Having the time of my life

Trip Start Sep 12, 2005
Trip End Sep 11, 2006

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Where I stayed
Tropic Place

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Hey hey hey peeps...

As I said, I arrived in Cairns on Weds 12 Oct absolutely shattered. Took a bus into town from the airport and stayed at a lovely hostel called Tropic Place where the owner literally went out of her way to help me sort stuff out. Had a much needed shower and then headed off into town to do the usual boring stuff like shopping, sorting out my photos and getting a feed. Had a wander around but was in bed by 9:30 as I hadn't slept at all the previous night (flying) and for only 2hrs the night before that (self inflicted).

Caught the bus early Thurs (13th) morning and arrived in Townsville that afternoon. Checked into a dorm and finally met up with Liz. Absolutely fantastic to see her. Didn't realise how much I missed my mates till that point. She'd come by herself from Magnetic Island and her mates Emily and Robyn would join us the next day. Spent the day eating and drinking and generally catching up on what each other had been up to - grand.

So caught the bus Fri (14th) afternoon with Emily and Robyn down to Airlie Beach. Stayed in a crappy hostel called Koalas which is a chain out here in Oz - I recommend you stay clear of them - customer service was at an all time low in this place. Nay mind, we went had fun anyway.

Moved hostels on Sat (15th) to a much better one and Liz and I went to book an Open Water dive course. Emily and Robyn had already booked a 3 day / 2 night sailing trip around the Whitsundays but we were keen to do our PADI. Then just spent the day hanging around the Lagoon by the beach (I'm sure you're all aware that you can't go in the sea on the East Coast in the summer due to the deadly box jellyfish), but the Lagoon was lovely, much nicer than the one at Cairns. I think it was this night that we met up with a mate of Liz's from back home who happened to be out on holiday with her boyfriend at the same time. A good night was had by all.

Sunday (16th) was another lazy day round the lagoon - the most taxing thing was going for our medical before our dive the next day. Then out again that night and ended up watching a wet t-shirt competition as girls could get in free. Hmm... degrading? yup, but I knew it would be. Call me niave but I literally thought all they did was wear a white t-shirt and get hosed down before dancing all over the place. Not so. These 'ladies' went a hell of a lot further. But after the first couple I got quite bored. Ack well, at least I can say I've been...

On Monday (17th) Liz and I started our Open Water course, the first two days of which was to be in a pool a mile or so away followed by the exam. Had a great time, though Liz was feeling really bad Monday night and it looked as though she wasn't going to be able to come at one point, but she pulled through and soldiered on, bless her.

So, after getting 100% on my test ;) (had to get that in somewhere - it was piss easy though - multiple choice answers) we then got our stuff together before heading down to the boat to leave that night.

Let me just say I have never been so happy for 3 days straight as I was on this trip. Seriously. Didn't have a single gripe, moan, bad word to say about anything or anyone. I had the BEST time. And a lot of that was to do with the people on our course and the crew. They were just lovely. That first night we sailed out for the Great Barrier Reef and everyone just got out the beers and got to know each other properly.

Wednesday (19th) morning was our first day diving. Did three dives that day - the first two mainly just practising all the skills we were taught in the pool like removing your mask and equipment, retreiving your regulator and sharing air with your buddy, etc. During the third dive we had time to take a lot more of the sights in. Fantastic.

Thursday (20th) morning we did our fourth dive with a controlled emergency ascent which meant we were all qualified. We were all on such a high. That afternoon those who wanted to continue to Adventurer (3 specilised dives) had to look at the books again and work through another few chapters. Then Liz and I were able to go on our first dive by ourselves without the instructor, with me scribbling down terrible pictures to identify creatures and coral for my naturalist dive (Liz was happy just with her Open Water). That night we went for our night dive which I had been most concerned about, especially as I wasn't diving with Liz, but with a guy called Alan who I didn't know from Adam and seemed to be a tad peeved off that he had been placed with the newbies. Suffice to say I lost him within the first 30 secs as he swam off ahead. Nay mind, had a good dive - it's true when they say the colours are much more vivid at night though I must have been the only one to have missed seeing the shark, the octopus and the crayfish. Damn my eyesight!! Later that night we went up to the top deck and watched the moon rise. It was so beautiful, I've never seen it happen before, but it almost looks like the sun as it rises over the horizon because it's such a strong orange colour. Beautiful.

Friday (21st) Liz wisely stayed in bed whilst us Adventure mugs had to get up at 5:45am to do our deep dive. I wouldn't have missed it for the world though. It was so good. I finally saw a shark on this dive and perhaps it was because I was so worried about this dive previously - my ears had hurt badly on my first two dives - that I was so happy that everything was fine and we actually decended to the bottom quicker than expected. Loved it. Had our final dive after breakfast where Liz and I accidently went too deep, but it was all good as we weren't doing any future dives and then headed back to the mainland through the Whitsundays.
Had a siesta when we got back on shore and then everyone (crew included) met up for drinks that night and had another briliant time with everyone.

Sat (22nd) Liz and I just lazed about - it was amasing how tired we were from the trip. We booked a days sailing trip round the Whitsundays for the following day.

Sunday (23rd) we went on the trip. I saw another shark whilst snorkelling, and this time it was much closer so I tried swimming after it but obviously it was too quick for me. Also saw a snake when we went to the lookout on Whitsunday Island - not sure what it was, but was very pleased it slithered AWAY from me, rather than towards.

Monday (24th) was spent pissing about again as we waited for our overnight bus to take us south to Hervey Bay and Fraser Island. And that's that.
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