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Published: October 12th 2016
Arriving into Cairns from Brisbane I immediately liked the feel of this coastal city. Cairns is the main jumping off point for the Great Barrier Reef and the primary reason I had come here. After dropping my bags off at the hostal I had one mission to accomplish - book a live aboard scuba diving trip onto The Reef. My original plan was to get on a sailboat for a couple of days but all of the operators were sold out for this type of trip. Again my lack of planning comes back to haunt me. Not to be discouraged I booked a two day/one night trip aboard a motor vessel deemed Taka including six daytime dives, one nighttime dive, food, and accommodation. My bank account was drained $410 AUD for the pleasure, but this is one of the natural wonders of the world and something I could not miss. I do not mind forking out money for an event of this magnitude.
With a day to kill in Cairns before my scuba trip I set out on The Esplanade - a boardwalk type area that hugs the coast here in Cairns. The Esplanade is also the social center with
a public swimming pool overlooking the ocean and a nice grassy park complete with a free concerts. Both were welcome amenities and the lagoon especially so to get out of the heat and humidity of this place. Lazy days indeed.
Come nightfall I was invited to the local volleyball courts for a game by two French guys in my room. My sideout skills were actually pretty good and it was fun to be in a competition of sorts and to be on a team, something I've lacked since leaving my hockey team behind. Overall just a fun day and evening.
Getting onto the boat early the next day for my reef trip I was full of anticipation and excitement. I was pretty proud of my PADI Certification as their were snorkelers onboard that were wishing they could dive with us. We motored out into the ocean for about two hours or so and then the Great Barrier Reef was upon us. You can't really see much from the surface, the magic and beauty lives below. Every previous dive I have done in Colombia and Fiji has always been with a dive master or guide. Here on this trip
I was partnered up with an Aussie guy and we were basically just turned loose to roam the reef on our own. In all their were about ten pairs of us all swimming about on our own agenda. I was a little nervous at first, but I just stuck to what I was trained on and Damien and I ended up making a great dive team together.
The reef was nothing short of spectacular. Millions of colorful fish call this place home. Ascending and descending into the coral canyons and seeing the splendid colors is something I will never forget. Every dive I did their was always something new to see. This is what I love about scuba. A couple of highlights for me swimming amongst the reef were the sea turtles and my favorite - the white tip reef sharks and the larger grey reef sharks. Yes I swam with sharks. These animals were incredible and the adrenaline I had whilst viewing these creatures in the wild above and below me was intense! Unfortunately my camera does not work underwater, but the next dives I do I will hire an underwater camera for some pics.
itself was pretty intense. The first day I did four dives of about 45 minutes each. This definitely takes a toll on the body. The next day was three dives of about the same length. When I got back to Cairns I was wiped out. Living on the boat was a fun time as well. All of the divers would hang out on deck discussing what we had seen and where we have dived in the past and where we would like to go in the future. It really was a good little community we had on board. The entire Great Barrier Reef experience is something I will never forget and was a good way to send off from Australia.
My living quarters aboard s/v Taka. The food was also supringly good the whole time and it had been a while since I had fresh veggies and fruits which was a welcome benefit.
I've had a great time here in Oz and I've seen some pretty amazing places and met some great people. However, with Asia is right on my doorstep I've always been kind of looking ahead and maybe I did not give Australia much of a
chance. It is to much like home here and lacks the sort of foreign culture that appeals to me so much. Couple this with the fact that it is seriously expensive I am quite happy to move on at this point. I cannot wait for the Asian chapter of the adventure to unfold. Tonight I arrive in Singapore and I still feel like I am in some kind of dream.
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