|Cairns lagoon. Skin cancer central, but does have some shade!|
On a busy corner of tropical Cairns, I could see OK Souvenirs, Koaland and Louis Vuitton. Then I got trampled by a Japanese tourist group. A woman outside my hotel window smoked rolled cigarettes and spat tobacco and invectives at passers-by, the hotel concierge went AWOL while I was trying to haul baby, pram and bags up the front stairs, and it was hot, humid and heavy. Cairns, I was quite prepared to hate you.
But the next morning, I’d softened. The concierge had materialised at the Cairns Hilton, which has just had a $6 million renovation. The streets were full of cute open-air cafes and restaurants and locals and travellers were splashing happily in the lagoon, a clear water pool in the middle of town. I liked the notices pinned telling you where to take baby flying foxes that have fallen out of the trees above, and the primal squeak of a hundred furry little bodies hanging from the branches like over-excited black fruit.
|Flying foxes, just hanging out in Cairns.|
Then, there was the discovery that the Hanuman restaurant in the Hilton is of the same family as the legendary Darwin Hanuman, and I was unnaturally thrilled to learn they even do bento, basically upmarket take-away, comprising two perfect curries, rice and some rather exciting pickles.
Pulling out of the harbour on a boat turned toward Fitzroy Island, I could smell the massaman curry and jasmine rice, and the prospect of enjoying it on a tropical island seemed pretty damned good. Cairns, welcome back into the heart.