Kicking Back in Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef

We were so happy to go back to beautiful Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef  – and this time to share it all with our friends Jason and Josh. The weather was perfection and it was all around a wonderful escape.

Daniel and I had just been exploring Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) about a month prior and the weekend before we had just adventured in New Zealand with the boys. So our weekend back in TNQ was centered on two strategies at its core: 1.) go to the Great Barrier Reef and 2.) spend time lounging outside, in the sun, hopefully on a beach. I’m happy to report, we got what we wanted. Here’s what went down:

Friday 8 July:
We took a mid-morning flight out of Sydney and were safely landing in Cairns just after 12:30pm. Man, I really love when you start a trip and the first day isn’t totally ruined by travel. We checked in to our AirBNB for the weekend – which was the first time we had ever used it – and were pleasantly surprised by the accommodations. A newly renovated townhome, gay owned & operated and with a ton of snacks and two complimentary bottles of wine awaiting us. Amazing! And since I work for the hotel industry, it was a good reminder that competition can come in many forms. Within an hour, we were in our rental car and heading north 45 minutes to the town of Port Douglas for food, beer and sightseeing. En route back to Cairns, we visited Ellis Beach for a quick squiz before calling it an early night.

Landing at Cairns Airport
Can’t complain about the view as you land at Cairns airport! Water, beach and rolling green hills.
Port Douglas Iron Bar Lunch
Lunch in Port Douglas at Iron Bar. Apparently, taking a NICE photo is not one of Jason’s strengths. I’m sure Sears Portrait Gallery loved him in the 80s.
Lunch and Beer at Iron Bar Port Douglas
See. NICE.
Ellis Beach Queensland Australia
We stopped at lovely little Ellis Beach on our way back with just enough time to catch the sun setting behind us. This quaint beach is located at just about the halfway point between Port Douglas and Cairns.
Ellis Beach Watching the Ocean
The boys taking in the view at Ellis Beach. I loved how the wet sands reflected them in this shot.

Saturday 9 July:
Happy Birthday to me! We were up super early for an adventuresome day out on The Great Barrier Reef followed by dinner, drinks and some observed debauchery in Cairns. I’ll explain.

Cairns Wharf Boat to Great Barrier Reef
Look at those smiling faces! It was 730am and time to board our boat out to The Great Barrier Reef.
Boarding the Silverswift for the direct service to Flynn Reef on the GBR.
Boarding the Silverswift for the direct service to Flynn Reef on the GBR.

We had a wonderful time exploring Flynn Reef and – without a doubt – the highlight was a dive site called Gordon’s Reef. It’s safe to assume that pretty much anything you see in the video edit that’s reasonably awesome is footage from Gordon’s. At that site, we saw a reef shark, a turtle eating lunch, watched a large moray eel free-swim in the open (pretty rare) and enjoyed some really nice hard and soft corals plus a fun little swim-through. Playing around on the surface with the boys while they snorkeled was a blast, too! I forgot how much work it was to maintain surface buoyancy without a BCD. So bravo to them!

My Birthday Surprise at Boatshed
Aside from spending my birthday with awesome people in a tropical town, the other wonderful thing: I had sparklers in my ice cream at Boatshed restaurant and then a wedding down the wharf at the Hilton set off about 10 minutes worth of quality fireworks. It was like the fact that we missed the 4th of July never happened! Unforgettable stuff, poodles.
Sale House drinks and chat
After dinner drinks with our Cairns friends, Ricky and Ben, whom we met on our prior visit. In this photo, Ben does not look amused. But I’m sure he was!
Walking near the Cairns Esplanade
And then we meandered from Salt House to a Cairns icon…

At this point in the recounting, a quick arc to describe our next stop. Up to this point, I’d had a really nice birthday. A day out on the reef, a lovely dinner with friends and then some drinks and conversation. All told, you could wrap that up in a bow and pretty much anyone would consider that a stellar day. But we had to add one more experience to the list: The Woolshed.

The Woolshed is the place where straight, 20-somethings in Cairns go to party their f’n asses off. They get wasted beyond words, dance on tables, fall down stairs drunk and, I imagine, regularly conceive children….all in the same night. Let’s just say, it didn’t disappoint. We watched these ‘kids’ screaming, being intoxicated and acting like lunatics for about 30 minutes before getting the heck out of there. My only regret is not jumping on the table for one birthday dance-off. Alas, I’ll save that horror for my 37th. 😉

The Woolshed Cairns
“Walk in the club like what up?” The only proof of our time at The Woolshed. I’m glad this place exists in the universe but will (probably) never return to it.

Sunday 10 July:
Ahhhhhhhh. A lazy day. We had promised the boys early in the planning phase of their Australasia journey that we would have at least one day where we didn’t do much of anything except lie on a beach. So that’s exactly what we did on Sunday. With one small twist…we went to a nude one.

I’m not going to make this innocent little blogbaby of mine visually NSFW, and even if I wanted to to there’s (thankfully) no photographic evidence on my camera. The important details are that we went to a stretch of ‘unofficially’ nude beach called Buchans Point located between Ellis Beach and Palm Cove and had a lovely day lounging in the sun. There were parts on my body that hadn’t seen anything remotely solar in a very, very long time, if ever. SPF was sprayed LIBERALLY and REPEATEDLY to avoid any uniquely uncomfortable burns. All told, it was a fantastic little adventure. It felt strangely naughty even though we were just harmlessly lying on our towels and walking around. More importantly, it felt freeing. Like you for once were able to just give zero-fucks and be 100% comfortable in your own skin. If you’ve never gone to a nude beach, I suggest you give it a try at least once in your life!

Buchans Point Nude Beach Queensland Australia
I’m happy to report that none of us experienced a sausage sizzle thanks to the 50 SPF.

Monday 11 July:
Our final day in Cairns was mostly just the morning and early afternoon, so we kept it simple and headed back to the wharf to enjoy the views and weather. There’s a little restaurant there called Wharf ONE Cafe and it’s truly fantastic. The coffee is well-prepared (barista’d?) and the breakfasts are delicious. Plus, you’re treated to some really wonderful visuals and beautiful breezes in their open-air set-up.

Cairns Wharf view
Honestly, I’m totally captivated by the Cairns wharf. I’ve seen it several times now and continue to get that ‘wow’ feeling.

After we walked around a bit, it was time to tidy up the AirBNB and head to the airport. We would only have a few more days together in Sydney proper so it was a fond farewell to Cairns, our little escape from the city.

Group photo at Cairns wharf on the Trinity Inlet
Goodbye from Cairns! With Love, The Boys

Thanks for reading, peeps! XOXO -JW







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