FEB 18 // DAY 20

Good thing I checked my phone when I woke up–our flight to Cairns was delayed by about two hours, which made fore a much more leisurely morning than anticipated. On our way to drop off the stupid rental car at the stupid rental car company–East Coast Rentals, remember not to rent from them–we stopped in at Jackson Dodds for some breakfast. Highly recommend both the acai bowl and the green eggs. Top notch.

The three hour flight was pleasant, even with the chatterbox kid a few seats over. His stream of consciousness was a delightful reminder of what it’s like to be ten and headed on vacation. As the plane descended toward the runway, we marveled at the lush rainforests on the hills and deep blue coastline. Obviously, Cairns was going to be very different from Melbourne.

First order of business was a hostel. After grabbing our car–Hertz is great, use Hertz, do not use East Cost Rentals–we checked in to Jazz Cairns. Dingy, cheap and right on the main strip, it was filled to the brim with travelers like us, all eager to see the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is a great little town, with a bustling nightlife and giant public pool next to the ocean. Apparently the water park was constructed to encourage drunk people to take a dip there instead of joining the crocodiles and poisonous jellyfish in the lagoon. Well done, city planners. Cairns also has a lively community of fruit bats–also known as flying foxes–that filled the skies at dusk with their shrill screeches. Impressive sight and sound. Highly recommend.

We booked a snorkeling tour on SeaQuest for the following morning. After cranking up the A/C in our tiny dorm room, we went to sleep early in preparation for our 8 am departure.