With finals coming up next week, I should be studying. Especially since I have about 50% of my grades for each class remaining. But I’d rather write about the trip I took this past weekend to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.
Max and I knew we had to make a trip out to the reef, and we decided the ‘study break’ before finals was the perfect time. We, and 4 others were supposed to take a 12:35 am bus on Friday night/saturday morning to Cairns. We got a call from greyhound saying the bus was late and to arrive at 1:40 for a 2am departure. Gabby gave us a ride to Max’s friends house (the other travelers) since they live closer to the bus terminal. We were all already really tired, but set out with our backpacks at 1:20 through the Townsville streets to go to the terminal. We had to walk through the club/bar area, and of course got many stares and comments about being tourists with our backpacks. Two am came and went. One of the guys called greyhound to find that it was now a 3am departure. Our friends weren’t able to get on the same dive trip as Max and I, so they were supposed to leave on a boat at 8am that morning. That didn’t happen. We got into Cairns at 8:10 that morning after ‘sleeping’ on the greyhound for 5 hours. Sleeping was really just a lot of head rolling, numb legs, and open mouths. Luckily the others were able to reschedule their dive trip for the following day. The rest of the day we spent walking around like zombies, while also enjoying Cairns. Max and I met another friend, Owen, who took a later greyhound (wise decision) before going to dinner. We were ready for bed at about 5pm but decided to go get a couple of beers with everyone before we parted ways.
Max, Owen, and I got picked up from our hostel at 7:40 the next day to head to the boat. We went to the dive shop for a quick briefing, before we went to the port. It took about 2 hours to get out to the outer reef. It was a really beautiful ride. There was a 20 min period where the boat was rocking considerably back and forth, which caused max and I to get nice and sea sick. We were dropped off at a dive platform before a little boat came to pick us up and take us to the Kangaroo Explorer, our vessel for the next 2 days. We had a tour of the boat and got our cabin assignments before we were briefed for our first dive/snorkel. It turned out there were only 2 other snorkelers, both named Karen; what are the chances! We had a bit of a swim to get to the reef, which of course made me a bit nervy to swim in water where all you can see in front, below, and behind you is blue. When we got to the edge of the reef though, everything seemed less scary. It seems silly to say ‘oh man there are so many fish on the great barrier reef,’ but there are. There are so many different colors, shapes and sizes of fish, starfish, sea cucumbers, and coral. It’s astounding! I got back on the boat and met up with Max and Owen, all giddy from our first experiences with the reef. The second reef we went to was even better than the first. In addition to the 7 million fish, I saw about 12 sea turtles (got close enough to touch some if I dared), some sort of ray, and 2 white tip reef sharks. It was unreal. Every time we would all get back on the boat, Max, Owen and I would share all the new creatures we saw. Max and Owen went on a night dive, but apparently didn’t see too much, and were mostly freaked out. We got up at 5:45 for a 6am dive/snorkel. It was cool being in the water as the sun came up.
We got back to Cairns that evening, and had a couple of hours before the greyhound took us back to T-ville. We got some dinner ($7 foot-longs, of course they’re more expensive here) While we were sitting on the wall by the beach, a man from the Cairns post came up to us, and said we looked a little chilly. He said he was doing an article on the “winter weather” and wanted to take a picture of us looking cold. He had me wrap up in my nasty, salty, towel, and cuddle up to Max like I was freezing in the 72 degree weather. At this point we hadn’t showered in 4 days, ‘slept’ on a greyhound, and been in the ocean 7 different times. My hair was like a salty helmet. Luckily we don’t look too crusty in the picture. http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2011/05/31/166915_local-news.html
The greyhound was on time (!) and we got back to Cairns around 12:30am, and luckily Gabby was waiting to pick us up. I have pictures to put up, which will have to wait until I get a new computer!