Australia Day 2015 Cairns

Our Time In Cairns

Cairns 2014-10-11 004

 

Who would have thought that what was supposed to be a short two-month stop in Cairns would drag on for seven months!  The main reason for the extended stay was because we needed to earn some money and fix the Troopy, but another important reason was because we needed to be close to an airport so we could fly back to Melbourne for Dave’s sister’s wedding in April.

 

 

Living in Cairns

With the intention of making contact with some new friends that we met up in Cape York, we arrived in Palm Cove just in time for the Reef Feast Festival.  Symon and Robyne were perfectly hospitable and let us stay at their place, which was a lifesaver while we sorted out more long-term arrangements.

 

 

After a few days, we moved into a hostel on Lake Street, about 3km from the city centre.  We worked for our accommodation – Juz was behind the reception desk while Dave drove the shuttle bus for guests between the airport and town.  As long as we worked 21 hours a week each, we had our private double room paid for, but Juz picked up a job at Subway for some extra cash, and eventually a visit to the emergency room because of a cut thumb.

 

Cairns 2014-11-18 003

 

 

However, after a month of living with scores of partying backpackers from various countries, working irregular hours and missing a clean and tidy kitchen, we moved out into a house down the street.  The rent for the room was affordable on Juz’s wages, the kitchen was tidy and had a gas stove, and our housemates were lovely and quiet.  Unfortunately, with the road to the airport just outside our window, and the flight path for incoming planes overhead, sleeping in was impossible and conversations would occasionally be interrupted by the roar of jet engines.  We also had an alien fungi farm growing under the sink!

 

Cairns 2014-11-24 006

.

 

After a month or two, we were presented with an offer we couldn’t refuse.  Cheap rent of a room with an ensuite for a few household favours meant that we moved away from the city to the suburb of Redlynch.  We lived at the base of the Great Dividing Range, close to major supermarkets and a gym but far, far away from the bustle of the city and noise of the airport.  We stayed here until the end of our time in Cairns, and enjoyed weekly cooking challenges with our housemate.

 

 

Working in Cairns

Once we had moved in to the Lake Street House, we were relieved to be free of our hostel duties.  Juz continued her job at Subway while Dave picked up three days of work per week as a landscaper.  He also worked two nights a week as a dish pig at the Palm Cove Surf Club, thanks to Symon putting a good word in.

 

 

When school holidays started, Juz’s shifts at Subway were cut to accommodate for the less expensive teens, so she looked for another way to earn some money.  A search on Gumtree turned up a casual data entry job whereby she could chose her own hours, her own hourly rate, and invoice the client at the end of the week.  It was a dream job that got even dreamier when the client suggested that Juz do it from home – score!

 

 

On top of the Subway job and data entry gig, Juz also enrolled to knock off another subject in her Nutritional Medicine degree.  Needless to say that when the school holidays were over and her Subway shifts were increased, she got stressed out and ditched Subway to focus on data entry and uni work at home.

 

 

In the meantime, Dave’s landscaping job dried up just in time for the Wet Season so he had to find another way to make an extra buck and keep himself busy.  He cleverly devised a plan that would solve both his problems.  Every fortnight, auctions were held in town to sell off a variety of goods, such as repossessed stolen goods, hospitality gear from closed restaurants, tools, furniture, computers, everything you can think of – including bikes!  The bikes would usually sell for between $5 and $20, so Dave would buy one or two each fortnight, fix them, clean them and sell them on Gumtree for what he thought the bike was worth.  One time – he sold a bike for $200!

 

Cairns 2014-12-12 010

 

 

Fun in Cairns

Our main, regular activity was trivia at the Red Beret Hotel on Monday nights.  On our first visit, we won the jackpot round ($150!) and were hooked.  Over time, we got another core player – Phillip – each week, we would try our luck at winning various vouchers.  Most of them were for Port Douglas, but the prizes for first and second place included a voucher for the Red Beret, so occasionally we would be rewarded with a free dinner.

 

 

 

When it came to making new friends in Cairns, it was fairly difficult with the locals because many of them seem to resent foreigners (the ones supporting Cairn’s tourism industry)!  Most of our friends in Cairns weren’t actually from Cairns at all – like Viki and Akos – a Hungarian couple that moved to Cairns around four years ago, and another couple from Darwin.  It was also great to meet up with local blogger, Kate Richards from Adventure Mumma (but not from Cairns), and chat about what’s great about Australia.  We made a few friends while we were staying at the hostel too.

 

 

Visitors!

We had so many visitors while we were in Cairns.  Both of Juz’s parents visited at around Christmas time, and we got to see Dave’s auntie and uncle when they spent a week in Port Douglas.

 

 

 

It was great to see Peter and Jo again – the last time we saw them was in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.  Another of our buddies, Smita, flew up to go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

 

We were also happy to be visited twice by Peter and Saeng who we stayed with up in Cooktown.  They always brought us a goody-bag of home grown produce and some of Saeng’s home-made delicacies.

 

 

Pros & Cons of Cairns

Cairns is an awesome place to visit but can be difficult to reside in.  Unemployment is high unless you’re interested in hospitality work, and even then you have to complete with backpackers and low wages.  During the peak season there are lots of tourists, and we believe that some locals don’t enjoy this side of Cairns.

