The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Cairns

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on March 22, 2010

*Note* A bit of a long post that jumps around.  It won’t hurt my feelings (too much) if you don’t make it to the end.  If you don’t like some potentially scary creatures, you won’t make it that far anyway (but I do provide a warning before those pictures appear!)

When we left Mission Beach, we decided to try to grab breakfast along the way at a cafe.  Unfortunately, we didn’t find one we wanted to stop at and as we got closer to Cairns we definitely needed something to eat since it would be a while before lunch.  We stopped at a petrol (gas) station to pick up something to munch on.  We grabbed some salt & vinegar chips and we had to get the “real” Tim Tams.  Holy wow.  These cookies are good! So very good! We also enjoyed sodas from Bundaberg which we had bought in our six-pack a few days earlier 🙂 Not the most nutritious breakfast, but it held us over till we got to Cairns.

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The only thing of note on the drive was the following truck (we mentioned in an earlier post that trucks can be longer here).

IMG_2210 When we arrived in Cairns, we headed straight to our hotel – the Mercure Cairns Harbourside.  It’s located near downtown Cairns but a little bit farther out on the water.  The assistant front office manager Kate checked us in and she was as sweet as can be! She noted that we were celebrating our anniversary during this vacation and gave us a free upgrade to a King Suite 🙂

As with all of our other accommodations, this hotel really met our needs.  With the upgrade to the suite, we had a living area, a kitchen, and a separate bedroom.

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We had a mountain view which was quite lovely (especially in between tropical rains!)

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After we went exploring in town, we came back to the room to a sweet surprise from the hotel – champagne and two glasses.  We enjoyed these after dinner at La Pizza later that night.

IMG_5842 On Saturday night, we decided to stay in after our day of exploring a few of the local options.  We ordered room service and were quite impressed with the food!  The Husband hasn’t had much experience with room service but commented that it was the best room service he’s ever had.  We also loved that it was available 24 hours (which would have been appreciated at some of the previous places we’ve stayed on this trip) although we didn’t need it.

Ok, back to Cairns itself 🙂 After checking in on Friday, we ventured out onto the Promenade, a walking path that started past our hotel and headed toward the downtown area along the water.

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It looked like the tide was out during our walk as there was little to no water near the Promenade/Boardwalk (it turned to boardwalk when we got into the downtown area).  You could see birds like sandpipers as well as crabs and some sea snakes.  Along the boardwalk, there were informational signs telling us what creatures we could attempt to see.

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IMG_5798 Along the walk, there were areas for recreation including a small water park for children, playgrounds, bbq pits, and a skate park.  This sign gave me a bit of a chuckle.  It’s a skate plaza yet the top part of the sign says no skateboarding 🙂 IMG_5800 Since the Cairns residents can’t swim in the ocean, there is a large public pool called the Lagoon right in the downtown area.  On Saturday, it was packed with people enjoying the beautiful weather.

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IMG_6362 Just past the Lagoon was the boat harbour and the Shangri-La hotel.

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IMG_6380 The downtown area was filled with shops and restaurants of numerous cuisines.   While many shops close at 5 or 6 in Australia, Cairns has an area called the Night Markets which don’t open until 5pm or so and stay open late.  There is a food court there as well as many vendors in a flea market type venue.  We didn’t go into many stores, but enjoyed our stroll both during the day and in the evening both days.

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IMG_6406 On Friday for lunch, the Husband was craving Chinese food.  We found a reasonably priced restaurant on one of the downtown streets and enjoyed lunch.

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On Saturday afternoon, we decided we wanted ice cream! Throughout Awesomestralia 😉 we’ve seen Cold Rock Ice Creamery, reminding of the U.S. versions Cold Stone and Maggie Moo’s.

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There was one in downtown Cairns that we finally got to try out the Australian candy mix ins.IMG_6343

We asked the server what his favorite ice cream flavor was and he recommended Chocolate Hazelnut. The Husband and I were both sold on the suggestion.IMG_6344

We each chose two mix ins for our Chocolate Hazelnut.  I went with a Tim Tam and Freckles (see below).  The Husband chose Maltezers (malt balls) and a Tim Tam as well. IMG_6346

The delicious outcome 🙂  I have been missing my Tasty Yo while gone, but these filled the void… IMG_6347

*Warning* If you don’t like pictures of potentially creepy creatures (i.e. bats and ants), read no further!

