Ending the East Coast in Cairns

Cairns is the last stop on most people’s east coast trip – if you’ve come up the country from Sydney. We stayed in Gilligans which is the most famous hostel and club in Cairns and one of the best known hostels on the east coast – really that’s the only reason why we stayed there!

Photo credit: Daisy Fox

We got there on the 5th March 2017 and had 10 nights in Cairns before flying to New Zealand. We met Jess, Daisy and Céline who had already been there a day and went to the club part of Gilligans for ladies night where you got 5 free glasses of champagne – we all shared with Niall. Not surprisingly, we were really tired after being up so early for our skydive so didn’t stay out really late.



Our second day was a really chilled day – it’s so nice to have days like that because moving around so much can really tire you out (hard life, I know)! All the people in our room are lovely so we spent most of the time chilling with them. Harriet, one of the girls in our room, is a hairdresser in the UK so she cut my hair on the balcony of the hostel after having cut some of our other roomies hair. I hadn’t really eaten anything that day and it was really hot so I nearly passed out and we had to take a big break before she could finish cutting my hair (I was fine). It was really good to get it cut and only cost $20 so the cheapest hair cut I’ve ever had!

Cairns has a night market which isn’t very far from our hostel (not that anywhere is too far from anywhere in Cairns). Jess, Daisy, Niall and I all went to the markets that evening but we didn’t end up staying very long as they’re not that big – lots of shops for souvenirs/presents though if this was your last stop in Aus! We then went to Gilligans with people from our room which was really nice and we ended up seeing loads of people we had met all the way up the east coast which was great!


For the next four days (7th-10th March) we were doing our PADI open water diving course which I will cover in my next post. After our first day of the course, we went down to the club to play Bogan Bingo (the name Gilligans gave for their game of bingo) with Jess and Daisy – Bogan is the name for people in the outback. We also got free sangria and pizza which is a bonus for any night out (free food is greatly appreciate when travelling)! The bingo was really funny (if not slightly seedy!) and there were loads of chances to win prizes throughout. Niall did an air guitar competition which he did really well in but a girl beat everyone (even though she wasn’t the best of all the competitors). We played more bingo that involved shouting out catch phrases to seedy requests from the hosts such as flashing them to cross off numbers (we didn’t oblige). 


It was also lovely as we saw Amber, Abby, Naina and Stacey who were all leaving Cairns to either go to New Zealand or back to Sydney. Maybe we’ll see them in NZ! It was a lot of goodbyes in Cairns as everyone was going their separate ways after us all travelling up the east coast together.

On the 8th, after another day at dive school, I went to meet Becky and Kathryn for a catch up (Becky is my friend from uni as mentioned in the post on St Kilda). I hadn’t seen them since Melbourne and they had also just finished their east coast adventure, albeit at different times than we had so we hadn’t crossed paths along the way. They were heading on to Hong Kong, Singapore and China so it was cool so hear all about their plans – enjoy girls!!

We saw Jess and Daisy for a bit and then had to pack for our night on a boat. It was an early start the next day so we decided against going on a night out!

On the 10th March, after a night on the liveaboard completing our open water course (see next post) we checked into a new hostel called Mad Monkeys. We were really lucky because the hostel is only a couple of months old so they’re still finishing some of the rooms. We paid for a 4 bed dorm and the bunk beds hadn’t been delivered yet so it just had the mattresses in which made 2 beds (a mattress on top of a mattress) so it was, in effect, a private room for us!

We got sorted and met Daisy and Jess for Jess’ last night in Cairns before heading back to Melbourne to work. We’re unsure if or when we’ll ever see her again (we’re hoping we will though) so it was nice to spend her last night all together (we had become a pretty established 4 heading up from Noosa). We went to Gilligans and our dive school was there so we saw our instructor Paolo and another of the instructors, Natalie which was nice (especially as it also involved us all having free drinks for being part of the dive school)! We ended the night in another club called Woolshed – the whole night was really good and a nice way to spend Jess’ last night together.

Top: us with Celine, Bottom left: Natalie, Bottom right: Daisy

Our hostel does free breakfast (a varied one too) so Niall, Jess, Daisy and I had breakfast together and then later we went for a last lunch together with Celine. Our lunch was at a place called Lillypad which is opposite Gilligans – I recommend it if you’re in Cairns – the portions are massive and it’s all really nice! After seeing off Jess, we spent the rest of the day at the lagoon where we bumped into Niamh and Talka (our friends from Brisbane) which was really nice to catch up with them on the rest of their east coast trip.



On the 12th I went to Nomads to see Annie, Lucy and Kelly before they all left Cairns to say goodbye. We just chilled and had lunch and then Lucy and Kelly came back with me to our hostel and chilled there for a bit before we all went for a look around the night market. They were looking for presents to buy family and I bought an ankle bracelet. Me and Lucy also got huge white chocolate covered churros that were so tasty! Mine was with caramel sauce and Lucy had hers with Nutella (it was worth the money!)

In the next few days we completed some tours of the surrounds of Cairns so I’m going to cover them in separate posts seeing as we did so much. On our penultimate night, Daisy and Niall and I went on a final night out. It was luckily on a Tuesday which meant our hostel was going to the Woolshed to get free pizza, chicken wings and wedges, free entry and then free champagne for the girls so we went to that and ate a tonne of food and drank lots of champagne which we shared with Niall.


We then went to Gilligans to end our night our where we started in Cairns and we were able to get more free champagne there too! So a very cheap night for us! We also saw Jeremy and JoJo from our open water course and two lads from our waterfall tour that day which was good. It was a fun last night of the east coast before going to New Zealand!


Our final day was a hot one at 36 degrees! Me and Daisy went to the lagoon and Niall got a hair cut before we went for domino’s for tea and packed for our early flight the next day. We didn’t have a crazy one that night because we had to get a 5am bus to the airport. Cairns is nice place and is great for what you can do around it – the Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation, the Daintree and all of the waterfalls (see my next 3 posts). They’re all so beautiful and make Cairns such a good place to visit. It’s likely to end your east coast trip and you’ll bump into so many people you have met along the way in Gilligans so its all positive in my eyes. 

Next stop: NEW ZEALAND!!!

Sending Love x

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