Snorkeling in the Great Barrier!

Trip Start Nov 16, 2005
Trip End Apr 11, 2006

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Friend's House

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Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Wed. 7th Dec

I am now at Cairns airport and a lot has happened to me in the past week, since I arrived here in Queensland so here goes...

I landed in Port Douglas on 28th Nov - this is the tropics - very hot and can be quite humid. You need to spray each morning or the mozzies will get you! Try Bushmans or Aeorguard - this is heavy duty stuff for tropical pests! On the night I arrived we went out to dinner to a restaurant called The Inlet at PD (Port Douglas)waterfront - great seafood - I had Spanish mackerel - nothing like the mackerel we know - a lovely white fish washed down with some good NZ Sauv Blanc. A good intro to the area.

On Tues 29th we went into town and had a tour of the area and got some great King prawns and other fish for the barbie that night - by this time some more guests arrived for the b'day celebrations so we all enjoyed a leisurely dinner under the stars that evening. The next day was THE BIG DAY - all the girls went to "breakfast with the birds" at a place called the Habitat Nature Reserve - it was wonderful to see all the glorious colourful parrots coming and feeding at the tables and drinking out of your glass of apple juice!! (see pics) After our breakfast we had a guided tour of the nature reserve - saw a koala bear with his keeper - a cassowary, which is a huge bird with a very colourful head, crocs, lots of birds, wallabies and kangaroos - the young girl who took us around was very interesting and informative. That afternoon we started off at 2 pm with champagne and a fantastic array of seafood. Oh yes, while we were having breakfast with the birds the menfolk were setting up the trestle tables and music system at the BBQ area near the main pool, in readiness for the festivities to begin. We had oysters, Morton Bay Bugs (no, not that kind of bug) they taste like lobster but are smaller in size, king prawns and mud crabs - they were delicious. Lots of people at the party came in their swimwear as we had a plunge pool beside the BBQ area - you could just dip in and out to cool off! Later on in the evening, we had food cooked on the BBQ and some more people came who were working during the day(somebody has to do it!)There were lots of salads of all kinds and the wine and champagne flowed like water! There was lots of dancing and we finally called a halt at about 10.30 pm. Some of us then went into town - I eventually got to bed at 1.30 am - shall we say, a good time was had by all!! I think Brenda will remember her birthday with fond memories.

But..... the b'day celebrations were not yet finished ooooh no! On 1st Dec 14 of us went to Silky Oaks for lunch - this is a restaurant in a beautiful setting on the Mossman river - it was very stylish and elegant with nouvelle cuisine of a high quality -we were picked up and returned by the restaurant's own transport - which meant we could enjoy a glass of wine or three with our lunch. It was a very relaxing few hours.

In the afternoon, we went for a swim in Brenda's pool and she taught me how to snorkel - she has great patience!! I was being prepared for my trip to the GBR(Great Barrier Reef)so that I would enjoy the experience. For someone who is a very poor swimmer, I managed to get the hang of it!

Friday was my BIG DAY - the Great Barrier Reef in all it's wondrous glory - I shall not forget this day as long as I live! It was an experience of a life time, especially for me, as I am not renowned for my swimming! But, I did it, with the help of Brenda and Angie I swam out to the Reef and snorkeled on three different sites, to see fish I only ever saw in "Nemo" or in nature programmes on telly. I still cannot believe I achieved it - it is like a dream - sorry to go on about it, but I would not have missed this experience for anything - and I have the photos to prove it!! My daughter Siobhan would be very proud of me, if not surprised. It took an hour and a half to get out to the Reef from PD - on the way we had loads of dolphins and their babies swimming in front of our boat - this is the nearest I have ever been to a dolphin - they are so graceful. We got home that evening at about 5.30 pm, very tired but happy.

When we arrived on shore, some of our friends were having a drink in the Yacht club so we joined them! What a marvellous day!

On Saturday it was Jan's birthday - she is a friend of Brenda and myself. Peter took us to the Rainforest in Daintree where we walked among the trees on a guided walkway - we also went up a tower and even though we were very high we did not get to the top of the trees! After our visit to Daintree, we went to Mossman Gorge and swam in the gorge and had a picnic. The water was cool but very refreshing, especially after having been in the rainforest where it was hot and humid. That night David (Jan's husband) took us out to dinner in THE restaurant in PD, called "Nautilus". We had some champagne and were picked up in a stretch limo (this was a surprise) and taken to the restaurant. It is a really romantic place with a wonderful setting high up in a rainforest vista under the stars. I had coral trout, which is a beautiful fish, but mine was a little overcooked - however, my mango souffle was 'to die for' so I was happy!! Desserts are my weakness! We had a great Sauv. Blance called Dogs Point (look out for it) and a St. Hallett Shiraz which was excellent also. Needless to say, the stretch limo was there to take us all home at the end of another beautiful day.

Sunday...... I found a Catholic church nearby and went to Mass there - the sides of the church were all open and the priest had to compete with the green parrots for our attention! We had some lovely hymns which I had never heard before - the organist was accompanied by a violinist!! Having started the day off well, I then went to the Sunday market in PD on the Choo Choo train!! It is like the Bluebell Railway - run by volunteers - and I was covered in soot by the time I got to town! The market was an eclectic mix of fruit, ethnic jewellery, clothes from local cotton and many interesting things. I went with Jenny and after the market we met her husband at the beach club for lunch. David and Jan had flown out to Singapore that day and Brian (another guest) had flown to Sydney - I was the only straggler left of the visitors!

Yesterday, (Monday) Peter and Brenda took me to the Atherton Tableland and on to Kuranda. We were over 400 m up in the rainforest and it was totally different to Daintree rainforest - cooler climate. We had lunch in Kuranda - this is a very touristy place and I would not rush to go back there. The best bit was that Brenda and I took the SkyRail down from there to Cairns - this was a 45 min gondola ride above the rainforest and over the Baron Falls - it was fantastic, even though I am scared of heights and at times I clung on to my seat! We saw the gorgeous Ulysees butterfly - it has a brilliant blue colour in flight. The trip down is like being in a cable car but was a much longer trip and all you could hear were the birds - otherwise the air was still and very tranquil - another great experience. When we got to the bottom, Peter was waiting for us in the car. Had a nice swim when we got home and went out for a farewell dinner to the Inlet (the first place I ate in)where I had Red Emperor fish - another great find. Thanks to Brenda and Peter I have had a memorable time in PD, with many 'firsts' for me. Oh yes, Brenda also taught me to breathe under water and swim under water without panicking!! This has been a great intro to Aus and I am very grateful to Brenda for inviting me to share her birthday celebrations and give me the opportunity to do all the above. I will never forget my time in PD.

And now........ you are up to date - next stop Brisbane!!
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