David Thompson, Manager – Sales & Client Experience at The Travel Authority Corporate, recently dashed from Sydney to Far North Queensland for a long-overdue escape.
Just three days before he was due to depart, the Queensland government announced that it was closing the state’s border to Sydney residents from midnight on 31 July. David arrived into Cairns at 6.00 pm, slipping into the Sunshine State in the nick of time.
“Talk about lucky,” he says. Read all about his trip to Cairns below.
You can tell we’re living in strange times when a pre-flight safety announcement is updated to say, “If oxygen masks fall from the compartment above your head, you will need to remove your surgical masks first before putting on the oxygen masks.”
Having not travelled anywhere in six-months, it was time to get away. So I booked a trip to the warmth of Cairns and Port Douglas in Far North Queensland.
The Sydney Airport experience was extraordinary. The terminal was empty and quiet, there was no-one around. Few shops were open, the Virgin lounges were closed, and only a few fast food outlets and a bar were operating. It’s worth noting that there was no meal service on my flight, so you may want to consider bringing food with you if the airport’s fast food options don’t sound appealing.
My flight was packed, and mask-wearing out of Sydney into Queensland was compulsory. Masks were supplied by Virgin, and they came with a handy disinfectant wipe.
Arriving in Cairns the flight was met with a large police and military presence. All arriving passengers had to present their ID and border entry pass which had to be completed before arriving into Queensland. This was all very seamless, and I was out of the airport and into the warm Queensland sun in no time.
I spent my first night at the Shangri-La Hotel The Marina—without doubt the premier hotel in Cairns. Prominently situated on the marina, this is an ideal spot filled with bars and restaurants, and the gateway to the reef, tours and attractions.
All staff at the hotel wear masks, and your temperature is checked on arrival. All interactions are designed to have minimal physical contact and with social distancing in mind. The hotel has found the right balance between COVID safety but keeping that warm personalised Queensland hospitality that we all love.
I thoroughly enjoyed my brief stay here. The rooms are gorgeous. I recommend booking a Marina View Room. These recently refurbished rooms have beautiful views across the Marina and surrounding mountains.
The Shangri-La staff were friendly and welcoming, and the hotel has found the right balance between COVID safety and retaining that warm, personalised Queensland hospitality that we all love.
The next morning, I visited Cairns Art Gallery which was a revelation. For a regional gallery it is punching well above its weight, and is absolutely worth checking out on a tropical rainy day.
In Cairns, be sure to enjoy a meal at the very chic Salt House on the Marina, or a cocktail at Three Wolves hidden down a nearby city laneway.
From Cairns, David headed north in a rental car to Port Douglas some 70 kilometres away. Read about his stay at the revitalised Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, and his recommendations for drinks and dining HERE.
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