Cairns is a lovely city with a definite holiday feel. It is quite the tourist destination with many Aussie and international visitors. The Esplanade is well set up to cater for them too. With a beautiful man made lagoon safe for swimming in that we made great use of, many cafes and restaurants and nightmarkets Cairns definitely has a great little buzz about it.
We spent 8 nights at a caravan park a few minutes out of the main tourist area. The weather was unfortunately terrible and it pretty well rained from the minute we got there til the day we left. That didn’t stop us though and we packed loads into our days.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Tjapukai, an Aboriginal cultural centre, which was tasteful rather than blatantly touristy. We threw boomerangs and spears and watched a dreamtime story reenactment as well as learning about bush food and weapons. They catered for gluten free in their restaurant too, which was great. We also spent time at the Cairns aquarium, Muddy’s playground (a fabulous free waterpark and playground) and splashing in the lagoon despite cold water and cold weather.
We spent a day out at Hartley’s Crocodile farm and another at Kuranda Village in the rainforest, which included a tour on an old army DUK that goes from land to water – a lot of fun for the kids. A real highlight though was a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef pontoon where we had a ride on the glass bottom boat, semi submersible and best of all went snorkelling with Bubba out along the reef. We were really lucky and while snorkelling saw a sea turtle! These guys also catered really well for gluten and dairy free.
One of the best parts of our time in Cairns was a visit from Granny and Pa. They flew up from Melbourne and spent a few days seeing the sites with us. They also baby-sat the kids for us so Matt and I got to go out for a grown up dinner – quite the treat!
We were quite spoilt for choice in terms of restaurants catering for dietary requirements. We headed to Grill’d two nights to give Bubba his fix. Whilst it is still fast food and not ideal, it is great to be able to let Ben feel “normal” sometimes, something that is becoming more of an issue the more he grows up. At least they have gluten free buns that don’t contain nasty bread additives that many do and fresh grilled chicken and salad. Matt and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Ochre and although we had a few false starts eventually managed to get delicious gluten free meals. We also still cooked lots of meals at the van and I made this rice salad that I will share with you below one evening for dinner with Mum and Dad. Dad loved it and asked for the recipe so this is for you Dad! Unfortunately I did have a photo of it but my phone has packed it in courtesy of the Jazzy Devil and I have lost a few photos in the process so you will have to imagine what this one looks like. Or better yet, make it and then you will know!
Until next time, eat well & live happy.
1 cup brown rice
red capsicum, cut into small squared
1/2 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced
2 cups mixed lettuce leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or to taste)
Cook brown rice and drain excess water. Add salad veg to a bowl then add warm brown rice. Mix oil and apple cider vinegar together and season with the sea salt. Add dressing to salad and toss well. Serve with your choice of protein. You can also make it into a meal on its own by adding sunflower seeds, pepitas and some soft goats cheese.