14.08.2008 - 18.08.2008 25 °C
At 7am on Thursday we were back to being backpacker again. Well, without the backpacks (instead a massive bag for E-J and reasonably small bag for Sam). Also, having saved a bit and E-J getting a nice bonus at the end of her job, we decided to see the rest of Australia in style!
First stop was Cairns, actually Port Douglas, as we'd heard better reports about that place. So after a flight into Cairns we caught a bus up to Port Douglas. By the time we got there it was almost 4pm, so we quickly organised a Great Barrier Reef tour for Saturday and explored the town, which consisted mainly of a busy strip of shops, bars and restaurants, a four mile beach on one side and a mariner the other.
Port Douglas is also very pretty as the streets are stripped with palm trees.
The beach was quite lovely, but a little windy. Sadly we have been so spoiled by the Brazilian beaches that our expectations are incredibly high now, but generally we were very happy with the place.
The next day, we headed to Habitat, which is an animal Sanctuary, that E-J insisted on seeing. The morning was spent having an amazing breakfast of everything you could eat while birds wondered and flew around. Also if you were unfortunate you'd end up having to fight for your breakfast with the birds.
Next, E-J insisted on having a cheesy picture with a koala. The Koala was both heavy and smelly and typically was a lot more photogenic than E-J!
Sam also thought Koala's reminded him a lot of his twin brother, as they sleep for 19 hours of a day and eat for up to 3 hours!
We then continued to walk around the sanctuary, stroking the kangaroos and interacting with other birds and little crocs. It was a very enjoyable morning and we both made sure we took full advantage of the eat as much as you like breakfast to the point where we found ourselves practically rolling out of the place!
Next, back in Port Douglas, we made plans to hire a car for Sunday and travel up to Cape Tribulation for the day. The evening we indulged in some amazing seafood and then enjoyed a bit of the Olympics back in our room.
Saturday, we were up early and excited to start our tour of The Great Barrier Reef. We were promptly collected by our coach and then driven about 100m to the mariner, it hardly seemed worth it, but we found the ride rather amusing.
Having got a few seats at the back of the boat, we basked in the sunshine on the way to the reef. We were lucky with the day as it was a clear blue sky and not too windy. The place that we were heading to on the reef was Agincourt and it was about an hour and half to get there. The day involved three different sights around there.
The reef is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms and we immediately became mesmerised by its sight, with the incredibly turquoise water against the sandy looking coral.
When we jumped into the water, we were amazed by the colours of the reef and fish. The reef is full of stunning, blues, purples, yellows, reds and the fishes are equally beautiful.
What is also amazing to see is just how tame the fish have become to humans. They seem to accept them as part of the reef and are quite happy to swim straight past your nose! We really thought we where trapped in another world.
On the second sight we were able to come across a few little nemo (clown) fish hanging out in the reef.
Also, it was so special to see the fish playing and chasing each other and nibbling away on the reef. There were so many shapes and sizes. Apparently there are over 1500 types of fish in The Great Barrier Reef.
The third sight was the largest sight and is known as turtle bay. We became slightly nervous when the first turtle to be spotted has a massive chunk out of him and when asked what had happened, we were told a tiger shark had got him!
This sight had huge fish in it, the size of about half a metre, swimming in a shoal together, which was slightly intimidating! There was also a famous fish there called Mari, who was literally the biggest fish around that would follow us around hoping to be fed.
The best part was when we spotted a lone turtle cruising along, over the reef by himself.
After the final spot we had a good cup of tea to warm ourselves up and then headed back to Port Douglas.
Thoroughly impressed by our tour and the incredible sights we had seen, we ended the night with a hefty pizza back at our accommodation, washed down with a bottle of wine - bliss.
The next day we picked up the hire car at 9am and hit the road for Cape Tribulation. On driving there it was incredible to see all these huge mountains covered in thick, green, lush rainforest.
When we got there, we decided to do a canopy, elevated walk around a place, which ended up being rather expensive for what it was, but it was great to walk in between all the rainforest and see the views from above all the trees. The place also had overflow of information, so that by the end we were exhausted from everything that we had heard and read during the walk.
By 12:00 we were at the pick up location for the jungle surfing, which basically involved being swung through the trees of ropes, similar to a pulley system, but with a harness around you.
We found this tour to be reasonably good, although our expectations had hoped for more of a thrill. We did enjoy the few jokey things we did, such as E-J pretending to run through the sky and Sam giving a good high five with the guide at the end!
After this tour we headed up to Cape Tribulation beach were we had a little picnic and soaked in the views. It was incredible to be in the heart of the heritage rain forest, with The Great Barrier Reef so close by.
After an hour on the beach we headed to the famous Daintree ice cream shop were they make their ice cream out of the natural fruits of their farm. It was delicious!
After this we had a quick peep at Alexander's Range and then headed to Mossman Gorge. By the time we reached Mossman, it was 5:45 pm and beginning to get dark. We would have liked to have walked around there, but with the light fading we decided not to push our luck!
That evening we enjoyed a few more victories for the British in the Olympics and headed out for a good meal and a few drinks. By 10:30 pm we were exhausted, so decided to call it a day.
The following day we checked out of our apartment and had hoped to spend the day on the beach, but sadly it was rather cloudy and windy and after an hour on the beach, getting covered in sand and shivering with cold, we decided to call the sunbathing a day!
The rest of the day was spent sorting out the rest of our trip and wandering around the Port Douglas until we caught to bus to Cairns to catch the dreaded Greyhound down to Airlie beach.
Sam's Comments: The reef was one of the best experiences I have had, it was good to see that even underwater E-J loved posing for the camera!
E-J's comments: It has been a great start to the trip. I have been really blown away by The Great Barrier Reef, it really was a lot better than I expected.