Posts Tagged ‘Cairns’

The Semester Comes to a Close

It’s crazy to say it, but my semester of classes abroad have officially ended.  I’m a little bit late making this post because I’ve been studying for my finals, but classes ended May 25th.  I’ve taken 3 finals out of 4, and so far, so good.  On the last day of class, the JCU International Office hosted a completion gathering for all the international students finishing their time here at JCU.  It kinda felt like graduation, with recieving certificates of attendence and some small gifts.  Following the ceremony, they had a little party.

Photo Credit Kristof Schrader Photography. Thanks for the great pictures!

They had a jazz trio, free food, and free drinks for all of us.  It was truly a great way to end a semester of classes.  I have to say, I am completely amazed that it’s already been a full semester.  It seemed as though it was just yesterday that I was getting off the plane in Townsville.

Jules and I at the Completion Gathering. Photo Credit Kristof Schrader.

I may be close to coming home (June 20th), but I still have plenty more to do.  Since we have a couple of days after finals before we leave, Jules and I decided to take another trip up to Cairns.  Since the weather wasn’t great when we were there in April, we’re hoping it will be better this time.  The weather has actually changed quite significantly, with the daily highs only reaching to about 75 or 80.  We’re out of the wet season, though, so hopefully the weather will be beautiful.  After Cairns, we’ll be back in Townsville for 2 days, but then it’s off to Sydney and home!



Our visit to Cairns

So it’s been a few weeks since I got back from Cairns, but I figured it’s better late than never to catch you up on my time.  When we got into Cairns around 6 am, we had some time before we were able to check in to our hostel.  Even though it was early, Cairns luckily has Sunday morning markets, with massive amounts of fresh produce.  After that, we had breakfast in a delicious little diner, and had the first coffee since coming to Australia that wasn’t instant (ahhhhhh).


Pete and Paul's Breakfast Diner


The hostel we stayed in.

When we finished breakfast and checked into our hostel, we were free to explore what Cairns had to offer.  I have to admit, when I saw the countless souvenir shops, my inner 8 year old got the best of me.  We also got chance to see the night markets, filled to the brim with small vendors and plenty of food.


Nervously trying the baby octopus.

Later that day, we headed out to Palm Cove, one of Cairns’ Northern Beaches.  The weather wasn’t great, but we still enjoyed ourselves.  That night, we settled in early for bed because the next day, we would be snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.


Looking down the beach at Palm Cove

Early the next morning we headed to the Marina to get on our boat, the Ocean Free.  The Ocean Free is a 30 foot sailboat that gives a more personal touch to the reef experience.  Instead of going on a huge boat with 150 other snorkelers, we had a crew of 3 and 15 passengers.


Our boat at the marina, looking small compared to the others


Enjoying the water.

If you combine the amazing service, relaxing sail, and beautiful scenery, you have a recipe for a great day.  Although the weather wasn’t great (super windy and a bit rainy), the captain (and owner) ensured us that, “I can’t do anything about the weather, but I can make you have the best day in it.” If you ever make it to Cairns in your life, I’d highly recommend this company.


Choppy water and all, sailing was so relaxing.

We sailed about 2 and a half hours out to Green Island, where we explored the island for an hour or so.  After lunch, it was time to snorkel.  The water was a bit choppy which cut down the visibility, but it was still beautiful.  It was definitely something I’ll never forget.


Looking stylish in our stinger suits (protecting us from irukandji stings)


On the shores of the coral cay, Green Island

The next day, we visited our second World Heritage Site in two days: the rainforests of North Queensland.  We hiked Mt. Whitfield, a conservation park just outside of Cairns.  Once again it was simply beautiful.  The type of scenery was just so different from anything I’d seen before.


The rainforest!

Although we were only in Cairns for a short time, it was one of the most memorable three days of my life.