After about twelve days of travel we finally made it up to Cairns! We drove a total of eight hours in one day from Airlie Beach because we were excited to make it up to our final destination.
Our first full day in Cairns, we explored the city, and relaxed at the man made lagoon, listening to bands play, and catching some sun.
Later on that night we were able to catch up with many people we had met on our Whitsundays cruise, who also headed up to Cairns. It was an awesome reunion!
A few days later it was time for our DIVE!!! I never thought I would dive, as I have always been really scared of deep water, and I also didn’t realize that you could dive without a license. All you need is an instructor to go down with you.
The ocean was extremely rough that day, and out trek out was extremely bumpy! Finally, mid-day we arrived at our dive spot, right off Green Island.
We were briefed for about twenty minutes on the proper procedures on diving, such as breathing, moving, and staying safe. The most important thing about diving is to make sure you constantly are breathing, and that you do not rush up to the surface. If you fail to do so you could really damage your ears, and your brain.
After our briefing we got all suited up in the proper gear which was a dive suit, a weight that goes around your waist to hold you down, an oxygen tank, a mask and devices to let you know how much oxygen you have left in your tank, and a clock to let you know how long you have been down, and how far you go.
In order to get in the water, the instructors wanted us to jump into the ocean!
Finally I decided for my own sanity that it was better for me the walk down the stairs into the water.Once I was in the water, it was pretty nerve racking. Not only can you not see anything below you, you have this gigantic boat in front of you that you are slamming against because the waves were so rough. The first thing the instructor tells you to do is to hold your face under water, and start to blow bubbles out of your oxygen piece.
At first sight, I see nothing but the depths of the ocean below me, then I look under the boat and the first thing I see is HUGE dark fish hovering underneath our boat. I instantly got frightened and wanted to get out, but I kept telling myself that I would regret it, and that this was a chance of a lifetime. I kept thinking happy thoughts, and just tried to concentrate on my breathing. Finally the instructor instructed us to start “equalizing our ears” which meant to plug our nose and blow so our ears would pop. This technique helps us to continue to get lower in the sea. At this point, I definitely started freaking out as I knew this was it. We were ready to go deep down to the unknown. Would I survive?
After about five minutes of equalizing, we finally were far down enough that we could start to explore. Out of the foggy sea finally appeared the reef, and boy was it spectacular! We saw so many amazing fish and creatures down below. It was like a silent world…so peaceful and so mysterious. All of my fears were cast aside and I was struck with amazement and wonder that I didn’t even have time to think what was lurking below or behind me. We saw tons of tropical fish, and saw huge clams. We were able to touch some of the coral, and some of the plants. They felt extremely slimy, and sort of like wet noodles. We also were able to put our hands in enormous clams, which shut as soon as we tried to go near them.
When we got out of the boat, a turtle came up to the surface, and floated around for a bit, we even got to see a reef shark (which is very rare) swimming around RIGHT WHERE WE WERE DIVING! I was very thankful to see the shark AFTER we got out of the water.
For the rest of the day, we were able to explore Green Island, and relax on the beach. Our boat trip home was probably one of the roughest I have ever experienced in my life. I am not usually prone to getting sea sick, but the waves on the ocean were massive next to our tiny boat, and many people ended up getting sea sick. Even hours after we arrived on land most of us felt the waves still, and we ended up being extremely dizzy for the rest of the night.
Diving the Great Barrier Reef was probably one of the most amazing/memorable things I have done in my life. I highly suggest diving any chance you get, don’t chicken out…the ocean is one of the great mysterious of life that we are lucky enough to discover.
For the next few days we tried to use our time with our beloved camper van wisely, and we decided to drive to a place called Port Douglas, and to Daintree which are small towns right on the edge of the rain forest and the ocean.
In Daintree we took a crocodile cruise.
It was pouring rain, but we were lucky enough to be bundled up, under cover and with hot beverages. We saw a bunch of 5-6 foot crocdiles,
and even some snakes! Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and answered every question that we had about crocs. At one point when I was standing by the edge of the boat, I began to think that maybe this might be dangerous, as I have seen crocs on TV jump out of the water for their prey. I quickly asked the guide if this was unsafe, and he let me know that it actually was pretty unsafe for us to be standing by the side of the boat, as of course a croc could jump up out of the water, but then he was quick to reassure us that it is the winter season, and crocs are not as aggressive as they usually are in the summer months. This made me feel slightly at ease, but for the rest of the trip I remained at a safe distance in the middle of the boat.
For lunch one day we stopped in Port Douglas at a cute little restaurant by the Pier. I ended up talking to one of the bartenders about my travels, and he wondered if I was looking for any sort of job. I had intended in working and living in Cairns after our road trip, but suddenly he offered me a bartending position, if I wanted it to start that week! I was so shocked that I basically was offered a job while eating lunch, and I told them I would think about it and let them know.
For the next few days I pondered over the thought of working right away again, and living in Port Douglas. The answer could not of been clearer…having a bar tending job…in paradise? I took it!
Our last few days sadly came to an end, and Katie went home to Canada and Sarah went to Melbourne. Sarah and I parted ways after five months of being together.
We were so lucky with the weather, all of our excursions were perfect, and we had so many laughs and great times together. This road trip turned out to be one of the most memorable things I have done in Australia, and is something I will never forget.