While we were in Yeppoon, we first noticed bats in Australia.  On Friday night, while wandering around the restaurants and shops in Cairns, we first heard, then saw, the large Fruit Bat population here in town.

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They don’t hurt (or really even come close to) humans so we stood in amazement as they flew from tree to tree.  On Saturday afternoon, we parked along one of the downtown streets and could hear them again.  We looked up and saw lots of them.  With a better lens, the Husband was able to get some great photos!

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They were fascinating 🙂

The other creatures we saw a lot of in Cairns were ants.  In other parts of Australia, we mostly saw black ants, but while waiting for the hotel shuttle to downtown, we came upon what appear to be green and red ants.  We couldn’t recall if these sting/bite, so we erred on the side of caution (a good idea in Australia where everything is apparently deadly!) and steered clear from these where we could.

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IMG_2125 Cairns itself is a quaint town, but unfortunately there isn’t much in the town itself (at least from what we experienced).  We were impressed, however, with how much there is to do in the surrounding area.  The Husband will cover what we did on Saturday, but after a fun filled day, we were disappointed actually to not have a few more days to explore the region.  Perhaps on a future trip…

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7 Responses to “Cairns”

  1. Kath said

    Looks like y’all are havin’ a blast!!

  2. Andrew said

    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the great review, glad you enjoyed your Cold Rock Ice Cream here in Cairns!!

    Safe travels to you both.

    Regards,
    Andrew

  3. Thomas said

    It is “MY husband” NOT “THE husband” People are not innanimate possessions!!!!!

    • Hi, Thomas. Thanks for reading! In this case, “the Husband” (note: not “the husband”) is a proper name, used as a nickname to refer to our significant other, hence the reason “Husband” or “Wife” is capitalized. Look back and check us on it! We’re consistent!

  4. Keeley Ryan said

    Hi, We’ve been following your blog since we’re on about the same kind of trip a couple weeks later. We loved Cairns, although it’s been pretty rainy until yesterday. A couple corrections if you don’t mind.

    It’s “Esplanade”, not “Promenade” as many of the locals made sure we knew. Or “the ‘nard” (although the continual shortening of words by the Australians I find very annoying and just lazy). Cairns residents can and do swim in the ocean – we found wonderful beaches just north of town, loved the one in Clifton since it wasn’t filled with touristy shops.

    How can you eat that Cold Rock junk? Look at the pictures, they’ve given you ice cream soup! Everytime I’ve been in one of these stores I find that the quality can be anything since there are no standards. We found a New Zealand and a Baskin Robbins just down the street, both with terrific flavors.

    We’ve found most Australian hotels are actually apartment buildings, which is why you got a “suite upgrade”. For some reason there are very few real hotels outside the big cities. Someone told me it’s an investment rules thing.

    Going to Alice Springs next.

    • Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers said

      Thanks for following! Hope you’re having as much fun as we did 🙂

      For the section about the Esplanade vs Promenade, I believe the portion closer to our hotel had a sign calling it the Promenade and it turned into the Esplanade as you got further into town. Glad to hear there are beaches folks are actually able to go to! The Husband would like to get back to the Cairns area and I’m sure he’ll want to add the beaches to our list (though who knows how long till we’re back.

      In general, we’re not big fans of Cold Rock (and its sister type store in the U.S. – Cold Stone Creamery). I assume Cold Rock “made” it’s ice cream the same way which is by mixing a powder to turn it into ice cream. It wasn’t bad though and we enjoy them putting the effort into combining the candy in (which causes it to melt some I’m sure as they’re working it pretty hard on the stone).

      Definitely let us know how Alice Springs is if you get a chance!

  5. I wouldn’t go tempting an ant to bite you. Mind you, the vegetation can be just as nasty when it comes to stings. Watch out for the heart shaped leaves, they’ve been known to cause long lasting injury.

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