This was my first visit to Cairns, and it turned out to be amazing. My photographer Joe Termulo and I didn't know what to expect, but with the help of Continental Airlines and the Tourism Tropical North Queensland, we were able to experience some of the most intense adventure activities ever. Tropical North Queensland sales and marketing manager for Guam and Japan Lisa Monks says the climate and population in cairns are very similar to Guam.
"The population is around 174,000 people," she explained, "And I think that's very similar to the population you have on Guam. But we're more spread out. While you have a small island, we're a bit spread out but the population is the same. It's very similar in climate but in also the amount of people that we have here."
During our trip, we visited Cairns during their winter time when the days were at 28 degrees (that's Celcius) and the nights drop to 17 and 18 degrees. If you're looking to get away from busy days at work and want to plan a family vacation, you could hop on a Continental flight from Guam to Cairns, and it'll only take you four hours to get there.
Said Monks, "You leave Guam at 6:30 in the evening and you arrive at Cairns at about 11 o'clock at night. You'll get to the hotel by midnight. You'll have a good sleep and you have the rest of the days ahead of you. It's the perfect time to travel, I believe."
We slept overnight at the Rydges Hotel and before we knew it, we were up at the crack of dawn for a full day of adventure. We headed to the Esplande, where we ran into a few animals you normally wouldn't see on Guam. Sure, we have brown tree snakes but pythons are not just snakes you see on a regular basis.
Sheila Murphy from the Cairns Tropical Zoo held a two-year-old snake that can grow much larger in the years ahead. She said, "They get twice this size in width and probably about another couple of feet longer. They can be quite large."
Then of course, there's the koala. Jasmin Juvet says koalas can live an entire lifespan without drinking water. They sleep for 21 hours a day and are awake for three. They can live up to 16 years and they only eat eucalyptus leaves. "He's a northern koala so he's only relatively small because he's only young. He's only about 4 or 5 kilos, but he'll get to about 8 kilos. The koalas down south, they'll get to about 16 kilos when they're full grown," said Juvet.
And then there are crocodiles, which can turn up in the beaches and the rivers in Australia. Evan creek from the zoo says they're remarkable animals. "They can hold their breaths for over three hours and that's a good thing and they only need to eat about 2 kilos of meat a week when they're an adult. So they're a lovely creature," said Juvet.
Next we took a drive to the freshwater station to ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Sales and marketing manager Susan Crockford says the village of Kuranda highlights the indigenous culture as well as the natural beauty filled with native birds. "You'll be traveling through the Barran Gorge National Park, which is World Heritage listed. You'll see some beautiful waterfalls along the way and there's a ten-minute stop at Barran Falls, it's the largest waterfall. You'll be able to get off for ten minutes and take photographs."
The scenic view was just spectacular. Just when I thought we saw it all, we made a stop at the Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve. We saw even more animals, from bears and a large rhinoceros to lions. The Cairns Wildlife Safari currently has 24 lions. Two of them were sedated upon our visit, getting root canals.
Imagine standing right in front of a lion, with its teeth less than 2 feet away. It was a pretty eerie feeling. And if you think a lion is pretty intimidating, imagine how I felt when coming upon a cheetah. They needed volunteers to feed her and I knew it would make great footage. So here I am feeding her knowing that any sudden movement would get me in some sort of trouble. Keep in mind that these animals can run up to 100-120 kilometers per hour, and hunt down their prey immediately.
After the wildlife safari, we boarded the Skyrail Rainforest Cable Way, which took us through the tropical rainforest canopy and deep into the forest. My photographer and I wanted to catch a better view, so we rode an open space gondola, giving us a very intimate view of the lush, green trees. Guide ranger Evan Tandy says the area is known for its climbing palms, saying, "They can grow well over 100 meters, penetrating through the canopy. They climb using a series of sharp hooks and that's how they catch a hold of other plants for support."
After a long day of sightseeing, we settled into our rooms at the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel, and got ready for a nice dinner near the esplanade and a night concert featuring very talented Australian artists.
In the next part of our series, we hit the sky for a hot air balloon ride.