Travelling Australia: Cairns and the amazing Great Barrier Reef

Before I was heading off to Australia, my friend was asking, why I am going and what I gonna do there? Well, good question as Australia usually is a destination for youngsters just leaving school and wanting to explore the world. School’s over let’s face it – for more then ten years already – and I am not so much into beach party and drinking games (anymore). So how will it be for me? After eight month on a tiny island in the Maldives – how would it be to travel by myself again? Would I even have enough money to realize my five big dreams in Australia or will I end up broke after two weeks? Read here how it went for me at the start of my trip in the Tropical North.


While most of the backpackers are arriving in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, I was heading via Bali straight towards the Tropical North. Cairns – palm trees, beaches, 30 degrees – exactly my cup of tea and a soft shift from live in Maldives.

Cairns – Beach and Mountains

In contrast to most of the big Australian cities, Cairns is not dominated by skyscrapers. It’s actually pretty chilled with a nice boardwalk, lots of green areas, small markets and numerous opportunities for exercising. As basically everything in the sea wants to kill you, there is a 4,800m2 huge artificial lagoon in the middle of the city where you can relax and cool down during lunch break. People walking around the city in bikini and board shorts – in Cairns everyday live

Botanical Gardens Cairns

Just a short drive away there are the Cairns botanical gardens and the Daintreee National Parc Rainforest – one of the oldest rain forests in the world. If there is rain in Cairns, it’s a proper one. Within seconds all the roads are flooded and it’s raining cats and dogs like I just knew it from Central America so far. Also cyclones are nothing unusual around this time in the Tropical North of Australia.

In Cairns, there is no lack of travel agencies wanting every backpacker to have the most adventurous (and expensive) time of their lives. Usually you spend a fortune organizing trips with them – most of the time there is a budget version if you spend a bit of time to research yourself.

For example to get to Kuranda Koala Park you can either go by gondola or by historic train for 100$ or you take the local bus for 9$ each way. The 1.5 hours bus ride takes you through an ancient rain forest landscape and you suddenly feel like you are in a scenery of Jurassic Park.


Cute Koala, chilled kangaroo and rain forest as far as you can see

Arrived at the Koala Parc you can take pictures with the little cuties. As I have not seen a Koala from close-by, I surely did not want to miss this chance. Its nose looks a bit like a hippos one but the body is so nice, cosy and soft that I would like to keep the little bear in my arms forever.

Surely Cairns also is the starting point for trips to the Great Barrier Reef. Diving in the corall garden oft he 2,300 km long reef – one of my big dreams.

Corals at Great Barrier Reef

In the city you can buy into snorkelling and diving trips almost everywhere. For sure this trip consume a big chunk of the backpackers travel budget. So I am not only thinking twice before signing in. What I realized during my travels – we spend heaps of money to arrive at the destination itself but when it comes to adventures and activities we are usually cutting back our expenses. Or as my granny always sais: “Now we are here, we can also go for this.“ Allright Oma.

The divers group

Together with Pro-Dive, the dive company my former co-worker Nicole is employed, I am heading for 3 days and 2 nights out to the ocean. My first dive-safari and I did not expect that live on a boat can be this comfortable – having warm showers after diving, freshly cooked, delicious meals three times a day, a great team and super modern equipment including a stinger suit – of course just in case.

Mr. Stingray
Mrs. Turtle

Like at Maldives, unfortunately a huge part of the reef is already affected by coral bleaching or even dead. But some spots are still taking my breath away with their unbelievable variety of colours, corals and life.

Everywhere is something new to discover – small sharks, turtles, stingrays or just exotic types of fish. Being in a big group, I was finally brave enough to do my first two night dives. An adventure I will never ever forget.

Sharky Sharky

Read in my next post about wild dingos on Fraser Island, how a cyclone twisted around my travel plans and if I could show of on my surfboard at hippie town Byron Bay.