Cairns Postcard #1

Posted on 12th Dec 2012 by ian under Travel Tales, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Flying to Cairns makes you realise that this is a Very Big Country.  It’s only a bit over two hours from Brisbane but both cities are in the same state.  Lovely flight with the newly branded Virgin Australia in a 737-800 that was so new it still smelt like Suzi Quatro’s wardrobe.  It had the business class modification and, as always, a welcoming friendly crew.

Thinking of Qantas’s recent woes, “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” – hard to believe that Virgin airline began with a scribbled business plan on the back of a coaster in a London pub.  Hard to believe Qantas allowed itself to implode so badly.

Hot and humid on arrival but, being December in the tropics, we didn’t expect snow.

Picked up the air-conditioned rental car and headed in to town (about 10 mins) and checked into our air-conditioned hotel (Rydges Tradewinds, with rooms overlooking the pool and The Esplanade out to the Coral Sea).  Had a tasty seafood lunch at Sea Level restaurant without need for air-conditioning because of the eponymous tradewinds coming off the ocean.  Good thing Captain Cook had them behind him – if they came the other way Cooktown would have been in Tasmania.

Caught up with General Manager, Matthew Hurley and Matt’s wife, Liz.  Liz manages the Spa by the Sea.  Yes, lucky Matt – he is married to a very lovely Liz Hurley, and this Liz scored a hubby who has no need for a fake tan and who can talk without texting.  That’s Liz on the left with Laura at the Spa.

Drove around town to get the bearings.  Dropped in to the Cairns Regional Art Gallery and the delightful Kelly was on hand to show me around.  There is a visiting exhibition by 17th Century Spanish artist, Francisco Goya… on the second floor an exhibition by local artist, Ian Smith… and, in the Loft on the third floor, art from young local indigenous artists.

This part of town has a tourist buzz.  Posh boutiques, surf clothing shops, coffee shops and a throng of backpackers and other visitors sporting accents from around the globe.  Two young ladies passed, deep in conversation, wearing skimpy bikinis.  They could have been discussing the protest ethic and the spirit of capitalism for all I know because they had Scandinavian accents.   Yep, the dress code in this part of town is fairly casual.  Checked out a few of the brand boutique surf shops and weighed up paying $80 for a pair of board shorts and $90 for a rash vest.  Decided that the reef didn’t need to see how ‘cool’ I am and drove to Cairns Central, a huge shopping mall with pretty much every ‘known’ brand you can point a credit card at – Peter Alexander, OPSM, Myer, Sportsgirl, R.M. Williams – that sort of thing.  Target served up both a pair of tasteful blue & black boardies and a black rashie for under $50.  Bargain.  I bet the reef won’t pick the difference.