The Great Barrier Reef & Red Center
I was able to take a full day snorkeling trip out to the Great Barrier Reef during my brief stay in Cairns. The reef there is everything they say it is. It's beautiful. The colors of the reef are amazing. Looking down under the surface of the water, I saw turtles swimming right in front of my face and schools of brightly colored fish swimming by. The corals looked light they had neon lights illuminating them from underneath. It was another highlight of my time in Australia. While in Cairns (the gateway city to the reef) I was able to meet up with some Irish girls that I had seen throughout my travels up the East Coast. It was amazing to share laughs and smiles with them and realize that I didn't know any of them before coming to Australia.
I just finished a 3 day tour to the center of Australia. It is desert here and the rock that you see with this page is called Uluru (aboriginal name) or also called Ayers Rock. It's the world's biggest monolith and it towers up from the desert. We watched Uluru at sunset and at sunrise. I had to get up at 4:30am to see the sunrise! Whew! The colors playing on the rock were amazing. At the beginning there were 13 Japanese girls in my group and me and their English was minimal even though they were really nice. I found out through broken English that these Japanese girls flew in from Cairns (2 1/2 hr. flight) for one night in the middle of Australia and then they flew back to Cairns and then home to complete their 6 day holiday to Australia! Sounds pretty rushed if you ask me! Luckily, I had a few other English speakers join my group later in the day. I camped out in the desert with the group from my tour and I slept in the Aussie creation called the swag. It's something that you use to sleep in the outback that is much larger than a sleeping back and has a cover in case of rain. Luckily, I didn't encounter any snakes or lizards in my swag. We were able to view the night sky full of beautiful stars without man made light around. It was beautiful. After spending time at Uluru, my group went to King's Canyon. It's kinda like the Grand Canyon but different. I got up at 4:30am to go there for the sunrise again! I think I've met my quota for sunrises this year! We hiked around the rim of the canyon and visited the oasis like place in the center of the canyon called the Garden of Eden. It was very nice. It's hot and sunny in the red center, another name for the center of Australia because of the red sandstone. The flies are awful here though. They try and get into any exposed orifice...nose, ears, eyes, mouth. They are so annoying! I'll be glad to head to Sydney tomorrow to get away from the flies! It's New Zealand or bust now. :)