My last four days in Cairns have been spent relaxing at the Esplanade, which is a public pool in the middle of the city and going out at night. Cairns is also a place that offer all kinds of activities like rain forrest trips, bungee jumping, skydiving and dive trips to the Great Barrier Reef so it is a good place to have a few extra days at the beginning or end of your east coast trip.
Although Australia has been a blast I am also glad that it is over. Traveling up the East Coast has been almost a bit like traveling on a trail, where people stop at the same places, mosttly doing the same things. Usually the main activieties of the costal towns will be beach life and nightlife, two things that I do not have to travel halfway across the globe to experience. I am now ready to move out og my comfort zone to get more genuine experiences in places where less tourists travel.
Having snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsundays, but had really bad visibility and seen very little I was ready to get a better experience when doing a day trip from Cairns that would take me to the outer reef for a few dives.
After about a ninety minute boat ride we were at Norman Reef, with the first divesite being Plate Top. Here we got in and swam around for about half an hour without seeing much more than coral and small fish before we finally spotted something worth seeing. It was a sleeping black tip reef shark, with its front facing away from us allowing us to get really close. After that we had another fifteen minutes of swimming around without seeing anything impressing.
Our second divesite, still at Norman Reef was at Turtle Bay where it was almost a repitition of our first dive. We managed to spot a reef shark and a turtle at a distance and then a giant maori fish swimming above us at the surface, but other than that it was probably the most boring diving I have ever done in my life.
The Great Barrier Reef is the Worlds biggest reef which also has the reputation of being one of the Worlds best places to dive. For me it did not live up to its expectarions at all, but then I might also have been very unlucky with the visibility and colors of the reef due to rain and choppy wqves on the surface.
Having traveled with train, boat and bus to get from Tully to Magnetic island I was happy when I finally got dropped off at Base Hostel where there was a nice little forest just 50 meters from the beach. A perfect place for me to string my hammock. Together with my snorkeling gear, pennyboard and books I was ready for a free stay on the holiday island.
And it almost was. I cooked my meals and had a couple of beers over at Base where I also spent most of the days relaxing by the pool. I also chipped in on a four wheel drive rental car together with some British to see what the island had to offer.
First stop on our roadtrip was Geoffrey Bay where there were plenty of rock wallabies who would come up and eat carrots out of our hands and mouths. From there it was not far to both Radical Bay, Horseshoe Bay and Florence bay where we got to do some hiking and to see some World War II bunkers.
At the end of the day we drove to a place callwed Westpoint for some sunset picnick. We all agreed on, even though on of us had to sit in the trunk, that the 20 dollars each was well spent to get to explore the many nature parks and beaches that Magnetic Island has to offer.
Having had a great experience with the farmstay I was in search for some more cultural adventures and found the perfect option; an overnight Indigenos Rainforest trip tour from Tully.
On the drive to the camp our guide stopped to pick some leaves from the trees that he explained that would work as metal foil and seasoning for the fish meal that we would cook when getting there.
While the fish and potatoes were roasting, well dug underneath the burning coals he answered our questions about the indiginous people in Australia and told us some stories that had been past on from his ancestors.
After the meal it was time to go night spotting, where we saw wallabies, bandicoots and an almost two meter long taipan snake (one of the worlds most poisonous ones!). The next morning we were not less lucky spotting animals as we woke up watching a big cassowary looking at us. It charged towards us twice, but backed off when we all got together and tried to make ourself look bigger. When we went on a walk in the morning we also got to see a platipus, a big spider and a giant cane toad. Along the way he also stopped to explain to us how the plants we passed were used for poison, food and making tools and equipment. All in all another great cultural experience I would never have wanted to be without.
Arriving Airlie Beach at seven in the morning I had only an hour before the boat left, so I jumped into a taxi from the train station and made it just in time for my sailing trip.
I had booked the British Defender, a boat accommodating as much as 30 people, but still being quite a fast and steady sailer. Steadier meant having a deeper keel, so we could not go into the more shallow and turquise waters like the catamarans, but we still got to see the beautiful waters from a distance.
Our first stop was a part of the Great Barrier Reef where everyone got an hour of snorkeling and some lunch. Visibility was poor and the coral were mostly dead which was dissapointment, but it was all made up for when we got to our next stop at Whitehaven Beach.
Whitehaven is known for having the purest silica sand in the World, making it crystal white, always cold even on the sunniest days and as turquise as the waters in the Maldives.
The city where the Whitsundays boats are departing from, Airlie Beach, was pretty small so I jumped on a train continuing up north the same night.