Posts Tagged ‘Great Barrier Reef’

Around Tropical North Queensland

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

No that I can do a lot in my condition, with only three more weeks to go before our life changes completely and forever, but we’re trying to show my parents as much of the region as we can. They are loving it!

We have always loved Port Douglas on a Sunday, when the markets are on. So one morning, after doing our weekly shopping in Rustys and making sure the rain was going to give us a break, we headed for this fantastic destination. First thing, as we always do when we get to Port Douglas, we went for a coffee and a muffin in our favourite cafe in town (I’m afraid we never remember the name of the place, but the muffins there are absolutely delicious). And then to the markets. This time there weren’t as many stalls as usual, still we managed to see a few unusual things, at least for the Spanish eye: the bike producing cane sugar juice, funny faces made out of coconuts, a whole stall selling macadamia nuts with different flavours, exotic fruits, etc. It’s always very interesting to wander through markets, since you never know what you can find.

Next stop, Four Mile Beach, where there were quite a few people enjoying the tropical waters. We didn’t have a swimm, can you believe we had forgotten our swimming apparels at home? Lucky we have a swimming pool at home. Yes, I know, it isn’t the same, is it?.

Another area we have taken my parents too is Steve’s all time favourite: the Atherton Tablelands. The weather wasn’t the best, so we had to give Granite Gorge a miss this time, which is where I really wanted to take them so they could hand feed wallabies. I don’t think there are too many wallabies in Spain. However, we had plenty of time to do other things. First we visited one of the many tropical wineries in the area, where my parents bought coffee liqueur (by the way it is disappearing from the frigde, I have the feeling that it’s very good, not that I have tried it). After that, a stop to drink a very tasty coffee, since the area is also well known for its coffee plantations. Being Spanish, they’re a bit particular about their coffee and it seems the one we had at Skybury met their standards.

My mum was very surprised by the size of the termite mounds that we saw all the way along the road, so we took her to see the massive mounds that have been put together to create a very impressive avenue in the area. As you can see, some of them can be the size of a grown up person.

Another thing they are finding interesting is the amount of “Big Things” that you can find in Australia. So far, we have seen the Big Pineapple in the Sunshine Coast, the Big Captain Cook in Cairns, and the Big Fish and the Big Peanut, both in the Tablelands. There are still a few around the Cairns area we haven’t seen, hopefully we will before they leave Australia. It’s something we don’t have in Spain and they seem to be very interested in.

We also had time to show them what Australian food tastes like at The Falls Teahouse, in Millaa Millaa, one of our favourite restaurants in the Cairns region. I’m not a very big fan of meat, in fact, I’m really struggling with the amount of meat that I have to eat during the pregnancy, but I always look forward to their meat pies, the best ones I have ever tried. I probably haven’t been around too much to be able to talk about meat pies, but if the same afirmation comes from Steve, a meat lover, then it must be true. And since the Falls Teahouse restaurant is so close to some of the falls that belong to the very well known Falls Circuit, we also visited Millaa Millaa Falls, the best known of all of them, but definetely not the only one around. There are about 7 or 8 waterfalls, all of them beautiful and worth a visit. So if you have the time, go for it, 100% recommended.

And our last visit so far has been to Green Island, off the coast of Cairns. Finally I got to visit Melanesia Marineland, where Cassius lives, the biggest croc in cautivity. The sweet little thing measures only 5.5 metres and has such a kind face… I find crocs and snakes fascinating, so I never get tired of seeing them, although when they find a comfortable position they can remain quite for a very long time. It wasn’t the case in one of the enclosures we saw. There were at least 9 small crocs in a few different ponds. The one that seemed like the boss run from one pond to another, where there was a smaller croc. This one jumped out of the pond towards us at a very high speed, and the three of us run away from the fence at the same speed. At the time, we didn’t ever remember there was a fence between the crocodile and ourselves.

We also did a couple of tours on the island: one of them on a semi submersible and another one on a glass bottom boat. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, a semi submersible is a boat partly underwater with glass windows on both sides, so as the boat moves you see the different corals and marine life. And the glass bottom boat is somehow similar, but this time is the bottom of the boat what it’s made of glass.

Thanks to both boats, we saw lots of different fish species, being our favourite ones the Clown Fish, best known these days as Nemo. I just love the anemonies moving and the Nemos coming in and out of them. We also saw a couple of massive turtles, giant trevallies and many other species, including a manta ray. This time we didn’t see any sharks, unfortunately.

We’re already planning a few things for the next few days, such a basketball game in Cairns or a visit to Paronella Park, but right now, we never know what we will be able to do. Junior is not here yet, not because I don’t want to, but it seems he’s very happy where he is right now. I hope he decides to meet us all soon, we’re definetely getting “unpatient”, as our lovely Flynn, Steve’s nephew, says. I’m sure nobody is more impatient than I am right now.

Finally, I’m a Certified Diver!!!

Monday, December 1st, 2008

With Pete, my instructor, minutes after I had become certified Yes, I finally managed to have some time off to obtain my PADI Open Water Certification. After I did my two intro dives with Down Under Dive two weeks ago, it was in my mind wanted to become a certified diver so I could join some of my Aussie friends in their diving expeditions. It’a a shame I haven’t been able to convince Steve to scuba dive with me, so I had to do it on my own. Well, too bad for him!!!

