Clearly I still haven’t fully recovered from my night flight, cause I slept pretty solidly until 9am. The room stays dark regardless of time which threw my times off. Might have to start setting an alarm if I want to stop wasting the mornings.
I originally planned to go whale watching today, but the current sea status is ‘Choppy-as-all-Hell’ and the boats have all been cancelled, so instead I wandered into town to see what took my fancy. This led to me hopping on board the Cairns City Explorer Bus.
Available in several cities in Perth, this is a hop on-hop off service that travels around a few of the tourist spots in Cairns. The ticket lasts 24 hours and costs $30 for backpackers. I hopped on mostly to see what caught my eye, and although ticked off a few places to go see at a later date, didn’t head off until we’d headed down the motorway out of town and towards the Skyrail that I finally disembarked. Not for the vertigo-inducing cable cars – but for the Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park.
This park is devoted to preserving and promoting the Aboriginal culture native to Cairns (as well as Australia in general). Currently under quite a bit of construction, there are several talks and demonstrations throughout the day. For me, this started with a dance performance, before heading over to the Women’s Hut for a presentation on Bush Medicines and Foods. This was probably the weakest of all the presentations – the woman was difficult to understand and didn’t seem too interested in what she was saying. The next one – Weapons held in the Men’s Tent was very good. It included boomerangs, spear throwers and Aboriginal swords – which could be used to gauge how strong a warrior the wielder was.
This was immediately followed by a didgeridoo demonstration – how they are made and how to play one. Not an easy task as you first have to learn to control blowing your lips, then control your tongue, and finally master how to breath while blowing at the same time. The speaker said it took him 3 months while practising every day, but some take years.
The final opportunity was hands on – the spear and boomerang throwing area. The Aboriginals didn’t throw spears like javelins, but instead used a device called a spear-thrower to shoot them. This allowed them to put more strength into the throw, and leave them with a weapon if they were up against another opponent. Got to say they had the right idea about it – my javelin throw is pathetic, but with the spear-thrower I was almost hitting the targets.
The same cannot be said for my boomerang. The basic return boomerang was used to hunt flying birds. There are several other varieties, including the cross (used for water/nesting birds and also returns, but should never, ever be caught as its too dangerous) and the club shape (which didn’t return, and was designed to break the legs of birds, or in battle rip a sword out of an enemies hands and club said warrior in the skull). We were using the classic style, and the majority of the group managed to get the thing in the air – several even got it to return. I didn’t. The first 3 times it essentially crashed to the ground to the group (and the teacher’s) amusement. I had another attempt after everyone was done, and I at least got the thing to curve slightly before it collapsed once again.
Unfortunately, although there was supposedly events still on, the park seems to like amending the times for whenever they have a large group, meaning certain events had run earlier and others weren’t going on anymore, so I meandered back to the front. Sadly, not fast enough – as I walked out the door to see the City Explorer bus driving out the car park.
In hindsight, it was going straight to the Skyrail, and I realised later that Tjapukai and Skyrail are easily within walking distance and I probably could have grabbed the bus if I’d legged it. However, this never happened as a family I’d been talking to noticed my plight and gave me a quick lift back to the outskirts of Cairns not to far from the next stop. As it happens, I didn’t get to the stop in time, but the driver was the very same one that had sold my ticket, recognised me and stopped so I could hop on at a completely random part of the road – he was more than a little surprised to see me and wondered how on earth I’d gotten back to town.
I had planned to go look at the Centenary Lake or the gardens, but I was hot and tired from wandering around the park – and headed back to the hostel to relax rather than continue to look around. I’ve got a good eyeful of things to go see tomorrow – especially since my ticket is still good until 11am tomorrow.