Trip Start May 18, 2005
Trip End May 18, 2006

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Yeah, so we left Sydney on Monday morning and caught a flight via Brisbane to Airlie Beach, the jumping off point for the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. Before we left there was a massive Cyclone (Larry) that had destroyed the coastline and all the towns along it about 200 kilometres North of Airlie Beach. We had no choice but to go there though as we had pre booked all our flights from then on and would lose them if we didn't.

When we arrived there it was absolutley lashing rain and the wind was howling. Not exactly island paradise weather. The main draw at the islands is sailing and getting out to see the Great Barrier Reef, but because the weather was so bad none of the boats were going out. So we weren't sure if we would get to do anything at all. Pretty much a waste of a trip. For the first day we just booked what we could for the next 2 days. No-one was sure if they were going to go out but they were taking bookings just in case anyway. On the Tuesday we were booked to go out on a trip to the Barrier Reef. It sounded amazing. They whisk you away 50km out to sea to one of the reefs and put you on a floatiung platform with a glass bottom where you can see all the coral and fish beneath you. Then you can go snorkelling and scuba diving with the fish and turtles as well as go around the reef in a submarine. Sounded amazing, but alas they cancelled it due to the 5 metre swells and wouldn't reopen it for at least a week, by which time we would be well gone. Feck it.

So on the Wednesday we had booked another trip to see Whithaven Beach on Whitsunday Island (the largest of the 40 or so islands), apparently the second most beautiful beach in the world (after some beach in Fiji). They weren't sure if they were going to go either until the last minute whn they decided they would risk it. They took us out on a fairly big boat to see Daydream Island first. The weathe rwas awful. Lashing rain and loads of wind and the boat was getting knocked all over the place in the swells. We reached Daydream Island in one piece anyway and were let have a look around for about an hour or so. This is the most expensive resort island of them all and its choc full of hotels, resorts and all sorts of tacky stuff for Korean and Japanese tour groups. It looked more like a nightmare then a daydream to me. Like Ballymun in the sun. They island is so popular it even has its own international airport, and it only about half the siz of the Phoenix Park!!

We were glad to get back on the boat to our fab buffet lucnh and they we headed out to Whitehaven Beach. Because it s right on the outer edge of the islands facing the brunt of the ocean there were huge waves throwing us around. And we could hardly see anything anyway because the rain was so heavy. When we reached the beach you could see that really was gorgeous, even in the rain. Pure white silica sand for 10 kilometres. And you are not allowed to stay on the island as its a national park so they only way to get here is with a licensed tour operator, or if you have your own boat. The waves weren't as bad near the beach so I got in for a swim. They recommend that you wear a stinger suit to protect you aginst the stings of jelly fish that are quite common here. The most dangerous is the Box Jelly Fish which can actually kill you if it stings, unless you get to a hospital within an hour, and even if you do make it you could be paralysed for life. I'd rather be eaten by a shark. At least you might get way with the use of some of your limbs!! Needless to say I put on the stinger suit and had a swim. The water was gorgeous but not very clear due to the storm.

So they brought us back to the mainland and we started sorting out the next part of our trip. We were to catch an overnight bus to Cairns on the Thursday, but we heard on the news that loads of the roads between us and there had been destroyed by the storm. So we rang the bus company and they told us that they wouldn't be going there for at least a week. Not good. As I already mentioned we had pre booked all of our flights and would be fecked if we missed them, so we had to find another way to get there. The only way to do it and make our flights was to book more flights. So it was back to Brisbane then up to Cairns with Jetstar and Virgin Blue. Lets just say it cost us an arm and a leg. But not as much as it would have cost if we had missed our flight out of Cairns. Plus you're only here once right?
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