I have always been fascinated listening to people who have visited the town of Cairns, situated in the north east of Queensland, Australia. It is a great favourite for tourists and backpackers but according to Cairns Regional Council it is also ‘The only place in the world where two World Heritage areas meet – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest’. Although I had no official meetings planned further north than Brisbane I was intrigued to see this for myself, so I took myself off to Cairns. And I was not disappointed.
My room was about 20 minutes walk from the town centre. I walked along the esplanade everyday with its magnificent view out to the Pacific Ocean. There were always plenty of seagulls to see during the day and at night you could see and hear the fruit bats. A group of pelicans seem to occupy the same spot on the water (or the sand when the tide was out) day and night. The frightening thing for me was the warning sign on the esplanade walk!
It was only a 45-minute walk to the Botanic Gardens, which was really worth the visit. The entry is free, which is good, because you can spend a few days looking at everything. It was so interesting seeing trees and plants that I’d never even heard of before.
I also took a trip to the Daintree Rainforest. This is the oldest wet tropics rainforest in the world and has been a world heritage area since 1988, which has protected it from deforestation and building sites. It is home to some rare plants and animals. Information online states that some of the trees are over 3000 years old. Amazingly, I did manage to see some salt water crocodiles, a Ulysses butterfly and from Port Douglas a turtle swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough with my camera.
I had mixed feelings about visiting the Great Barrier Reef, but was able to choose a company that have environmental protection high on their agenda. We were told not to use sun tan lotion as this has been proven to be harmful to coral reefs. Instead we were issued with protective suits. It was a strange feeling swimming ‘in the middle of nowhere’ in the Pacific Ocean, but very worthwhile indeed.
Whilst there I became a member of the ‘Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef’. This is a social movement, which aims to engage the world in the future of this World Heritage area.
Spending time in this area has made me realise just how fragile our environment is and how delicate the balance is of, on the one hand, creating strong economic economies i.e. through tourism and on the other hand, protecting the environment.
Next stop, Melbourne 🙂