Last stop - home of the Great Barrier Reef - Cairns
We arrived in Cairns - home to the one of the worlds natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef - after a good full day bus journey from Airlie Beach! After our last, and it was actually our last, cheap champagne induced night out with Glen and Sam it was indeed a very sombre and uncomfortable ride! Nevertheless we already had plans to meet back up in England. It was late evening when we arrived at Gilligans and finally checked into our room. Everything was pretty cool there - modern interior and nice beds! Also, it had a wicked nightclub next to it renowned for one of the best nights out along the East Coast! The people in our room were really friendly and outgoing. And by that, I mean they loved going out. Their names were Chinobi, Ryan, Matt and Angela. And they were probably the friendliest people who we shared a room with who we had not previously known. That evening we made our standard noodles and tuna then crashed out! The next day we explored Cairns, did the most budget shop ever so we made sure there was enough money leftover for Scuba Diving and McDoubles, and had a walk along the harbour watching the huge yachts and boats go by. We also walked passed the espionage and decided we should chill out there one day! And finally, we sorted out an underwater camera - which we were told by Jamie and Steph to hire - and in doing so, sold our souls to the devil as we knowingly signed for the $600 security deposit we knew we could not afford if we lost the camera. Added to this, Catherine thought it would be sensible to inform this to the man hiring the camera! Luckily though, he had faith in us. The following day was the day of our scuba dive. We woke up early and made our way to the harbour and boarded the boat - 'Ocean Freedom' - at 8am and got greeted with breakfast, woo! The sea looked pretty calm however once we got going, and we really got going courtesy of the mad captain, it was pretty choppy which unfortunately manifested itself in the majority of the people vomiting. Anyhow, about half an hour into the trip, those who were diving were briefed by the real friendly crew and those who endured the talk without running out to hurl their guts up (which did happen to a select six people) we safely prepped for the 6-7m dive. Although, let's face it, you can't possible imagine the underwater world on a cramped boat deck. When we finally reached our first diving spot, we went out in a glass boat so we could get a preview of the underwater world from the surface. Even on the boat, we saw a sea turtle! It was crazy! We also saw giant clams and loads of colourful fish and coral. Afterwards we returned to the main boat and waited for our 20 minute dive. We got all suited up for the dive and once we were told to go we could hardly walk! The tank was pretty heavy and the flippers didn't help! When we got the edge we jumped in and it was kind of awkward at first to try stabilise yourself because of all the equipment as well as keeping two eyes on the camera all the time but after practising breathing exercises and equalising we got sort of familiarised with the whole thing. Next thing we know, we were guided by a instructor from the boat to the reef. It is very hard to describe how amazing the reef is, especially from coming the noisy above to the serene below where everything is audibly silent but visually so loud; the lack of noise is more than compensated by what you see, its incredible! Everything is so colourful and alive..it was so cool being in the moment, it was a lot like a skydive in many ways - taking it all in without anything else in your mind, total enjoyment. Underwater, we saw so many different kinds of fish (inc. lots of Finding Nemo fish), giant clams and coral. It was such a weird sensation not going up for air as well! Our ears hurt slightly but we were able to deal with it. It was definitely a highlight of the whole trip. That day we also went snorkelling on a guided trip round a specific patch of the reef and so much! Even saw some coral sharks(!) rays and even more colourful fish. Was great. Then we returned to the boat and grabbed some food, stole some cheese cubes for our pasta, and returned, after a quality day, to the hostel! That night we drunk some goon with the guys from our room, the only night we could go out on, and partied a bit at Gilligans, with zero money, then got some McDonalds with Matt to top off our night. After a good old lay in on our last full day in Cairns, we sorted out a taxi to the airport and then chilled all day by the espionage with 30 cent ice cream and a whole load of water. It was so nice there! A big public outdoor salt water pool to relax in and soak up the rays. That night we packed our bags for one last time and got some sleep. The next morning it was up early for the taxi for what can be best described as the most horrific return journey home one could ever wish for...