The Banana Republic of Cairns

I’ve finally arrived in Cairns. Total damage done: nine days, four World Heritage Sites, and 3,030 km (1,882 miles).

I’m staying in Cairns for five days to catch up on my photos and get my things together for Papua New Guinea. I’ll also be able to spend ANZAC Day in Australia, which should be interesting. (more on that later)

The drive was long, but Queensland is very beautiful. Espcially considering I didn’t have any rain to deal with.

I was surprised by the farming I saw on the way up. From Sydney to Cairns, I saw two and only two crops being farmed: bananas and sugar cane. It sort of surprised me if for no other reason that I usually associate those crops with developing countries. I had never given any thought to the agircultural products of coastal Queensland, but I always just associated Australia with cattle, wheat and wine.

I’ve had to really change my diet while I was driving up here. Most of the food you find when driving is McDonald’s like fast food, or junk food at gas stations. I have never seen fruit being sold at a gas station in Australia. I’ve been going out of my way to stop a grocery stores more often just to buy apples, grapes and bananas.

The pronunciation of “Cairns” is the oddest linguistic thing I’ve encountered in Australia so far. It is pronounced like you are nasally saying “cans”, or like the French city “Cannes”. The city seems very reliant on tourism. There seem to be more Asian tourists here than I’ve seen in other parts of Australia. I’m guessing that is a funciton of its latitude (warmer than the rest of the country) and proximity to Asia.

5 thoughts on “The Banana Republic of Cairns”

  1. Cairns was my 2nd trip to Australia. I liked it I wanted to fly over the Great Barrier Reef in a plane instead of a helicopter cause the flight is longer, but the weather was bad. But one day I’ll go back to see the Reef.

  2. There’s quite a lot of other crops, but mostly not by the highway. If you’d gone off the main road near Bundaberg, there is a lot of vegetable farms – backpackers often stop there for a while and do seasonal work to get some quick cash. Just north of Brisbane you would have driven through plantation timber.

    But mostly we use the coastal strip for sugar cane and bananas because they both like it wet – and the coastal strip gets a lot of rain showers even in drought years. Go over the great divide, were the coastal showers don’t reach, and it becomes more like you were expecting.

    Just south of Innisfail, at Tully, we got hit by a Cat 5 hurricane a few months after Katrina. It took out more than half of Australia’s banana crop for a few years.

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