This winter's we are again enjoying a "second summer", below the
equator. The notion of spending these two months in Australia and New
Zealand seemed to promise adventure, excitement and comfort not to be
found in the long, cold and dark Maine winters .
We begin (after a grueling nearly 24 hours of flying) in Cairns. It's pronounced "Cans" - there it is - on the very upper East coast just below Cooktown on the map. It's in the Australian state of Queensland. (one of the six states in Australia.)
We are in the tropics - being so close to
the equator . Indeed, Cairns is world famous for its tropical rainforest
and the Great Barrier Reef - both World Heritage sites. Crowds flock here for these natural wonders.
But the heat and humidity of this time of year can be a challenge for
those of us from the temperate zones. With temperatures often in the
90's and humidity about as high; mid-day finds most of us inside- either
in the huge new public library or almost any place with air
conditioning. It's those other times in the AM and PM where we explore,
walk, swim and socialize.
This country's very existence
and character resulted from the sort of hardy and spirited soles who
came here for a new life - a new opportunity.
Cairns is a tourist town if there ever was one. Tour outfits hawking trips - trips to the rain forest, trips to the reef, trips to the Tablelands, trips to the zoo, trips by train, trips by bus, trips by helicopter, trips by skyrail, trips by van and taxi... Why, there are so many outfits in town calling themselves "The Information Center" it is a challenge to find the only single official center because many of the commercial agents are bigger.
But, there is excitement in the air. With virtually everyone being a tourists there is this great anticipation that we will all have a good time - and we do.
In this vintage image we see a group of bushmen hired as sugarcane cutters in the then fledging industry. The text said they lasted only a few weeks because the work cut into their pleasure time. Such are things still today..
Even the public market is a fun social event, the sign says besides the flowers says the farmer is giving away free kittens and here another sign describing just what a terrific deal their honey is.
town has gone to great lengths to make their waterfront attractive. The
entire shoreline is one big park - over a mile long with very modern
facilities like a children's water park with squirting fountains, there
is an enormous and challenging skateboard and stunt bike park. There are
numerous four station gas barbecues. There are tennis courts, two way
bike trails, wading pools, a wide walkway with exercise and stretching
stations the entire length of the shore. Many public restrooms and
benches make this a popular place for everyone - locals and tourists.