8 September, Bananas Hostel, Agnes Waters, Eastern Australia, 7:40pm

I've spent the past couple of days traveling on Australian Greyhound buses down the east coast. But before I started that I spent 3 days on board Kangaroo Explorer. It's a live-aboard dive boat that moors on the outer great barrier reef. So early on Friday morning I get aboard a boat that brings myself and a group of other divers from around the world (German, American, Swiss, Canadian and Scottish amongst others) There's about 35 people on board, including all the instructors & crew and it's pretty much straight into the wetsuits, weights, fins, and oxygen tank.

Snorkeler on the Outer Great Barrier Reef
My first dive is ina group with a guide. It's three years since I learnt to dive in Egypt but this is my first dive off the back of a boat in the open rough sea. I barely remember all the steps in what to do but eventually relax and get to see my first glimpse of the great barrier reef. I burn through my oxygen tank really quickly however. So for my next dive I buddy up with one of the guides and I relax and have a great dive. Then, just after sunset, I do my first ever night dive. It's pretty daunting going underwater when it's pitch black outside and you're two hours boat ride from the nearest land. But it's amazing to see all the different creatures that come out at night and I spot a giant sea turtle with my torch, 30 foot underwater, one of the most loved creatures of all divers out here. The following day it's up at 5:30am for our first dive at 6am. It's my first dive without an instructor or guide and it's me and two other guys, Tom & Sebastian, who both have about the same experience as me. We have a couple of great dives, seeing loads of coral, loads of fish, and despite some problems with our underwater navigation, this is why I came out diving, to see this most remarkable environment. My final dive of the day is in pretty rough conditions and right form the start it goes badly, getting tangled in a rope holding the backup tank that is left hanging underwater. I take a nap after lunch and when I wake up my nose is blocked up and the start of a sore throat is happening. Because of all the pressures involved in diving, at depths of up to 60 feet, it means I can't dive again due to the risk of damaging my ears. It means I have the third day at sea with nothing but lazing about on deck to do.

The beach at Agnes Waters

Back to Cairns on Sunday evening, I take it easy as I've a long bus ride to Townsville further down the coast the next day. Townsville is a big mining town and I'm not doing much here apart from sleeping. The following day it's off to Airlie Beach, a small town, most famous for the 74 small beach filled islands off its coast. I have a rare hostel treat of a dorm room all to myself & it has free wifi, another rare treat for and Australian hostel. The following morning I'm up early again to do a Ocean Rafting boat trip, out to the coral at 60km/hr on a inflatable boat with two 350hp boat engines. It's amazingly fast and feels like a rollercoaster for most of the trip. We visit two snorkeling areas, spotting lots of fish and getting to swim with some huge parrot fish about 3-4 foot long. We then head to the famous Whitehaven beach, a stunning, huge white sandy beach beside a tropical island. We take a bush walk to the top of the island, spotting a 3 meter carpet python slithering through the forest on the way up.

One of the instructors from CDC, entering the water

It's back to Airlie beach later in the evening, and then I have a few hours before getting the overnight bus further south. By 10am the next morning I find myself in the tiny town of Agnes Water/1770. I'm only using it as a stop over point but I spend the day lazing around reading and walking around on the huge, virtually deserted beach, that put this town on the map. The water is a bit too cold for swimming however and I decide not to try my luck at surfing again. I'm staying at the Cool Bananas hostel, a really cozy, spacious place, and that's where this blog entry ends. Me sitting in the common room, writing this blog, with X-factor Australia on the TV.... Off to Hervey Bay and Fraser Island in the morning.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty good pictures. I have to say that I envy that snorkeler, whoever he is, just for being able to go to the Great Barrier Reef. I've always wanted to go snorkeling there myself. Unfortunately, I've never had the time to do so.