Trip to Queensland: Cairns, Port Douglas, The Reef, and More

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It’s been a while since I last posted to the blog, which is probably a good sign because we’ve been busy. Last weekend, however, we took a trip up to Queensland to check out the Great Barrier Reef and a few other sites, and I couldn’t let that experience go by without sharing it here.

For those of you who don’t know, Queensland is the state directly north of New South Whales. It’s big. Really big in fact — about 2.5 times the size of Texas. It’s also known as the sunshine state, though I don’t think we saw the sun once the entire time we were there. It’s alright though, considering it was winter and still a balmy 80 degrees every day.

We flew into Cairns (it’s about a three-hour flight) and spent two nights there. I’ll be honest, Cairns definitely isn’t one of Australia’s gems. There’s not much to see in the city itself and it’s not a place I’d rush back to. It is, however, a good base to explore some of the local natural sites. We used it, for example, as a jumping off point to check out the Atherton Tablelands and the Daintree. At the risk of sounding like a hater, these were both a bit underwhelming as well. One early observation about Australians is that they’ll call any old piece of preserved land a national park, even if it is in no way, shape, or form remotely comparable to the majestic beauty of some of the national parks back in the US. A lake surrounded by a forest ain’t anything to get excited about, folks! Just saying.

Nevertheless, the highlight of our trip was going to Port Douglas (a lovely town) and checking out the Great Barrier Reef, which is nothing short of spectacular. I’ve gone snorkelling a fair number of times throughout the Caribbean and all I can say is that everything I have experienced prior to this is, in retrospect, average at best. Snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef you get to see such a rich, vibrant, and colorful array of flora and fauna. It was truly amazing. Sadly, I didn’t have an underwater camera to take pictures with. You’ll just have to take my word for it, it’s something you should try to experience if you ever get the chance.

Here are a few pics of the trip. Enjoy!

Ryan next to a giant termite mound (one of many we saw), which is estimated to be home to about a million of the critters.

Ryan next to a giant termite mound (one of many we saw), which is estimated to be home to about a million of the critters.

Crazy fig tree with roots like we'd never seen before.

Crazy fig tree with roots like we’d never seen before.

I had crocodile for lunch. It was tastier than I expected.

I had crocodile for lunch. It was tastier than I expected.

Lame photo from the observation area of the pontoon we snorkeled from on the reef. Trust me, this doesn't begin to do it justice.

Lame photo from the observation area of the pontoon we snorkeled from on the reef. Trust me, this doesn’t begin to do it justice.

There were little crabs on one of the beaches that we visited. Just like in the US, the dig little holes. Unlike in the US though, the scoop out the sand as little balls that are arranged all around the holes they dig.

There were little crabs on one of the beaches that we visited. Just like in the US, they dig little holes. Unlike in the US though, they scoop out the sand as little balls that are arranged all around the holes they dig. There were millions of these little balls all over the beach. They almost looked like works when you looked at them from a distance.

My first attempt at the didgeridoo. The sales guy said most people can learn how to play it well in 20 minutes.

My first attempt at the didgeridoo. The sales guy said most people can learn how to play it well in 20 minutes. I gave up after 3.

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