Finally reached the reef!

Oh yeah, the time has finally come. I went snorkeling in The Great Barrier Reef! I was looking forward to this moment since the first day I arrived in Australia and it definitely didn’t let me down a single bit! 🙂 Check the video below. For the photos and blog, just scroll down a bit!

Foggy Wallaman Falls and Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walk
From sunny Cloncurry we drove to rainy Townsville to see the east coast up to Cairns. Our first stop was at the Wallaman Falls in Girringun National Park, the longest single-drop waterfall in Australia at about 300m. We drove all the way into the mountains to find out it was foggy as hell! You couldn’t see more than 1 meter in front of you, so we decided to wait a bit. We had our breaky, another little snooze and 3 hours later we tried again. It was still really foggy, but the moment we arrived at the waterfall again it cleared just enough so we could see a glance of the waterfall 🙂 For about a minute though, and then the sky was white again. Since we decided last minute that we were going to visit Judy and – friends of the family we worked for in Cloncurry – we left it at that and move on. Up to Mission Beach!

Judy and Warren were in their holiday home right on the beach. It was really nice to catch up with them! We had some drinks, a nice dinner and a good bed to sleep in 🙂 The next morning we had breakfast with a view over the ocean and then it was already time to say goodbye again. On our way to Cairns we stopped at the Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway which “.. gives you a birds’ eye perspective from its 100-step, 37m-high tower,” as the Lonely Planet told us. An overenthusiastic woman greeted us arriving there and with the umbrellas she gave us we walked to the tower. It was pretty nice, but I think we were a bit too early in the season. All the flowers and plants we read about on the signs weren’t there yet. Maybe december would have been a better time for a visit!

Port Douglas and Cairns; just chill….
It feels so good to be on the road again! But this are the last couple of days unfortunately. Romain is selling the van. So we better make the most of these last days! We drove up to Port Douglas and chilled at a park looking at all the hippies performing dance and art 🙂 I don’t think there are that many backpackers in Port Douglas – since it is actually more ’sophisticated’ with little shops and fancy restaurants – but they all came back from a festival and making their way back south.

Back in Cairns we got the car serviced and stayed in town to show people the van. Not the worst city to wait till you sell the van! Cairns has a nice boulevard with a park, many sport facilities and a public swimming pool with view on the ocean. Almost every day there were different bands playing live music. There were even beach volleyball courts! Too bad they mostly play 6 against 6, but it was good to see it again. The weather is beautiful and not to forget, many free Telstra wifi hotspots :). Within a week we sold the van and we directly booked our trip to the Great Barrier Reef. I’m so excited!

Finally… Exploring the reef!
We went on a 2-day tour with a boat called the Rum Runner. Normally about 400 dollars, luckily we got a discount; saved us 120 dollars per person 🙂 The crew was a bit odd, a funny group together. The captain (and cook) had a mow hawk and tattoos all over his body. A straight forward man, strict about the rules. Then there were 2 American girls and 2 Japanese guys as diving instructors. I think they were all a bit tired or something, cause they weren’t really inviting or socializing with us. They didn’t make any effort for the guests to get to know each other either. But well.. besides that, the reef is being true to its name: it truly is great! I’ve been snorkeling before in Thailand, Turkey and Brasil, but this was certainly the most beautiful spot. Especially the first day when the sun was shining and the coral and fish showed all their beautiful colors 🙂 I can’t name all the coral and fish we saw, but they were green, yellow, blue, orange, purple and all those colors mixed up. Even the clams had colors and they were huge. Really impressive! And I almost lost hope, but in our last opportunity to spot a turtle, we did!! It was already going into the big blue ocean, so I dove as deep as I could to see the most of it. What a cool creatures are they! There’s something about them. They’re so mellow, relaxed, I can observe them for hours. Too bad I could do it only for about 10 seconds haha. Still, I saw a turtle!!

Too bad the action/underwater camera I bought especially for this snorkeling trip decided to break down, it took water… So I’m glad Romain brought his Go Pro last minute. Check out these cool picas 🙂

Hi Mr. Turtle!!
Last Saturday it was my birthday 🙂 Since it’s the first time I celebrated my birthday somewhere else than home I wanted to do something special. Andrew, an Australian guy we met in the hostel, just came back from a beautiful island only a 45 minutes-ferry ride from Cairns. He was really enthusiastic about it AND he saw turtles. So, the decision was quickly made: we’re going to Fitzroy Island! The weather was great, the beaches white and the sea clear and blue as can be. Our first stop was the famous Nudey Beach. I think I’ve never swam in such warm and clear water. Back on the beach, Romain surprised me with my own birthday cake, with candles! We had to eat it quickly though, the sun was too hot and the chocolate was dripping all over haha. After Nudey Beach it was time for some snorkeling. We were told the turtles are often near the Bird Rock, so that’s where we were going. The water here wasn’t as clear and the coral that colorful as we have seen on our reef trip, but still really nice with lots of different kind of fish. We went around the rock, but unfortunately no turtles today. Sigh… we went back snorkeling to the other side and all of a sudden there he was, Mr. Turtle himself!! Whoehooo!! So excited!! And then there was another one! We swam about 10 minutes with them, observing them eat and they were so close you could touch them. What a great animals. The best birthday present ever!

After some stand up paddle boarding and jumping of the water trampoline, we went back to mainland. We bought some food and Romain made a nice dinner with fish (grenadier), capsicum and pasta. Yum!! Being in the sun the whole day and the alcohol we had during dinner, made me a bit tipsy and tired. So we stayed in at had a good time in our dorm room where a Canadian guy played his Ukelele and sang us some nice songs before we called it a night. In spite of being able to celebrate it with all my friends from back home, it was a pretty cool birthday!!

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