Once we got to Cairns, north of the Tropic of Capricorn, I was well and truly out of my comfort zone. At 34°, it was hot and humid, and I was wilting. As is the case along most of the Queensland coast, swimming in the ocean is not a good idea, with sharks, crocodiles and deadly jellyfish just a few of the things to worry about, but there’s a lovely lagoon that offers respite from the heat.
Apart from the botanical gardens and the excellent walks that start from there, Cairns itself doesn’t offer a great number of distractions.
It mainly serves as a base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding rainforest, but I had been given the good advice to use Port Douglas as a base instead. We stayed two nights in Cairns, waiting for the rest of the Airlie/Fraser crowd, who had by this stage been christened the Goonies, to arrive, then picked up our spacious rental vehicles, played a bit of car boot Tetris, and headed for Port Douglas.