• Audrey Chin

3.5 lost days and 12 surprising discoveries

Updated: Apr 10

The best made holiday plans can be upset. Weather, short-staffed inn-keepers and unforeseen road closures can conspire to turn an itinerary upside down. Often the disappointment poisons the whole vacation. But, it only takes a pause to change our perceptions and save the day.

In Queensland, we ran into road closures along the Gold Coast. Our hotel in Cairns couldn’t check us in early because they’d been fully booked the night before.  It rained for 4 of the remainder of our 5 days in Cairns.  But, our holiday was redeemed by12 surprising discoveries —

Here’s the story

Youngest had asked to do 2 things in Brisbane – to see the koalas and drive down the Gold Coast. We did get to see the koalas. The Gold Coast was a wash, almost. We started off bright and early Sunday morning and reached the Gold Coast by 9.30 to find road-blocks on the main turn-off to the coast drive.  We’d chosen to drive the coast road on the day of the Gold Coast Marathon!  It would be straight down to Byron Bay then, we decided.

Well everyone else had also made the same decision.

The road into Byron Bay was chockablock. There was no parking for 3 kilometres around the lighthouse on the easternmost point of continental Australia. When we tried to get to the famous open-air market, we got stuck in a traffic jam ten blocks away.  We’d have gone home miserable if not for  4 postcard moments.

We left Brisbane very early in the morning and arrived at Cairns for breakfast. After breakfast,  we went to our hotel to see if early check-in was possible, even though the very kind inn-keeper had told us it wasn’t likely. As she’d predicted, the previous night’s guests hadn’t even checked out yet. She directed us to the nearby town of Palm Cove.  We had lunch there, then braved the wind on the esplanade to walk all the way out to the pier. On the way back to the car, we caught the touch of whimsy in the trees.

The next 3 days, it did nothing but rain. Unwilling to let our 7 hour airplane trip go to waste, we ventured out into the weather anyway.

On a rain-sodden drive to waterfall country around Miilaa Millaa in the hills south of Cairns, we caught some beautiful rain-drenched landscapes.

On another day, going up a cable car to the little village of Kuranda, we met some beautiful botanical specimens.

And hovering over Barron Falls, I felt a sudden urge, at age 55,  to learn rock climbing to get at the inaccessible rock pools I saw below.

Here are the snap shots of our 12 postcard moments –

Sand painting on the esplanade of Byron Bay

Eastward view on a cliff-walk along Byron Bay

Byron Bay Lightouse from the cliff path

Byron Bay Lightouse from the cliff path

Metal insects in a tree

Rains-soaked view of a river off the Palmerston Highway

Tourists watching teenagers swimming under Millaa Millaa Falls

A carpet of rain-strewn flowers from the tulip tree at Mungalli Creek

Beautiful native tree outside Kuranda

Antler ferm outside Kuranda

Quiet pools formed by Barron Falls

Upper lake of Barron Falls

You never know what treasures you might discover …i

If you keep your eyes peeled and your heart open, you’ll be surprised what parts of yourself you might bump into.  I encountered once more a young girl who loved walking on the edge of cliffs and clambering up trees to hide in their branches, a child who loved drawing in sand, a girl who relished walking in the rain and dipping in forest ponds.  On those 3.5 lost days, I was given, once more, in 12 one minute moments, the gift of myself. Imagine!

Have you ever had your holidays disrupted by uncontrollable events? What has saved the vacation? What treasures did you find when the sight-seeing got de-railed? Do share… Leave a comment.

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