 

 

We arrived during the dry season and were looking forward to another opportunity to experience the wet season from December to February.  Unfortunately, all the cyclones that were picked up on the radar dodged Cairns and all we got was a splash of rain and lots of humidity.

 

 

 

 

With all this time spent in the tropics of Australia, we are ready to say goodbye to the misty mountains and sugar cane fields and we look forward to heading south to cooler climates.

 

 

Thanks Cairns!

 

Cairns 2014-10-13 003water

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

Australia Day in Cairns

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Wow – what an epic day!

 

With all of our mates back at home in Melbourne, we occupied ourselves by trying to have the most Australian Australia Day possible, and that meant checking out all of the fun community events that were on offer.

 

Pie Eating and Bull Riding at Cazaly’s

Our first stop was Cazaly’s, a massive entertainment and function complex.  They were hosting a huge Australia Day bash, complete with jumping castles, face painting and the staff dressed up as iconic Aussie characters.

 

We watched a few rounds of the pie eating competition, downed our first beer of the day, and just as we were getting ready to leave, we were intercepted and convinced to have a crack on the mechanical bull – YEEHAW!

 

 

Sausage in Bread on the Esplanade

It was surprisingly easy to find a free parking spot in the city (nobody wants to park under the trees where the smelly bats live).

 

The Esplanade was packed full of picnickers and people cooling off in the lagoon, with the scent of BBQ wafting through the air.  The members of the Cairns Surf Life Saving Club were doing a sizzle so we pulled out a few bucks for a sausage in bread – a cheap snack before our next stop.

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Thong Tossing at the Court House

Our next beer was at the Courthouse Hotel, and the main bar was packed with fellas wearing green and gold or donning Aussie flags as capes.  We were just in time for the Rubber Thong Toss so we signed up and took our beers outside to prepare.

 

This thong throwing competition was all about accuracy, as opposed to the Whyalla comp which was all about distance.  Whoever got their thong in the fountain scored, particularly if the thong landed in the top, central tier.   Dave made it through two rounds while Juz tossed her second thong right over the back fence and was declared 6 and out!  In fact, she was the only one to throw a thong over the fence, thus making her the unofficial winner for distance.

 

 

Pool Party at Gilligan’s

The heat and humidity lured us to our next location – Gilligan’s – who were having a massive pool party with Triple J playing over the speakers.  Juz had a dip in the pool and a few pina colada slushies, while Dave picked up another pair of sausage sizzles for snacks.

 

 

Cocktails at Salthouse

With the Hottest 100 approaching the top 20, we walked over to the Salthouse to chill out with a cocktail by the marina.  We scored some limited edition Australia Day XXXX Gold stubbie holders and Juz sipped on a Lady In Red concoction as the day started to come to a close.

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Australiana Triviana at The Red Beret

We popped home briefly to shower and compose ourselves before heading to our final destination – the Red Beret for Australia Day trivia with our trivia teammate Philip.  Our team’s name was the Budgie Smugglers and we ended up in 5th place.

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Getting to sleep wasn’t difficult.  We got home at about 9:30pm, watched rage briefly and passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillow.  Happy Australia Day!

 

Monte's Lounge

Eating Out : Monte’s Lounge, Alice Springs NT

Monte's Lounge
After a successful season of trivia in Darwin, we hit up Alice Springs but found that there was only one place in town that did trivia – Monte’s.

 

Monte’s is colourful and kooky, with a bohemian atmosphere and circus or carnival décor.  Imagine red, draping curtains, carousel ponies, live cabaret-style shows and a great selection of beers.  We walked in and our eyes didn’t know what to look at!  We found a table in the shooting gallery and waited for trivia to start.

 

Monte's Lounge

 

As we waited, we perused the menu and saw pizzas, nachos, burgers and even curry!  Even though we weren’t hungry, we decided that we had to order something because it all looked delicious and well priced.  We went with a pulled pork burger and a large side of fries to share, and once we put the order in, we were given a number.  The service is a little like bingo – keep your eyes on the screen and when your number comes up, you’re a winner!

 

The burger was absolutely delicious – a toasted bun stuffed with tender pork and coleslaw.  The chips were also impressive, and despite being soft, they had a great texture and flavour.

 

Monte's

 

Trivia started not long after, and the host, who had seemingly skolled three red bulls before getting on stage powered through nearly 50 questions.  We, on the other hand, didn’t know what hit us, and we walked away feeling absolutely mystified.  It was then that we decided that we didn’t need to attend another trivia night at Monte’s, but we definitely needed to return to try more of their tasty menu.

 

A few weeks later, we gathered at Monte’s with our new friends Gary and Amanda from Travel Outback Australia and had a great dinner before we left Alice Springs.  Dave stuck with the pulled pork burger while Juz tried something different – the Gary Ablett.  This burger was just as sexy as the others with its nicely browned dome of bread filled with chicken fillet, bacon and avocado, aioli and chipotle.  It’s great to see that kind of consistency and quality of food for such a great price.

 

Monte's

 

Monte’s is located on the corner of Todd Street and Stott Terrace and is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 11am til late.

 

Monte's

 

http://www.montes.net.au/
Monte's Lounge on Urbanspoon