! I stuck with sausage, eggs, tomatoes, toast, and coffee. I’m glad we got all that fuel, because our next stop was four kilometers (a couple of miles) away!

I didn’t realize quite how far away the Botanic Gardens were from the Esplanade, but that’s all right. Steve and I both like a good walk! We got there with about 15 minutes to spare before the guided tour began. We got more information about the rain forest and saw many beautiful flowers, including the largest flower in the world and the oldest and largest tree in the Botanic Gardens! The most interesting take away for me was learning that vanilla is an orchid! It has no natural pollinators, so it has to be pollinated by hand—that’s why it can be so expensive. The particular type we saw was from Mexico.

After the tour, we started back to the Esplanade—we had a ferry to catch! We made it down to the wharf with plenty of time to spare and loaded the boat to Green Island. This is the one we read about most in our tour books. We signed up for a glass bottom boat ride so we could see the coral reef without my needing to be swimming around!), and all we had to do was step from our boat onto the other—easy!

And what an great way to see the Great Barrier Reef! Our tour guide and boat driver took us just a few meters away, and though her boat was only about a meter deep, we got up-close views of beautiful coral! She pointed out all sorts. They really do call it like they see it: brain coral, cucumber coral, leather coral, etc. She pointed out hard coral and soft coral (like the anemone Nemo and his dad lived in), sea cucumbers, sea grass, and lots of fish! She even fed some for us so they would come close enough for us to see.

Now, to the beach! We laid out for a bit and took a walk along the shoreline. It was very peaceful! We started back to the boat, but we had to wait a while. We looked out beside the jetty and what did we see? Sea turtles coming up for air! They’re so cute. Almost as cute as koalas! Back on the boat, Steve and I decided to ride up at the top in the open-air section. The water and coral and islands are so beautiful to see! Steve even saw a whale breeching!

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And then we grew hungry! I’d seen a place on the Esplanade called The Raw Prawn. They have bugs on the menu! So that’s where we went. Steve got the Cairns Duo, which included prawns (face included) and barramundi with asparagus and potatoes. I got the Bugs and Prawns Combo! Bugs are really just another crustacean, like shrimp or crab or lobster, not roaches or flies. It was certainly worth trying! I liked it—they tasted just like shrimp to me. We even got dessert this time. Steve let me pick because he’s wonderful, so we got the chocolate torte—yum! It was delicious. This would be our last dinner on the Esplanade. The next day we were scheduled to fly back to lovely Sydney.

Friday morning we took it easy. The Cairns domestic airport is quite small, but we found plenty to keep us busy while we waited for our plane! We both picked up lunch for the plane ride back, and Steve looked at every shop there.

Once we landed back in Sydney, we checked into our last hotel and set off on our last grand evening in this beautiful and iconic city! Steve said it seemed so familiar—like we’ve already lived here for years! He knows the city even better than I do, since he goes running every morning. It’s a beautiful place to see at all times of day!

On our way to dinner, Steve asked me where I’d like to eat, and I said any place with a view of either the Opera House or the Bridge. We chose a seafood place near the Opera House with a view of the bridge. It was quite a lovely and enchanted final evening! Tomorrow we fly home, back to reality and back to the Northern Hemisphere where toilets flush the other direction and people drive on the right side of the road.

And so ends our Australian Adventure: Quick Whit’s 28th Birthday Extravaganza! I told Steve I’d never be able to give him something like this, and I can’t possibly thank him enough. He truly made my loftiest dreams come true! If I say “thank you” again, it’ll begin to lose its significance. He said I’ve already thanked him, and he wished me a happy birthday once more. He doesn’t seem to mind I can’t give him a big trip somewhere he couldn’t simply take himself. And that’s why he’s my Love!

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