Monday, May 07, 2007

Cairns I

A catamaran comes back in from a trip to the Reef.

The control tower at CNS is visible to the right

The Lagoon, an artificial shallow swimming area next to the Esplanade

An uneventful two hour flight north from Brisbane, and I've been speeded over 1000km, across the Tropic of Capricorn, to this little town on a tiny bit of land between rainforest covered mountains and the open Pacific. "It's the triumph of marketing over substance" is how Mac described Cairns. And so it is -- nothing but souvenir stores and restaurants. It's the launching pad to visit the Reef, and that, I suspect, is the main reason Cairns exists. The weather is wonderful though, despite being so much closer to the Equator and the Esplanade is simply gorgeous.

I was hoping to make a trip up to Kuranda and explore the rainforest a bit (I think this might be one of the few places in the world where the rainforst simply descends to the ocean), but, just my luck, the Skyrail cable car is temporarily out of order (why this wasn't mentioned on their website is beyond me), and by the time I got in (it was 2:00 pm when I checked in to the Bellview Hotel on the Esplanade), it was too late to take any other conveyance up there and back again before dark. It sure gets dark early in the tropics -- the sun set here around 5:40 pm and by 6:00 pm twighlight was over. I took a long walk alogn the length of the Esplanade -- the sunset over the hills to the west and the colors and clouds over the sea and mountains, not to mention the occasional 737 or 767 climbing out from the Cairns airport was simply delightful.

Tomorrow I'm booked on a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. This will include (and those who know me will surely chortle), a brief stint snorkeling. No scuba diving though. The platform at the reef also has a glass-bottom, submersed portion so that those who barely can swim, such as yours truly, can enjoy nature's display.

On the flight up from Brisbane, I ended up seated next to a couple from Bombay, on holiday visiting their daughther who lives in Brisbane. What are the odds of that happening?

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