Cairns Journals

Cairns – Where the Reef is Your Front Yard

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A January 2006 trip to Cairns by Carmen

Cairns Photo, Cairns, Australia More Photos
Quote: Warm, tropical, the Great Barrier Reef at your doorstep - what's not to love?

Cairns – Where the Reef is Your Front Yard

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Overview

Cairns Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
Cairns is a tropical little town on the north coast of Australia that often serves as a home-base for Great Barrier Reef adventurers, but it has enough shopping and restaurants to keep you entertained when you’re not off doing other things.Hot and humid, you can leave your hair implements at home, they won’t help you here. But it was never an oppressive heat or humidity, and I found it very comfortable.When in Cairns, I managed to survive seeing one of the wonders of the world – the Great Barrier Reef. A bird’s eye view from a helicopter was one of the best ways to see it, though the snorkeling was also amazing – save an incident with a Blue Bottle jellyfish. I...Read More

Hilton Cairns

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Hotel | "Not Paris, not Nikki, but the Cairns Hilton"

Hilton Cairns Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
The tour group was already buzzing about this hotel before we arrived due to a radio story about how the Hilton had been downgraded from a 5- to a 4-star hotel. Needless to say, we were all a bit worried, having had at least one crappy hotel experience during our tour.We had absolutely nothing to worry about. Why this recently-refurbished hotel was downgraded, I’ll never know. The lobby was beautiful, with plenty of seating space, designed with a modern flair (we called them Star Trek seats), and also featuring a coffee bar. Just off the lobby was the dining room and near the front desk there was a small gift shop. The rooms were well-apportioned and featured outstanding tropical vie...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 19, 2006

Hilton Cairns
34 Esplanade Cairns Queensland
Cairns, Australia 4870
+61 (7) 40502000

Mondo Café

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Restaurant | "Mondo Café – Kick Back and Get Tropical"

Mondo Café Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
Mondo is the restaurant that can be found just underneath the Hilton. Featuring outdoor seating with a tropical setting – palm trees and tiki torches with breathtaking views of the mountains in the distance and Trinity Bay in the foreground. “Mondo,” which means “world” takes its menu not only from the local fresh seafood, but also on dishes from around the world. I was dining with two fellow tour members, and two of us went Mexican with fajitas, and the other went with the local grilled barramundi and chips. Of course, we sampled each other’s food, and all of us agreed that the fish was very tasty (probably caught right outside the restaurant) and that the fajitas were well done. I’m a sp...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 19, 2006

Mondo Café
34 Esplanade
Cairns, Australia
+61 (07) 4052 6780

Mango Jam

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Restaurant | "Mango Jam - Drink Your Dessert"

Mango Jam Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
Located on the Esplanade in Cairns, Mangos is a small café that features normal café fare, with their claim to fame being the “original drinkable desert.” Easily found by its large orange sign, the tables are conveniently located under an awning so rain or shine you can enjoy your food. While the promoted item was the wood-fired pizza, I had a burger and chips (fries), which was edible, but dill was sprinkled on top, and dill isn’t my favorite flavor. It wasn’t a bad burger, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for. My special order (no lettuce, tomato, sauce) confused them enough to forget my fries. In my defense, there was only one waitress working, so she had her hands full. Des...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 19, 2006

Mango Jam
24 Macrossan Street
Cairns, Australia
4099 4611

Rattle and Hum

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Restaurant | "“Rattle and Hum” Without U2"

Rattle and Hum Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
The Esplanade in Cairns is where most of the restaurants and shops are, and on our last night there, a few of us walked a little further than we did previously, and decided to have dinner at a rowdy little place called Rattle and Hum. Additionally, some Quantas flight attendants staying at our hotel recommended it, because they's said they'd heard it was the hippest spot in town.While it doesn’t look very big from the outside, it stretches back a long ways. There is indoor seating – more of a pub/pool hall feel, and outdoor seating. (Note, Smokers are allowed to puff in the outdoor seating if you’re on the street side, but not if you’re on the sidewalk side.) Despite the smokers next to us...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 19, 2006

Rattle and Hum
67 Esplanade
Cairns, Australia
+61 (07) 40313011

Great Barrier Reef

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Attraction | "Great Barrier Reef – Jellies, Sharks and Eels, Oh My!"

Great Barrier Reef Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
The Great Adventures (www.greatadventures.com.au) reef cruise I took offered two options. The first stop was at Green Island, which features snorkeling, beaching, scuba, semi-submersible, helicopter options, etc. This is the option that is best for those who are weak or non-swimmers, etc. It took the boat about 45 minutes to arrive at Green Island. I chose the second stop, 50 more minutes, the outer reef near Moore Island. Everything above was offered here as well, but the boat is moored to a pontoon in the middle of the reef. Total time at the pontoon ended up being just under four hours – but it goes fast.My first view of the reef was aboard the optional helicopter tour...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 19, 2006

Great Barrier Reef
South Pacific Ocean
Cairns, Australia

Hot Air Balloon Cairns

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Attraction | "Full of Hot Air (Balloons That Is)"

Hot Air Balloon Cairns Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
Hot Air BalloonsIf there was ever a reason to get up at 3:45 a.m. for a 4:30 a.m. activity, this is it. We boarded a van from our hotel belonging to a company called Hot Air, who would then take us on a one-hour excursion to a town called Mareeba to A) find and B) board our hot air balloon. We stopped for a bathroom break (full of lovely legged creatures) and then waited. We were waiting for an announcement on which way the wind was blowing, which would determine our launch site. When we got the “go”, we got going to a launch site that apparently no one on staff that morning had ever been to before. We stepped out into a big field, paid our $165 to the nice ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 19, 2006

Hot Air Balloon Cairns
1 Spence Street
Cairns, Australia 4870
+61 (7) 4039 9900

Koala Gardens

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Attraction | "Kurunda: My Koala-Holding Photo Op"

Koala Gardens Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
I have a new friend. His name is Hogan, and he’s a one-year-old baby koala bear. He smells like the eucalyptus he eats, and he was so very soft. I met him at the Kurunda Koala Gardens, which is in the village of Kurunda. You can reach the village in one of two ways – the train or the skyrail. Meeting and holding Hogan the koala was certainly what being in Australia was all about. This location is one of only two in the country that I know about (the other being the Cairns zoo) where you are actually able to HOLD a koala (rather than just a close-up photo-op).It cost $14 for entrance into the Kurunda Koala Gardens, then another $14 to have my cuddling/photo op. The m...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 20, 2006

Koala Gardens
Kuranda
Cairns, Australia