Day 36 – Great Barrier Reef

Sunday, Feb 21, 2016

Today, I would participate in one of the trips I have been looking forward to for quite some time, Scuba Diving and Snorkelling in the outer Great Barrier Reef. I had asked about a shark dive but I was informed that there are no large sharks in this area due to the warm water temperatures. There are just a lot of different species of fish and coral, so I will have to leave shark diving for another time.

This adventure would take most of the day. The resort where I am staying is a 30 minute drive north from the city of Cairns, so a van was to pick me up at a nearby hotel lobby at 6:45 am to take me to the docks in the city.

There was a sudden downpour of rain at 6:30 am and fortunately it stopped in time for me to make the 2 minute walk to the hotel lobby where I would meet my driver. I found the driver and we reached the docks in plenty of time. The company limits the number of passengers on board to 60 people, although, it is capable of taking up to 120, which is good because 60 is the most it can ” comfortably ” handle. To give you an indication of the size of the boat, I took this picture of it from the water, while I was snorkeling.


It was a one hour boat ride from the docks to the outer reef and while we were on our way, the crew made preparations, instructed the scuba divers on safety protocol, briefed the introductory students on scuba diving and had us sign all of the necessary documentation and release of liability ( i.e. the normal waivers, so that our families couldn’t sue the company if something happened to us ).

When we got to the first dive site, I had to go through some basic diving exercises for them to make sure I knew what to do if I lost my mouth piece, got water in my mask, etc. I had forgotten that my moustache and beard would make it difficult to seal the facemask and therefore, I had to clear it several times while I was in the water.

The experience was wonderful. I was able to dive down and see a lot of the coral from below for 30 minutes and then I was able to snorkel for an hour while taking pictures of the reef and its inhabitants. Although my underwater camera took some good pictures, it still did not capture the beautiful colours that I experienced of the coral and the fish. I have snorkelled in Florida, Hawaii and the caribbean and the experiences were wonderful, but they don’t quite compare to the Great Barrier Reef.


When it was time for lunch, we were all brought back on board, given a nice meal and then the skipper took us to another location, where I was able to snorkel and take pictures, until it was time to go. Below is a sample of some of the photos I took..





I’m not sure what this was, but it looked like a huge clam and the white areas appeared to be breathing.


Just before I finished snorkeling I saw a group of squid swimming in a line towards the boat.


It was a wonderful ” once in a lifetime ” experience and I have imbedded a link below for anyone who might be interested in seeing all of the pictures.!3226&authkey=!ANWOzJyz_XNaAkA&ithint=folder%2cjpg

We departed from the dive site at 3 pm, returned to the docks by 4 pm and I was back at the resort by 4:30 pm. On our way back to the Palm Cove area, I was fortunate to see a large group of Wallabies in a field, a few kilometres from the resort, however, I didn’t have a chance to take a picture of them.

When I got back, I took a well-needed shower, wandered to the beach district and had a nice meal at one of the restaurants before relaxing for the night.

My next planned adventure is for Wednesday.

Day 35 – Cairns ( Palm Cove)

Saturday, Feb 20, 2016

I had a good night’s rest and got up early to the songs of tropical wildlife, particularly the birds, some of which were not very pleasant because they made a screeching sound. The magpies and the cockatoos are known for making a lot of noise. Fortunately the noise is predominately only heard at sunrise and sometimes at sunset.

May to September is the high tourist season in Cairns, when it is a little cooler. Why? Because it is stifling hot here from October to April due to the high humidity. The temperature in the morning was 31 C ( 88 F ) and it got as high as 35 ( 95 F ) with 75% relative humidity, which, according to the weather stations, make it ” feel like ” 42 degrees. This is not the time for strenuous activities.

It was my first full day in Cairns and I had no plans so, I spent the day acclimating myself to the location and making plans. I made plans for my stay here, my flight back to Sydney as well as, a place to to stay in Sydney until I fly back home.

This location is very tropical, as you can tell of from the street view where I am staying.


There is even a short walkway that is an alternate path along the street that gives you a real tropical feeling as you go through it.


After organizing the rest of my travel I went to the the information site along the beach to organize a few trips. On my way, I considered going for a swim, however, as soon as I got there, I noticed that there was no one in the water along the beautiful ‘ pristine ‘ beach. As I walked along the beach I saw a sign indicating that it wasn’t safe for swimming. Apparently there are a lot of jellyfish, particularly at this time of the season and some can be fatal if you come in contact with them. There was a swim area net in the water but these nets are not always successful in keeping the jellyfish out. You can see the small white outline of the swim net in the water on the right.


Instead of a swim, I walked along the ” boardwalk ” which had a beautiful view of the shops and restaurants nestled among the trees.


I stopped at a cafe and had a light breakfast. I saw this sign in one of the shops and I thought it was worth posting because it reflects how much we rely on wifi these days. Which is rather ironic on my part because I’m using wifi to update my journal, however, in my defence, I’m not doing it while I’m in a restaurant. Instead, I’m just talk to myself.


I entered an information site where the lady helped me organize 2 full-day tours in Cairns. I saw that the building where the information site was located had 2 trees growing through the roof and I found that several of the restaurants and the buildings had done the same. This picture was taken inside the information site building.


If you look closely at the next picture, you will see two trees that are inside the two adjacent restaurants along the beach walk.


After arranging some activities, I took the bus to the nearest shopping area to get some groceries, as well as a hat, because I had lost the one that I had bought in Te Anu to replace my Tilley hat that I had left in the San Francisco airport. I don’t like wearing hats, but its the curse for having a bald head in a hot climate!

Tomorrow will be my first full-day tour, because I was informed that it would be the best day to go on the tour due to storms that were being predicting during the week, which might result in the cancellation of the trip.