After we got back from Magnetic Island, Brittany, Emily, and I left on a road trip to Port Douglas! We broke the trip into two days to make it easier since its a bit of a long drive. We got on the road on Wednesday morning and made our way to the first destination, Mission Beach. It was three hours from Townsville to Mission Beach, so we stopped at a really cool place called the Cardwell Spa Pools first. I had googled images of this place when Brittany told me we were going there, and it looked so beautiful I couldn’t wait to see it in person! The water is naturally a super icy blue color, and in the rainy seasons you can even swim in it! Unfortunately there was a sign that said no swimming now, but we did dip our toes in just to feel the temperature (it was cold!). We stayed there for a bit and took some cool pictures before getting back in the car and heading the rest of the way to Mission Beach.
Brittany booked a really cute Airbnb right across the street from the beach. Literally we could see the beach from the breakfast table! We immediately ran over to check it out when we got there, and it was completely empty! That’s been one interesting thing to me. All of the beaches we have gone to this portion of my trip have been so empty. They’re absolutely gorgeous beaches, but nobody is ever really there! Its just a score for us, we love a good private beach! The weather had been really bad that whole day, and the skies looked like they were going to open up again. Instead of going out to dinner, we went to Coles and bought some salmon and Thai salad to make for dinner. Emily cooked for us and it turned out delicious! By the time we were done eating, the rain had really picked up, so we decided to just be cozy and hang out at the house. We ended up making a bubble bath in our really big jacuzzi tub and watching a movie on my laptop! We had a good laugh making bubble beards. It was a really fun night.
Thursday morning we woke up early for the sunrise! We put on jackets since it was a little chilly from all the rain and skipped across the street to watch the sun rise over the ocean. It was a bit cloudy still, but it ended up being a gorgeous sunrise. Brittany took a time lapse video that I’ll put below! We had originally planned to stay at Mission Beach for a while and lay on the sand, but since the weather was bad, we voted against it. I Instead, we went back to the house and ate breakfast before getting back on the road to keep going to Port Douglas.
Again, we made some stops along the way. This time we stopped at a few different beaches Brittany knew of to check them out. Again, NOBODY was there!! We found a swing hanging from a tree and took turns swinging and having the best time. It was so fun. I hope one day I live on the beach so I can have a swing like that in my backyard!
We stopped in Cairns next to have lunch. We planned on walking around the Cairns Esplanade, but it had just closed a few days prior for renovations. Instead, Emily and I got BOGO waffle cones at Baskin Robins, and then shortly after all got lunch at a pizza place called Crust. This was the FIRST pizza I’ve had since being in Australia that I actually enjoyed. It had rocket (or arugula for you American folk), avocado, a yummy pesto drizzle, and other really good toppings. I let Brittany pick our pizza and I am glad she did!
After Cairns was the last hour of our drive before Port Douglas. We stayed at Brittany’s parents time share at the Ramada Resort, which was incredibly nice! Our room wasn’t ready when we got there, so we went and window shopped in the strip area. Brittany ended up getting some really cute things all for $5 each! I unfortunately didn’t find anything that fit me. But it was for the best, since my suitcase was dangerously full. When our room was ready, we got all checked in and then went to the beach there to check that out. Then it was time for a cocktail and some room service. We had an early night, since the next morning Brittany and I were going to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef!
This is something I have dreamed of for forever and never thought would be a reality. We woke up early to get picked up and taken to the marina, and I was over the moon. We boarded our boat, the AquaQuest, and got our snorkel gear ready. It was a 90 minute ride out to our first snorkel site. The water was freezing, but we hopped in anyways! What I saw when my mask went underwater literally took my breath away. It was such an amazing thing to see in person, and the GoPro picture I have don’t nearly do it justice. We swam around for as long as we were allowed before getting on the boat to head to the second and last spot of the day.
When we got back on the boat, they were going to be serving lunch. We went to our little bucket to get our towels only to find they were gone! The woman sitting next to our bucket on the bench said she saw a family come and take them, and we knew exactly who she was referring to. Brittany went to go confront them and they said they didn’t take them, and they had the same resort towels we did. She said they had brought four, but there were five of them and they all had a towel. Which would make sense, since we did find one of our towels in their bucket soaking wet. We ended up just sharing that one the best we could since the mom started to give us major attitude.
The second spot was just as incredible as the first. Brittany and I took turns using her GoPro to take pictures of each other and the fish and coral. We saw so many cool fish! She has all the pictures and videos on her GoPro still, but I was able to snag a few to post on here. We swam around for a while until I got the most painful toe cramp and then calf cramp of my entire life. I honestly thought I was going to drown because I couldn’t use that leg at all to keep myself afloat. For safety reasons (LOL), I went back to the boat, and even got another bad cramp on the way there. I guess I needed a banana. I wish I had waited it out, though, because Brittany said only a few minutes after I left, someone grabbed at her flipper and pointed out a turtle! She said someone ended up scaring it away, but I was so jealous to not get to see it.
