Australia East Coast
After getting my PADI certification in Perth on birthday I decided to make my way towards the east coast of Australia and fly to Cairns for some diving at the great barrier reef (GBR).
I took a red eye from Perth to Cairns, which meant I arrived in Cairns at 4.30AM, by the time I got my baggage and took the airport shuttle to the YHA in Cairns it was 5.30AM. Of course like many many hostels in Australia one finds the hostel reception was closed, there was no number to call for late or early checkins. Hostels in South America was so so much better about this. Anyway, Cairns actually has many hostels and hotels right on the Esplanade, so I decided to checkin to one hostel whose recpetion was actually open at 5.30AM. I spent the day just checking various dive shops in Cairns.
Most people on LP scuba section recommended the pro dive shop in Cairns, its bit expensive place but they are the best. So I checked availability for 2N3D trips but they were booked out for few days so I decided to do a day trip on TusaII boat, did 2 dives it was fantastic.
While on this trip met two physios from Canada that are working. Next day three of rented a car and took a trip to Port Douglous. Port Douglas is upscale version of Cairns, with bit more expensive shops. It is supposed to be Bill Clinton's favourite spot, he was here on 9/11! After coming back from Port Douglas found that ProDive had few open spots on 28Dec trip, so I had few more days to kill in Cairns. Cairns is a rather boring place with pathetic night life. But fortunately there was a test match going on between Pakistan and Aus on TV so I spent couple of days watching TV in the hostel. I would recommend place called Global Palace in Cairns, it actually has dorm rooms without the bunk beds.
On Dec 28th we left Cairns on ProDive II boat at 7.30AM, an excellent ship.
Most of the crew on the boat was from New Zealand except the Captain. I decided to do the adavanced PADI course which meant some homework between the dives. But we got to do a deep dive upto 30 meters which was really cool. Also did couple of night dives which was fantastic, we got to see trigger fish sleeping in his sleeping bag! Also a nice 3-4 meter white tipped shark swimmed just in front of us, it was really nice to watch the shark actually swim, instead of catching them sleeping at the bottom. The visibility on most dives was atleast 15-20 meters, I think we got to see turtles,rays on most of our dives. While on return trip the ProDive offered a great deal where we could transfer to another boat that was half full and do two more days of diving for just AUS$150, plus spend a new year's eve on the boat. Who could anyone pass on that kind of offer. So I took it. Again had fantastic time, of course new year's night was not rocking party night but we did have drinks till 1.00AM and postponed the next morning's early dive from 7.30AM to 8.30AM. But nice early morning dive was good way to start the new year, I think.
After returning to Cairns I waited in Cairns to hookup with John. After which took a flight to Sydney. Stayed at the HarbourSide Hostel in Sydney which was okay, not a very social club with mix of Germans and Brits having their own groups and conversations and everybody just watching Simpson's on TV.
I walked around Sydney a lot, went to see Opera at the Sydney Opera house.
Opera house inside is okay but certainly not as nice a SF or even Buenos Aires plus it was bloody hot inside. Most of the folks were in Suite and tie and it appeared to be lot more formal affair than SF. On the same day just outside the opera house, Aussie rock stars had free concert so after the opera got to see that concert for hour or so. Actually met two Aussie girls at opera, that were surprised that I was there to watch opera alone, so we talked a bit about dating scene in Sydney & SF. Looks like just like in SF folks are far more money minded in Sydney as well. Next day met two girls again and we went to free Jazz concert in the Domain that put out as part of Sydney festival, which occurs every 2-3rd week of Jan.
The LP really raved about Bondi beach so I decided to go there, what a big mistake. Bondi beach is actually very tiny beach where people TRY to surf, most of them are tourists trying surfing for the first part. Most of the hostels in Bondi beach are dumps, night life is okay, but far too much pot and other drugs. After wasting two days in Bondi returned to Sydney, then visited the Australian museum in Sydney, which actually was actually interesting. They had very good section on Aboriginal rights movement in 1960s. I did not know that Australia till 1960s had whites only institutes. Actually there is acknowledgment & proof that indeed white Australian establishment did take away Aboriginal children away from their homes and tried to raise them as Christians/whites, which Howard (PM) sometime ago refused to acknowledge. But he still keeps getting elected!! Go figure...
Said goodbye to Australia on Jan 15th.
Posted by Subodh
on January 26, 2005 12:14 AM