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Feb 29th – Finding Nemo

Saturday, March 1st, 2008


Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

Why do most people come to Cairns? It’s not because of the beaches – there are only mud flats – it’s for the accessibility to the Great Barrier Reef. The trips range in value from $200 for a day trip to the one we found for $60 an adult. Compass has a reputation for being on the oldest boat but the crew we had all day made sure we had such a laugh you didn’t miss air conditioning (who needs it on a boat when you are moving) and hot water showers.

It takes a couple of hours to reach the outer reef, through surprisingly murky waters and lots of islands. We had 2 different site visits and from the moment that you enter the water, which had thankfully changed colour to a clear turquoise, it’s like a different world. The coral is technicolour and the reef is very shallow so you see so much. There are over 600 varieties of fish and we saw so many – angel fish, Nemo, big ones, green and turquoise ones just sooo many. To actually watch the coral moving and the fish dart in and out was amazing. You don’t really need to swim far you just glide and watch as the world beneath you unfolds.

O and I also ticked another on the Top 10 things to do list – we had an introductory scuba dive. We could not persuade Josh who was more than happy to keep on snorkelling. I was really nervous but there were only 4 in our group and the instructor was very patient. Breathing was the first issue – your brain takes a minute to adjust to it but then it was OK. The ears were something else – each time you go down you have to equalise the pressure by blowing them out – mine would not go and it took about 10 minutes to get used to it and make my ears work properly but by then we were swimming by ourselves. You really get a different perspective and we touched the giant clams so they shut and finally found Nemo! If I ever get the money I would love to learn properly as there is so much more freedom with it, but alas it was over before we knew it and off to the other reef site.

The other site was near to a nesting turtles site but still for poor O there were no turtles to be seen. We did see a couple of reef sharks which was quite exciting. It did not help that some bloke behind me thought it would be funny to grab my foot – I nearly jumped a mile out of the water. It was a shame when we got called back into the boat but a glass of wine helped!

All in all it was a great day and it has to be the best snorkelling to date – we saw so much and the colours were fabulous.

Feb 28th – Kurunda

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Cairns 256

Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

The rain has nearly washed the van away. The rain meant we could not have the windows open last night and the humidity meant a hard going night. The free pancake breakfast here made up for it though. They were really nice and it feels like so long ago we had a hot breakfast. There were companies there plugging cruises (of course nothing is for free) and managed to find a cheap one that visits more than one site on the outer reef. The only downside is we have to be ready at 6.30 tomorrow……………..

Before the rain started again today we quickly made our way up to Kuranda and the Barron Falls. The water rushing through there was amazing and had a real power to it. As we were quite early no tourists either! There is a lookout on the hilly way up to Kurunda and the view was breathtaking. You could see the green of Cairns (as there really are no beaches here to speak of – just mud flats) and the calmest bluest ocean stretching out into the distance beyond – incredibly peaceful. Well it was until the kids started arguing about the radio and who was singing the song, I could hear them from where I was standing and it was the Rolling Stones for those who might have been wondering – quite prophetically “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, silence is golden and all that.

The drive to Kurunda was more fun than the town itself. It is really a tourist trap with markets and stalls selling opals and didgeridoos galore. You can spend a small fortune catching the train up or riding on the gondola if you needed a way to bust your budget – the drive is just as much fun on the very windy roads. We were overtaken by a carload of Aborigine workers who all cheered and waved as they passed – I wondered if they were congratulating my driving or just cheering that they could actually pass me – at least they were smiling!

2 nights left in the van and then………………..air conditioning!

Feb 27th – Cairns At Last

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Cairns 253 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour What a relief to have reached out furthest North destination. It sounds strange but it has been harder driving North. Someone said it was because every mile gets you ... [Continue reading this entry]

Feb 26th – Mission Beach

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Cairns 218

Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

A small town with a great beach. It’s so chilled out here I could easily spend some ... [Continue reading this entry]

Feb 24th – Townsville

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Airlie Beach 069 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour It is with a bit of sadness that we left Airlie Beach – the place has a great vibe about it and we actually at long last met ... [Continue reading this entry]

Feb 22nd/23rd – Whipped Ice Cream

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Airlie Beach 110 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour Another splurge for today – we seem to be doing a lot of those in Australia. A day trip out to see The Whitsundays, I would have loved ... [Continue reading this entry]

Feb 21st – Birdkids of Alcatraz

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Airlie Beach 058 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour The highlight of today was staying at Lake Maraboon, just outside of Emerald. It’s a beautiful tranquil place full of wildlife. I put out some small bits of ... [Continue reading this entry]

Feb 20th – Sapphire

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Airlie Beach 025

Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

With names like Emerald, Rubyvale and Sapphire you know you are in the middle of the ... [Continue reading this entry]

Feb 18th – Lashings Of Ginger Beer

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Fraser Island 046 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour At last a visit to a drinks factory where the kids get to taste! No Josh did not sneak in under the radar, we paid a visit to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Feb 17th – Teenagers Meet Tiny Non Mutant Non Ninja Turtles

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
Fraser Island 058 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour Bundy or Bundaberg is famous in Australia for Bundaberg Rum. We have done the beer and wine tours so now it was the turn of the rum. The ... [Continue reading this entry]