There are many reasons to go to Cairns but let’s be honest here, guys. We don’t go to Cairns to stay in Cairns. We go to Cairns because there is a lot to see and do around. But the city itself pretty much has the charm of a plain toast…no offence ;)
The city is packed with big hotels and hostels and of course full of tourists. I lived in Holland for the last six years, so pretty close to Germany. But I can tell ya, I never felt that close to Germany in the last six years as in Cairns. And where there are tourists, there are travel agencies! And nail studios! And tanning places! And big shopping centers! And a big artificial lagoon in the middle of the cities esplanade!
From 5pm there is an inside night market where you can buy “typical ozzie” souvenirs and an Asian food court in the back where “quantity instead of quality” is the name of the game. Having said all of that Cairns is still a pretty good starting point of a road trip with heaps of supermarkets around to stock up supplies, get some camping gear, get a camper and have one last night in a hostel with a real bed, a big kitchen and hot showers.
A short 20km north of Cairns, all the way up in the mountains lies Kuranda - the village in the Rainforest. The way up there is a challenge for every campervan newbie and all carsick people. However, if you ask me it’s well worth the trouble! On the first sight Kuranda seems like just another tourist attraction. Big busses 5 times the size of our van are waiting on the main plaza to collect their senior travel groups from the zoo where you get to cuddle a koala for 30 bugs or buy a didgeridoo for $100.
However on the other side of town we find a small market with small alleys between small crooked wooden houses that is home to what looks like a hippy enclave. The dress code is barefoot and any colour of the rainbow. People get dread locks made in the streets and carry around fruit and veggies in push carts. The smell of incense sticks, fresh waffles and coffee is in the air. People seem super laid back, hanging around their market stalls where they sell their art, crafts, jewelry or clothes. Sipping from a fresh coconut I reckon I could definitely stay here for a couple of days, lying in a hammock, reading a book and not thinking about anything.
To sum up: Kuranda hot, Cairns not.