Homebase for our dive trip to the GBR

Trip Start Mar 20, 2006
Trip End Mar 31, 2007

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Flag of Australia  ,
Sunday, July 23, 2006

We've checked into our new home for the next 2 nights, the Port O'Call Lodge . Tomorrow's our big trip to the Great Barrier Reef, with HABA Dive . We're planning to do 2 or 3 dives (hoping and praying that Grant's ears don't have any issues clearing).
Port Douglas is a resort town with a huge marina, and lots of large holiday villas. It's big draw was its proximity to some of the best dives on the Great Barrier Reef.

We spent the afternoon wandering around the market looking for more exotic fruit, and then started making plans for our next two destinations: Cairns and Darwin. To our dismay, we forgot that this is PEAK tourist season in the northern part of Australia. The YHAs were all completely booked in Cairns and Darwin. In fact Darwin appeared to be completely booked. Hertz was completely out of cars. All hotels that could be booked over the internet were booked. For Cairns, we managed to find a reasonably priced holiday apartment that would accept a one night reservation. For Darwin, we were half expecting to be spending the night in the car we managed to reserve through Avis. We would try again the next day, assuming we could get to a phone before receptions closed again for the night. Meanwhile, to burn off some stress, we went on a good sunset hill run up to a lookout point. We have to burn off all those wine calories somehow...

The next day was our big boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef and 3 memorable dives. The boat ride was fun: about 1 1/2 hour of cruising on a large high speed catameran. We even got to watch some Balina wales putting on a show for us 1/2 way.

The first dive wasn't the best for me. I started off with my usual first dive anxiety attack. I couldn't catch my breath before the group started going down, and as I went down, I felt like I was hyperventilating. I quickly resurfaced, and was gently coached by one of the guides on deck to relax my breathing. She sounded like a lemanz coach. The dive itself wasn't that interesting. But I was focused on my breathing, and trying to relax the whole time, so I wouldn't have seen pretty fish or coral in front of me anyway. A lot of the coral was dead, and there weren't a lot of fish or life to see.

The second dive was much better. I was more relaxed, and there was a lot more to see. We saw lots of new rejeuvenating coral, lots of clownfish, giant clams, sea cucumbers. We dove through coral crevices, and around bommies. On the way up to our decompression stop, we looked down and saw a white tipped reef shark hanging out on the bottom. It was very unintimidating.

On this third dive, we saw even more life. Although I was starting to master the buyancy thing, a couple of the newer divers kept bumping into me. We saw more, bigger, brighter fish and coral, and some MASSIVE giant clams with bright purple fleshy edges.

Before dinner, we got on the phone and successfully found a hotel for a couple of nights in Darwin, and a couple of nights in Kakadu national park (4 different stops all together). No need to buy a tent or sleep in the car. The Grant Principal prevails: Everything ALWAYS works out somehow.
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