After our 90 minute ride back to Port Douglas, we got a ride back to the resort and then met back up with Emily, who hadn’t joined us for the day. The three of us went to the beach just in time for sunset and enjoyed our last evening together before I left the next morning. We went back to Coles to get a quick dinner to make at home, since we had such an early wake up call Saturday morning and Brittany and I were exhausted from our day. We watched National Treasure and called it a night.
We left our resort at 3am to drive the hour to Cairns airport, where I was leaving on a 6am flight. I was so sad to leave Brittany and Em. It was so nice to get to see Brittany after so long and spend such quality time with her. We really had a blast and made some super fun cousin memories I will never forget. Thanks again for having me, Brittany! I was shocked at how many people were at the airport so early! I had to wait in a really long line for both check in and security, but made it on my flight with no issue. It was a three hour flight from Cairns to Sydney, and then I had an almost three hour layover in Sydney. I had a friend come to the airport to surprise me and keep me company for the time I was there, but the airport security wouldn’t let me leave the international terminal since I didn’t have an Australian passport and my flight was sooner than three hours away. I felt super bad about it, but it was extremely thoughtful of them nonetheless.
At around noon Sydney time, I boarded my crazy long flight to Dallas. The flight was over 15 hours in length, but thankfully this time I was able to sit in the extra leg room seat I paid for! It was in an emergency exit row, so I had heaps of room. The only downside was that I couldn’t keep any of my belongings with me, they had to be stowed in the overhead compartments. I tried my best to stay awake for an hour or two on the flight before attempting to sleep, and I was so tired I thought for sure I would pass out. I’m never one to sleep well on planes, and that rang true for this flight as well. I slept for 30 minutes here and there, but I wouldn’t guess I ‘slept’ more than a total of two or three hours tops. I did catch up on some shows and watched some new movies, though.
I landed in Dallas a bit late and had only an hour to go through customs, recheck my bags, go through security again, and get to my gate. I was a bit nervous. When I got off the plane, I was handed a boarding pass for my connection that was in an orange envelope, to alert the airport workers that I had limited time to make my flight and would need express attention. It worked like a charm going through customs; I have never had such an easy experience! When I went to baggage claim though, I had to just wait on my bags like everyone else. No special help there. And luck would have it, my bags were the second to last to come off the belt. I basically sprinted from there to the security, where I had been given a special “TSA Pre-Check” slip of paper.
However, the man at the line said they weren’t doing pre check anymore. Which made absolutely no sense to me since I was holding a paper that I had just been given that told me I had those benefits. I explained my flight was boarding in only 15 minutes in a completely different terminal, and he just pointed to the main line. Annoyed, I waited anyway. When it was my turn to go through, they flagged my bag. I had no idea what could’ve been the problem since I hadn’t added anything to that bag since it was cleared through security in Sydney. The man then asked if I had an iPad in my bag, which I did. However, I have taken many flights in the past few months and have not once taken the iPad out of the bag and it hasn’t been an issue. I told him that, and he gave me the dirtiest look and said, “Well isn’t that so good for you. I do things differently here. If I want to check a bag, I will. If you give any attitude, I’ll just keep it.” I was dumbfounded. I hadn’t said anything with any attitude at all, although I wanted to. But I shut my mouth so quick and watched as he went and put my bag through again, yelling at someone else in the line that they “didn’t put their bag on the belt correctly”. He clearly was having a bad day or something, but I eventually did get my bag and had to sprint as fast as I could to the SkyTram and take a ride to my terminal. I ran so fast to my gate, and was rushed onto the plane and the doors shut only a minute later. I was so happy I ended up making it on time! I sat next to the most adorable older man named Mike, and the two of us talked the entire flight to Fort Lauderdale. He was flying down to visit his son, and the two of them were taking a trip to Bimini to swim with wild dolphins for a week. What an awesome trip!
Once I was off the plane, it took everything in me to not sprint to baggage claim where I knew my family was waiting for me. Once I rounded the corner and saw them, though, I couldn’t even help myself. I almost cried, I was so happy to be hugging my mom and dad! Then Finn came from around a different corner and tackled me from behind. I couldn’t stop hugging everyone! We went to a really good pizza dinner (FINALLY some really good pizza, something I have been craving!) and then went home to see Gracie when she got home from work. We went to church as a family on Sunday morning, and then had a delicious dinner out with friends that might as well be family.
I’ve been home for just over 24 hours now and I can’t stop smiling. I didn’t realize just how much I missed being home and with my family until I got back! I am so grateful for the time I had while in Australia. My mom has made fun of the way I am speaking countless times…apparently the way I say “r” has changed, but I can’t figure out why! Maybe its just a little souvenir from my home away from home. I fully plan on incorporating many of my new Australian sayings into my daily conversation, so if you plan on talking to me, you’ve been warned. Thank you to everyone who followed along and wished me well while I was gone. Your comments and support didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. I can’t wait to head off on my next adventure, whatever it may be!
“Stuff your eyes with wonder – live as if you’ll drop dead in 10 seconds. See the world, its more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury