Having enjoyed our last glimpse of Auckland we made our way to a hotel on the outskirts of the city near the airport, where we squeezed in 4 hours of sleep before our flight to Cairns, Australia.
Mega early morning we set off on our 5 hour flight which provided some stunning views including flying over the barrier reef. It looked amazing and had us more excited for seeing it up close & personal! The weather looked to be awesome down below too.
Then, just as we finished the 10 minute descent, we went through the clouds and in to the rain!
Having successfully retrieved our bags (with a couple more from duty free!) we went outside to meet with the 28 degree heat! It was much hotter than New Zealand and even though the rain had followed us here it was so hot it didn’t matter.
We arrived at our hotel early afternoon and caught up on a spot of sleep. Luckily come morning the storm had passed and the weather was spot on. We ventured in to town for a bit of a recce and booked ourselves on to the Great Barrier Reef dive tour for the next day. To celebrate we hit the pier and had a few cold beers in the sun before a twilight swim in the esplanade lagoon.
Tomorrow arrived and despite the very heavy rain overnight we set off to the reef fleet terminal to board our vessel. On route we dropped our big bags at next hotel where we were staying for 3 nights right on the esplanade.
After smashing through some fairly choppy water the boat pulled up and anchored in what looked to be a fairly ordinary chunk of sea.
We got the snorkel gear on and swam 20 meters where the view changed significantly! Through the clear plastic of our scuba masks were unimaginable colours, shapes and life forms!
After snorkelling for a while it was time to do the dive. We were equipped with air tanks and weight belts before a swift safety briefing.
Hanging off the back of the boat we both went down a few meters to try it out. Breathing underwater is not as easy as I imagined! Jen was a natural and carried on down but I couldn’t quite get the breathing right so went no deeper.
After a bit of a ribbing from Jen upon her return to the surface, we headed to the second coral sea destination for a look at another part of the huge reef. This section was even more impressive than the first, catching glimpses of unreal marine life including clown fish, barracudas and a shark!
After an awesome but tiring day we got back and had a quiet night by our standards!
The day after we had nothing planned which sounded boring, but was quite refreshing not having to set an alarm! We used the day to relax and see a bit of the city. Jen took part in an aqua Zumba class in the lagoon! While I stayed in the bar booking some future accommodation & travel over a beer. (Jen far left)
That night we descended upon the infamous Gilligan’s bar where we enjoyed beer and jelly wrestling! A great combination.
Up & at em early the next day for the Barefoot Atherton tablelands tour.
This involved being picked up at 7:30am and heading inland to the rainforest with a good crowd of 15 others & our tour guide Emma.
The first stop was Lake Eacham where we jumped in for a swim and had some breakfast. It was then on to our first waterfall; Dinner Fall, again jumping in to swim up to the falls.
More of the same for our next stop after lunch where we found the “Peter Andre mysterious girl” waterfall (Millaa Millaa Falls) and mimicked some of his moves beneath it. It was also where some shampoo adverts are filmed with the women doing the famous cheesy hair flick which the boys and the girls had a go at. Mine was quite spectacular with the water flowing from my locks, unfortunately we only got Jens on camera though …
The final stop was a naturally formed rock water slide! Josephine Falls. We had several runs down its strong current before making our way back to Cairns.
Emma also got a few snaps on her cam for the companies Facebook page:
Up early again the next morning to make our way south out of Cairns. Armed with fond memories, we headed down to Townsville. This is the gateway to magnetic island, our home for the next two nights.
After the short ferry across and a quick bus ride, we arrived at the koala sanctuary on the north side of the island, where we would spend the night. We checked in and signed up for the animal breakfast tour in the morning for a chance to meet the native koala bears and other creatures then went to see the day out at horseshoe bay.
The next day we moved to the south side of the island to an equally beautiful but more lively setting of Base hostel. We hit the bar to see the sun out, getting involved with the bar games and winning some free beer!
With sore heads the morning after we caught the Ferry back to get our coach to Airlie beach. To sail the whitssundays!
Update to follow.