I meant to write a post summing up my time in Cairns before I left, but I never got around to it. Now I’m writing from my tent in Croydon after a 540 km ride, as I get back into the habit like nothing happened.
Ben and I left Cairns early this morning, riding up the Gillies Range (which I had only travelled down during my time in Cairns – don’t ask) to Atherton, where we bumped into a paramedic. I didn’t recognise him without the helmet he was wearing when he stopped to help me minutes after I’d crashed north of Coen. Small world; thought this kind of thing only happened in NZ.
Ben and I made it to Ravenshoe just in time to attend the local Armistice Day Centenary service. We shared a meal, bumped into a motorcyclist from Cairns I met earlier, and then parted ways… dramatically tooting as we rode away from each other.
Now…the last 4 weeks.
I was going to write about how I maintained my fitness by going running, and working out on the monkey bars at The Esplanade.
I was going to write about how I kept myself productive by doing a PADI course on the Great Barrier Reef of all places. Maybe I will, but not here.
I was going to write about how I kept myself occupied by checking out the rainforests, botanical gardens, markets, waterfalls, bars, restaurants, hiking tracks, and tourist attractions -because why not.
I was going to write about the pleasant coincidence of being able to hang out with a friend serving in the Royal NZ Navy, when his ship just happened to dock in Cairns for a couple of days during my time there.
I was going to write about going on first dates wearing jandals and shorts: I’ll probably never write about either first dates, or that choice of attire…
But what I’d most like to commit to writing about is how I never once felt lonely while in Cairns for 4 weeks. As much as I am a fan of solitude, it was refreshing -and perhaps necessary, given the circumstances- to be surrounded by the company I was.
I met locals and travellers from all over, listened to their stories, and got tired telling my own- “I crashed my motorcycle on the way to Cape York in a dusthole – you know what a dusthole is?- and am waiting for insurance to sort my life out/ buy a new bike/ make necessary changes to the new bike. I’ve been here for x days now”.
I befriended 3 Italian guys at the hostel in the last week. Luca, Diago, and Marco are around my age, and passionate motorcycle riders with plenty of riding and touring experience back home. In varying capacities, each of them: helped me make decisions about and modifications to the bike, fed me delicious pasta, responded with “it’s-eh good yeah?” when asked about my humble culinary offerings in the hostel kitchen, joined me for a workout, shared beers and the opinions that naturally follow, spilled dark secrets, climbed a mountain with a cloudy view instead of sunrise, fumbled with and dropped their water bottle on my face from the bunk above me at 0445 am…
There are a few others who made my time in Cairns pleasant. Thanks to: the team at Wayne Leonard Motorcycles in Cairns, Adam at Nitro Motorcycles in Tully, Greg and Laurie at AMAC Motorcycles in Cairns for their patience, professionalism, diligence and love for their work; Gabby and Shay at Dreamtime Hostel for putting up with me; Ben for being incredibly resourceful and supplying the jokes at no charge; members of the motorcycling and 4WD communities from FNQ and around Australia that have been so readily helpful and warmly supportive.
I have a practically new KLR650, and my sights set on Darwin. Cairns has been great. I recommend you go there. I’ll be back.