When you’re planning a move to Far North Queensland, everybody unloads information on you about this famous part of the world. A lot of it is rubbish, some of it is true, but the things they forget to tell you are probably the most significant things of all. Here’s a great read from The Cairns Post:
1. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
They kind of do tell you about this, but nothing will prepare you for how beautiful the beaches are. Ellis Beach, Trinity Beach, Four Mile Beach, Palm Cove, Nudey Beach, Cape Tribulation Beach … The list goes on. Any beach lover would give anything to live here. Only thing is though, you can’t actually use them from November to May. Thanks a lot, stingers! And the rest of the year you are taking a risk with the crocs (Ellis Beach has been named one of Queensland’s Top 50 spots. PICTURE: TOURISM AND EVENTS QUEENSLAND)
2. That’s not a downpour, this is a downpour.
You’re out on the balcony of your new unit on a warm November night, before a shower of rain comes over. Your first Far North storm feels almost like an initiation to the area… Until locals tell you that the rain that sounded as if it was going to cave your roof in was nothing more than a passing shower. (Heavy overnight rain causes flooding around Cairns every year, with roads cut off and cars submerged in rising waters. PICTURE: MARC McCORMACK)
3. Cane toads aren’t your average backyard frog.
Victorians are happy to lay claim to Billy Slater and Cam Smith as two of their own, but they’ll tell Queenslanders and New South Welshmen to keep their cane toads north of the border. (Is this Cairns’ biggest cane toad? Redlynch resident Jenny Page found this massive toad weighing 649 grams in her backyard. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
4. You think it’s hot in early December? Wait until the ‘real’ heat kicks in.
Anybody could be forgiven for being covered in a lather of sweat when they walk into work or school for their first week. It’s hot, and you haven’t acclimatised yet. But the look of glee on the face of locals when they see you looking as if somebody has dumped a bucket of water on your head is impossible to escape. Perhaps even worse will be the words that follow: “It’s only going to get hotter”. (It isn’t the heat as much as the humidity that makes FNQ such a struggle in the wet season. Dutch tourist Yury Vos tries to cool down on the Cairns Esplanade. PICTURE: TOM LEE)
5. Sport only gets tougher up here.
In Victoria, you’ll get Aussie rules buffs telling you that their sport is the toughest in the country. As you head further north into New South Wales, opinion begins to change a little bit. Far Northerners laugh at claims of Aussie rules being the toughest – arguing rugby as the most hard-hitting game. (Action from the Tassell Trophy under 14 rugby league carnival. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE)
6. Backpackers, suitcasers … it’s a melting pot of culture.
You know that saying – ‘every second person you see’? Well, legitimately EVERY second person you see in Cairns and the Far North is a tourist or backpacker. There are difficult cultures around every corner in this city. You’ll see it reflected in the food as well – it’s a great place to broaden your horizons. (Swedish Cairns Lifeguard Ellie Harnebrandt with backpackers Fred Andersson, Anna Joensson and Joel Asenlov at Cairns Lagoon. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE)
7. More dangerous animals than you can poke a stick at.
Crocodiles, stingers, snakes, spiders, other insects … even the birds can be dangerous. Don’t let that deter you though. After you’ve explored for a while, it’s not easy to see why so much of this region is lauded for its natural beauty. The wildlife just adds to the wonder. (Sandra Bell took this spectacular photo of a croc eating another croc at Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) in Far North Queensland. PICTURE: SANDRA BELL)
8. You don’t know mould until you’ve experienced a Far North wet season.
Mould and the wet season go hand in hand. It can grow on ceilings, furniture, and even on clothes if you aren’t careful. Sunlight is your friend, and you have to keep an eye out for wet spots around the house. Airconditioners aren’t your friend. It’s a catch 22. (Mould in cupboard. PICTURE: GLENN HAMPSON)
9. Public transport in FNQ divides opinion, but nobody wants to wait in the heat.
The Cairns public transport system divides opinion – some like it, others don’t. But the reason they don’t use it more is to do with the weather. Nobody wants to stand in the heat waiting – it’s like an oven out there! (Bus stops on Lake Street in the Cairns CBD. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE)
10. Neck ties? Forget about it. They don’t actually have a function.
Neck ties are a thing of the south. The climate is again to blame for this one – as something constricting your neck is just not very nice in the epic humidity we experience up here. A wise man once said: “the only people who wear neck ties in the Far North are used car salesmen and lawyers”. Just something to ponder. (You didn’t come to Far North Queensland to wear a tie – dress for the tropics. PICTURE: SUPPLIED)
11. You get a LOT of warning before a cyclone hits.
Updates, updates, updates galore. You’ll receive continuous updates, so it’s damn near impossible to miss it. The danger is that you become complacent and when a cyclone eventually does hit your part of FNQ you realise you’ve mostly dismantled your cyclone kit. Don’t let this be you – be prepared. (Colour satellite image of Cyclone Yasi off the coast of Queensland on February 1, 2011)
12. If you’ve come from a city and are looking to rent, you’re in luck.
If you’re coming from Melbourne or Sydney, rent in Cairns and the surrounding areas is cheap! If you love apartments, you’re also in luck – Cairns has an abundance of apartment complexes – a lot of which have fantastic views. (An apartment in the Wallamurra Towers complex, one street back from the Cairns Esplanade. PICTURE: SUPPLIED)
13. You could spend a lifetime finding new things to have a go at on your days off.
Cairns is the day trip capital of the country. There’s so much to do and see – whether it is spending a day on the Reef, venturing into the Daintree, heading out to the Tablelands, Crocodile tours, endless water holes and waterfalls… the list just goes on. There’s so much to see, and it seems like there’s something new on that list each day. (Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours at Cape Tribulation. PICTURE: SUPPLIED)
14. There are TWO World Heritage listed sites.
Just in case you aren’t convinced that this is one of the most beautiful places on earth before you move, Far North Queensland boasts two UNESCO World Heritage listed sites. The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest are about as good as it gets in terms of natural wonders. (Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef. PICTURE: SUPPLIED)
15. You’ll fall in love.
What people most often forget to tell you is probably the most significant thing of all. It doesn’t take long to fall in love with a place like this. The people are great, and the city is a hive of activity. The thing nobody tells you is how great the charm of the place is – it will hook you in before you know it. And there’s something about the heat and the crocodiles that you learn to love, also. (An Aerial view of Cairns Harbour, Trinity Inlet, the Cairns Esplanade and Cairns City. PICTURE: MARC McCORMACK)