Looks like its been a while, been busy as usual so here's an attempt at a quick update on what I've been doing:
I completed my advanced diving course doing a night dive where you couldn't see any further than the beam of your torch (about 1m) and hence not much fish life either but still a cool dive. I also got to do 2 dives on the S.S. Yongala ship wreck, these dives completely blew all my previous dives out of the water (excuse the pun).
We had great sunny weather, clear water allowing 10 - 15 metres visibility and I might have thought I'd seen lots of fish before but this was like fish city only one where all the fish are on steroids! There are literally thousands of fish down there on the wreck, its an amazing feeling as all you can see in every direction is fish of every variety, size and colour, all just swimming around in schools, or eating, chasing each other etc. If your lucky you can see a lot of the life down there on other dives but here its altogether in one place, bigger and badder and its just cool to see the thriving community of aquatic life. Extra cool sights included groups of 20 - 30 fish 4 ft long, a queensland groper which is around 5m long!!! sea snakes 10x as poisonous as any land snake, two green turtles, not ninja ones but still almost as long as me and much wider 1 sleeping and another just swimming casually and gracefully along next to me close enough to reach out and touch! Turtles seem to be one of those animals like dolphins with lots of hype but are truly beautiful when you actually see them in the wild and can appreciate why people get so excited about them. Also saw my first shark woo! a guitar shark about 2.5m long. The dives lasted around 50mins each and we went down to up to 29m where you can't see the surface at all just that its where the light is coming from. You basically explore the whole 200m length of the outside of the wreck and can see in to different parts like the engine room and toilets but I think for me its the life thats the most interesting. It was an awesome experience and these particular dives just had a really good/surreal feeling to them because of the was almost too much to see and take in, it had me buzzing for the rest of the day and eve when everyone was asking about it!
Anyway that was cool, next we went to a croc farm and saw/held some pretty cool animals including a young croc (see the pics) and 1 insane man who got to feed them and from very close up.
Finally I went to cape tribulation an area within the daintree rainforest for 3 days. The 1st day there did a tour, going to a tropical wildlife centre (I saw a tree kangaroo thats right they have some that live in trees, yes its a crazy country!), walked through the rainforest and swam in a gorge and did a boat cruise up the daintree river spotting a few wild crocs in the river on the way (no swimming on this cruise!). I then spent the next 2 nights staying in an awesome hostel in the middle of knowhere in the rainforest, right where it meets the gorgeous deserted beaches. I lucked out and got a free upgrade to my own room with a double bed which is a valued luxury when you've been sleeping in dorm rooms with up to 12 people for the last 3 1/2 months. I spent the next day doing a trip out to the reef for more diving thats 9 dives on the great barrier reef now :)! And saw a lion fish which are quite rare and look really cool. The next moring I woke up, heard some rustling outside my window looked out expecting to find a small bird only to see a 3ft lizard sitting there! I spent the rest of the day just exploring along the beaches and in the rainforest.
I'm now just back in Cairns chilling and partying with some mates from the way up the coast, I fly out to thailand in a couple of days, so am pretty damn excited about that. Back in airlie beach I decided to not try and do malaysia and thailand in just a month like originally planned as there's nothing worse then not having enough time in a place and always moving around, doing more organising then seeing if you know what I mean. I'd heard really good things from 5 different people that had been on intrepid tours in thailand so I spent a while researching, reorganising flights and have booked a 24 day tourall around thailand. It should take in all different aspects of the country including spending time doing jungle treks, elephant trekking and staying in huts with local hill tribes up north and some time on the islands down south to chill out and do some diving. I figure its the best way to really get a real feel for the country in the time frame I have and its pretty flexible, not like stop here take your pictures of this and move on, in some places more like here's a map and some stuff you can do and you can explore for yourself. It will also be really nice to have a group that sticks together for a while as you often get a group where the dynamics work well, everyone gets on and then you split up after a few days. This has actually taken a fair amount of reorganising as I was due to fly out today and had to change my flights for a 2nd time yesterday (now spent 175GBP just changing flights :S) when I realised I would now be in the country for 32 days when 30 is the max without a visa which I wasn't gonna get in 2 days. Oops that could have been interesting :S !
This is likely the last time you'll hear from me in a while as I'll be super busy on my tour. I've had a really great time in Australia and actually found there's more activities here to do then expected, loads of crazy animals to see and a fair change in climate. The sheer size of the country is crazy, it fits europe with tons of space to spare or the whole of the US and sydney to cairns that I've travelled is 2400km about 1500 miles and is equivalent to taking a bus from london to moscow!
Once again cheers for everyones lovely messages, its great being able to keep in contact with you all:
Pete/Deidre: Ok promise to bring one of those spiders back for you as you requested right? be careful when you open your next bday/xmas present from us ;) Glad to hear tom and sam are both doing well. Looking forward to sampling pete's handywork :)
Mum/Dad: yeah I can see what you mean about the koala I hear some of them get the taste for human flesh and can snap any minute and eat you alive! thx for keeping everyone up to date (boring them?) with all my photos ;)
Meg (the maddest cousin in the world ;O): everythings gr8 thx, how's the travel planning going? what's the deets? where are you going? sure you'll have a great time, I'll be back on the 1st June so I'll just miss you :( but you'll have to keep me posted on how your travels are going when you do go! Love Dan X
Leila: Steve Irwins zoo was great thx, tho smaller than you might expect loads going on and animals are deff well treated. Unfortunately not back till the 1st June so will miss your cool ass party but will deff come visit or have you guys to visit sometime soon after I get back. P.s. you know I can out cute a koala any day ;) x
Bodhi: Thanks for the message. Glad you liked the crocodile pics they're really cool animals and suprisingly big, I'll see if I can fit one in my case for you, maybe you can keep it in the bath tub? I'm sure your mum wouldn't mind!
Occy: Knew you'd like the bungy you crazy little guy, I'm sure you'll get to try it someday! The crocodile didn't nearly eat me thankfully though we were allowed to get really close which was a little scary!
Ben: No worries man, I know how busy you get, tried to call u a few times for a chat but had no luck, will be home soon enough and it'll be really cool to catch up. Hope you're getting some mario kart practise in, i'll be looking for some revenge after your days of tekken dominance!
Tricia Takanawa (J): Ahh well if I can't have the virtual slap I'll have to come get one in person ;) Didn't realise your trip was an intrepid one?? that's encouraging as your's looked really cool too! Deff plan to enjoy thailand, catch you soon.