Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Trip Start Oct 20, 2004
Trip End May 02, 2005

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Cape Trib and Port Douglas

We checked out of the beach house this morning and drove off to Port Douglas. Before leaving Cape Trib though, we stopped and did another bushwalk on the Dubuji Boardwalk for about 1 hour. We then drove to 'Port' and checked into the Port O'Call YHA Hostel. We went for a look down to the harbour and found a dive company called HABA and booked a dive trip for the following day. They had an offer on which included a free croc spotting cruise on the inlet from the harbour. As it happened there was one leaving about an hour later so we made a quick decision to go on it. The cruise boat was quite small, carrying about 15-20 passengers. The captain and his wife who were English and Scottish respectively, were marine biologists who had fallen in love with the area and had decided to start their own cruise boat business. They were both very knowledgeable and knew just where to look to locate crocs and some other animals including an eagle and an osprey. We were lucky enough to encounter a massive 4.5m long male croc who came right up to the side of the boat to check us out. The captain's wife threw fish out onto the banks for the eagle to swoop down and pick up. When the eagle missed a bit, the croc climbed out onto the bank and got it himself. It was an amazing sight. The croc was totally in the wild, it wasn't trained or coaxed into the area. It was a lovely hour or so spent cruising the calm water in the evening sun, the complementary wine and beer went down a treat too!

After the cruise we went for a short walk along Port's beach which had a stinger free zone, a large netted off area about 50m sq which prevented the highly poisonous box and stinger jelly fish present around this time of year from getting in.

Dive trip

We checked out of the hostel this morning and left our bags in the car while we went off on our dive trip to the Great Barrier Reef! A couple of people had said to us that the diving was better from Port Douglas than from Cairns where most people go from, mainly because of the smaller group sizes. There were 15 divers in our group but we were split into 3 groups of 5 with a dive master in each group. The first dive was a bit of a let down due to the French guy and the Norwegian blokey in our group, who instead of waiting at the surface until everyone was ready, decided just to descend by themselves and left us and the dive master behind. Anyway after 10-15mins of wasting air we all got together and went for a short swim. We saw some fish, but nothing to get too excited about and we started to see some nice coral. We swam through a gap between two large walls of coral for about 10m which was pretty cool! On the whole though it was a bit disappointing and Julie made her feelings clear to the staff back on the surface, it wasn't really their fault we knew who to blame. The second dive was much better, this time we were taken out to a different site on a small dingy and did our first 'reverse entry' into the water. We saw much better quality fish and coral this time but the 2 annoying blokes were still with us and were beginning to P us off a bit! The third dive was the best as it was just the two of us and the dive master, no annoying people who had thankfully had enough after two dives. Again we saw loads of pretty colourful coral, clams and other interesting sea creatures that we don't know the names of. After the dive Andy joined the snorkellers for about 20mins or so, then we relaxed on the boat for the journey back to Port Douglas.
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