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Published: March 13th 2017
Saturday March 11, 2017
Our first full day in Cairns. A busy day.
It started out around 8.00 AM when we had to report to the wharf to board the 'Ocean Spirit', a luxury 105ft sailing vessel - the largest of her kind in the world to sail to Michaelmas Cay, known as the Isle of the Birds, a year-round home to thousands of sea birds of some 14 different species.
The wharf is situated some convenient 500 m from our hotel.
The trip to get to the island takes about 2.00 hours (40 km). We were entertained by early coffee and something to eat to pass the time. Our distraction was "enhanced" by the presence of a group of Argentine tourist. As said, the boat is big and holds to my calculations some 250 passengers and of all people we sit next to a group of somewhat older Argentine ladies.
After some time at sea you start to wonder where this island is and when we will arrive. Eventually someone points out a speck of sand on the horizon and, yes some 20 minutes later you see THE ISLAND which is probably 500 meters wide
and some 300 across; no vegetation of any kind, but lots and lots of birds.
The only area open to us is some 50 meters of beach, the rest of the island is shielded off to not disturb the birds. There are thousands and thousands of them.
For someone with a sensitive skin such as I, not having shade is fatal, but a solution is offered: all activities are directed from the boat and a small craft ferries back and forth between the island and the "mothership". Part of the solution against the inclement sun is that we are given a divers suit that covers you against all sun, and, as we were told against medusas (small stinging yellyfish) that flock the water at certain times of the year. Great solution, although the final solution is not necessarily fashionable. As far as the medusas is concerned, this does not seem the be the season, because I did not see a single one.
Diving, snorkeling that is, here is fantastic, pity that we don't have underwater cameras. The colors of the corals are spectacular, ranging from vivid deep blue, pink, yellow, white and in all different shapes and
forms. Fish of all sizes and colors complete the panorama; astonishing. You see these images on television, but seeing them life and swimming in the middle of it, is something entirely different.
The only animal we saw different from fish, was a giant turtle, coming to visit us along site the boat at regular intervals.
In order to get to the coral reef you have to swim about 200 m; with a slightly bothersome diving suit, this a somewhat of an effort, but one really worthwhile.
After taking a couple dives, we make our way back to the "mothership" where a healthy tasty lunch is served.
One thing I have to give the Aussies, they know how to organize excursions and prepare well tasting "mass" meals. Mid afternoon we get champagne, cheese and crackers!!!!
After a non eventful trip back we arrive at the wharf again around 5.00 PM, where we walk to our hotel.
A day with lots of sunshine and water, and we are tired, but not tired enough to forego a nice dinner at a closeby restaurant. On the "Esplenade", along the beach. All
In all a very well spent
Michaelmas Cay from the air.
Curious note: Australia is the land of peculiar and exceptional animals. The one we have seen here is not really an animal well known: the giant bat, the size of a seagull, but black. It is a fruit eating animal, that during day time hangs in the trees and at dusk comes out flying around in great numbers and making a ruckus. When I say great numbers, I mean a lot. In a street block you can easily see a couple of hundreds of them.
Tot: 4.103s; Tpl: 0.059s; cc: 11; qc: 50; dbt: 0.1334s; 3; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 4;
; mem: 1.3mb