I was last in this part of the country in (I think) 1995(1); eighteen odd years now. We stayed up at Port Douglas on that trip, and I remember a surprising amount of it: I remember the hour-long coach trip from the airport; I remember snorkelling out on the reef; I remember visiting a wildlife park and getting a bat caught in my clothes; I remember attempting to bike along the beach in to Port Douglas and the wind making it really hard going; I remember catching the sky-rail up to Kuranda; and I remember the four-wheel drive safari we went on… though probably the most memorable part of that, for me, was that we saw some of the places where ‘Ocean Girl’ was filmed. Oh, pre-teens.
Actually, the ‘Ocean Girl’ thing felt really important for good reason. We were living in the US still at this point, and that particular tv show was just about the only ‘Australian’ thing that was easily consumable; it was on cable TV, and I watched it semi-regularly. It made me home-sick, like many things did – which was funny, of course, because I only barely remembered living in Australia by this point. ‘Ocean Girl’ felt like part of my identity as Australian, and that made it important.
For me (I can’t speak for my siblings), it was important to feel like I belonged. By this point in my life, I was happy enough at school and had friends and everything, but I had this mentality that Atlanta wasn’t home, and that it would never be home (none of this, I’ll acknowledge, made news of our move back to Sydney any easier; but that was especially so because of the year that followed this particular trip). Our trips back to Australia and New Zealand were all about belonging for me: they were all about coming home.
It’s funny, but it sort of feels like I still have a thing about going ‘home’, despite the fact that I do live in Sydney, now, and it is home. We revisit a lot of places I’ve been to before. Last year it was Hawaii, a place I’d been to some eleven years previously. Before that, it was New Zealand, twice, and while on both trips we saw things I hadn’t before, we also went to places I had.
And so it is with this trip. We’re staying in Palm Cove rather than Port Douglas, but there are certainly similarities. I’m pretty sure the rainforest safari we’re going on tomorrow is the same one I went on, eighteen years ago… though I strongly suspect I will enjoy it rather more this time (even without the ‘Ocean Girl’ tie in).
Today, however, we went somewhere I hadn’t ever been: Green Island. Green Island is a coral cay (that is, it was formed from dead coral, and is constantly changing in size and shape as a result) roughly 25-30km off the coast of Cairns. It’s a great spot for scuba diving and snorkelling, as well as glass-bottomed boats and semi-submersibles and so on. Rohan had no interest in getting in the water, so we settled on the latter two, plus some walks around the island (and some cocktails over lunch).
We opted against the buffet lunch served on one of the boats that brought us over from the mainland, and I’m glad of it– the smells hanging around on that boat afterward were not terribly appetising. Our lunch, in contrast, was delicious (and yes, the cocktails were too). There’s actual a hotel out on Green Island, and a very exclusive one at that: $600 a night, ouch! It must be beautiful and peaceful at night, though, after all the day tourists have left; it’s an absolutely beautiful spot, if a little too remote and isolated for my tastes. Lunch was delicious… but eating in the same restaurant every day of your holiday would get tiring, at least for me.
The bus that was supposed to deliver us back to our hotel, after we got back to the mainland, forgot to drop off a couple of people, which led to a rather circuitous trip, and rather longer than it needed to be. It was interesting to see some more of the other beachside areas… but we didn’t get home until 6:30, and after leaving home at 9:45, it was, honestly, a very long day. Tomorrow is liable to be even longer, but at least I’m prepared for that.
Rohan is presently cooking dinner, while we listen to a ‘Doctor Who’ audiobook, with all the windows open and a beautiful breeze wafting through. I have no complaints with the world.
1. I want to say it was 1995 because I’m pretty sure it was our last trip back to Australia before we moved back in 1996. I think we went up to Cairns right after our visit to Sydney, and that it was during that visit that my dad found out about the possibility of our move back. I may, of course, be misremembering: this is, after all, nearly 20 years ago. Regardless, I was probably around about 11 at the time. (top)