Tag Archives: flying fox

Cairns – Sleep, Eat, Shop


At this point, I couldn’t believe that we had only 3 days left in our 17-day trip to Australia. Our flight to Cairns {pronounced CANS} from Uluru via Qantas was smooth sailing and even included dinner! I’m so glad we didn’t miss the flight!

Upon arrival, we stepped out of the airport and were instantly hit by the humidity! The dessert heat was such a contrast from that of the coast. We got in line for a cab ride and each got our first bite by an Australian mozzie! That would be mosquito. Aussies even know how to make a pest sound cutesy.

Looking back on my trip planning, I wished I’d do a few things differently for this part of it.

  1. I wish I would have incorporated more time to visit and spend time with Mum & Dad in Queensland.
  2. I wish I would have known which tours we planned to take before I booked accommodation.

Cairns is a home base for many Great Barrier Reef tours, which is why I chose it. But how to choose a tour?! The number is overwhelming. With much help from Aussie friends, we decided on Silversonic. However, the specific recommended tour departed from Port Douglas – about an hour away.

Mum and Dad also recommended the Daintree Rainforest Tour by Billy Tea Safaris.Visit a rainforest? Hell yeah!! When would I ever get to do that again?! Again, this tour departed from Port Douglas.

So maybe it would have made more sense to stay in Port Douglas? Both tours did offer a shuttle from our accommodations to and from the departure sites for an extra fee. It was very convenient and maybe even cheaper than if we had to get transportation ourselves to Port Douglas and stay there. And it twas a lovely drive each way. The first day, we spotted a whole field of wallabies! It looked like there were over 100 of them. The next day, we made sure to keep our eye out for the same field and we got to see them again. Is this real life?

So what did we do, then, in Cairns?

Due to the tours, we were only there in the evenings.



So… We slept. We shopped. We ate.



This was my first experience utilizing airbnb. We booked an apartment at Il Palazzo on the Esplanade. The location was perfect. Our only complaint was that it was a bit stuffy upon arrival. {Not like when you go to a hotel and they have the air conditioning already running for you.} Also, Rob really wanted to watch some footy now that Tony‘s team was playing and he had taught him more about it! The TV channels didn’t come in all that great. But our host responded to all of our questions promptly. And the front desk was helpful, too.

You can get a $25 airbnb credit by clicking here.



The Esplanade is a bustling place! Since Cairns is a hub for Great Barrier Reef tours, you’ll find people from all over the world. It’s a wonderful place to sit and people watch. Rob and I even saw some Flying Foxes in the trees! But the Flying Fox is not a fox at all. {Go figure.} It is actually the world’s largest bat. We saw a whole colony in trees like this:

flying fox

Now to the shopping… There are lots of cheesy souvenir shops, which I can sometimes appreciate. A package of clip-on koalas made for great gifts for my niece and nephews, as well as fun prizes for poker night!

Then there are the Night Markets, where you can find a food court and stalls and stalls of crafts and inexpensive trinkets and goods.

Speaking of that, I knew that we had to provide our own towels for the Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tour. There was no way I was going to carry a bulky one all over Australia just for that one day. Instead, we bought a couple at the Night Markets which worked perfectly and we brought home as souvenirs.

Now I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite things to do when traveling to a foreign country is to  step into a grocery store. In fact, I like to do it even when traveling in the U.S. There are so many regional food differences! It was at the grocery store in Yulara that I picked up some local foodstuffs.

Normally, I like to peruse the local produce. But this time, I was all about the packaging. There were a few interesting things that caught our eyes!

Throughout the trip, we picked up a few bars here and there to have as breakfasts or snacks.


In Cairns, I found these:

IMG_0104Of course, they had me at the name! And I particularly liked that no wallabies were harmed in the making of this product! 😉



But there were some other items that we found funny.

Like Danish salami


And coffee and milk tubes that are “perfect for camping!”IMG_0089

Then we get to the drinks and juices. Pine-lime anyone? I wonder how that tastes. It makes me think of floor cleaner.


They seem to like the pine… I’m now aware that by pine, they mean pineapple!


I find Candy Teeth ironic… So we brought some home for the kids. Yes, these are the kind of souvenirs we buy for people!


