30th December, Australia, Cairns
After a day of doing next to nothing in New Zealand, we made our way back to the airport to fly to Cairns. The flight was bumpy for much of the way but the views out of the window as we flew over the Great Barrier Reef along Australia's eastern coastline were stunning. To think that in the coming days we'd be swimming down there.
We got through customs at Cairns International almost without a hitch. Manda got called to one side by one of the officers who was asking whether she was carrying any food, any candy and so on (Australia is very strict on people bringing anything like this into the country). He asked the questions a few times, checking whether Manda was sure about this, and we both started thinking 'uh-oh'. What had they picked up as they scanned the baggage? Nothing more dangerous than vitamin pills!
We got to our hostel, Travellers Oasis, thanks to Kiwi Mark's complementary shuttle service. I had been to Travellers Oasis before and knew that it was a nice little hostel run by a friendly bunch of people. Mark is the owner of this place that they have labelled 'your home from home'. We settled in very nicely thanks to the lovely air conditioning. It wasn't the hottest of days, but after the flight it was a welcome bonus (only two rooms in the hostel have air con).
One of the things we need to do in Cairns is find ourselves a camper van. Right opposite the hostel there was a big van with a huge 'For Sale' sign in the window, so we went over to take a look. The guy showed us all around it, telling us up front that the price was $47,000 (roughly £18,000!). There was no way we'd be getting this van, but we let him carry on showing us the shower unit, the solar panels, the TV, the four batteries and the clever little load balancing thing he seemed particularly proud of. From the outside, it looked like a pretty workmanlike bus, nothing too flashy. I wasn't expecting all this inside. Perhaps we'll look at some more vans, eh?