Great Barrier Reef (Day 4)   Leave a comment

Tuesday, 20 August, 2013

Set the alarm so that we could be up and out early for the drive up to Port Douglas. We bought some ready prepared fruit yesterday and had that in the room along with a cup of tea instead of wasting time going out for breakfast. Everything was packed into the car and we were on the road by 8:30. There was still plenty of fires next to the road on the way up and again, nobody seemed too concerned that the whole hill was on fire, I can only assume that were no houses up that way and the locals would just let the fires run their natural course.

We boarded the Quick Silver VIII at 10:00 and quickly found ourselves a nice six person booth next to the window in anticipation of our hour and a half journey out to the reef. As the we were about to leave, an excitable Japanese family turn up and plonked themselves down next to us, more of these later! During the journey we hired an underwater camera and had a play around with it while we waited for the boat to arrive at our final destination.

Suddenly there was a wave of excitement on the open decks as people caught their first sight of the pontoon out in the distance. Actually to me, it looked smaller than I was expecting, but there was a whole array of other bits of equipment (glass bottomed boats, helicopter landing pads, semi-submersibles etc.) scattered around. On docking with the pontoon, we made sure they we went in the opposite direction to the excitable Japanese family, but as you’ll see later this wasn’t the last we seen of them. We quickly found a table where we could dump our stuff and Ciara and I got changed ready for snorkelling while Gail went to check out the semi-submersible and the glass bottomed boats.

As soon as we were in the water, we were immediately surrounded by huge variety of different types of fish. It was a bit deep next to the pontoon to actually see the coral, so we swam out to the outer limits of the roped off area that we were restricted too, where the water was shallower and we could see the coral. As I suspected, the coral was a bit washed out in colour, due to pollution etc. but there were enough outcrops of really vivid stuff to give a good impression of what it all used to look like. As Ciara was swimming along the rope, a huge fish came along in the opposite direction, they both came to a stop only feet away looking at each other and before I could get the camera switched on and focused to take a picture, he was gone out into the open ocean where we couldn’t follow. After an hour or so snorkelling we came out for some lunch, which was served on the pontoon. The buffet lunch was excellent, with a large selection of hot and cold dishes to choose from. Just after lunch as we were taking pictures on the top deck of the pontoon, we became aware of a commotion in the water below us, as low and behold one of our japanese friends was being brought back in by one of the lifesavers. To be honest, he looked like a goner as they dragged him out of the water and started mouth to mouth and heart massage on him. As you can imagine, the rest of his family were very concerned as to his well-fair as the boat staff moved him out of sight from the majority of the passengers. Of course, we. Still had time for another swim with the fishes, but I was surprised to see a lot of people changed and heading back onto the boat ready for the journey back. As it was, Ciara and I had another hour or so in the water, while Gail took a trip out on the glass bottomed boat. During lunch the tide had dropped to expose quite a lot of the reef and this seemed to concentrate all the fish into large pools which we could swim into and experience. In fact we were having so much fun that the next thing we knew was the ship’s horn sounding which was our signal to head back in. As it was, Ciara and I were the last two people out of the water and I was the last person off the pontoon back onto the boat.

The journey back to Port Douglas was uneventful and we were back into port by 4:45 and on the road back into Palm Cove soon after that. On the way back we stopped at the Rex Lookout to take some pictures but the view was spoilt by all the smoke from the fires on the hillside. When we got back, we had a quick shower and a change of clothes and went out for dinner at 8:00 in the El Greco restaurant. It was just as we were arriving that Ciara spotted a lizard on the white wall of the entrance and and anyone who knows Ciara will testify that is not good! Anyway, all was good and we had a great meal followed by a few drinks and bed early ready for our transfer to Cape Tribulation tomorrow.

Posted August 20, 2013 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about, Travels

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