Great Barrier Reef / World Herritage Rain Forest

Trip Start Jan 28, 2006
Trip End Feb 20, 2007

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, August 14, 2006

From Townsville and Magnetic Island I caught the bus to Mission Beach. Mission Beach was beautiful, but really boring. I wasted my time spending two nights there. From Mission Beach I took the cheapest bus to Cairns. Cairns would be my last city stop on the east coast. Being on a tight schedule I had to plan ahead. Before I got to Cairns I booked my two day tour of The World Heritage Rain Forest in Cape Tribulation and Daintree. This rain forest is the oldest of all rain forests in the world. I had also pre-booked my Great Barrier Reef diving tour.

A small tour bus picked me up from my Cairns hostel early in the morning. The road trip took a couple hours before entering the wet tropical rain forest. There was no mistaking it when the bus entered the unspoiled land. There were hundreds of thousands of hectares of over-sized trees for a far as the eye could see. Valley's, natural springs, streams and wildlife were visible from every angle. The morning tour included sightings of Cassowaries (blue headed Emu like bird), snakes, crocodiles, flying mice, kangaroos and a trek through the most beautiful rain forest I'd ever seen. After the morning tour our guide dropped us off at our accommodation. I stayed in a chilled out, hippyish, backpacker's resort in the Daintree rain forest. I paid a little extra for a nocturnal animal sighting trek in the middle of the night. Didn't see a hellava lot more then tree frogs, (the ones from the Telus mobile adverts) spiders, bats, and over-sized crickets. The next day was filled with more sight seeing activities and a crocodile sighting tour down the Daintree river. Of everything that caught my eye, nothing won me over more then the natural beauty of this ancient rain forest. Mile high tree tops, plant life so old, so developed that it enlightened you into having a new respect for nature.

After two days exploring the World Heritage Rain Forest I went back to Cairns. The tour dropped me off exhausted, and it seemed to be too much of a chore to fully explore Cairns. I walked the streets of Cairns just to capture a glimpse of what it has to offer. Cairns is another destination on the east coast thriving on tourism. Most shops and restaurants are staffed with backpackers, and marketed for tourists on any kind of budget. I called it an early night in order to be fully awake for what I'd been looking forward to most since I'd left Canada. In the morning I was going scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

Morning came too soon. I shoveled my breakfast into my mouth, and hurried to the dive boat. Being far too exited, I arrived 20 minutes early. They told me to grab a coffee and come back. The boat not being ready to board may have saved me from not being able to dive at all. I used my time wisely by running to the pharmacy to buy motion sickness tablets. The two hour boat ride to the reef was painfully rough. The captain of the boat had a simply philosophy. It being, "the faster you go, the faster you get there". The dive crew and all passengers on board held on for dear life. The twelve meter dive crashed into waves over and over again. The boat eerily swayed back and forth, viscously jerking as the sea spilled over the top deck. The small boat continued to be beaten by the unforgiving waters for what seemed like an eternity. Half of the boat with puke bags pasted to their mouths needing constant reassurance from the crew that everything was going to be okay. I was so glad I took those anti-nausea ginger pills. They may have saved my reef diving experience. The boat finally came to a halt on the outer reef. First one off the boat was the captain. Last I checked the captain is supposed to stay with his boat, right? I hired a guide for the first dive. My heart pounded as I entered the reef. A variety of tropical fish, and bright colorful reef caught my eye at every turn. The hired guide moved at an extreme slow pace. He handed me and the other diver things like sea cucumbers and star fish. He motioned for me to touch certain coral. I was suddenly faced with a dilemma. I could either continue to swim the reef with this poor excuse for a guide, z guide that was not only moving at snail pace, but also showing me things I'd seen too many times before, or I could swim off and do my own thing with other divers in sight. I am in the Great Barrier Reef once in a life time, so I left. I explored the reef with other unguided divers and saw it all! I'm not gonna bore anyone reading this by naming, or trying to describe every marine creature. I'll simply mention that the Great Barrier Reef is like a different planet, and it's an fascinating experience. My dive guide ending up giving me hell for not staying with him for the entire first dive. My second dive was far more successful then the first. I saw more, and didn't have a guide showing me things I couldn't care less about.

I spent one more day and night in Cairns before flying out. Next stop, Darwin in the Northern Territory
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