The winter warmth that lures people north certainly shone for our July visit. While we were not as interested in seeing the reef this time, we set our sights on the rainforest fame.
Staying at Trinity Beach with friends gave us a great base from which to daytrip further afield to Port Douglas, Mossman and Mareeba. The views from their balcony stretched across lush greenery to Palm Cove and across the waters which we know hold reef wonders as well as deadly creatures. We spent plenty of time exploring the Cairns we had not seen for about seven years….and really enjoyed its art scene.
Having taken advantage of the enticingly cheap airfares offered during the COVID chaos to prop up the tourist industry, we made the most of it.0 While Australians like us scored unbelievable flight bargains, the number of For Lease signs in empty shop fronts told the story of so many businesses gone to the wall, and the struggle to survive without the international visitors. We were saddened to hear that Tjapukai, the wonderful Indigenous Cultural experience Centre had closed.
Yet there is still so much to see.
The Botanic Gardens
So much to see and hear. The Gondwana species area was spectacular, the Conservatory was filled with colour and butterflies and the variety and information plaques were easy to find and digest. The Visitor Centre display of the Cassowary reminded us to beware of this prehistoric survivor – and I was then so keen to see one in the wild on our trips, but failed!
The Tank Arts Centre
What a treat this is – converted from the old city water tank resevoirs, this rainforest arts enclave is inspiring. Innovative and creative exhibition and performance spaces set in a rainforest bubble – how cool! There are even natural curtains – the curtain figs.
This is truly a gem in the city’s suite of offerings. But if you want to learn about the history of Cairns, then the Cairns Museum is another jewel.
Friendly volunteers, COVID safe tours or self-guided exploring, turns up a quiet, well-maintained experience – be sure to keep enough time free to see its many levels. I loved the fish exhibits and stories.
The Cairns Art Gallery
Superb! Well worth a leisurely look. We were treated to the Past Traditions and Rituals exhibitions – wow!
Getting lost in the traitional skills and discovering the meanings behind the beautiful pieces was a real treat – and my art teacher man couldn’t help himself, and we are now the proud owners of a Roland Nancarrow wall sculpture and a Heather Koowootha print. What did we throw out of the suitcase to fit them in?
Sadly the William Robinson pieces were not on display while we were there. He is former Governor-General Quentin Bryce’s favourite artist (well one of them), and painted many scenes from the Birkdale area where my family lived for generations.
But the WOW FACTOR was yet to come. In the retored colonial courthouse building behind the Gallery was the spacious Textile Exhibition showcasing traditional First Nation designs from all over the country. Jaw- dropping!
New food outlets seem to be springing up like the mushrooms they serve in the CBD….or savvy owners relocati ng to more prominent positions while the downturn is on. We were spoilt for choice, both by our hosts, and by the varied offerings in town.
Our family catch up with our niece was at Dundees on the Waterfront. A huge eating area, and with large numbers of backpacker servers, the food covered the range of tastes at our table, and the empty plates showed the satisfaction all round. The waterfront at night is so pleasant. Heaps of eating spots to choose from.
Two eating experiences stood out – Nunu’s at Palm Cove and Tuk Tuk’s at Trinity Beach. Tuk Tuk’s handmade ice creams/gelato were delicious and drew us back a couple of times. Thank goodness for the daily walks! Tuk Tuk’s Thai fare was also a winner. You can’t beat a well cooked coconut rice in the tropics.
Nunu’s high-end menu was the stand-out. From the complimentary cassava salted chips as nibbles, to the extensive menu, it was a foodie’s delight! Of course, the promenade to the car past the crocodile warnings and the twinkle of the resort restaurants topped off the evening to a T.
Being in Cairns during the Tokyo 2020/21 Olympics saw the Esplanade share the highlights on big screens. The Esplanade beckons the tourists and health conscious locals to walk, swim or read the interesting information boards – and rather than seeing it as a negative, drawing attention to the mudflats and the birdlife which inhabit the area. A photographer’s delight. (I hope one day to do better justice to the things I photograph, but beg your indulgence by overlooking the lesser efforts now – wearing my glasses might help?)
St Monica’s Cathedral
For those seeking quiet repose, and a feast for the eyes, St Monica’s in Abbott Street, is the place to sit and take in the magnificent leadlight mural windows.
Time for another ice cream and getting ready for a trip up the Range to Mossman.