Travel Journal: A First Week in Cairns

I arrived in Cairns and head off to find my new flat. It’s very nice and in a central location but away from the noisy backpacker bars. After a week of doing nothing in Cairns, partly because it’s quite a boring place if you’re not going out to the reef, but also because I did not know my start day at the zoo so couldn’t really book any day trips out of town until knowing when I started working.

But it turns out once my shifts are sorted out I still have plenty of time to do sightseeing out of town while I’m working. I have a few days off a week but when I’m working it’s full days from 8 till half 3 so my day starts at 6 in order to get there and I’m back at the flat by about 5. It’s quite a nice journey back and forth to the zoo even if it’s a long one. I have some Berkley Astronomy lectures on podcast that I found online to amuse myself during my first week of boredom in Cairns which I actually got quite into during bus journeys. I’m quite the geek listening to uni lectures for fun.

Anyway, my first day at the zoo I am given the usual employee health and safety book that any company has followed by the more animal specific one. This one has all your usual stuff about keeping enclosures locked and keeping distance from certain animals which is fine but there’s one section that’s a little scary: Crocodile Escape Procedures. Several pages are dedicated to what staff are expected to do should such an event take place. Luckily my task as a volunteer is to work with members of staff to direct guests to the nearest exit and reassure them of their safety. The reptile staff however have various steps with dealing with such an incident including if an attack occurs. I’m informed that in every crocodile enclosure there is an axe in every corner so that if a staff member is bitten and the croc doesn’t let go then someone can sever the spinal cord with the axe. There’s also a list of croc capture equipment box locations and later when I spot one of these they seem to many consist of rope. It’s scary reading anyway and a fun introduction to the zoo. While reading my safety stuff in the zoo office I notice I’m being watched by a joey hanging in his makeshift pouch from one of the door handles. I like being back in a zoo.

After all the paperwork and zoo formalities are dealt with I’m sent off the meet the staff in working with. I’m primarily part of the mammal department but once a week I help out the Reptiles instead so I’m playing with those big scary crocodiles. Can’t wait to get started.