And did you know you could get Red AND Green frogs? Ha ha.


But I think they are doing it wrong on the next one..

I don’t think Chocolate Babies would fly in the U.S.!


But this flavor of ice cream intrigued me… So we bought it. I ate two bowls while we were in Cairns and left the rest in the freezer for the next occupants.




There isn’t a shortage of places to dine in Cairns. It’s a bustling touristy city. But finding a place with good food we found quite challenging. We had some really, really, horribly bad pizza the first night. It was expensive. We had to wait forever. What’s worse is that they give you the impression that it’s good stuff because you can watch the guy rolling out the dough as you walk by…

Another night, though, I decided to try some local seafood. I usually don’t eat seafood in foreign countries because I get grossed out by legs and eyes and because I never know how to eat it. But I broke this rule in Cairns.


I asked our server how hard they were to eat. He said that they were easy and that he’d show me. Bugs are a shellfish similar to lobster. The meat is found in the tail. Mine were prepared with a sweet chili sauce.

Just two more posts on Australia. Two of the best days – the rainforest and the reef!

Is there something you normally won’t eat when traveling that you eat at home?

Other posts about our trip to Australia:



It’s Not a Bear. And That’s Not a Bat.


This is the cute and cuddly Australian animal post!

But first, a topic that is quite important and serious:

Okay, so not that serious, but now you know that a koala is not a bear!

They may look cute and cuddly like teddy bears; but koalas are marsupials. You know, the mammals that carry their undeveloped young {called joeys!} in their pouches. {Well, the females do.} So yes, in that sense, koalas are like kangaroos.

Now… On to the koalas at the Ballarat Wildlife Park.

Koalas tend to sleep 18 to 22 hours per day! Perhaps that is one reason why they look so sleepy and adorable. They need their down time. Therefore, they are not loose about the park like ‘roos and emus. Instead, you can spot the koalas in in trees inside the enclosures.


But, there are a couple ways you can get closer look!

The Wildlife Park has guided park tours and shows throughout the day. A guide will bring out one of the koalas and tell you everything you didn’t know about them.


You may even get to pet one!


The other way to get a closer look is to book an Animal Experience! 254

When we found out it was only around $20 for an “experience” with a koala, we were all in.


It may feel like it’s a bit expensive or an extra cost to get a closer look when you’ve already paid your entry fee into the park. But it truly is due to the welfare of the animals. They need to make sure that there is a koala who is available, awake and receptive.


During your koala experience, you can take as many photos as you want. Our koala is named Matilda. {That immediately had me thinking of the song Waltzing Matilda.} She was so sweet! In Victoria, you can’t hold or carry around the koala. That can only be done by trained professionals. That’s okay, because we had heard that they pee on you! Instead the guide will put her on a perch and hand her some gum branches to nibble on. Then you squeeze in next to her and stroke her fur. I will never forget the smell of the eucalyptus leaves as she munched on them!


The photographer told us not to be shy. He said that we should get as close as we could because she wouldn’t mind the cuddle!photo(3)

The cost of the animal experience is a steal, really, because up to four people in your party are welcome to go inside the enclosure to meet the animal. Trust me, the koalas just might bring about a permagrin, just like the kangaroos!


The photographer was kind enough to take a photo of us with Barb and Tony and Matilda with our camera.

And here’s a photo of our professional take-home photo:



Then, it was on to the wombat, which is not a bat at all. I asked my nephew this weekend if he wanted to see the picture of the wombat I held in Australia. When I showed him this photo he said, “Hey! That’s not a bat!”


Honestly, I wasn’t familiar with the wombat until going to Australia. A wombat is another marsupial! Obviously, we chose to do the Wombat Experience as well, that is why we got to hold Pickles the Wombat.

When I posted some photos for my friends and family on Facebook, some said she looked like a big rat. But she felt was oh-so cuddly!


Others told me that I was squeezing poor Pickles to death. But that is how we were told to hold her! Just listen in our amateur video:

And I just might still have that permagrin


Now wombats are not bats, but something we saw later in Cairns are… They are called flying foxes. Figure that one out! 😉

Other posts on our Australia trip: