And so begins my east coast adventure! I stayed in Darwin for a few more days until my flight. I met up with Richard and Bron for some food on the pier in the evening and in the day Richard and me had a few beers in a local bar (turned out to be a day time strip club haha) then we hitch-hiked our way back into town to chill at the lagoon. It had a wave pool which was fun and here was my first taste of a tropical downpour! I think the wave pool rose a couple of inches once it finished...such heavy rain, the really really wet kind haha! So anyway after more goodbyes to my friends I caught my flight to Cairns.
I arrived mid morning getting off the place in the beautiful sunshine. The heat was no more than Darwin so I was quite used to it but seeing other people in the airport pale and sweating made me laugh.
I caught a shuttle bus to my hostel-Gilligans! The place was massive filled with backpackers and even a club next door. Uh-oh..never going to sleep in this place. All checked in I had a little walk around town making it as far as the big shopping centre a couple of blocks away. Being there was a flash in the past...I've been here before with my parents 4 or 5 years ago. Bought some shoes here, Ugg slippers there, ate at Subway and sat here...nothing changed which is nice. I sat down for lunch (not subway) and then walked to the coast and the artificial lagoon. As I was walking I remembered that my friend was here from Melbourne. We worked together at Aussie Farmers and both happened to be traveling down the coast at the same time. I rang him up and even as we were talking I spotted him walking along the path. Haha back in Melbourne he only had a "Lincoln" beard but now he had grown a full beast of a beard much like a caveman or bush man...turned out he was living in the bush before he arrived so it suited him well lol. It was great catching up, he'd been working at a bar in the bush whereas I'd been working at the Hard Rock in Sydney and both had saved money for our trip. We talked for ages about what we'd been up to and in the evening we bought beers and sat on the wall near the lagoon. A bit of an error because not 20mins later we were shouted at by a lady warden of the lagoon. I'd finished mine but Anton had just opened up a new one and was made to pour it all over the side..Don't drink near the Lagoon!
The next day we chilled around the water. There's not much else to do in the city except relax and chill and soak up the sun. In the afternoon we looked at booking some more tours. I'd paid for the most of mine but needed to sort out dates but and Anton there and then booked the same as me...Whitsundays on the 30th... whoop!!
Throughout the day we never really ate much but come evening we went mental!! A chinese all you can eat restaurant (one I'd been to before with my parents). We piled food high like a pyramid and went for it...about 2 hours later I finished and was ready to pop; never eaten so much in my life!!
The next day was much the same, we booked the Great Barrier Reef Tour, seperately this time because I wanted to dive and Anton rather snorkelled. I booked with Silver Sonic that went to the outer ribbon reefs from Port Douglas. More expensive but I wanted to do the best available on a day tour. In the evening it was a feast again! We bought burgers for a BBQ, probably the biggest burgers that I have ever made myself. Triple burger, triple bacon, double cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion, topped off with ketchup...I'm getting hungry thinking about it! So good!
The next day was my Great Barrier Reef trip. Everyone I spoke to said that the Ribbon Reef was the best place to dive (well on a day tour atleast) so I was excited. I hired an underwater camera for $35 and was picked up early in the morning to drive to Port Douglas. The boat was a big catamoran, pride placement in the centre of the marina. We set off early at 8.30am for the Agincourt Ribbon reefs right on the continental shelf. Untouched it was supposed to be colourful and teeming with marine life. After the necessary paperwork and some breakfast the call soon came for divers to get ready. All in black stood on the back of the boat I felt like a marine waiting for battle, all I needed was a gun strapped to my shoulder instead of a camera lol.
All ready I did the giant step in to the water and descended down to the sea floor. All was great going down- no worries with my ears which was a blessing; ears which refuse to equalise can hurt like hell!
The first site was a reef rising from the sea floor up in a pillar formation. Starting deep we ascended/getting shallower as we went. Down at the bottom like other dives I've done there wasn't much colour to be seen. THe bright colours (reds) are only found towards the surface so if I'm honest I didn't see much colour, I don't even remember seeing many fish either haha! The site overall was ok, I didn't see anything spectacular but diving but obviously diving on the reef seeing a whole different world is amazing in itself! Never saw a turtle though damn it!
The next dive was good, a little shallower so more colour (not alot) and I got to see my favourite fish..Nemo!! Having done the advanced dive course, this time I could get right up close to take some awesome pictures! We held a sea cucumber which was cool- like a weird caterpillar strange to the touch, and put our fingers inside a clam before it shut. This dive was better, more to see; more colour, more fish and more impressive coral shapes and structures under the water. Still though...no turtle!!
