Archive for January, 2008

Australia Day

Monday, January 28th, 2008

My first Australia Day!!! And we were so lucky that the Cairns City Council decided to celebrate it in YORKEYS KNOB, exactly where we live. The Cairns City Council were very busy organising a huge Aussie BREKKIE, live entertainment with traditional Aussie music and lots of different competitions, including THONG throwing. They did a fantastic job, really good.

Steve enjoying an Aussie hearty brekkie. This is to all my Spanish friends. Can you guys believe that breakfast started at 6.30am???????????????????? Yes, I’m not lying, 6.30am, time to start thinking about having “churros con chocolate” before heading back home after a big night out partying. For those of you who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, churros con chocolate is deep fried donuts mixture dipped in chocolate so thick that your spoon would stand straigt in it. Absolutely delicious. I guess both countries have something in common: breakfast at 6.30am. The Aussie breakfast kept us going for the whole day: sausages, fried eggs, toasts and bake beans.

I forgot to mention what Australia Day is all about. This is what the Goverment website says about Australia Day: “Australia Day, January 26, is the biggest day of celebration in the country and is observed as a public holiday in all states and territories. On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. It’s the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation. It’s the day for us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the future.”

Is Maria becoming an Aussie?.Another instance of Maria celebrating Australia Day at Yorkeys Knob.

And there I was, celebrating Australia Day as if I was already an Aussie. But, as you can see in the photo, I haven’t been converted all the way yet. Here is when I become a bit confused. My mother says that I’m half from Madrid and half from where she comes from. Well, that makes a whole person, doesn’t it? And then Steve says that I’m half Spanish and half Australian. And that makes another whole person, doesn’t it? Does this mean that I have double personality?

A local artist carving the silouette of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on ice.The band playing traditional Australian mussic, a mixture between country and folk.

As you can see, there were lots of other activities going on in our small community. I’m sure everybody had a good time and I’m already looking forward to Australia Day 2009.

Snorkelling on Green Island

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Yesterday we finally enjoyed our first snorkelling trip since we’ve been back to Cairns. Early in the morning we went to the Reef Terminal eager to board the Big Cat Cruises, the company who would take us to GREEN ISLAND.

Green Island is located only one hour away from Cairns, in Tropical North Queensland. Green Island is located only one hour away from Cairns, but it is very different. As soon as you leave the coast, the water changes to a green color and then to deep blue, to change once more when you get close to the island, when it becomes turquoise blue. Green Island is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The island is a beautiful coral cay that was formed during 6000 years of winds, waves and currents sweeping reef debris on to the sheltered side of the reef. Vegetation grew on the island thanks to the seeds washed ashore or brought by birds. And nowadays, what we have is a beautiful island readily identified from the air by its emerald rainforest surrounded by white sandy beaches and beautiful coral reefs. Just another interesting note: the white sand is the result of thousands of years of corals dying and desintegrating on the bottom of the water.

We got there around 11am and went straight to the beach to do some snorkelling and, of course, to try our DIGITAL UNDERWATER CAMERAS As you can see in the images below, we still have a long way to go in the underwater photography world, but some of our customers have been taking extremely good photos of the reef. In case you cannot distinguish what they are, the first one is of a very colourful fish, there were dozens of them, and the second one is a picture of an octopus. Steve freaked out a bit, he’s a bit wary of everything that moves underwater, so we asked the lifeguards if they were dangerous and the assured us this type of octopus isn’t. So back to the water for another session of snorkelling.

Snorkelling is one of the many activities you can enjoy on the Great Barrier Reef, Far North Queensland.Try snorkelling in Green Island, off the coast of Cairns, and discover the beautiful reefs around its shores. We also booked a glass bottom boat tour and a semi submersible tour as part of the whole Green Island experience, so after lunch, a delicious tropical buffet, we were ready again for more excitement. A couple of very interesting facts: Green Island was the first place where a glass bottom boat operated, is home to the world’s first underwater observatory and even the first movie theatre located on an island. The glass bottom boat took us a few metres off Green Island. It consists exactly of that, a boat with glass bottom, where people sit on the sides of the boat, so the bottom is empty and you can see everything that comes underneath the boat. We saw a massive sea turtle (sorry, I was too slow to take a good pic and we missed it), lots of different species of fish, including a fish called “sucker fish”. It has a type of suction cup on the top part of its body. They aren’t a very energetic type of fish, so when they run out of energy, they attach themselves to anything that moves.

A tour on a Semisubmersible while on Green Island is a must if you want to discover its beautiful underwater life. The semisubmersible was my favourite tour. You sit in the bottom part of a boat, where all the side walls are made of glass, so you can see what’s going on around you. Again, we saw heaps of different species of fish, including another sea turtle and a couple of reef sharks. But my favourite were this colourful type of fish that travelled with us all the way. I learnt something hilarious: there is a type of fish commonly called “mother in law”. Why? Because it tastes so bad that the only person you would serve it to would be your mother in law.

After finishing these two tours, we went back to the water for another half an hour before the cruise departed for Cairns. The water around Green Island is so clear that I could have spent all day having a swim or snorkelling. Besides there is a swimming pool on the island open to every visitor, as well as some bars and cafes where you can get that cold drink or ice cream you look forward to after a hard day’s work. We look very stressed, don’t we? Anyway, we really enjoyed a cold drink before we went back on board to return to Cairns.

Maria snorkelling on Green Island, Great Barrier Reef.Steve snorkelling on Green Island, off the coast of Cairns.

Beautiful view of Green Island's pristine beach. And then it was time leave Green Island and come back to Cairns. I was a bit sad, wish we could have stayed there longer and spend the night in Green Island wonderful resort, but glad we had such a fantastic day experiencing the wonders of Green Island and the GREAT BARRIER REEF. And living so close to this magnificent paradise, we can always come back. Although next time I will try to convince Steve to go scuba diving as well. Who knows, I may be lucky this time. There are so many amazing things to see underwater in this breathtaking part of the world…

Cooling off in Cairns

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

It’s really summer here now. Hot and humid! Maria and I went for our usual early morning swim at Yorkeys Knob this morning, but as the day went on, we felt the need for a serious cooling down. And the locals know that the best place around town for a safe, refreshing swim in summer is Crystal Cascades. Just a short drive out of Cairns, Crystal cascades is a favourite with locals and visiting families. You don’t need to worry about crocs or stingers, and the water is cool all year round, unlike the average backyard swimming pool, which can be like a bowl of soup by mid-afternoon during the summer.

Maria enjoying a refreshing waterfall slide at Crystal cascades, just outside Cairns. 

Steve sliding down a waterfall at Crystal Cascades, near Redlynch on the edge of Cairns.

I must run. Maria is preparing lunch, and then we’re off to the local bowls club to continue the cooling off process with generous amounts of icy cold beer. Ah, summer in the tropics!!!