I did the course with Deep Sea Divers Den and they were kind enough to let me do it over two consecutive weekends. The first two days were in the class and swimming pool, learning the theory and a few skills that we had to practise before going to the sea. And the second weekend we went to the Great Barrier Reef to practice those skills in the ocean and obtain our title. We left early on Friday morning, of course after delivering a few of our wonderful Cairns Digital Underwater Cameras. The first part of the day we spent on their day boat, having two different opportunities to dive. Apart from practising the skills, ie. how to breathe if your regulator falls off your mouth, what to do if you run out of air (scary, isn’t it?), etc, Pete, our instructor, took us for a fun dive as well. We saw lots of different corals and fish, including a Trigger Fish. They can be kind of dangerous if they feel threatened and their bite is painful. So we kept away from them as much as we could. And just as we were reaching the boat we spotted a turtle, slowly swimming around the divers, disappearing in the distance and coming back a few minutes later. Absolutely wonderful.

In the afternoon we were transferred to the overnight boat, where I was sharing a double room with another diver. The boat is really nice, with lots of room for everyone to feel comfortable. While they gave us a short briefing about what we were going to do for the next day, we were eating delicious freshly baked home made muffins, in fact, they were still warm. And five minutes to unpack because we were back in the water again.

The second reef for the day was Norman Reef. Again a bit of training and a leisure dive. By this time we were all feeling much more comfortable in our diving gear. You could tell by us not using our arms and hands as much as in previous dives. Being underwater is a funny feeling, wonderful, though. It’s as if I was in the space, with no gravity and being able to move whichever way I want.

Photo taken with one of our underwater cameras Relaxing just before dinner

And after that dive, time for a shower and relax before dinner. Delicious lasagna and fabulous apple crumble, which I ate lots of and couldn’t move afterwards. Lucky my dives for the day were finished, otherwise I would have sunk straight away. After dinner everyone on the boat got together for a few drinks and a bit of entertainment. The staff were multitasking, and the chef and the skipper were keeping us all entertained playing music and singing. I miss Spanish music, mostly because I cannot sing most of the songs they sing.

My fellow diver partnersThe alarm went off at 5.30am, so we could get ready for our final dive before we were certified. Early, isn’t it? But it was really nice to jump into the cool water, it was pretty hot outside already. And that was the end of our training, now I’m a certified diver and won’t need to pay someone to take me around every time I want to dive. What a feeling… I’ve discovered a passion for diving which I wished Steve shared with me, but that’s life. Although I don’t know how he’s going to take me going on liveaboards now and then. Only one night away and my inbox was full of messages telling me he missed me because he had nobody to laugh at his jokes. He’s always been appreciative of an audience.

But it was the last dive we’ll remember most. Already without a guide, we wandered off on our own. We knew the current to be strong, so tried to swim against it. We did for a while, but as we got more and more tired we just wouldn’t move and, worst of all, our air was getting low. We went to the surface and tried to reach the boat, which seemed far away. Ten minutes swimming and we were just as far. Ashamed, we signalled the boat to be picked up and they came rapidly. We were to hang on to some ropes and they would tow us back to the boat. But then the boat spotted someone in distress and had to go and rescue them first. Knowing that we were going to be transported to the boat, we let ourselves go and drifted for many metres. But luckily we were rescued, along with many other people, and that was the end of our little adventure.

The Great Barrier Reef!!!!

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Ready for a scenic helicopter flight over the Great Barrier ReefMany of our friends don’t believe us when we say that we don’t have time to do much. CairnsUnlimited.com, VisitarAustralia.es, but mostly our Cairns Digital Underwater Camera Rental business keep us busy every single hour of the day. But it’s unforgivable to live in this fabulous part of the world and not take advantage of its wonders. So when Down Under Dive, one of the many diving companies which visit the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, invited us to go on a day tour with them, we left all our responsibilities behind and got ready for a fun day out. About time, isn’t it?

Of course, taking a day off is not easy and we have to work extra hours the day before, getting the cameras ready for deliveries on the day after, replying to all the emails that were on our inbox, etc. And the morning of the cruise was an early rise as well, only to make sure everything was under control.

But finally we got down to the Reef Fleet Terminal, where we met some of the Down Under Dive crew and in no time we were on the boat, heading to the Outer Reef. We were treated like royalty, having the chance to do as much or as little as we wanted to. And to make the most of the day, we did as much as we could: snorkelling, diving, helicopter flight… I had the chance to do two introductory dives, the kind of dives that you do if you’re not certified, which I’m not. For all of you who come to Australia and want to try diving for the first time, don’t hesitate, it’s wonderful and fairly easy. My instructor Marcus (Steve decided that beer and diving weren’t compatible and he didn’t have the heart to abandon his best friend, called beer) gave us a brief before diving, where he explained in detail what you need to do in order to dive safely. And he also showed us a few hand signals, so we could always communicate with each other underwater. And once in the water he always kept an eye on everyone, I felt very safe and I recommend it to every one.

But apart from diving and seeing wonderful coral and fish, we also had plenty of time to go snorkel (it seems beer and snorkelling are not enemies. I think the reasons for Steve not diving are others, but he’ll never admit it). We saw some of the most incredible coral formations, colourful fish and impressive giant clams. Unreal how if you touch one of those clams, they will immediately close themselves to avoid attacks. Even Nemo was waiting for us.

Steve snorkelling at Hastings Reef My first intro dive in the Great Barrier Reef

After snorkelling, diving, talking to great people on the boat, sunbathing, eating and drinking, it was time to head home. And that was when Elvis took over the whole boat, singing, playing guitar, but mostly making people laugh. I couldn’t choose my favourite moment of the day, but Elvis’ show was one of the highlights. Only one complaint, he has to learn a song for the Spaniards.

And here you have some of our fav pics of that day. Of course, they were taken with one of our wonderful underwater cameras.

Wonderful fish we saw when snorkelling More fish on the Great Barrier Reef
Gian Clam The Great Barrier Reef from a helicopter scenic flight