We didn’t anticipate spending any time in Cairns, but after the campervan fiasco we were forced to spend 3 nights there before heading south in Queensland. We decided to make the best of it, despite the heat and ended up finding a couple of gems. Our first find was the Lilly Pad Café, a mostly vegetarian restaurant with a chef/owner from the USA. We ended up eating three lunches there, each day trying something new and each day enjoying it as much as the last!
We spent a little time at the sea front lagoon, a nice place to cool down since the ocean was possibly full of deadly jellyfish and was off limits. Another great find was the Green Ant Cantina, a little Mexican restaurant open for dinner that also recently began brewing their own beer. Two great things in our book! The owner was great and we spent the night chatting with him, learning more about Australia, as well as the fact that he had spent nearly 13 years in the states. While in Cairns we also found shelter from the heat by seeing a movie at the theater, something we very rarely do. We enjoyed some popcorn and the movie Captain Philips.
The nice folks from Sun City Rentals picked us up from our hotel on our last morning and took us to our new Calypso Campervan. It was almost the same layout at the van we had in New Zealand and (hopefully) 100 times better than the Spaceship! We were on our way again!
Our first stop after Cairns was Townsville where we spent a night and checked out their rock pool right off the beach. Another nice spot to cool down before heading down the coast to Airlie Beach where we would spend two nights.
While in Airlie Beach we took a trip out through the Whitsunday Islands. Chances are if you’ve seen a picture of Australia, you’ve seen a picture of the Whitsundays! This beautiful spot is made up of over 70 islands and is a well known place for sailing. We took a day cruise through the islands leaving bright and early. Stopping for the morning at Whitehaven Beach and then spending the afternoon on Daydream island at the resort. It was a nice relaxing day spent swimming in both the ocean and the pool before returning to Airlie just in time for dinner. That night we were in for a weather change! We went to sleep to thunder, lightening and lots of rain.
The next day we headed to Rockhampton. We had rain again just as we arrived and were very thankful for the drop in temperature! We visited the Rockhampton Zoo, another AMAZING free zoo! It was our first chance to see LIVE Australian animals, after only seeing road kill since we arrived. It was a great zoo and looks like it is only going to get better with expansions and renovations taking place.
Our next stop heading south in Queensland was the sleepy town of 1770. Not really a town, but a great beach campground where we saw an amazing red sunset. Didn’t get our cameras out in time, but trust us it was amazing! After leaving 1770 we took a pit stop in Bundaberg to tour a rum distillery. Neither of us had been to a distillery and found the process very interesting. Our tour ended with 2 drinks each from the little bar, where we were able to taste some of the different rums we had just learned about. All in all a pretty good stop. After a quick lunch we were back on the road headed to Noosa, our stop for the night.
Noosa seemed like a great town, one we would love to vacation in. Unfortunately since we weren’t vacationing we didn’t stay at a beachfront hotel or try any of the amazing restaurants! Instead we headed to a campground outside of town and chatted with a nice couple from Switzerland before turning in for the night.
We got up nice and early the next morning and headed to the Eumundi Markets. We were lucky to hit the area on a Wednesday since the market was in full swing. We walked through stalls and stalls of people selling all kinds of arts and crafts, clothes and more! We didn’t buy anything, but we did sample lots of street food including Thai egg rolls, Dutch pancakes, Tibetan dumplings, iced coffee and fresh mango juice.
With full bellies we continued south to Caloundra. We found another great beach side campground with a view of the water. We took our books down to the beach and relaxed for a bit, even taking a dip in the ocean (no deadly jellies this far south) before checking out the Surf Lifesavers Club for a beer. This club, similar to an Elks lodge in the states, offers low cost food and drinks at many of their locations and are open for out of town visitors to enjoy. The clubs typically have prime ocean front views. We walked back to camp for dinner, very excited about our next day at the Australian Zoo (home of the Irwins).