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Arriving in Cairns and Discovering the Woolshed

22 October 2012 No Comment

Tuesday 22nd March 2011 – Cairns, Australia

Most people who have visited Cairns through the hostel networks will be familiar with the Woolshed, and it’s offering of a good night out for everyone, and the possibility of free food through some hostels. It’s a place where many backpackers wind up in the evening, either to stay the night through or to move on after. Today I would be discovering the Woolshed for myself, but I had to get to Cairns first.

My morning began early as I tip-toed my way out of the dorm room in Banana Bender Backpackers Brisbane, dragging my belongings behind me out the door and into the hallway. Being so early, needless to say everyone was still sound asleep. I have always hated early mornings, even whilst travelling. I am not the sort of person to sleep in on any day of the week, yet I hate waking up before being ready to wake up, if that makes any sense.

Once in the hallway I took a short while to check all my things and to make myself confident I had everything. Having sorted it all out the previous night I felt assured of this, and I only had to brush my teeth and rinse my face in water before heading out the hostel to where my airport shuttle would hopefully be waiting. It wasn’t!

After what seemed like an age, the shuttle finally arrived and we set off to the airport. At one particular stop along the way, the passenger we were picking up from another hostel failed to show up for many minutes. The driver parked his bus in the middle of a narrow road, blocking all traffic, and walked into the building to locate the guests. A long while later they all emerged from the building, the passengers looking very flustered indeed. It turns out their alarm didn’t wake them, and they were all still in bed. This was music to my ears!, and I started to panic about missing my flight.

We arrived at the airport in time and the whole process was painless, though I was singled out for a random spot check as I often am. I must have a guilty looking face as I always seem to be searched, even whilst travelling with friends or family. Anyway, once on the flight I could finally relax and take in the sights. A crying baby banished any real hope of sleep, but it mattered little as the islands below were not to be missed. Parts of the Great Barrier Reef were visible from my small window, and the sea looked a shade of blue that I have only previously dreamt of.

Castaways Backpackers in CairnsThe plane touched down in Cairns and I was greeted by a guy who then took me to the hostel. The guy was cool and made me feel welcome. As the hostel was fairly near to the airport we were there in no time. I was pleasantly surprised to find a girl working in the reception of Castaway’s Backpackers who is originally from my home town in England. Upon entering my new room I was immediately struck with just how warm it was. In fact, Cairns in general was a lot warmer than I had experienced up until now, but I liked it. There were no bunks in the rooms and air conditioning was an option, all plus points.

I took myself into the main part of town to see what Cairns had to offer, and liked what I saw. The Lagoon looked a lot of fun and the numerous gift shops and restaurants along the water front gave off a real touristy vibe, but I had no problem with this.

In the evening myself and most of the other guests were given a night out at the Woolshed in town. A free meal was offered as well as cheap drinks and a quiz with prizes. Spaghetti bolognaise was the meal, and although it wasn’t really up to much, it was nice not having to buy something for myself. And anyway, backpackers are used to mediocre meals, aren’t we? There were other meals on offer for a small price and I am sure I will try these at some point.

The evening was fun and gave us all a chance to get to know each other, and to have a few drinks. The walk back to the hostel was lengthy, but necessary, as the lift from the hostel was only one way. We saw a lot of local Aboriginal people sleeping on park benches or in shop doorways, and this upset me a little. There doesn’t appear to be a good relationship between the Aboriginal people and the white community, and being uneducated myself, I couldn’t form an accurate opinion. All I knew was that there were a large number of people sleeping rough, and I never like to see this.

The evening was still very warm, and a sticky night trying to sleep was to follow, but I already had a good feel for the place, and if I am to stay here a while then I am sure I will find plenty to do.

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Written by Daniel Stevens,
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