How you going? (seriously, I don’t understand this sentence)
Great Barrier Reef. Aside from snakes, spiders, and death, it’s the first thing many think of when they think of Australia. And I just went to it. Cairns was incredible.
I went there knowing it’s the best place to get to the reef from, and was surprised at how much more there was to offer. I stayed at a really chill hostel, where I learned about the Lagoon (basically a public pool and chill spot – perfect to spend a day). I had heard the waterfalls and rainforest nearby were really cool, but was turned off by the tour package prices. Talking to the receptionist at the hostel, she suggested renting a car with a few others and driving it. I had already made a few cool friends in an English and two Finnish girls and they were in. Major win! We went to four waterfalls, plus another boulder park, all on our own schedule, having the typical fun and laughs of a ladies road trip (helped by the amount of 90s pop music on Aussie radio), and rather than spending ~$100 per person to go on a tour, it was about $80 all-in, total.
I drove on the left side of the road and it’s a total mind-f@$%. But you get used to it really quickly. Except the girls laughed every time the windshield wipers came on because they knew I was really trying to use a turn signal.
The hostel does a weekly bar crawl, which includes free pizza, so I definitely did that. Cairns is known for great night life and it was pretty fun, though it seemed like it was mostly our group out. The next night, I went to a locals-only type bar to see a local band play, on suggestion from the reef trip crew, and it was a blast. Great music and the local status of the bar was confirmed by the surprised look from everyone who heard my accent, wondering how I heard about the place.
Oh yeah, the reef. I went on a reef trip that takes you to two spots to snorkel. I dared to do an introductory SCUBA and sat looking up at the sun beaming into the water, terrified and actually wanting to go back up, but then told myself that these people are pros, so I needed to suck it up and enjoy it. Everything about it was amazing. There were so many types of coral, mollusks, clams, fish, I saw a SHARK (calm down mom, it was a small one).
Somehow even getting stung by a jellyfish felt like a happy part of the experience. The crew smiled knowingly, laughed and said, “well, you’ve officially been to the reef now, we’ve all been stung, you’re one of us.”