Sunday, May 25, 2008

What I Did On My Australian Vacation: Day Eight

Day Eight:

This was our first full day in Cairns, except we immediately left town on a boat bound for a section of the Great Barrier Reef. The trip out took over an hour, during which there were snacks and drinks and an environmental lecture over the PA available on the boat, but I spent most of my time standing in the stern basking in the wind and the sun and the salt spray. For some reason, I find this irresistibly pleasant, not to mention being the single best cure for seasickness I've ever found.

We docked at a pontoon platform which featured a roped-off area in which you could snorkel around the reef. Because this is Australia, they recommended renting a jellyfish-proof suit, which, being my cowardly self, I most assuredly did. Those things were highly amusing; they made us look like a group of the world's dorkiest superheroes.

Unfortunately, I didn't really spend quite as much time snorkeling as I might have liked. Even with a life jacket, I'm not exactly the world's greatest swimmer, and my mask, despite my best efforts, kept leaking water. Plus, my friend, who's less of a swimmer than I am, ended up spending most of the time clinging to the conveniently-provided flotation platform, and I eventually figured it might be a good idea to ditch the leaky mask and join her somewhere less wet and salty.

Despite not exactly staying out long enough to succumb to the rapture of the deep, I really did enjoy the experience. As advertised, even this tiny section of reef was packed with more fish than I've ever seen in my life, outside of an aquarium. Big fish, little fish, colorful fish, drab fish, fishy-looking fish, funny shaped fish... Lots of fish. Also coral. So now I know for sure that Jacques Cousteau and the Discovery Channel have not lied to me! (Well, OK, I'm sure the Discovery Channel has occasionally disseminated untruths, but it wasn't kidding about the fish.) I neither saw nor was stung by any jellyfish, although some other folks did report encountering them (although not their tentacles).

After the snorkeling, there was a nice buffet lunch on the pontoon, and then we took a ride in a semi-submersible boat to see more of the Reef in comfortable dryness. Well, OK, semi-comfortable drippiness, to be honest, but there was a very, very cool view. Which I would try to describe, but, really, you've all seen pictures of the Great Barrier Reef, and no words of mine are remotely going to do it justice.

Oh, wait, actually, I can supply some pictures... Note, though, that the colors are inevitably kind of dimmed by looking through that much water, though, and that the image quality isn't helped by the fact that these were taken through glass:

And then we got back on the boat, and I stood out on the deck getting wet and wind-blown again.

All in all, a really good day.


  1. Just poking around New Mexico blogger sites, and stumbled upon your site - Funny stuff! Interesting as well. I have always wanted to dive the GBR (also being a reef keeper, nature freak, sci-fi fan, and frustrated astronaut), and would move to Oz in a heartbeat if they'd let me in.

  2. Well, hello! Glad if I could provide some interesting blogging for ya. :)

  3. I`m impressed, you under water.

  4. What, you expect me to shout, "I'm melting?"

  5. I saw it through a glass-bottomed boat, too. (My brother took a picture of a giant clam, which turned out not too badly, considering the water and glass effect, as you mentioned.)

    At one point, the crew tossed some loaves of bread overboard, and they (the loaves, not the crew) were attacked by a school of fish that had become accustomed to that happening. It made me seriously reconsider the potential harm from an animal much smaller and with much smaller teeth than I have. It was like being surrounded by screaming groupers - although they were probably there just to see the bass player.

    And, now that I think of it, someone needs to come up with a loaves and fish joke.

  6. I don't think I could top the grouper joke. :)