Hi everyone! How are you all doing?
We have spent the last few days in fun filled Cairns. We caught an internal flight from Perth around half past midnight which took us to Cairns via Melbourne. We arrived in a very humid Cairns about eleven the next day. Our hostel came and picked us up from the airport and we checked into our double room. Finally some privacy from the dorms we have been sleeping in - it feels like luxury not sharing with anyone apart from Gavin! Once showered and feeling partly human again we headed into town to grab some much needed lunch, a quick scoot round the shops and then down to the lagoon. The lagoon is just like a giant shallow swimming pool right on the seafront (you can't go into the sea here because there are crocodiles and sharks - great!). So we spent the afternoon taking it easy and chilling in the heat. That night the hostel provides a mini bus to another hostel where you can have an all you can eat buffet for just $9! And tonight was Italian. So we were fully prepared to scoff ourselves silly with vegetable lasagna, spinach and ricotta ravioli, spaghetti bolognaise, garlic bread, salad etc - it was the best food we'd had in ages and the bonus was there was no washing up! We ended up back at the hostel for the film they put on every night and then we headed to bed for an early night ready for our trip the next day.
Today we were on a tour to Cape Tribulation, a world heritage site, - where the "rainforest meets the reef"! Our tour guide, Rob picked us up and took us to the office where we got to see 'Santa' and hand over our money. Our first stop was Mossman Gorge, where we took a walk amongst the rainforest and watched the river gushing over the rocks. Sometimes they swim in the river here but when the water is brown!?!?! It's too dangerous and today it was very brown and running fast so we didn't want to try it.
We then headed to Daintree Mangrove Wildlife Sanctuary, and were taken round the park where we got to see all sorts of animals that they breed and release into the wild. The most exciting part was the crocodile that lept out of the water when the park owner hit a stick against the water, you had no idea it was there and it made us jump. We also got to meet the delightful Teddy who was a black cockatoo that I gave a telling off to because he took a liking to our new watch, since we'd already been through one watch I wasn't prepared to fork out for a third one!
We then headed north and crossed the Daintree River on a cable ferry. We stopped at the Alexandra Range lookout and had breathtaking views across the rainforest to the sea. Very cool! After this we experienced the Marrdja Boardwalk which took us through a section of the rainforest and parts of the mangrove swamp. Here we spotted a baby monitor lizard and got to learn about some of the plants that live here, some haven't changes in millions of years. It was then time for lunch at Cape Tribulation beach, Gavin and I took a walk up to the lookout where you could see two world heritage sites (Cape Tribulation and Great Barrier Reef) neighboring one another - the only place in the world this happens. We just had about time to take a stroll along the beach and then it was back into the bus to Daintree Ice Cream Company for some tropical fruit icecream. By the time we'd eaten this we were back at the Daintree River for a crocodile and wildlife cruise. We did manage to see two crocodile hidden in the murky water, one was a massive 30 cm long and approx 2 months old and the other one was a 'log'adile - I was convinced it was a real one! From here we headed home stopping at Rex lookout for a view of the coast back to Cairns.The next day, was another early start to be down at the harbor for 7.30 a.m. to meet our boat and crew for our sailing and diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef. We decided on a more personal experience and shared the day with only 16 other people who made it alot better (some of the other boats are like ferries and take out 400 people at a time!). The company was only allowed to dive in this specific area and it was nice to see they took every step to protect the reef. The trip out to Green Island was smooth, which meant there was no Ralph, so the fish didn't get fed! The boat anchored just off Green Island and Gavin and I were first up to dive with the instructor. On our first dive, our instructor Cain took us around a section of the reef and pointed out things we could touch without harming us or itself. We got to see a blue spotted ray, nemo's (clown fish) being tickled in its anemone, we got to hold a pineapple sea cucumber and some glass shrimps. But the coolest things we saw was a giant clam and we got to swim over and feel some spaghetti coral which felt really silky. There was also a black tip reef shark swimming around our boat and lots of other giant fish which were very interested in us.
After the dive, we went in for a snorkel and got to see more fish and coral. Gavin also though it would be funny to sneak up on me and grab me which made me cr*p my bikini pants! He though it was so hilarious that he swallowed loads of sea water as he couldn't stop laughing. Needless to say I was not amused and he's still laughing now while I write this. Don't worry I'll be getting him back!Back on the boat we sat down to an enormous lunch before taking the speed boat over to the island, which was a 5* resort. We took a stroll along the beach around the whole of the island before heading back for our second dive.This time we were joined by one of the other girls who panicked because her mask kept filling up with water, instead of clearing it by holding two fingers to the top of the mask and blowing through your nose she kept coming up to the surface, which we felt gave us less time to explore the reef. Despite this we still had an amazing time and we're really into scuba diving now and we couldn't believe just how beautiful and colourful the reef actually is.On the way back we enjoyed a glass of wine with cheese and crackers - very sophisticated!!! So now we can say we have dived on the Great Barrier Reef. Defiantly something to tick on the list of things to do before we die. So we'll leave you there as we are now off to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands.Bye for now.Lots of loveHelen and Gavin