For our last two weeks in Australia, we stayed in Cairns (except for our trip to Atherton, Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation). During the first week, we worked out a deal with a hostel for accommodation in exchange for taking photos for their website. I had my hesitations at first since the hostel hadn’t been renovated in a long time, but the people there were great and definitely made up for any shortcomings. Most of the other guests were also there for over a week so we became friends with the longtermers while hanging out by the pool, chilling in hammock central, or at the weekly BBQ night and pub crawl.
On our first night out, we bumped into people from each leg of our journey at Gilligans Bar—Maze backpackers from Sydney, the Fraser Island English lads, and Scott and crew from the Whitsundays trip! It was as if everyone made it to Cairns and then just got stuck at Gilligans bar. That night also included Byron killing it with some JT karaoke at PJ O’Brien’s, meeting a Canadian motorcycle tour agent at the Woolshed, and sharing a love of late night kebabs with some Californians.
Our two weeks in Cairns were also spent frantically trying to sell our two motorcycles before leaving the country. We overestimated the market in Cairns and were striking out—even priced way below market value. We even considered importing the bikes back home, but sadly there were way too many regulatory hoops to jump through.
One day we were trying to fix the headlight on Berry and had no idea what was wrong after jiggling around indiscriminately. A man on a bicycle slowed on the sidewalk and stared at what we were doing. He said, if I fix your headlight, you owe me a beer, okay? We looked at each other skeptically but let him have a look and tinker around as we nervously hovered. Turns out our mysterious motorbike hero was formerly a mechanic for Honda and had been fixing bikes for years. He took out a voltmeter, a toolkit, and electrical tape from his backpack and worked away, miraculously fixing our headlight! The beer we gave him was well deserved.
We also gained three more hostel website clients, which kept us more than busy tapping away on our laptops in our final week. It was a great opportunity since one of the hostels was voted the best in Australia time and time again. Not only was the hostel beautiful, but the family and staff were all really sweet and welcoming.
When we weren’t designing the sites, we spent time running along the esplanade, shopping at the local craft and vegetable markets, and cooking up sausages by the lagoon. Cairns felt like it moved at a different pace than the other cities we’d visited. Everyone took things slowly and casually, never in a rush to get anywhere.
In opposite fashion to Cairns speed, we rushed around frantically in our final 24 hours in Australia. We had to collect payment for our work, make two websites live, complete another website, ship one backpack home, pack, and sell our last motorcycle. Amazingly, we got everything done and sold the motorcycle to a German backpacker a mere seven hours before going to the airport. Whew!
We settled into our seats on the Jetstar plane that night, sad to leave our home for the past year, but excited for the next chapter of the trip in Southeast Asia.