Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | October 21, 2014

Adventures on the Other Side of the World #9

So it was another day in Cairns, but this time out on the water where it wasn’t quite so hot, though given the cloud cover and wind when I returned, I suspect even in town it might have been more moderate.  I got up early this morning after a good night’s sleep in the Hides Hotel, showered, wrestled my hair into a braid for the water, and got the complimentary breakfast. I just had cereal and orange juice because I didn’t want to be too full on the water and get a cramp.  Then I walked to the Reef Fleet terminal and checked in for my Great Barrier Reef experience. I was with a company called Silverswift.


One of the few non-video shots I managed at the reef. I really should invest in a good underwater camera!

The wind meant choppy water, so the hour and a half getting to the first reef was pretty rough. I’d forgotten to bring alone my bonine, so bought a little thing of ginger tablets.  I don’t know that they helped much, but I didn’t want to take anything stronger lest I get too sleepy for the water. I did have to go out back to look at the horizon but managed to breathe through most of the dizziness. Several passengers made use of the seasickness bags, which I never saw on the cruise, so I felt pretty proud of myself for powering through.

I’d signed up for an introductory scuba dive, so once I’d done the briefings and suited up in the lycra they give you to prevent jellyfish stings, et cetera, I got into the gear and did the practice breathing. It was a little scary at first, but the instructors are really great, and since one of the participants in my group changed their mind (or was too seasick for the briefing, perhaps), we were just two intro divers with our certified instructor.  You don’t get to take your camera on the first dive, since they don’t want you distracted, but I was not disappointed. Scuba diving is pretty cool and I might even feel a little safer then when snorkelling because your regulator is not going to get water splashed down it’s tube like a snorkel.  I am feeling like I might look into what it would take to get PADI certified so I can go more often.  They also have an underwater photographer who takes your picture, and he took some of our group, including trying to get this huge wrasse they call Nigel, who has followed the boat for four years now, into a picture in close proximity. I was not having it; I was irrationally scared of him, and eventually my flailing every they tried to coax him near me was interpreted correctly, and they didn’t make me touch the fish.

I don't care how great the photographer thought it would be, I was NOT letting this wrasse (they call him Nigel) get anywhere closer to me. Photo by Xavier Keir Photography.

I don’t care how great the photographer thought it would be, I was NOT letting this wrasse (they call him Nigel) get anywhere closer to me. Photo by Xavier Keir Photography.

After the dive, we moved to another part of the first reef (called Flynn Reef), where I snorkelled after our lunch.  I got in the water even though someone spotted a shark (a small one, but I’m terrified of them) and I took some photos with my underwater camera; however, I somehow managed to turn it to video and used up my memory, so that was a bit of a bust. Fortunately, you don’t need pictures to enjoy it!  The reef is very cool to look at, much more dynamic and colourful than the ones I snorkelled near Mexico and Aruba. All wonderful in their own way, but the other two were more floaty plants and this one had bumpy coral and giant clams.  I could have paid for a second dive at the third stop (Maln Reef, or something like that), but decided to forgo it in favour of another snorkel and save my pennies for getting certified, but got to follow one of the crew around for a snorkel tour.

After my last dive, I got out of the water and immediately bought some real (and not ginger based) motion sickness pills. It made for a much nicer ride back. I spent most of it chatting with a woman from near Kingston, Ontario, who was there with her uncle who lives in Australia.  She’d come up to do a Tough Mudder Run (a race with obstacle courses) then to visit him and ended up breaking her femur.  She was on crutches but able to do the snorkel (especially since the incisions had healed nicely), and she is finally cleared to fly home soon.  It was a longer time away than planned for her, but thankfully she was able to convince doctors to clear her to fly to Cairns at least from the hospital in Perth, so she could stay with her uncle.

After we returned to shore, I went back to the hotel via a few stops to get postcards and stamps, then showered and got ready for dinner. I did return to Restaurant Dundee’s, where my Australian Sampler included tiger prawns, kangaroo, barimundi, crocodile, and some sort of steak and sausage with a baked sweet potato. I ate what I could, but it was a lot of food. On the way back, I stopped in the Night Market, which is a series of shops open from 5 to 10 pm. Mostly souvenir type things (which I did not indulge in) but there are massage tents. I took advantage of a special for $15 for a 40 minute full body Chinese Acupressure massage.  I asked for strong pressure and got it, but boy do I feel nice. What a great way to end a day!  And now I’m off to bed, so I can be well rested for tomorrow’s adventure.  Wish me luck at spotting a platypus!


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