Cairns

Our last day of our latest adventure started with our last bowl of tropical Mangoes and Bananas with yoghurt. We were all packed and said our goodbyes to the house we had called home for the last week. The road out of Port Douglas was a road we hoped we would drive again in near future, we had found another place in Australia we truly loved. We hit the highway south and had a couple of stop to make along the road to Cairns, the first a small beach we had seen on the drive north. The small beach, just south of Wangetti, was a spot obviously visited by tourists often. At one point the beach would have been cover in pebbles ranging in size but now they were all stacked in perfect piles and the beach was back to sand. We made our way through the maze of rock piles down to where there were still free rocks and built a pile of our own each to add to the unique magic of this spot.


Our next spot was a small touristy spot in the northern suburbs of Cairns, Palm Cove. The town had a beautiful esplanade with golden sand beaches and plenty of shops and cafes. We quickly checked out a couple of shops and stopped to watch a group of Cockatoo's squabbling on the beach over some fallen fruit while the kids played on the playground. We had accommodation booked in Cairns tonight so headed into town to check in. We had booked in for one night at the Cairns Colonial Resort before we left Northern Queensland early in the morning. We let the kids choose the resort and they chose the one that showed the best water park, complete with slides, pools and spas. They would need to wait till this afternoon before they got to play in the water park as we had somewhere to be at midday, Tjapukai. #Cairnscolonialresort


Tjapukai cultural centre is based next door to some of Cairns' other top attractions, the skyrail departs from next door, taking passengers right the way up into the hills to the Kuranda markets. The skyrail passengers return via gondola, the small gondola's disappeared up into the clouds which were building, it felt like rain and we didn't have to wait long until the clouds delivered. On the other side of the cultural centre was the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum, a group of small tanks sat outside its front gates to welcome visitors but this attraction would have to be on our next time through town. The clouds really began to build and soon so did the thunder and lightning. The gondola's came to a screeching halt as soon as the storm hit, we wondered how many people were going to be sitting at the top waiting for the storm to pass. The rain waited until we had entered the doors to the cultural centre before really opening up, the sound of the heavy rain echo'd throughout the building. If you have never been to Tjapukai, the reception building is massive and the surrounding grounds are really well thought out and luckily constructed to handle the northern weather. We started our tour by viewing some of the indigenous art that was on display and made our way into the theatre to watch the Tjapukai creation story live show.


The weather must have scared everyone else off as we were the only people on the theater, it felt like a private viewing. The creation story of the Tjapukai revolves around the two seasons, wet and dry. A familiar spirit in the form of the Rainbow Serpent also plays a vital part in this amazingly played out performance, which we were lucky enough to enjoy by ourselves. A theatre built to hold 100 people and the applause of only four for these great performers, we were invited to the next show which was about to start. We crossed over a large man made lake in the middle of the grounds, the covered walkway definitely was being used to its full capacity today. The next show was to be held in the outdoor theatre, this theatre was built to hold hundreds of people. It was fully roofed and the sound of the rain echo'd through. We were once again the only people brave enough to be out during the storm and just before the show started the rain began to die down. We were treated once again to a private viewing of Indigenous dance and music. The show concluded with a fire lighting ceremony and we were invited up to participate, being the only people in the crowd helped with us getting picked. We used the traditional method of rubbing two sticks together, we got a quick run down from the pro's and then they let us try our luck. Unfortunately, we wouldn't have survived if we were lost in the bush but the moral of the story is keep a lighter with you. We blamed the weather and let the pro's show us how it was done.


The weather decided to turn back on while we were sitting down for our next demonstration, another front row seat. We got a really good and lengthy discussion about Indigenous Bush Tucker. From which foods to avoid no matter how good they look, to medicinal uses for local plants and even which plants and fruits to eat as a hangover cure. Any and all questions were answered thoroughly despite the weather. We originally were attracted to Tjapukai by the interactive spear and boomerang throwing and instructing but today was not the day for it, we weren't to keen to stand out the torrential rain, thunder and lightening. We sat down for another lengthy discussion about some of the weapons. We covered Boomerangs first, which shaped Boomerangs were good for hunting what animals. Then we moved onto spears which we were told were originally made with crystal quartz heads for their sharp edges. We learnt about the swords and some of the punishments individuals received for crimes. I learnt for the first time about the traditional respect of tribal borders and what happened if they weren't honoured, the indigenous battled with sword, spear and shield but not to kill, only to embarrass and gain honour and respect. If you were defeated in battle, that was enough, there was no slaughter, it was only to teach a lesson. The last demonstration was a Didgeridoo show, it started with a long performance and ended with a breakdown of each of the sounds. The laugh of the Kookaburra, the howl of the Dingo and the hop of the Kangaroo and Joey, each have their own distinct sound when played. We were extremely grateful to have been able to experience all of these performances by ourselves, I think they may have shut up shop after we had finished going through everything as the weather really was going all out.


We returned to the reception building for a viewing of an old documentary detailing the treatment of the local indigenous people. The documentary covered their original removal from their tribal lands, to their relocation to an inland mission. The mission was successful for almost 50 years before the government decided to build a dam which was going to flood everything they had built. No protests were heard and the dams construction went ahead, the people were left to fend for themselves. The documentary concluded with the great success stories of some of the local Indigenous peoples and the obvious success that the Tjapukai centre was. We were booked in to return that night for a buffet dinner boasting Kangaroo and Crocodile so we braved the weather once again to return to the resort for some time in the water park. #Tjapukai


Our last night and dinner in Northern Queensland was back at the same amazing venue where we had spent the day. The Tjapukai centre was even more amazing at night and we were joined by a group of around thirty others for dinner and a performance. The evening started with a mixture of local wines and snacks before we were lead out to the amphitheater under the covered walkway that spanned the man made lake. The seats were full this time and the audiences reactions were of awe and amazement as this show is truly authentic and a real treat to not only watch but invited to be a part of. At the end of the show we once again crossed under the covered walkway and we lead to a viewing platform. Our guide talked us through how the traditional spear throwers were used and then lit the end of a spear on fire. He launched the spear over the man made lake and we were hit with a wave of heat as a large bonfire roared to life. The fire was big enough for us to feel its heat from around fifty metres away. We were lead back to the centre for the buffet dinner and one last didgeridoo and dance performance but in much closer quarters. We were in the second row back and the hum of the didgeridoo can really echo through you when played indoors and by a great cultural performer. The Kangaroo and crocodile lived up to their build up and the kids even went back for not only seconds but thirds of the crocodile. It had been slow cooked and marinaded and really was great. The show ended with group photos with the performers and then we were back out into the stormy night.


We had our bags packed and were ready to go at first light but we cant wait for our next adventure in Northern Queensland as there is so much still to explore. Next time we wont be in such a rush. #Aspiringadventurers


- Aspiring Adventurers

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