❣ 8-15th JULY 2015 ❣
Highlights: Great Barrier Reef Scuba Diving, Mission Beach Sky Diving, Tully River Extreme Water Rafting, Party Hostel at Gilligan’s.
And so it begins! After becoming great friends with a few of the OzIntro crew, it was time to start our spontaneous 35 day East Coast journey together!
The whole thing cost us just under $3,000 when booked through our tour company. This was a great deal to do everything at once – accommodation, some meals, Loka Travel and all fun activities included! It sounds a lot, but I was desperate to do this whilst I had money so – why not?
The beautiful, vibrant and tropical Cairns was our first stop along the East Coast. We were so desperate to see the sun that we decided on flying up north first and working our way back down to Sydney again.
We were in Cairns for seven days which was a long time compared to our other stops – but this was because we had SO MUCH planned here!
For the first few days we topped up the tan at our wonderful hostel – Gilligan’s. Most of our activities were booked towards the end of the week, so we simply switched to holiday mode and made the most of our surroundings with a few beverages!
I would say this was definitely an Ibiza style party hostel! It had everything from large sport TVs, decent bars/clubs, pool parties, jelly wrestling, ladies night, pole dancing and wet t-shirt competitions! There was even Bogan Bingo, which was hosted by stereotypical Australian men in mullets, playing funny DJ sound effects and classic rock music.
The food was also excellent! $10 meal deals and they were pretty tasty – everything seemed fresh with many menu options to choose from.
We were just a ten minute walk away from the intimate cosmopolitan town centre and the Esplanade Lagoon, as well as being near a Woolworths supermarket, some large organic markets, small shopping centres and plenty of different bars.
The rooms were spacious, light and cleaned regularly. Sometimes the cleaners even came in at 8am with their hoovers and chatted amongst themselves, which was rather annoying…
The downfall would be that the showers were not always hot during ‘rush hour’, and not many hobs worked on our floor to cook with. There was still plenty of kitchen equipment and food storage space!
Also, you think an en suite is good to share with eight people? It’s not. Imagine eight people hogging a mirror before a night out.
Overall, it really was a great stay and I would be more than happy to stay at this hostel again!
Rating – 4*.
Visit Gilligan’s Website here.
***Moving onto the fun-filled activities!***
Scuba Diving at the Great Barrier Reef
I’ve never been scuba diving before, so I was looking forward to seeing how it felt. I was also pretty nervous, as the idea of having all that heavy equipment strapped to my back was rather unsettling.
It felt weird at first – breathing underwater, equalising the ears, emptying water out of my goggles, doing the correct hand signals. It was a lot to think about! Once we were descending one metre at a time, we had some photos taken and we did some exploring!
It took me a while to get used to it, and some of us ended up linking arms so the instructor could push us down even further. I kept floating towards the surface without realising, as I was too busy concentrating on staying alive!
It was a fun experience, but I personally prefer snorkelling. It’s easier to just float around in your swimmers with a snorkel and enjoy the stunning fish near the surface.
The instructors were very helpful when giving us the briefing, and they provided some delicious lunch for us on board.
The boat took us to three popular diving/snorkelling spots. However, a few of us were starting to get rather sick because of how rough the ocean was…I never usually get sea sick, but I was really starting to feel it when we were on the go for over an hour. We were all very happy to be on dry land afterwards, as it was a long and tiring day!
*There was a funny part on the way back when one of us tried to serve red wine and cheese to another travel buddy, and it went absolutely EVERYWHERE! The sea was rough and there was water splashing all over the place! It was like watching a comedy sketch show because he kept losing his balance while trying to be a waiter at the same time!
Then the other guy sitting down ended up spitting out the red wine because it tasted disgusting – and the wind took it towards my direction and it splattered all over me!
I was crying in hysterics by this point.
(You know who you are.. Ryan, Michael.)*
Sky Diving at Mission Beach
One word – Disorientating!
This was probably the craziest thing I have ever done, in line with the world’s highest bungee jump I did in Cape Town!
The seriously tiny plane took us up 14,000 feet, (yep, you heard right) and we were all flying up backwards whilst practically being snuggled by our divers! It was a bit of a squeeze but it was hilarious!
The divers were securely strapping us to them whilst filming and joking around because of how many times they’ve done this. Obviously I was shitting myself, but when I’m filled with this much exciting adrenaline I never cry. I was more than ready to do this as it would be a tick off my bucket list!
So we were told to put our head back once our legs were dangling over the edge, and before I knew it, I was facing gravity at its full force and free-falling towards oblivion!
You can probably guess what words I was screaming at the top of my lungs whilst briefly witnessing the plane getting smaller and smaller…
The outer body experience kicked in the millisecond I left that plane. Soon enough, the fall was a strange sense of freedom, and I enjoy every single minute of it!
Once we hit terminal velocity, I managed to take in the beautiful view of the coast and how bloody high we were!
The jolt felt weird when the parachute opened, but I soon forgot about that once we were soaring through the sky. The scenery and the whole experience was breathtaking and I would do it all again – backwards!
