Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef

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November 27th 2015
Published: November 27th 2015
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Wednesday 25 November continued

After our walk last night we had a quiet evening. I don't think I mentioned we have had a further time zone change when we arrived in Cairns so the clocks have gone back an hour for us.

We drove 13 kilometres today!

Sunset was therefore 6 something. It was also a full moon last night.

Thursday 26 November

We woke early and after getting ready eventually moved off at 9.50 am.

Our initial objective today is Mossman gorge, North of Cairns and about 75 kilometres.

The drive is along a beautiful coastal road, winding along next to the seashore a lot of the time, with the blue sea to your right all the way. One of the major crops here is sugar cane and there is field after field of the stuff. We had spotted a narrow guage railway running along side the road and then saw the sugar cane train, we stopped to take a pictur eand the driver waved.

We arrived just after 11 am and went to the visitor centre, bought tickets for the shuttle bus AUS$8.90 each and found out what we needed to know about the place.

Back to the car to quickly to put on our walking shoes and then off. Through the visitor centre and to the bus, which leaves every 15 minutes.

The bus drops you at the beginning of the walk and then you enter the rainforest. There is a raised walkway initially to keep you up above the animals for some of the way. Then you walk amongst the trees.

We saw a large skink and a brush turkey. There were a large number of people visiting and some were swimming in the gorge, which is not recommeded.

We did manage the suspension bridge by not looking down and walking pretty quickly.

The walk was warm and humid as you would expect in a rainforest and we had taken plenty of water.

We walked for about 3 kms overall and then back to the shuttle, visitor centre, then car. The temperature on the car said 40℃.

Our next target was Port Douglas, back down the road a short distance, for some lunch and looking around, we arrived at just after 1 pm.

Pat drove us into town and we parked - parking is free most of the time but usually has a time limit, today was 2P, so 2 hours free parking.

Looking out of the windscreen straight at a cafe, which looked like it had our name on it, cafe Ziva. A chic sort of a place, Pat ordered a cheese burger with chips and I had a morrocan chicken salad with watermelon and a strawberry dressing, with 2 coke zeros the bill was AUS$28. So chic but not expensive, and the food was lovely.

Next we gazed into some shop windows, saw the sea at the end of town and a mangrove swamp.

Back in town we went into a shop called Target, where Pat bought a swimsuit and a dress, very good value stuff. It was still warm so we had an ice cream, then into Coles for some more soft drinks and opposite to a bottle shop (off licence) for some beers for Pat.

It was after 3 pm by this time so we headed back to Cairns. We duly arrived at a little after 4 pm.

Well at least we got some miles on the clock today, we managed 162 kilometres.

We had a quiet evening and ate some of our provisions.

Friday 27 November

We had an early start today as we were doing a snorkelling trip on the Great Barrier Reef.

Departure from finger A on board TUSA6 from the Cairns Reef marina at 8 am. We were to be there at 7.40 am ready to embark.

We had awoken early and were down to the marina in good time, we parked in an underground car park nearby.

A representative was on the quayside, which was good as there were many boats.

The boat was a small one through choice, like many things there are multiple options for this sort of thing. We didn't fancy something with hundreds of people on board and this one was a maximum of 60, so felt it suited us. The price for the trip including wetsuits, boots, fins, snorkelling gear, snacks and lunch on board was AUS$200 each

A small modern catamaran, with a friendly welcoming crew.

We sailed off for a couple of hours and stopped at a site called oasis on Milln reef. There were a mixture of scuba divers and snorkellers on board.

The divers had been having their briefings as we went along and some were in the water moments after we tied up. The snorkellers were given a lesser briefing on the do's and don'ts. Firstly general snorkelling advice and then about the barrier reef.

There was a lookout on top of the boat the whole time people were in the water. A small tender was around to help those that might need it and a snorkelling guide with a lifebuoy again to help and also to point things out to people.

Pat and I both snorkelled, the current really pushed you away from the boat, but that didn't help when it came to returning.

The amount of fish was simply amazing, you poked your head under the water and they were all about the reef. Lots of shapes and colours and sizes.

Not being much of a swimmer, I was wearing a bouyancy vest, like many others, and didn't stay out too long. But in the time I spent out, saw some fantastic fish.

Pat stayed out for quite some time and eventually returned. Pat did see a turtle.

Some divers were having introduction dives and there was an almost constant movement off the back end of the boat, one way or another.

We stayed here about two hours, then lunch was provided, very pleasant. Cold meats, pastas, salads, cheeses and different types of bread. All sorts of lovely things.

After a check of the number on board we moved to a site called horseshoe on Thetford reef. Pat went out for a short while, but it was a bit choppier and the reef was not far below the surface, which Pat wasn't keen on, so came back.

We enjoyed the weather and watching what was going on. I had a chat with the Captain about the vessel and various things which was very interesting.

After afternoon cakes were provided, then we set off for our return to Cairns. Pat had had her picture taken underwater and we had had one as we went on board, both of which Pat liked so we took the plunge and decided to buy them AUS$45 on a cd and sent to you by email.

Back just after 4 pm, paid for the car parking AUS$10 for all day, and off to the hotel. A really enjoyable day out and of course we can now say we have snorkelled off the Great Barrier Reef.

We beat our distance mileage record today, by driving 8 kilometres!


28th November 2015

Sounds like you had a fantastic day out on the reef - very envious as I didn't get to do that during my trip. Can't wait to see all your photos. x

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