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From Airlie Beach to Cairns

Magnetic Island and Full Moon Party which we didn't get to (more precisely, we were kicked out), Roman invasion to Australia and arrival to Cairns

So we (me and Helen) are in Cairns. The final destination for the typical East Coast road trip and appropriately to that a huge party place. Yet another. This is where all the East Coast backpacking pilgrims arrive to and either leave Australia or head off to the Outback.

But first things first, so let’s start with Magnetic Island.
From Airlie Beach we didn’t get far on our first day, just around 3,5 hours from there to Townsville, from where we took a ferry to Magnetic Island, small island just off the shore. As Helen didn’t see any Whitsunday Island (I persuaded her that it was not really worth it in this weather/season) she wanted to see at least some other island and Magnetic Island seemed to be nice and cheap place to get to, so I gladly agreed to go and check it out there. As we found out just when we arrived to Townsville, that day was the day of “Australia’s only Full Moon Party”, which takes place on Magnetic Island. These Full Moon parties are always big thing in Southeast Asia, and obviously someone tried to copy their success here in Oz. We were really excited, expecting one of those hip, weed-propelled, oh-so-Asian beach parties.
Unfortunately accommodation near the party was all booked out, including camping and as we left our car on the mainland, our sleeping options were limited to a single option: sleeping in a tent somewhere in a bush near the party. Helen’s ex-travel-mates actually made it to Magnetic Island so we shortly met them there.
And now the party. Ehm. It was not quite what we expected, but anyway we didn’t even manage to get there :-) It turned out that the entry to the party was 35 dollars and the party was obviously just another primitive MTV dance music party, just located near the beach. Oh and I forgot to mention, it was not full moon at all! Looking at the party we decided that we are not going to pay 35 dollars for that shit and we tried to secretly sneak in through the beach, which was completely hopeless, because the place was totally flooded by security guys. One of them of course saw us and kicked us out and said that he was supposed to take us directly to the police which was waiting just outside (which was true, we saw them) for trespassing, but since he was such a kind hearted man :-) he only kicked us out and told us that if he sees us around we will be marched straight into loving arms of the police. We later even tried to pay for the tickets, but we were persone non grate and there was no chance to get it. And we also lost our alcohol, which we quickly dropped on the beach when we saw the security guy approaching us when we were sneaking in. So without permission to go in and without alcohol or any other mind altering substances we gave it up, I went to sleep at midnight, Helen maybe 1 hour later. Cool Full Moon Party, huh? :-) Honestly, I didn’t regret it at all, I’m glad I saved 5 dollars and did not go to that shitty and dull dance party.
In the morning, as everyone was asleep, we sneaked into the place (this time successfully), cooked there our breakfast and went to the other side of the island. Well, Magnetic Island IS beautiful! Nice sandy bays fringed by attractive rocks, it was somewhere between look-and-feel-of-Seychelles (without the amazing color of ocean though, the water was quite murky and I was afraid of crocs) and Joshua Tree National Park by the sea. Finally, some really naturally beautiful place on the East Code! I like.
Just after we left the beach and headed for a bus to take us back to ferry we met some guys that we had met the night before outside the party and Helen who was desperately and unsuccessfully looking for some weed the night before asked them if they have some weed for sale. And they did. But instead of selling it, they told her that they would give to her for free, if she danced on the beach for one song (and as we already knew, their playlist was composed of the gloriously trashy 90’s dance floor music). And so they played one of the 90’s classics “Sing Hallelujah!”(not to be confused with Leonard Cohen’s/Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah) and Helen did her dance (just in case you wonder, no she was not naked, she was dressed) and got her weed. When she finished I told her: “Do you realize that you just danced for drugs? Your mom would be surely proud of you :-)”.

After going back to the mainland from Magnetic Island we arrived for the night to Mission Beach, tiny beach-town, slightly alternative, but only very slightly, because it was too small to have any distinct character. In this funky little place we headed straight to a bar (the only bar) and suddenly we happened to be surrounded by Roman Empire. It was toga party, so the bar was full of Caesars, Cleopatras and Roman plebs :-) Helen met her soul sister, one of those dreadlocked Earth-mothers in their 50’s, she spotted “love of her life” just to find out that her to-be-husband was actually interested in some fat trashy blonde instead of her and we met couple of interesting people (no 20 year old German backpackers this time!) but nothing super exciting happened anyway and the next day we arrived to Cairns, checked into cute little hostel bit outside the center and did basically nothing for the next 2 days.

Cairns is not completely bad, but it’s not very good either. Wide, tropical streets, party atmosphere all around, but only bits and pieces of character. And a slightly tacky promenade, called Esplanade. No beach. But there’s a huge open air swimming pool, or “lagoon”, as they call them here in Australia (do those guys know at all, what is lagoon???)
For me the main reason to go to Cairns at all was to go to a snorkeling/diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef, but weather still sucked and so I booked the trip only for end of the week and until then we decided to go to Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation, literally the end of the road on the East Coast…

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak