October 21 , 2012
After Cooktown, Cairnes seemed like a big city. Actually, though, it's pretty small with a population of not much more than 150,000.
Our campground here was within easy walking distance of the best known of the city's attractions, the waterfront esplanade. Once there it was a very pleasant stroll to the central business district and the marina. The marina here is all-important, because that's where you catch the boats out to the Great Barrier Reef.
More about Cairns
Cairns Holiday Park website.
Public Swimming Pool On Waterfront
Don't Park Under the Trees in Central Cairns
A tough decision. Should we take a jet ski croc spotting tour, or should we see the Great Barrier Reef?
Great Barrier Reef
There are lots of choices for visiting the reef. Many boats are huge, and if the water is rough that might be a good choice.
When we arrived in town there was a pretty good wind offshore and none of the locals were recommending a visit to the reef. We waited a few days and the wind moderated, so we signed up.
We chose a fairly small boat. The itinerary included stops at both Michaelmas Island and Hastings Reef. As it turned out we made an excellent choice. The boat, crew, and destinations were all really good.
We wanted to visit Michaelmas because it has quite a few birds. Other than that, though, there's not a lot to see. The island is just a few hundred meters long, and is really just a sand dune sticking above the water. Most of the island is reserved as a bird sanctuary, and visitors can go ashore on only on a short section of beach.
Hastings Reef is just a small part of the much larger Great Barrier Reef, as is Michaelmas Cay.
More about Michaelmas Cay.
More about Great Barrier Reef.
Seastar Cruises website.
Boats Anchored Off Michaelmas Cay
Suited Up In Our Wetties
Terri On The Cay
Lots of Birds
Clownfish At Hastings Reef
Terri As Seen By Clownfish
Scissortail Sergeant Majors
Maybe we'll just save the jet ski tour until next visit.
Rig of the Week
Here's the most common Australian camping rig. It's a caravan (we'd call it a camping trailer) pulled by a SUV. Note that the caravan has an expandable roof. Some caravans have this, some are solid. The expandable top has some advantages including a lower profile for towing and better ventilation in hot weather. Since few Australians do much cool weather camping the insulation disadvantages of an expandable top aren't that important down here.