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Aladdin’s move from Arabia to Aus.

  • Posted by Jojo Page
  • August 5, 2011 2:52 AM AEST
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Now, this is not an advert for the premier of a new glittering night club on the humble Gold Coast. “Aladdin’s  giving you and your friends a night more exotic than Arabia itself!” Instead this is a reference to Australia’s own answer to a natural treasure chest - Cairns.

Like any precious jewel it does come at a price, and that silent ‘R’ does make pronunciation ambiguous. But once you’ve found the right native who has won that internal battle of ‘can I correct them without sounding like an arse’ (as opposed to silently cringing like others listening to your holiday plans); it is worth every moment of ignorance.

Sitting at the top of the east coast, Cairns is where the rainforest meets the reef. My own trip to the jungle started with two day ‘On the Wallaby’ tour. Unlike previous get aways where your first day might include a much needed ‘reccy’ of the hotel pool - myself and other wide eyed tourists were taken straight into the belly of the jungle’s theatre.

I am in full defence that England’s strident and steely ever-green forests are quite beautiful, but the drapery of emerald vines that the rain forest has to offer is beyond comparison. It still leaves me marvelling at the fact that this green oasis can co-exist on the same surface as London’s stuffed and snaking underground. To have to edge away on the path that you walk from amber backed beasts watching you from the safety of their sticky webs. I am a committed arachnophobe but mixed with your fear there is a certain thrill that you are living and breathing in the canopies along with millions of other species that had previously only existed in your TV screen. Every grain of my trip was as exotic as the rain forest promises, even down to the facts that the fun-filled tour guides laden us with. I had to be careful that enamoured listening didn’t leave us clawed by the hooks of the ‘gimpy gimpy’ vines - as Australia’s founder Captain Cook was victim to.

Perhaps, like mine, your day might be racing silent platypus’ in canoes, or maybe start with ‘and this morning girls I thought we’d mountain bike up to the Tablelands’ (so named as the reaching planes of this astounding view could easily be matched to the hungry stretch of a colossal jade table.) From the easy Cairns a further bus trip took me to the intrepid Cape Tribulation where I was finally thankful for the boots I’d lugged around with me, making ‘jungle surfing’, cutting through the canopies by zip wire a possibility. 

The other half of Cairns is the barrier reef. How many times in your life can you disguise with another traveller which is more colourful, a blue starfish or a piece of coral? Or be joined suddenly from the ominous yet calming blue, by a docile sting ray? Or even try to mask your unneeded fear of a small shark skimming along below you on the pale sands? I think that the most amazing thing is just how casual all those who live in Cairns are about the fact that all this lies just outside their front door. And how accessible it is for gaping tourists such as myself to witness nature’s charm themselves by just hopping on a boat, or joining a tour! So I urge you to go and see for yourself! Flying carpets may not yet be at man-kind’s finger tips, but this world wonder is available to all.      

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