After getting back to Airlie Beach after a day of Island Hopping, I had two hours to get ready for the next bus ride. I arrived in Cairns before six and I had booked a trip to the Great Barrier Reef for 8.30, so I had just enough time to go to my hotel, change clothes at the lobby bathroom and walk back to the terminal. I had a chance to see the sunrise and the clouds and mist rolling over the hills from the harbour.
When I started plannin my trip to Australia, there were two things I wanted to do: Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef. I tried so hard to make Uluru work, but I finally had to skip it, because there simply wasn’t enough time for it. Next time.
The Great Barrier Reef was something I had looked forward to the most and I knew it was going to be an amazing experience. I have wanted to see the only living organic collective visible from Earth’s orbit since I saw a documentary of corals when I was a child.
I booked a Silverswift Silverferry day trip to the Reef. I can’t tell enough good things about the trip. I had so much fun and it waswell-organized. You had tea and snacks and lunch on the boat and you got to snorkel three times in three different reefs. There was also an option to scuba dive, but I was happy just to snorkel. The staff was friendly and nice and actually seemed to enjoy their job. The food was excellent. The day was very well organized. Even though there were maybe 40+ people on the boat it didn’t feel too crowded and you didn’t need to wait for long for things as they had put the divers on a different timetable.
I have snorkeled before as kid, but it took me a while to get the breathing right. They offer you all the gear you need. They have a lycra suit for you (wear it, or otherwise you get sunburned!), masks, flippers and all the equipments for scuba divers. I had brought with me my underwater disposable camera. They also rent underwater cameras at the terminal and on the boat and they have a photographer that takes pictures as well.
Getting the lycra suit wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would have been. As soon as I hit the water I was the happiest person in the world! I was so happy to be able to experience the Great Barrier Reef! The water was warm for me and it was funny to feel the cold and warm currents in your body. I have to admit I was a bit afraid in the beginning and kept looking over my shoulder for sharks, but that anxiety soon went away and I spend a longer time snorkelling on each reef stop. I became more afraid of doing damage to the reef and kept well away even though I could have easily gone closer.
The absolute highlight was when I saw a sea turtle! A SEA TURTLE! I have no pictures of the encounter to share, but it is a memory I’ll remember for ever. The turtle was at the bottom of the sea and I watched it happily from a far. Then it started to swim towards me to get some air. I was so happy I started laughing which isn’t the brightest idea to do underwater, so I had to resurface to get the water off my mask. What an experience!
The pictures don’t do justice to the Reef. It is such a magical place! The colours and the shapes are amazing. The fish are just as colourful and beautiful as you expect them to be. You get to see plenty even if you are just snorkelling. I happily paid the environmental fee for my visit and I do hope the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem is protected so that future generations get to enjoy it.
I was so blissed out and knackered after the Reef trip, that I went straight back to the hotel for a nice long shower and to re-pack my rucksack as I had an early flight to Hong Kong.
So that was my Australia trip! I loved it. There were things I might have done differently, but overall I loved the trip. I got to see my friend’s beautiful wedding and friends I hadn’t seen for almost a decade. I met new interesting people, learned a lot, ate so much good food, had a blast, got sunburned and got to see and experience new exciting things. There were so many things left for me to see and do, so I’ll definitely come back. I better start saving for it already.