Cairns, Australia -or- Cans, Straya

It is spelled like Cairns, Australia… but with an Australian accent it’s pronounced like “Cans, Straya”. At our last night in New Zealand, in Christchurch, we talked to some other kids there. When we told them where we were going next, we weren’t sure how to pronounce it in a Kiwi accent! “Tomorrow, we’re going to Australia, to a place called Cans… Cairns…”. They weren’t too sure what we were talking about. When we spelled it out for them, they said “Oh, you mean Keens!”.

On January 23rd, we arrived in Cairns, in Queensland Australia, for our shortest leg of the trip so far (tied with Seattle/Oregon): only nine days! Our main reason for visiting Cairns was to see the Great Barrier Reef, which most of you would know of as the setting for Finding Nemo. No, we weren’t planning on visiting all of Australia – It’s huge! Since we had nine days there, and only one day on the reef, we had some time around Cairns.
It was stinkin’ hot, 36 degrees Celcius. Luckily, we found a hostel with air conditioning and a pool for a good price! Even better: the pool had a slide, so Jake and I spent many hours there, to cool off.
Some things I’ve noticed about Cairns:
-It’s very multicultural. There are lots of Australian Aborigine, Asian people, islanders from Torres Strait, Papua New Guinea and South Pacific, and people of European descendence
-It’s a mid-sized city of around 150 000 people
-Every night, thousands of flying foxes take to the sky, giving off a great show!


Here’s something we did in Cairns that you cannot do in any other country: trying the didgeridoo! This is an instrument invented by the Aborigine, made from a hollow tree, that you blow into in a special way to make an awesome sound! Not so easy though… you have to master “circular breathing” to get that continuous sound. Trevor, the owner of the didgeridoo shop, is half Aborigine, and very in touch with his culture. He is very happy to teach anyone about not only the didgeridoo, but also his culture, traditions, and how this great instrument fits in with all that.

A hostel we stayed at had some didgeridoos and after some practice we actually sounded pretty good!

One thing that Cairns has really figured out is how to make use of their waterfront. Sadly, in northern Queensland, you can’t swim at beaches because of crocodiles, jellyfish and sharks. But in Cairns, the waterfront or “Esplanade” is the place to be. It’s great for everyone who loves exercise. There is a trail stretching 2 kms where you see lots of people running and walking. There are even little outdoor weight gyms that anyone can use for free!

The municipality of Cairns is really focused on getting everyone active and healthy so you can take free drop in exercise classes on the Esplanade every day.

Aussies are known for loving their barbecues. Yes, there are multiple free BBQs with picnic tables, so throw another shrimp on the barbie!
The very best part about the Esplanade is a HUGE swimming pool they call The Lagoon. It’s so unique because one of the sides is actually sand, like a beach! There are deep parts, shallow parts, so there’s plenty of room for everyone.

The lagoon is well used of course. What other activity can you do in Cairns without melting?


In South America, we somehow arrived at every place during their annual Fiesta. Well, continuing that trend, January 26th is Australia Day, their national day, also the last day of summer holidays for the kids (keep in mind, it’s the southern hemisphere, January is summer). It was a great day for everyone to be at the Lagoon, having a swim, cooking on the barbecue, eating some street food and taking in the live music. Which was awesome! The band was called Busby Marou, an Australian band. The lead guitarist was probably the best I’ve ever seen, they were upbeat and great performers. Thomas Busby is white, and Jeremy Marou, the guitarist, is from Torres Strait.


Even though you can’t swim at the beach, there are still lots of great things to do in Cairns!


One thought on “Cairns, Australia -or- Cans, Straya”

  1. Way cool, Kaia! The shot of you shooting a cosmic arc of water is amazing. You should photoshop that into a psychedelic (or perhaps entheogenic) multi-hued yin-yang. Groove some water, fire and wow together. SPLASH !


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