The third and final spot was a drift dive on the edge of the continental shelf. Jumping off the boat and watching it sail away and leave you behind was a wierd feeling...no where to go but down! There was a strong current pushing you along under the water; good if you were lazy, bad if you saw something cool adn needed to swim back haha. Again though nothing blew me away, I saw a reef shark but it was only a little one and not a lot of colour except a few fish. Being honest I think there are much better places to dive, people who say that the Great Barrier Reef is a spectacular site are kidding themselves or don't know any better. The movie Finding Nemo made it a lot more impressive with colours that I didn't see haha, and yes you guessed it! No TURTLE!!- Damn!
Be that as it may though I would say that the Great Barrier Reef is a good place to see just because it is the Great Barrier Reef! It's special because it's the largest living ecosystem on the planet. That's what makes it impressive and the fact that I've managed some dives here has made it special to me :) Very happy I did it and impressed with the sheer size of it. Another wonder of the world that I can tick off my list!
The next day I went on a day tour called Uncle Brian's. This might possibly be my favourite trip I've done so far in all of Australia and that's saying something...
I got picked up at the hostel by a bus called Whally and a crazytour guide called Cousin Brad. Straight away he made everyone comfortable and relaxed making us laugh and get involved. He introduced us all himself and I waved when he said my name. i could already tell that it was going to be a good day; the guide was a nutter, the group looked like a laugh and everyone spoke English haha!!
First stop was the boulders, a good view with a short bush walk through the rainforest and a little swim in the river, after a snack we were back on the bus. He really did make me laugh, some of the stuff he came up with made us all smile. He had this Elmo doll and everytime he saw road workers he'd beep the horn and wave Elmo. So random but the workers loved it waving back everytime. He made the bus "Whally" a part of the group giving him a personality by the way he drove. He gave us all pens to so we could draw on the windows and puzzles and jigsaws so we wouldn't get bored..It was all just awesome!
On our way to the second stop he made up a huge story about the Dahli Lahma, through all this he made a game of passing a polo person to person by matchsticks in the mouth..so funny to watch everyone do it, especially Dan and his mate at the back of the bus. Awesome!
Eventually we arrived at our second stop- Josephine falls. It was a nice viewpoint and a place to swim but the best of all a natural rock waterslide! You could go down any which way you liked, I went down sitting, on my back, bum, sideways, backwards, in a train of 15 people, a girl on my back and all the while Cousin Brad was taking photos, really good fun.
From here we drove to lunch, a beautiful quiet spot surrounded by hills and fields. The food was great and there was even enough for seconds :)
After lunch we drove for 10 minutes or so to Millaa- Millaa falls; the waterfall in Peter Andre's music video Mysterious Girl and the advert for Herbal Essences haha! The water was cold so getting in was fun but after adjustment to the temperature it was refreshing and woke me up lol plus the mini massage from the waterfall was good. We posed for the perfect profile picture, dipping my head in the water and whipping it back as fast as I could to make a circle of water behind me..Herbal Essences beat that haha! Funny watching everyone try, some better than others; we had sexy, goofy, geeky and poser. I did geeky and poser with both photos just taking the one attempt haha.
Back on the bus and a rap dance from Whally (drive bounce lol) we made for a lake in a volcano. It was quite a while away so Brad told us a story of Whallys girlfriend...again really random but made us laugh. His girlfriend wasn't where she was supposed to be so Whally got upset and began acting out...windscreen wipers, horn, stalling and beeping; it was cute and sad because in the end Whally did have a personality and part of the group haha, qute attached to our bus! Anyway to cheer him up we had to scare some animals out of their hiding place, we hid first and then on 3 we came up shouting. To our right a little old lady had a huge smile on her face and a basket at her feet. She threw massive caterpillars and butterflies from the basket, so random and funny! Brad said he didn't even know who she was haha! But Whally seemed happy and we resumed our journey!
At the volcano and the lake we changed into swim stuff and went for a swim. The temperature seemed warm compared to the last waterfall so we were straight in! I jumped from trees, a pontoon and swan to the middle ...It's been such a good day!
From here though we went to a bar for a few beers. Before that we went to a quiet spot and went to see some Platypus in their natural environment. I saw about 4 but have to admit the zoom on my camera made them look more like a brown smudge in the water haha could have been anything! After the bar we made our way back to Cairns, it was the best drive ever...more games, dancing, singing and laughing, really good fun. Brad even made the guys strip to the "Wiggle" song too but in amoungst so many girls it was good banter haha! Back at the hostel the fun didn't end. I got showered and changed then met everyone for drinks at Gilliagans bar. We had a table reserved, some free beers and with all of us together I had an absolutely epic night! Think I got to bed at 5am...up at 6ish for Cape Tribulation but it was worth it. Uncle Brian's is voted the 2nd best tour in Australia behind the Great Barrier Reef and it definitely didn't disappoint. I would highly reccommend Uncle Brian'd to everybody!!
Well Cape Tribulation tomorrow and going wth a hangover!