I don’t even know how to start with this one! Cairns has become a home away from home for me and having spent the majority of my time in Australia in or around the Cairns region, there is so much I could say. My first experience of Cairns was absolutely incredible and my most recent experience of the city has been amazing in a totally different way. With Cairns it’s not necessarily the place itself that makes it so special, it’s mainly the experiences I’ve had there that make it dear to my heart.
The first time I arrived in Cairns was May 2015. I had decided to leave Melbourne and head North to find regional work so figured Cairns would be the best place to fly into and go from there. I hadn’t heard much about Cairns or knew anyone who had been there so I arrived with absolutely no expectations. I knew it would be hot and sunny, and that was about it! Like most other backpackers I checked myself into Gilligans for my first few nights and was excited to see what it would be like. I didn’t realise until I arrived how geared towards backpackers Cairns actually is, and I had no idea I had checked into the number 1 party hostel in Australia! As it turns out Cairns has an incredibly small city centre and the main thing to do there is to party.
I stayed in Cairns for around 3 months after this and I’m almost ashamed to admit (I say almost … ) I gave up very quickly trying to find work in such a small city and spent my time partying and sunbathing. I was lucky enough to make the most amazing friends whilst I was there, we referred to ourselves as the Cairns family, making it the most incredible experience ever. It is mainly this initial 3 months that made me love Cairns so much. I honestly can’t tell you how much I enjoyed myself and absolutely loved the people I was fortunate enough to meet. We pretty much sunbathed all day and drank all night, it was the most fun time I’ve had travelling! We did manage to take a few trips and see attractions in the surrounding areas, we weren't totally lazy, but I will elaborate on those trips and destinations in individual posts. Northern Queensland is so gorgeous and there is so much to do, I want to give each trip its own story.
I was well and truly in the Cairns hole just as everyone had warned me would happen, I was only supposed to stay for two weeks! When I eventually left it was for the reason I had originally flew to Queensland for, to do my farm work. Again I will go into a whole other post discussing my farm work, its definitely an experience thats needs it own explanation. I had decided to head to a small rural town called Tully with another girl I had met at my hostel. It was only an hour or so away from Cairns so for the majority of my regional work I was in the Cairns region and couldn’t resist visiting on weekends.
When I left for Melbourne around Christmas time I had vowed to myself I wouldn’t return to Cairns or work on banana farms again. Not because I didn’t like Cairns, but because I wanted to mix it up and go somewhere different. As it turns out I did return to Cairns and go back to my old banana farm, but circumstances meant it was pretty much my only option. I was initially pretty upset and annoyed at myself that I had gotten into a position where returning to the farm was my only option, but as it turned out it was leading me to bigger and better things.
Whilst working back on my old farm I was chatting to a good friend of mine, who I had met the last time I was there, who had recently completed his Divemaster in Thailand. I had applied to do a Divemaster Traineeship the first time I had arrived in Cairns but didn’t get the job, so I never really thought it was something I could do. I had totally forgotten about the Traineeships available until I was speaking to my friend. Something was nagging at me that maybe this was the reason I had returned to the region so during my lunch break on the farm I had a little look for any positions.
It must have been some kind of fate, the first one I found after speaking to my friend I applied for and got an immediate response inviting me for an interview. I couldn’t believe my luck it was crazy, and it got even crazier when they offered me the job! I finally got to say goodbye to the farm (again) to go and do my dream job.
So, my most recent experience of Cairns was whilst I was completing my Divemaster Traineeship last year. It took me around 4 and a half months to complete my training so that was another 5 months I spent living in Cairns. I will admit as it coming to the end of my last stay I was getting eager to leave and head somewhere new, but Cairns will always be my ‘home away from home’ and hold a very special place in my heart. I have met some of the most incredible people from being in Cairns and made some of the best memories. I have had so much fun each time I have stayed in Cairns and I hope to god I get to go back again before my Australian working visa runs out. I was pleased to leave and explore new places, but theres a part of me that always misses Cairns.