Porcupyn's Blog

June 6, 2017

Wet in Cairns

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 8:30 am

The next morning, our first full day in Australia, it was raining by the time we stepped out, right about six am packing everything back into the car. We were not planning to return to that Airnb, instead driving straight to Kuranda from the wharf. Though the wharf was not too far, our unfamiliarity with the roads coupled with rain and the left-side driving resulted in us taking more time than necessary to get there. When we got there and parked in the closest public parking spot which is located under Shangri-La hotel (the name of which I’ve forgotten and need to google).

After all the hurrying around, we were very early here (better that than late for sure!), so we got to cool our heals and worry about the rainy weather. I had emailed Compass Cruises a while back to find out what the chances of cancellation were and had been informed that the weather was usually good that time of the year and we should not have any issues. WRONG!

By the time the check-in time for the cruise neared, we walked out to the wharf to the area where we were supposed to board the boat. The walkway was a bit slick with the rain – luckily, none of us had a fall. Right around 7:45 or so, the folks started letting us board. And immediately they warned us that the seas were a bit rough that day (30 knots they said, I believe) and if we wished, they would be willing to rebook us for a future trip. We obviously were S.O.L.; however there were a couple of passengers who took them up on their offer. Had I known what was in store for us, I might have cancelled as well (or maybe not, as we were not going to get our money back anyway!).

The plan was to have coffee/tea before the boat left, then the crew would prepare lunch that we would have on the way out once we were docked. We would be taken to two different barrier reef sites to snorkel (Baab, Katya, and I planned to do this activity) and scuba dive (those who wanted to do this were not permitted to fly within 24 hours – so we had not purchased this option).

When the boat got underway, it was a very friendly and festive atmosphere in spite of the gloomy weather. The clouds were hanging so low that we could barely see the mountains surrounding Cairns. The sheltered harbour area was also seeing some wave action, though nothing to be worried about. The crew informed us that we might be better off if we took some motion-sickness tablets that they could sell to us. Just like most of the passengers, we declined to do so (how naive!!).

Fifteen minutes into the trip, it was obvious that the boomnetting was not going to happen. The boat was lurching up and down with the waves. We were all staggering around like drunk sailors. However, with a hint of the sun and beautiful scenery all around us, it was fun to stand out on the open deck.

Half an hour in, passengers started to experience the seasickness. Crew started passing around barf bags. I was still a brave “not out” batsman and was so proud of my seaworthiness. Fifteen minutes later, my cookie crumbled. I felt a really weird feeling in the stomach and burp – out it came. I put my barf bag to good use.

Soon after this, we anchored at the first spot. By this time, the lack of sunshine and the winds that were gusting around made us all cold. The crew informed us that it was time for us to get into our snorkeling (or Scuba) gear to go out and jump off the boat. They were even handing out swim noodles [in hindsight, I don’t remember if there were any kids on the boat other than ours. Most other passengers were staying in Cairns for a few days at least, not just the one like us] to help us with the rough weather. Though the crew said that getting in the water would help tide over the seasickness, I had to sadly decline – I was in no position to go swimming, clean bowled by the weather now! Katya was not interested either. So, Baab was our sole representative in the water.

After a few minutes anchored at this first site, I staggered out to the deck and emptied out once again – this time onto the sea. Guess what? That was a good decision, as I got to see fish, small and large, competing with one another to lap up the past contents of my stomach!!

Once I came back in, I must’ve appeared very sick indeed. I lurched to an empty seat and set my butt down. I barely got up for the rest of the trip. Baab declined to snorkel at the second snorkelling site as well.

By the time we got back to the wharf, it was about five pm. We felt sorry for the crew who had to slug it out in the bad weather and because we could not enjoy the trip as much as they would’ve wanted us to.

Now, one of the reasons we had planned to visit Cairns first was so that I could get used to driving on the left side of the road in a smaller less-trafficked community before venturing to drive in the Melbourne area and on the Great Ocean Road. Thankfully, though I was still a bit woozy from the seasickness, the drive to Kuranda from Cairns was exactly what I needed to get my bearings straight. The road was nice and scenic and there were not a whole lot of cars that time of the day, even though it was the rush hour there as well. A few kilometers from Cairns, the road to Kuranda left the main north south highway and started climbing into the mountains. This was good for me because a) the speed limits were lower and b) there was only one lane per direction.

By the time we got to our destination (thanks to Baab’s smartphone which he had stored the Kuranda map on), night had descended upon us though it was still only around 6:30 pm. Steve’s Airbnb – the Grand Barron Lodge – in Kuranda was like heaven when compared to the one we had stayed the previous night. Steve himself, an expat from the US, was a great host who was really helpful to us that evening – and the next morning as well. His dog Frankie was so adorable. Katya and Baab enjoyed playing with her, as did I. If there is one thing I miss the most about Australia, it is staying at Steve’s place.


At entrance to Marlin Wharf


Our boat - Compass Cruise


The choppy churny sea

Choppy seas and low clouds


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