Wow, what an epic journey 4xfour has been so far!
We’re now in Australia and onto our third continent in just under seven weeks, I can hardly believe the experiences I’ve had on this trip.
We’ve gone from Cape Town in South Africa to Durban, then Johannesburg, onto Bangkok the capital of Thailand, to make Asia our second continent.
From here we hot-footed it to Malaysia where we spent a week in Kuala Lumpur or “KL” as they call it, before heading over to the island of Penang for some down time over Christmas. From there we flew to Cambodia – the poorest and least developed part of Asia I’ve seen, but equally as beautiful.
It's quite hard to get my head around seeing the famous Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap. I had one those “pinch me” moments. Luckily, I’ve had many of them throughout this monumental journey.
After one heck of a journey to – four flights, including a one night stopover in Bangkok, we finally made it to Cairns, northern Australia.
I set out on 4xfour to prove my theory that you could see a huge part of the world in a short space of time – four continents in four months. Now, I write this in Australia, on a five hour train journey from Cairns to Townsville, we are almost half way through our the trip.
And I can say, yes, you can see the world in a short space of time.
I’ve witnessed sights, been to places and eaten things I never thought I would have. I’ve travelled a lot in my 30 years but I'm making this trip a mission to get beyond the façade of places, to truly witness for myself what makes them tick, to chat and spend time with locals. This journey has gone above and beyond my expectations.
I’ve been to Cairns several times before, but it was a first for my fiancé Matt, and he loved it the moment we touched down. He was even greeted by an Aussie who used the term “struth”. He’s been waiting to hear that for real since he first started watching Neighbours twenty years ago (he’ll kill me for revealing that!).
We stopped just one night in Cairns before jumping on a boat to Fitzroy Island – which sits quite majestically on its own in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, about 45 minutes from Cairns marina.
It was exactly the rest and relaxation we needed and I don’t feel guilty admitting that I slept through pretty much all of it. Other than doing some kayaking, a scuba dive and a 40-minute hike to see a lighthouse at the top of a summit, I made the most of catching up on some sleep. I slept everywhere, by the pool, on the beach – even at lunch.
By the second day my whole body ached with exhaustion and I realised this wasn’t down to jet lag. I was giving in every time my eyelids felt heavy, so I ”pulled myself together” like my mum would have said and got on with exploring this great country.
After two days on Fitzroy Island we embarked on a helicopter tour and cruise with Viator, which was magnificent. We caught a helicopter over the Great Barrier Reef then landed on a pontoon out at sea, before boarding a yacht for some snorkelling.
The reef just blows your mind I can tell you!
Coral reefs of all shapes and sizes, colours that quite literally resemble a rainbow line the ocean floor just waiting for people like me to gawp at it. I’ve seen it so many times before, but it never, ever fails to amaze me. And the passion the Aussies have for it is infectious. I was talking to one of the boat hands about how glorious the reef was, when he looked really sad all a sudden, stating that he hadn’t “been out there for, six days” – it was as if his world was incomplete without being in the sea and I had to smile. I get it.
Back on board the cruise, after spending as much time as possible swimming to explore the underwater world I started to feel famished. So I went on board for a lovely lunch of salads, potato salad, bread (oh how I’ve missed thee!) and fresh fruit. I’ve done many a boat trip before, but this one pleasantly surprised me. Oh, and the cheese and wine on the way back to the mainland also helped of course!
It was a memorable experience and one that I’d highly recommend to anyone whose time in Cairns is short and who wants to see as much as possible of one of the world’s greatest marine parks.
Back in Cairns we spent a final night at the lovely and extremely well positioned Mantra Trilogy hotel. It was conveniently located right on the esplanade, a five minute walk to the marina and offered sweeping views of the Cairns coast. The rooms were extremely large – well, they were apartments really, with their own kitchen, laundry room - OMG, an amazing plus, when you’re travelling - and a very comfortable bed.
We departed Cairns on-board the Queensland Rail Network’s Sunlander train to Townsville. The views as we made our way down South were extraordinary and I didn’t feel in the least bit anxious about having to travel yet again. Travelling by train compares well to flying.
The relaxed atmosphere, the spacious seats (yet we were only in economy), the fact that there’s a whole dining cart, which allows a welcomed break from your seat, and again those stunning country views made me, one very happy traveller.
Until next time….