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Lonely Planet Great Guidebook Moment - And god created the reef

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 24 May 2008 | Views [1359] | Comments [1]

Albert's representation of himself in the reef - and it was 'free' (ie not $15 - what they ask for on the cruise - do not be sucked in by PROFIT mungers)

Albert's representation of himself in the reef - and it was 'free' (ie not $15 - what they ask for on the cruise - do not be sucked in by PROFIT mungers)

(well, god or whoever or whatever creates those things in the world that are amazingly beautiful)

So. One of the must-do things for anyone who wants to have a complete trip to Australia, besides climbing Uluru and eating a koala burger, must be a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. And of course, far from wanting to be original, I was also longing for the moment that I could put myself in contact with that amazing stuff I’ve seen on the documentaries about these areas not far from the Northeastern coast of Oz.

We arrived in Cairns, and once again, as budget conscious folk we are, we had to face the difficult decision to leave part of our party behind. Tiffany had dived and snorkelled the reef several times before, and Jett, though he likes snorkelling, wouldn’t be necessarily interested in a full day superconcentrated experience. So it means that, again, I was left as the sole ambassador of our group in the hostile waters of the Coral Sea.

First of all, it was important to choose a proper operator from the several thousands that seem to offer day trips to the reef. The sight of those many multicolor brochures depicting state of the art boats and happy girls in bikini patting what seems to me to be the same fish is absolutely mind-blowing, and personally, not knowing exactly what I was looking for, was rather confusing. So finally I adopted the recommendation technique: in three different places, including the helpful stuff of our The Serpent hostel, I was recommended the same boat. So it infers they are good, or they pay the highest commission.

Or probably both.

So I followed the recommendations and I booked my reef adventure with Reef Trip, who would bring me to my destination onboard the fast Osprey V.

The coast off Cairns looks gorgeous on a beautiful sunny day, but when it is cloudy and rainy, doesn’t seem necessarily inviting. And that’s what happened that day. The free shuttle bus from the hostel drove us to the Cairns Marina between clouds and drops, just to meet all those other folks from all around the world looking for the same experience as me, and sorting themselves in their own boats.

The Osprey V is a nice boat, with a great sun deck (for when it is sunny), a great buffet and a jokey staff. And it is very fast. They sell this as being a very good thing to get to the reef fast and spend most of the day there instead of sailing. And I suppose it is a good thing. But when the sea is rough and wavy, and the one who is writing is not specially a sea wolf, this speed only helps to shake everything violently, including one’s stomach.

A bit disturbed in my digestive system, and with the rain respecting us for the moment, we arrived at the first of our two spots in the reef: Saxons Reef. There, finally the contact with the marvels of the underwold: infinite types of colorful corals, inhabited by the most amazing shiny fish, absolutely happy to see you. Also, and sadly, patches of dead coral, too delicate to receive the impact of hundreds of visitors (most of them underwater newbies) every single day.

But the experience is incredible. All that you have seen in TV that many times before, enhanced by the reality. Small fish, big fish, a peaceful turtle… all absolutely fantastic. The time under the water passed fast, and soon it was time to go for the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, with lots of salads and barbeque. Everything very good looking. But… oh! My stomach didn’t set up properly after the shake before, and I was not able to eat much at all.

So meanwhile I was seeing everybody eating passionately and returning to fill their plates several times, I was thinking that there is no cruise option without lunch. And it could be a good option for those who want something more budgetty and are happy to bring a sandwich. Or, for some particular reason of the moment, they are not able to eat much.

I felt a bit sorry for myself, I must admit, for not being able to eat what seemed to be quite yummy. But I am sure it is some sort of hidden reason for that.

Soon, when everybody had finished their ingestions, we left Saxon Reef for Hastings Reef, and man, the sea seemed rougher than ever, and the boat was savagely bouncing on the waves. And man! My stomach, and my whole self, began to enter into the red area of upsetting. And though I tried to content myself, when the digestive system decides that is time for a noisy expulsion, you can’t do much to hold it, so at one stage, I bended myself aesthetically overboard and I threw all the minimal stuff that was sitting uncomfortably in my stomach. And, of course, I felt much better after that J

It was not nice at the moment, but is a good experience to explain. And I will certainly put this throw-up in my personal gallery of throw-ups, right next to that one when, being a teenager, I threw up from the balcony of a friend’s grandmother house, a 5th storey.

Hastings Reef was even more spectacular than the previous one, though we didn’t find that big fish the happy girls in bikini used to pat. Bad for him.

The way back, marking the end of our 8 hour trip, was much more peaceful, sitting in the deck with the stomach pretty happy. However, I didn’t even try to eat any of the cheese and cookies that the boat offered. (Now I can confess that I picked up a couple for later! Sssshh!!). And soonish we were on sight of the port of Cairns, joining the many other boats coming from their other destinations, full of adventurous blokes and sheelas with satisfied faces.

And that was that. An absolute incredible experience, blurred by the caprices of a naughty digestive system! But makes for a good story, doesn’t it?

ps. The people of the boat took pictures of us and later they wanted to sell them to us for 15$. Lucky I went to drawing classes when I was a child and I can reproduce the scene in this brilliant sketch.



This is an excellent story!!
I too get quesy when on a boat. I have the ability to loose all of the colour in my face in an instant and adopt a corpse-like look. It's not pretty.

I think the drawing in very accurate. I also think that you should take over from soem of the people form lonely planet who appear on tv. You would be heaps better.

I'm going to miss following your adventures.
(Would have loved to come to visit. One day I'll get a job and do what evva I want)!!!

  Katareenaa Jun 2, 2008 3:32 AM

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