“I got lost but look what I found” – Irving Berlin
A small crew from our NYU Sydney site had made a trip to Cairns about a month ago. In classic student fashion we didn’t plan any activities ahead of time, but just booked plane tickets and the hostel online before we departed on thursday evening after class. The trip didn’t start well with major flight delays leading to a very late arrival in Cairns, which left us tired and ready to go to bed. So, our first night was uneventful, but, as far as I was concerned, the trip could only get better from there. After a small breakfast we got together to figure out what we would like to do that friday and we decided on renting a car and driving to Barron Falls in Kuranda and Palm Cove beach, which were both recommended to us by the taxi driver, who drove us to the hostel from the airport. Additionally, we did do some due diligence by looking at the descriptions of these places on google’s review service. Having established that these places were worth visiting we were well on our way to the highlights of the day.
The drive to Barron Falls was somewhat challenging because it was my first time driving a car with the driver’s seat being on the right side of the car. Also, the road up the mountain, to get to Kuranda, was winding and very narrow, which added an additional layer of difficulty to the drive. I can’t really remember much about the car ride, mainly because I was very focused on not having an accident, but the rest of the car seemed to be having a good time. After a 40 minute drive we had finally arrived at the waterfall and we initially just followed the signs pointing toward the viewing platform. The view from the platform was already spectacular, but it wasn’t really what I had hoped for because I did remember reading that we should be able to get up close and personal with the waterfall. Luckily, once we had parked our car we just happened to meet some locals, who were going to go to the actual waterfall and they gave us some directions on how to get there, while also promising to put up some marking tape to help us along. So, after getting a taste of what was to come at the platform, we made our way to the waterfall. We followed the directions the locals gave us and after an initial round of confusion while trying to figure out where to go, we saw the first markings left behind for us and followed them.
At the end of the tape trail we emerged on the other side of some thick bush and had finally arrived at the backside of the waterfall. Later, with some athleticism we were able to get right up to the edge of it and for a couple of braver souls, they could even take a dip at the edge of the cliff in a natural infinity pool, which can also be seen in my photo. While I was sitting there, two things occurred to me. First, it would have been impossible for us to find our way to this magnificient view, if we hadn’t met those people earlier. Google maps is a great companion, but there would have been no way we would have found the opening, which marked the start of the descent, even with good directions. And second, I got a sense that even with all of the reviews, maps and travel sites, there are some things that can’t be found by searching online. They can only be found by getting lost and asking for help, and often these hidden gems are the most beautiful sites to visit. The experience was a gentle reminder to me that some of the best things in life come from stumbling along and asking people for help rather than googling the answer while sitting at home.