13.04.2012 – 02.05.2012 Sunny 30°C
Cairns had good reports from most backpackers I’d spoken to while we were in Darwin. Some said Corona’s was the best but others swore Gilligan’s was. We ended up picking neither. We stayed with Anthony and Romain for the first five nights, saving the cash we would have paid on the dorms and spending it on getting pissed up instead. It was good, we were desperate to get to Cairns to get out of the French guys van and into a proper bed but when push came to shove, saving $15 a night each (Cairns is cheap to stay in) over ruled any urge to leave. The other reason we were so desperate to get to Cairns was to look at a camper van for sale by a Dutch bloke, Roy. Unfortunately he didn’t respond to our calls or texts so I can only presume he sold it and went back to Holland as he said his flight was soon.
Cairns itself was smart. Well laid out with loads of facilities, bars and restaurants. Nightowls a plenty for those late night snacks, Woolworth’s in the city centre and Cole’s in the shopping centre resulted in everything you need. Probably why we stayed nearly three weeks.
The lagoon on the Esplanade was brilliant, and the showers and toilets were a godsend when staying in the van for the first five days, especially with all our hangovers.
After the fifth day though we decided to look for a house share to spend some significant time in Cairns because we really wanted to buy a camper and Cairns, along with Sydney are the hubs. They are both widely regarded as a buyers market and you can see why when you start to look at the notice boards, they’re covered in vans for sale, most with the prices slashed crudely in marker pen. I even saw some that were ‘make me any offer’ and even one for free.
On one notice board we saw an Ad for a house share for $100 a week for a double room. This worked out half the amount it would cost us to stay in a hostel. We called the guy up, Terry, and arranged to come see the house. It was a bit out-of-town, about a twenty-minute walk but was only ten minutes from the shopping centre. The house was rough, an old wooden structure on stilts that smelt of damp but was reasonably clean. The shower was hot and it had a big TV but the toilet was outside and our house-mates were fucking wankers. Next to us was a Romanian bitch who we didn’t speak to the entire time we were there, mainly because when Terry introduced us I said ‘hello’ and she took five seconds to look B and I up and down and ignored us. She was over forty and looked like Dracula’s bird, she wore the same clothes continually for seven days and refused to take the rubbish out. The joys of sharing a house. We didn’t take it too seriously though because it was so cheap.
The others in the house were an Aussie couple, which at first I thought were decent people but by the end of our fortnight there we weren’t speaking to them either. They were dirty. I only caught them having showers occasionally and they were up all night and asleep all day. The most annoying thing was the fucking mess they always left in the kitchen. It wasn’t very well stocked with saucepans and crockery, and anyway, out of cleanliness you should wash your gear up after eating, but not them, they would just leave it scattered all around the kitchen. I tried to create a level playing field by washing everything when we arrived but it just built up again so we just used what we wanted, washing it if it was dirty, then leaving it as we found it, dirty or clean. Petty, but necessary.
Terry was a know-it-all twat too, proclaiming to live everywhere in Australia and settling on Cairns because it was the best. I didn’t like it that much. He had a comment for everything.
We didn’t do a lot in the two weeks we stayed in the house. Eating, drinking and partying in PJ’s ($7 jugs) and The Woolshed (£3.50 pints), laying by the lagoon in the sun, watching football, going to the library and cafés for Wi-Fi and shopping, and McDonald’s for a 30c ice cream, that sort of thing. Made a nice change after backpacking for so long but by the end of the two weeks we were more than ready to leave, camper van-less.
We got Greyhound tickets from Travel Bugs, a chain of travel agents up and down the east coast. The price was bang on. $380 for a ninety day, hop on, hop off ticket going from Cairns to Melbourne, or vice versa. We shopped about and even the Greyhound store themselves quoted $402 so we knew we were on to a winner.
With the coach booked our next stop was Mission Beach.