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Published: October 12th 2010
Sunday 10th October - Final leg of the almighty drive to Port Douglas today. After 3000km of pootling, we were stopped for speeding and fined 130AUD. It wouldn't be a trip away if we weren't stopped for a motoring misdemeanour. Have to admit though, that he was a very nice cop and could have charged us 3 times that amount. Even so, it'll be an extra night in Bertha rather than a night in a luxury spa now that we've been fined.
With all the stress of the criminal activity, I forgot that I needed a toilet stop, so we decided to make an emergency stop at the next available place. As if by magic there appeared a signpost indicating that visitors are welcome to stop for a coffee at the next right turn. Expecting a little coffee shop with a portaloo, we were amazed to arrive at a 5 star retreat with views from a sundeck out over the rainforest and the ocean. Best loo break I've ever had.
We arrived in Port Douglas which is gorgeous. It's quite exclusive without being overpriced. It's where Bill Clinton was dining when he was informed about the 9/11 attackes in 2001.
It's also the place where Steve Irwin was killed by the sting ray, but being incredibly brave and undeterred by this bit of trivia, we booked to go for a dive on the Great Barrier Reef for tomorrow.
Monday 11th October - Up early for a boat ride to the harbour, then 90 minutes by boat out to the reef. The weather is really rough today and the first refreshment we were offered onboard the boat was sea sickness tablets. However, there were just 6 of us actually diving and we had a really good instructor, so we decided to brave the storms. During the role call, the crew misread Dave's name and called him Dario - it stuck! All day long Dave became known as Dario and it so suited his image as "the milk tray" man emerging from the depths in a skimpy wetsuit (pwharr). (Jill - on a personal note, the wetsuit is even better than the cycling shorts).
The first dive was quite scary as it was really difficult to descend because of the current and the surface being so choppy - this meant we were banging our heads on boats and things. However,
once we'd got down a few metres, it was great. On the first dive we saw cuttlefish, octopus, giant clams and a white tip reef shark (but only a little one, so Dave didn't scream). The second dive involved looking at the coral and the reef itself, but we did also see true clown fish (finding Nemo), lion fish and a flowery cod. By the time we ascended from the 2nd dive, it was blowing a full gale on the surface and it was difficult to even stand up on the boat. The crew said it was the worst weather they'd sailed in at this time of the year. (Lots of puking and green faces). We also emerged to find that one of the snorkellers had been stung by a jellyfish and another couple had got engaged underwater on their first training dive - It's a dangerous world down there!!!
I'd got a bit cold and girlie by this stage, so Dario went on the third dive alone and saw a 2m Maori Wrasse.
We're loving the whole diving thing, so we went out for a seafood supper in celebration of our underwater friends. Dave ate something called
"bugs" which we later learnt were not creepy crawlies, but a cross between lobster and crab. Very tasty.
All in all, it's been a shame about the weather here, but Port Douglas is a lovely place to visit. We're leaving tomorrow to return Big Bertha to her owners. We then have a few days in Cairns city before we're heading to Auckland late on the 16th. We'll be back in touch then. Missing you all.
Much love Dario and Han xxxxxxx
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