Here’s the thing about staying with family long term while on a backpacking trip. It feels fairly stupid to hold a travel blog because you’re A) Not travelling, and B) Its kind of like being at home only with different weather.
So yeah, my days in Perth have gone essentially unrecorded just because I couldn’t find it in me to write about my happenings. Don’t get me wrong, I did go see a bit. Rottness Island, Fremantle, The Perth Museum, and the Gingin Observatory…but most of the time I was staying inside conserving as much money as I could while I abused free rent and food. A plan that has worked out pretty well considering I’ve managed to make back the entirety of my Asia trips savings in the process.
Of course, since I can only work 6 months at a time and need to get some regional work done if I want to stay another year, it was time to move on. My first plan was to go South for a few works, before heading up North and then travelling over to Cairns. This plan seemed pretty solid and let me travel…but came to a screeching halt when I realised how much it was going to cost. Since I’d been lucky enough not to pay expenses, I’d been fairly sheltered as to how expensive West Australia is. And its EXPENSIVE. $600 minimum to get into the North and the Northern Territories. On the other hand, I could fly to Cairns for just over $250…
It was a no brainer, and so 2 nights ago I flew on a late night flight from Perth to what has been described as the regional work centre – Queensland.
Admittedly I didn’t really get to appreciate it for the first night. My flight was at 22:05, and got delayed by an hour. By the time I actually arrived on the East Coast, it was 5 in the morning. And since its impossible for anyone past university age to actually sleep in the torture traps they call chairs, my sleep was minimal. Not helped by the fact that I had to wait several hours to check into my hostel – which at least gave me a code to get in and crash on one of their sofa’s until I could drop off my bags. Needless to say I slept like a log last night.
My hostel of choice this time is the Dreamtime Travellers Hostel, which has won several awards for its services. Not quite in the city centre, but in walking distance to the harbour and just across the road from a huge shopping centre with the essentials, this is hardly an issue and does at least guarantee a fairly quiet nights sleep without the chaos of the town. It also has free (if admittedly erratic) WiFi, which I’ve come to learn with Australian hostels, is like finding goldust.
Cairns itself is quite a culture shock compared to Perth. The West Coast city definitely had character, but it was at its core, a city – with roots and connections far beyond what you could see on the surface. Cairns on the other hand, is at heart a backpackers city. You get the feeling that if you took away the hostels, dive shops and GoPro camera stores, you’d be left with a ghost town. On the one hand, you fit right in, on the other, if feels a little too manufactured – there’s no actual character to the city. Maybe after a few days it’ll reveal something deeper, but right now its not leaving an impression.
That said, I go to the Great Barrier Reef on Tuesday for an overnight trip (and will finally get my advanced divers qualification, woot!) which should definitely make the trip worth it.