A quick flight up the North East coast to Cairns gave us incredible views of the Great Barrier Reef from the sky. It was the first really warm spot we visited and by the time our plane landed and we got to our hostel I had just enough time to lay in the sun for an hour, as long as I kept getting up and chasing it down the esplanade as it disappeared behind buildings. Cairns is weird. It’s a boardwalk, beachy town without an actual beach. It’s the launchpad for Great Barrier Reef diving and also home to a grimy club scene and the best natural frozen yogurt in the world, which I ate four times in three days. Once for dinner. Also once for breakfast after said grimy club scene.
Being a sea-side town there’s lots of live music; being Cairns, it’s weird live music. Does the Eric Clapton song about that time his baby fell out a window sound like beach music to you? Because the same guy played it at least three times a day every day that weekend. On Sunday we were treated to a proper band (if by proper band you allow for a geriatric tambourine player who approached the stage with a walker). They performed a fairly catchy song about the lead singer’s ‘daddy’ written from the perspective of his mother with the chorus being, seriously, “he killed two people and raped me.” But at least there were some stellar workout views:
The outdoor music scene in Cairns wasn’t the only one needing assistance. In Sydney and Brisbane Sam and I hadn’t really been presented with the opportunity to “go out”. Cairns was warm and lined with seedy bars and we decided it was time to have a night. You technically shouldn’t go out to a club in the same dress you took your PhD qualifying exams in, but I had limited options and a pair of ridiculous pink feather earrings that obviously pushed my conservative outfit into slightly edgy/weirdo territory. We started out with white wine that had been warming in our hostel room all day and then sipped awful Jack Daniels from a can in commemoration of my dad’s birthday that weekend.
We went to a bar and then another bar and possibly another but Cairns wasn’t making it easy to have a good time. Finally we stumbled upon Jungle, which lived up to the theme by having a stripper pole made out of rope in the middle of the dance floor and some tacky plastic plants. It also had NO OTHER PATRONS and a DJ who was inclined to play anything we asked him to.
I’m not sure what was playing when we walked in but we had our own private club for a while, dancing to songs from our childhood including Ace of Base which we used to sing to the UPS man that we had a crush on for some reason, before we knew innuendos about packages or stereotypes of bored housewives waiting for a delivery.
By the time some Madonna came on a bachelorette party joined us, which makes me think I’m at least better at packing out a club than the hired DJ. The night went down hill from there as the place filled up with a weird combination of international bros and dreadlocked surfers. Still we kept dancing as the DJ took back control of the musical selection. It quickly descended into the worst hip hop songs of the last decade and a half, but I felt like we had more of a right to dance to this stuff than anyone else in the club since we are at least from New York, as opposed to the Eastern Europeans and rural Australians ‘dancing’ around us.
After 2am our ears were ringing and we decided this was terrible music to go deaf for. We wandered around a bit and found that the bars were closing down because this isn’t New York so we meandered back to our hostel enjoying the drama of late night Cairns and got home quite pleased with ourselves at 3:30 am, look at that- we’d managed to have a night.
Oh yeah! And I went diving and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef and I saw a shark and lots of fish and coral and it was amazing and beautiful and I wanna do it again real soon and my true goal in life is not to be a professor or even a Pilates instructor but actually a mermaid so a diving license might be the next best thing.