Thursday, June 11, 2009


August 3, 2008 Port Douglas, Australia A visit to the Great Barrier Reef

This is the last chapter of our adventure in Australia!

Yesterday afternoon while I was online sending my journals we acquired more roommates. I think they were a bit shocked when then walked into the room and found an old lady using her computer! But, we’ve become good friends. Amir and Lior are early twenties and from Israel; their companion who they met in Darwin is Adam from Germany, also in his early twenties. The girls returned from the beach and smiles returned to the boys faces! All three speak excellent English.

After enjoying a steak dinner, five of us walked downtown to the Ironbar for the Cane Toad Racing event that occurs every evening at 8:15. They have names for the toads and everything. Our numbers were not chosen, one has to purchase a $5.00 ticket to view the event; so we were part of the cheering section. Afterwards we were allowed to pick up the toads and give them a kiss. Oh yes I did but Mary wouldn’t touch them!

From Toad Races

Mary & I left to go over to the Zinc Restaurant to see the fish in the bathrooms before buying an ice cream cone to eat while we walked home. The others were also home early as we all had an early start this morning.

NOTE: I also found out about the pretty patterns on the beach: they are made by Bubbler Crabs, tiny sand colored crabs that are mainly in tropical Australia. They are rarely seen except after the tide goes out you see the results of their feeding by observing the tiny balls of sand that they leave in radiating circular patterns out from their small burrows.

Our day started at 7 am but I was awake before six and finished in the bathroom before the kids rolled out of bed. Adam was sleeping in but the two Israeli boys were joining us for the HABA boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. The bus arrived to pick us up for the short ride to the Marina at 8 am. Checked in and walked to the boat; we all left our shoes on the dock and boarded for our adventure. About fifty people; half were diving and the rest of us would explore by snorkeling. We established camp in the lounge and were soon joined by another young man named Sam who is from Melbourne; 26 years old and a rep for medical supplies. The girls decided he would be perfect for Bec and continued to promote the relationship all day long! Right now he is out with all of my roommates at the Ironbar for karaoke night…I elected to stay home even though they all encouraged me to go with them.

Our first adventure during our hour and a half ride to the reef was a stop to watch whales frolicking in the water very near the boat. We watched them for a good ten minutes before they finally left the area. There were three of them giving us a show. Our first stop on the Barrier Reef was at Cathedral Reef. We spent nearly two hours there; wonderful coral gardens and colorful schools of fish. It took a while for me to adjust to breathing through my mouth; but I mastered the skill and really enjoyed the moments. Mary held tight to my hand most of the time; I think she didn’t want to answer to her father if anything happened to me. After a while I shooed her off to the younger set and returned to the boat for a rest before grabbing a noodle and venturing out among those that were staying close to the boat. We had wetsuits and flippers that made it effortless to move about in the water.

They feed us a wonderful lunch during our trip to the next reef as the Marine Biologist on board kept us entertained with a lesson on the different types of fish and mammals that we might be seeing during our next adventure. Opal Reef had less of a current and was easier to swim in. Mary and I both swam without the wetsuits as the water was warm and very comfortable. Actually, Mary had taken her wetsuit off within five minutes at the first stop. This time we stayed mostly with the Marine Biologist as she led us around the reef, explaining what we were seeing as we snorkeled along. Occasionally she would dive down and bring something off the floor for us to touch. Mary enjoyed swimming further out and eventually spotted the large turtle and actually swam some distance with the turtle. I have a photo that I took from the top bridge that shows her swimming with the turtle just under the water. Everyone had a wonderful time! We didn’t see any sharks except for the lady who didn’t swim well and had paid for the ride in the glass bottomed boat.

On our way home we again stopped for a whale who decided to give us a show. He didn’t totally breach the water for us but circled our boat several time so close that we could almost feel the spray; lifting his tail high out of the water time after time!

We continued home sharing photos and stories with our group. As I said; Sam has joined the party and after dinner the three girls and four boys all headed for the bar and karaoke. I’m charging all of the electronic equipment with only two plugs in the room. I have a feeling they will be piling into the room about 2 am. I hope I’m sound asleep by then. Right now I’m going to close this and hope that I can send you a journal and some photos tonight.

Tomorrow is our last day and we’re going to the Daintree Rain Forest, the oldest in the world they say; and then to Cape Tribulation. It should be a busy day and then we head for the airport tomorrow night. Hope to send you one last journal before we leave.

Port Douglas August 4, 2008 Daintree National Forest

I’d just turned out the lights about 12:30 am when the girls came home. We never heard the boys come in. The girls were all in great spirits from their very successful evening of karaoke at the bar! Up at 7 am we quietly packed our bags and left the room by 8 am; the boys didn’t stir so if we woke them they pretended to still be asleep. Had our breakfast and then caught the bus with Becky, Becks and Sam for an all day tour at 9 am.

Our adventure today was to explore the Daintree National Forest; according to informational material, it is the oldest living forest in the world. It also is unique in that it connects to the Great Barrier Reef and both are National Heritage Sites.

On our way there we drove down the highway bordered on both sides by sugar cane fields again. This time I became aware of the very narrow gauge train tracks along side the road. Our tour driver/director said that this train was used to get the sugar cane to the mill for processing. The sugar cane must be processed within fourteen hours of harvest or it is spoiled.

Twenty of our tour mates had come all the way from Cairns this morning; a much longer trip than we had. Nice group, young and mostly from Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

We stopped for tea after reaching the edge of the forest. From there we boarded a small cruise boat for a wildlife cruise on the Daintree River. We were looking for crocodiles and snakes. Found three crocodiles, but no snakes. The captain was very good with his running narrative and Mary kept us all entertained with her constant questions and remarks. He was talking about the lack of parenting for the young and somehow it was suddenly about humans and she said, “This is my mother”. We all laughed and when the trip was over he thanked Mary for adding some fun to the journey and said goodbye Mum to me! A fun hour on the boat while the bus was transported across the river on the ferry boat; there are no bridges that cross the Daintree River and this is the only ferry crossing.

Once inside the bus we continued on until we reached the Marrdja Botanical Boardwalk through the forest. A raised boardwalk allowed us to stroll easily through the rain forest and observe many of nature’s treasures. One was a green ant. It has a bulb on it’s bottom that hold a juice that is full of vitamin C. People take a nest of them, crush them and use it as a cold remedy. She said we could lick it to check the taste. Becky tried and then I did. Our tongues tingled for about thirty minutes from the tart taste. It didn’t hurt the ant she said. We also smelled a cocoa ant. Then we saw the basket ferns, the bird nest ferns that are also known as “widow makers” because when the fall it can kill you. I also saw a beautiful stag horn fern.

From there we drove up the Cape Tribulation; the area where Captain Cook first ran aground and his troubles began. There we had a lunch and a stroll on the beach before heading back towards Port Douglas. We made a stop for an ocean view from the Alexander Lookout and then a half hour stop at Mossman Gorge. We ran to the swinging bridge (we were there on Saturday) and the girls ran across while I did the videos to show how well it bounced!

Lots of fun; we left the tour when it stopped in Port Douglas. The others had a half hour to explore before boarding the bus for their trip back to Cairns.

We will be having dinner and then boarding our bus for a ride to the airport at 8 pm. We have a 5 am flight out of Cairns tomorrow morning to Sydney and then home. So it’s a night in the airport because of the distance.

I do hope that you’ve enjoyed our adventure in Australia. Tune in tomorrow for the start of our next ARMCHAIR TRAVEL as we begin a three month trip with my husband in the summer of 2004 in Europe.

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