Great Barrier Reef
Trip Start Jan 30, 2006
26Trip End Jan 13, 2007
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I was lucky enough to have two people come and visit me from America and take me out of Victoria. People in Melbourne really like Melbourne and hardly ever go anywhere else in Oz. They frequently go abroad, but in general believe that Melbourne is better than all other places in the country. So when Melissa, a friend from 1st grade, and her boyfriend said they wanted to go diving on the Great Barrier Reef I knew I had to go with them. I have become really comfortable in Melbourne and needed have some one push me to see another part of Australia.
From a Melbournians eyes Queenslanders are funny. They aren't cosmopolitan, they don't drink as many lattes and the weather is too hot to comprehend. To make parallels with America (don't take this too literally) - Melbourne is like San Francisco and Queensland is like a state in the deep south with lots of swamps, crocs and hicks
It is a little bit true, it is very hot. People do tend to talk a little slower. And they drink the good old American drip coffee - which I have missed a little because I can't find one café in Melbourne that sells anything but lattes and fancy coffees. However, the little bit that I was able to see was beautiful and so different from Victoria.
We flew into Cairns which in my opinion is just like any other city over run with tourists. The centre of the city was resorts, pubs and restaurants. All were built in the past 30 years and there didn't seem to be any houses. The city is actually built on mud flats so even though it looks like its on the ocean, you can't go swimming. Therefore everyplace has a saltwater pool and the only park in Cairns has a free man made lagoon to go swimming in.
We didn't spend much time in the city because we arrived and then the following day stayed 3 days on a boat over the Great Barrier Reef. It was a great experience of luxury. This was the typical day: wake up at 6 go diving, eat brekkie, take a nap, go diving, eat lunch, take a nap, go diving, eat desert, go diving, take a nap, eat dinner, go on a night dive, sleep
I was a little worried that the reef might not be all that it's cracked up to be because the last couple of places I have good snorkelling - Thailand and Mozambique - have been mostly dead. I thought with the amount of tourists that they see the reef has to be over run and killed (because when human skin touches coral it dies and it's easy to accidentally break with a flipper). However the reef was very alive and the coral was outstandingly colourful and abundant.
The only other place I have been diving is in the Galapagos Islands. There it is more macro things - whales, seals, turtles, massive schools of fish. In the Great Barrier Reef it is very microscopic - sea anemones and clown fish (like Nemo), sea snails, and obviously tons of different corals. That is not to say that I didn't see two kinds of sharks, touched sea turtles, moved away from sting rays, eels and fish half a metre long. On one patch of coral I tried to count the different species of fish that I could see and I quick when I hit 25. The reef is very alive. Basically I was impressed and thoroughly enjoyed myself.