So after a excitement packed 6 weeks i have come to the end of the east coast of Australia and the 2nd third part of my trip! Since my last update i have managed to squeeze in some more adventures. We began our 3day sailing trip by sailing through the night and ancoured in a little quite bay. When we woke up we were stunned by the spectacular views of Whitehaven Beach! After some breaky we headed over and chilled there for the morning. The sand is pure silicon and so fine that i didnt risk taking my camera! The crew had set up a volley ball net and we played rounders on the beach. We also had our first 'diving experience' in the water, which involved getting the gear on and getting used to breathing underwater, with the comfort of knowing you could stand up at any point and breathe freash air. I was very excited to be in the water and even better being able to breathe underneath it!!!
After this, we sailed for a few hours to the actual barrier reef (since the one around the islands is merely fringing reef - our skipper made sur we understood the difference!) where we got to snorkel around. Within minutes of being in the water, i spotted a white tipped reef shark swimming 5 meters in front of me!!! it was so exciting that i stuck my head out of the water to let everyone else know and by the time i was back watching the action, it had swam deep down into the water and i was unable to get a picture of it (i came prepared with an underwater camera you see!i just forgot my brains!). Soon after that i also saw a lovely big turtle gliding through the water! the reef was beautiful and housed many different colourful spieces of fish. Having said that though, the reef itself was not as colourful as Finding Nemo portrayed it to be! Once back on the boat we had a few snacks and performed a few jumping stunts off the bowe of the boat (thats the front for all you who are boat illiterate - having said that i have no idea if that is how you spell it! haha).
In the evening we just chilled and chatted to the crew and fellow sailors! An early start was followed by another morning swim in the reef. This is also when i got to dive properly for the 1st time! Naturally i was the first one to go down and found the whole experience very liberating! Managing to survive in this underworld was pretty wierd especially when i lead on my back on the sea bed and could see the sky!!! freaky stuff! We managed to go down to 14.8m and although we didnt see any impressive fish, the coral was much more spectacular. I also got to touch a sea cucumber (which looks like a giant catterpillar) and an amenity (which felt like sticky spaghetti). We also saw nemos living in it which was pretty cool. To be fair i was more excited about seeing that than any shark! haha.
After the dive we snorkelled a little more in different parts of the reef before saving some time for the more important things in life, like sunbathing! The sun was absolutely baking though and even though we were continuously topping up with 30 suncream, we could feel our skin burning so often had to run for cover. On the second evening we simply had some dinner and watched an Ozzie film before heading to bed early. When i went up on deck in the morning for my breaky, i noticed that there were lots of huge fish swimming around the boat so without any hesitation or sensible thinking to grab my stinger suit, i got my flippers and mask and just jumped into the water with a piece of bread! Within seconds, these enormous fish which stretched to 1.3m long and 0.5m wide were swimming around me touching my skin and eating out of my hand. I was absolutely terrified and i dont really know why i jumped in but felt that i couldnt miss such a unique opportunity. Cleverly, the rest of the people on board opted to film and take pictures of the action from the boat itself! There were also some black long fish with fins which looked a lot like sharks swimming around me and i could see that unlike the big blue blubby ones i was feeding, they had alot of sharp teeth and so chose to just throw some food over to them. Even though i was scared, it was lovely being in the water without the suit and was a refreshing way to start my day!
The rest of the day included some more snorkelling where i saw another shark, a few more turtles,some group jumps off the boat and lastly, some leisurely reading whilst topping up my tan. On the final day of our trip, we headed back towards the island where we had the chance to swim among the fish a little more. There was also a beach which was made up of coral as opposed to sand and even though you're not supposed to, i sneaked a tiny piece to stick into my diary! On my return swim back to the boat, i was stung by a jellyfish tenticle on the 3cm of exposed sking between my stinger suit and my flipper!!! how unlicky is that! some might say its karma for stealing the coral! it didnt really hurt very much as it was a hair like piece randomly floating through the water but i had to make sure with Baz, our skipper, that i wasnt going to die!!! After these dramatic events, we piecefully sailed through clear blue waters and stunning islands, spotting a few more turtles and a couple of dolphins. At around 2pm, we came into Airlie Beach marina where our eventful trip came to an end. A nice hot shower was well needed after this trip, as we were only allowed to rinse our body and hair so as you can imagine, we stank!!! In the evening, the crew held a leaving party for us at one of the bars and provided us with drink vouchers and pizza! not bad for a day's sailing! haha. The crew appeared not to have seen land or alcohol for a long time and so got absolutely oblitherated and presented an alternate side which we did not see on the boat! in the meantime, we continued to be sensible and went to bed fairly early.
The following morning was an early start as we had to catch our bus to Townsville and then a ferry over to Magnetic Island where we stayed for the night. The island itself is absolutely tiny but had some beautiful picture perfect scenery. Unfortunately the water there is infested by jellyfish and sharks at this time of year, so we only booked to stay for 1 night and managed to swim in the pool. Even so, we had a lovely time there. The following morning, we cought the ferry back to main land and then the bus which took us to the last stop in our trip, Cairns, which is where i am at the moment. On the way however, our driver Uncle Buck, stopped off by a river for a picnic lunch. We had the option to swim but it looked a little murky so i chose not to! After that we stopped off at a crocadile farm which was AMAZING!!!
Firstly, i got to hold a black head python, a blue tongue lizard and some spiky headed dragon which was pretty cool! After that we watched several crocs being fed, including a 5.8m 70yr old called Gregory! He really was a big boy!!! they guzzled up some chickens and pig legs before engaging in some croc love making! indeed! We also got to feed some kangaroos and wallabies, held baby dingos (which look like a cross between a dog and a fox!), walked among the emus and finally stood well away from the bird that can rip a humans intestines out with a swift kick - the cassowerry! Before we left, we also were taken into a room where hundreds of crocs were being bred. Their meal for the day was hundreds of little chicken heads which was disgusting! Did you know that the gender of a croc can be determined by the temperature of the incubator! So the workers at the farm get to play God and produce which ever gender they need! how fun!
Anyhow, having left the croc farm we had a few hours drive before arriving in Cairns! After tearily waving goodbye to the Oz Bus, we checked ourselves into Gilligans which is a new and very clean hostel with a nightclub and restaurant attached to it.That evening we met our driver and the people from our bus and went to a Thai restaurant for dinner and drinks. We had a lovely meal together and then the girls and i went out to the bar at our hostel for a few more drinks.
Since then, we've just pottered around and sunbathed by the lagoon as the sea here consists of mud flats! We were due to hire a car and drive up to Cape Tribulation which is further north of Cairns on the coast but the weather forecast predicted storms and thunder and after the disasters caused by cyclones in Brisbane, we thought it best to stay put! The girls left me this morning and cought their flight to Bangkok. It was very emotional leaving them as we've spent no more than an hour apart since i landed in Sydney and have naturally become very close over this time! It feels very strange to have completed my trip in Australia, although i am now ready to tackle the challenges of New Zealand.
I am travelling with an open mind and am excited about the adventures ahead. Before i leave Oz however, i am flying back to Sydney tomorrow for a spot of sightseeing!
I hope you're not too bored after my rant!
Loving you all x x x