Cairns, Art & Diving The Great Barrier Reef

Cairns Art Gallery

Firmly in the tropics the humidity hits you as soon as you land in Cairns. This remote holiday spot has a lot going on. For me it was all about good food, great beer, saying goodbye, lazy walks along the coast, thought-provoking art and a gateway to The Great Barrier Reef. But I didn’t even scrape the surface of the million activities you can do in and around this peaceful city.

So the art… well I was drawn into Cairns Regional Gallery as outside a banner displaying Arthur Boyd’s ‘Skate’ fish was proudly hung. A fantastic marble effect painting on a grey backdrop, a fish some desperate fishermen say is provocative (absolute wrong-uns), but I think has such a mischievous face.

Boyd’s work completely blew me away, so varied I completely fell in love with this Australian artist’s paintings. A short video was playing on loop, with a series of Boyd’s paintings, depicting an Aboriginal man’s relationship with a caucasion woman, with a haunting bespoke song. I couldn’t tear myself away it was completely mesmerising. The exhibition is called ‘An Active Witness’.

Another artist who caught my attention was Hiromi Ashlin, a Japanese artist who used tiny pieces of origami to create a larger scale image in her Takari exhibition. She invited people to share a wish for the world on a slip of paper to be used in her next work – a simple idea but I’m excited to be part of this thought-provoking artists creation.

I’m going to give a few stand-out food places a shout-out. For a quirky little cafe, tucked in a lane-way, with crack cocaine coffee and the best Turkish breakfast head to Caffeind. The Salthouse, a contemporary restaurant with fabulous lighting was also exceptional – mouth-watering steak cooked to perfection. Finally The Green Ant Cantina, a quirky Mexican fusion restaurant with street art covering its walls and locally brewed beers – the Ginger Beer (it actually contains alcohol in Oz) was so good and food delicious.

Hanging out on The Great Barrier Reef for three days was pretty special. I hopped on to a 3 day live-aboard boat trip, which included 11 dives (2 night dives). Like every animal in Cairns, the fish were so much larger than the fish I’d seen before. Stand-out memories from diving have to be the insane looking Parrot Fish and the noise they make as they munch coral, the friendly sharks (white & grey reef tips), Trigger fish and their teeth, the nonchalant Hawksbill turtles and of course the Nemo variety of Clown fish. It just confirmed how much I love sea life, completely and utterly sucked into the underwater world now.

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