While sitting in an underground food court in Sydney having Chinese takeaway amidst the bustling lunchtime crowd of Sydneysiders and tourists, I managed to contact Tanya from Cassowary Coast Wildlife Shelter in Mission Beach to make arrangements for me to volunteer there. I was extremely excited to return to Mission Beach, a place I considered a home away from home the last time I visited. I had fond memories of the area, even though I didn’t stay for very long, and looked forward to helping the community.
On the day of my flight from Sydney to Cairns, I waited till the last possible second to check out of my hostel and walked to Central Station where I caught a train to the airport. Check in and security were a breeze so I spent most of my time people watching while devouring a quick Maccas meal.
Airports are interesting places as they force people from all walks of life together. I used to hate them (even having to pick someone up at Honolulu International Airport was slightly traumatic) because I feared getting lost in the frenzy, but now I quite possibly enjoy them. On their own they are sterile, but all the transiting people bring them to life and create an excitement and energy that are almost tangible.
My three-hour flight to Cairns was uneventful and I spent most of the time reading. I lucked out and got a row to myself so I was able to stretch out a bit. In Cairns, I collected my things and made my way over to the airport shuttle bus pick-up point. It was a short wait and an even shorter ride to the CBD, where the driver dropped me off near the Cairns Esplanade.
To kill some time before my Greyhound bus to Mission Beach, I ate ice cream and read a bit more. It’s a good thing I have an external power station (thanks Deb!) to keep my electronics alive! It’s just another thing to carry but is definitely worth it.
By the time I boarded the bus, it was dark and there was nothing to see. I arrived in Mission Beach more than two-and-a-half hours later (the bus was running 30 minutes late) and tentatively stepped off the bus. Tanya agreed to meet me there, but all I saw was the usual backpacker shuttles waiting to pick up their guests. As I was getting my things from under the bus, an SUV screeched into the parking lot and out popped Tanya.
When we reached her home, which also serves as the shelter, I met her two human children as well as her furred babies. Some of them even hopped up to greet me and make me feel at home. She cared for small lot of agile wallabies, an eastern grey kangaroo and a wallaroo. I anticipated a very hand’s on approach to learning about Australia’s native wildlife and couldn’t wait to begin.