Walking through the history of Cairns
Though promotional photos show Cairns Harbour full of blue water, most of the time it is mudflats. Photographers may not be keen on mudflats, but pelicans love them.
Here they are, five or six of them -poking about for food with their giant pink bills; fluttering their wings; having a cross-beaks cuddle with a mate and looking distinctly superior to the smallfry seagulls nearby.
The spreading fig trees and grass beside the track are peaceful and restful. I walk out onto a jetty and watch the sea creeping up the mudflats as the tide comes in, slowly turning brown to blue.
But peace was not always the mood in this town. Further along a dramatic clock tower topped by the statue of a soldier, has names on its plinth to commemorate those who died in World War I. The clock shows the time – 4.28am – of the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
Two guns nearby underline the vital part Cairns played in the Pacific War of World War II. Cairns was only 1000kms from the battle that raged in the Coral Sea (closer than they were to their state capital of Brisbane).
The United States stationed troops in Cairns, to supply the Pacific fleet and the memorial near the clock tower commemorates the special commando units of World War II who trained on this site.
I continue under the trees, past a colourful children’s playground, an exercise area, a skate park, several dramatic art works and a plaque outlining the United Nations Manifesto 2000. Not far away are two tall white pillars amongst the trees, topped by a model of a Catalina aircraft. This memorial commemorates the RAAF squadrons who flew Catalinas during WWII.
I watch the antics of another group of pelicans and a stork stretching its black-tipped wings. Fingers of water are now edging up the mudflats which are topped, at this point, with a large curve of sand.
I have now almost reached the airport, so time to turn back. The 2.5km
Esplanade could take only 30 to 45 minutes, but there’s so many interesting points en route that my 90 minutes is nearer the mark
Above middle: Cairns War Memorial has a clock marking the time when Australian troops landed on Gallipoli.
Above second from left: This memorial commemorates the special commando units who trained on this site in WWII.
Below left: Pelicans lord it over the seagulls on the Cairns harbour as the tide comes in.
Art works above are situated in the middle section of the Esplanade walk.