I had to buy the GoPro photos and the video to prove to people back in the UK that I actually did it – also to look back at my hideous face hitting that G-Force!
Although, there was one thing that COMPLETELY freaked me out whilst we were at 14,000 feet! There was this crazy cameraman, with a GoPro strapped to his head, who simply climbed onto the outside of the plane and just stayed there for a while before the first lot jumped out! He looked like a stunt man with no fear, clinging onto a bit of the door frame like it was nothing!
This isn’t my photo, but it looked a little something like this…
Raging Thunder Xtreme Tully Water Rafting
This experience was undoubtedly going to be added to my favourites! A full day of absolute insanity with full on adrenaline – especially when the raft was purposely flipped upside down a few times! Extreme rafting is not for the weak hearted…
This trip included a pick up from the hostel with enthusiastic instructors, a whole day of rafting, all necessary safety gear, lunch, and extra activities such as swimming through rapids, cliff jumping and the rush of bursting through grade 4 rapids!
Luckily there were six of us so we could all fit into one raft and enjoy the thrill together!
We enjoyed the scenic drive towards Tully river, and we mostly just saw miles upon miles of banana trees!
Whilst getting thrown down rocky rapids and mini waterfalls, I was trying my best to take in the picturesque rainforest around me, just before holding my breath and bracing myself for more surprises!
Our experienced guide helped us with how to use our oars, what group positions to get into for teamwork synchronisation, and how to help each other back onto the raft if any of us fell. We really had to prepare ourselves for a thrilling, yet refreshing ride along the raging rapids!
I actually underestimated this trip, as I didn’t realise how memorable this was going to be! All the little extras we did, like individually gliding down fast but safe rapids on our backs, as well as cliff jumping, made it even more special. We even had a battle with other groups in their rafts by bashing into each other, and continuously dragging one another off the boat in calm waters.
I was laughing so hard that my sides were hurting, and I’m even smiling thinking about it now!
It was a truly exhilarating yet knackering day, with perfect weather to just about keep us warm. Great exercise too!
Visit the Raging Thunder Rafting website!
Chilling at the Esplanade Lagoon
So once we took a nice walk through the seaside town and reached the coast, we realised that there was no access to the beaches or the sea! Well – I say beach, it was more like mud.
We found out that throughout time, the waterfront had been dominated by a large amount of tidal mudflats, which has now made the beach completely unusable.
Nevertheless! A large, clean, stunning lagoon took it’s place right by the sea – so it was technically a replacement beach, as it still contained sand and filtered salt water. It also prevents the public getting stung by the dangerous box jellyfish or even encountering crocs in the muddy waters!
We spent a few days here after all that adrenaline, soaking up more sun and eating plenty of ice cream. There were even large built in BBQs for the public to use for free!
There were cute little market stalls near the lagoon, and I had to have an Indian henna hand tattoo! (All of a sudden I wanted to decorate myself and have feathers in my hair now that I was a traveller.)
It was gorgeous, and the woman who did it was so talented that she did it in less that five minutes! She clearly knew what she was doing.
Ultimate Party Bar Crawl
In addition to all the shenanigans, we were invited to an organised bar crawl, in which we just had to pay a deposit to get the VIP wrist band for entry and a few free drinks.
The five bars we visited were Sugar Hut, The Woolshed, Lyquid, P.J.O Brien’s Irish pub and then back to Gilligan’s!
Feel free to click on the links above for more info about those bars, as it’s not necessary for me to write an essay about each one! I was a bit tipsy at the time and can’t remember it all as it was months ago – but I shall explain in brief what I liked about them all…
Sugar Hut: The first bar we went to. Swanky, sophisticated, had a free BBQ happening outside on the terrace. Had a cool LED display going on but it was rather empty when we got there as it was still a bit early. If we were there a bit late then I reckon there would be a huge party vibe to this place.
The Woolshed: Okay, things started to pick up here, especially when everyone started table dancing! Apparently that was one of the main things to do here, as there were bolted down tables set up and a wired low ceiling to hold on to!
I loved the tropical, hawaiian wooden theme to it, and there were awesome cocktails made by people who knew what they were doing. We already visited this bar before during the week, and this ended up being one of my favourites!
Lyquid: This was an extremely stylish night club, and you definitely felt like you were in the middle of London or New York once you entered! The ceiling was awesome with Led tube lights and the bar top had an extra layer to it and there was lava lamp type liquid inside the table that you could press and make cool patterns!
I was rather drunk at this point and I can just remember pushing the bar top all the time…
P.J.O’Brien’s Irish Bar: A very large, traditional pub with plenty of space and sport TV’s all around. There was a live band going on when we arrived, and I had a few successful games of pool, as I’m better at pool when tipsy…I felt more at home here.
Phew, what a week that was. It was then time to pack everything up again and get ready for tent life at – Indigenous Camp!
Here’s my screenshot of the Loka Travel itinerary of what was to come up after Cairns…There’s not that much to do. Right?
Have you been to Cairns and had some awesome experiences? If so, please share below or give me a link to your blog!