A Travellerspoint blog

Scoooooba! (scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef)

Ahh.... the Great Barrier Reef, a dream come true!

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Ahh... the Great Barrier Reef, a divers mecca. When I got certified 11 years ago (wow! Has it really been 11 years?!), the GBR was something people talked about with such awe and passion, that I was jumping out of my skin with excitement for finally being here! We decided to maximize this experience by doing a live-abroad (or overnight trip) on a boat.

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So basically in 2 days, 1 night, you can get up to 7 dives in. Wow! I ended up getting 5 in, including a night dive and a 6:30am dive. I have to say, I was pretty pooped after doing 5 (can you tell I was tired?):

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Seeing the coral reefs was incredible, but I love looking at the fishes and the underwater wildlife. Highlights were big o' tortoises, clownfish in the anenome (nemo!), big o' clams, parrotfish (I looove the colors).

Here's me scuba diving with Nemo:

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It was kinda funny because we were on this big boat that could fit 52 passengers, and there was Lauren and I, and then these 3 young lads (a brit, a swiss, and a german)... and thats it! So we got VIP from all the crew, and it was nice just relaxing. Oh, and I finally saw Borat - funny! It was pretty much like a cruise ship with a little hot tub, cute rooms, and a full on deck. The hot tub definitely came in handy because our sched was: dive, rest a little, dive again, eat something, dive again, and on and on. It was pretty intense and exhausting. After the 5th dive, I just couldn't do it anymore - enough being cold and wet, ya know? But I really did feel I maximized the diving, which is cool! The water temp was pretty nice (around 70's) and visibility was pretty good. We broke it up a little and went on a nice glass-bottom boat tour.

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To be honest, I found it amazing, BUT, I really have to say that The Red Sea off of the coast Egypt is probably the best diving I've done to date. Some of this is because unfortunately, there is a lot of dead coral out there, which is sad. Yes, the Great Barrier is the largest reef in the world, but a lot of it is dying, sniff sniff, and unfortunately again, this is due to it being overpopulated by tourist divers like myself (I guess its quality not quantity, huh?). But yes, all and all, I finally experienced The Great Barrier Reef and it was fantastic!!! Scoooooooobbbbbbbbbaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

Here's me enjoying the view of the GREAT Barrier Reef! Yes, a dream come true!

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Posted by travellen 03:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fat Albert, the croc

Jungle trekking

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So there I was.... minding my own business, relaxing after a long day of trekking in the jungle in the river. Ahh.... peace and quiet. THEN, all of a sudden, this MONSTER crocodile appears!! What the?!?! It came out of nowhere, but from the look of it, it was ready to ATTACK! What to do? I had a flashback to crocodile dundee, and in a flash of a second, I climbed on top of it while it was fighting with me. Thrashing all over the place, I finally pulled myself in front and with all of my body weight, managed to clamp its mouth shut. THEN.....

Okay, okay, so that really didn't happen. What REALLY happened that we just spent the last 2 days in the rainforest and we went on a river cruise, a croc cruise, if you will, and lo and behold, we come across Fat Albert, this HUGE crocodile. It was just hanging out, catching some rays. We learn that it is 20 years old (they live up to 60+), is 5.5m long, and weighs about 1.2 TONS! TONS!!! It was soooooo amazing to see in vivo... it was HUGE!!! It definitely is a Fat Albert!!! I took, of course, 20349823049832 pictures, but here is one:

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So we ended up getting a hostel, pretty much right in the middle of the jungle and went on a night rainforest tour with headlamps and everything. So then we came across pythons, spiders, birds, and some amazing other creatures. I'm not going to lie, during the 3 hours we were hiking in the pitch black I was a little paranoid and kept on imagining what I would do if a snake or spider landed on my foot (I was wearing open shoes). I didn't have any great solutions, but thankfully nothing happened. It was then amazing to sleep at night (how did I sleep after all that adventure that day, I don't know) and listen to the wind blowing the trees, and these odd (but cool) animal/bird sounds.

Then today we did another muddy rainforest hike and by the way, I am learning sooooooooooooooooooooo much about the life of a rainforest, and I am just getting more and more amazed by agriculture. We also went on an exotic fruit tour and tasted some amazing, and unique to Australia, fruit. The drive up to where we where (which, if you look at a map is at the far tip of the north-east corner of Australia), was up through the mountains, ZIG-ZAG (very sharp and very scary. Mind you, again, I'm driving on the right hand side, on the left side of the road, with the manual on the left). BUT I can't even describe to you how beautiful it is seeing the ocean, HEARING the ocean and the waves crash, and seeing this lush rainforest surrounding it amongst mountains. I've never seen or experienced anything like it!!!!

Its been a tiring last few days, lots o action, but the next 2 days we are doing a live-abroad (you sleep on the boat) on the Great Barrier Reef!

Posted by travellen 04:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fig trees and waterfalls

Cairns and Atherton Tablelands

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We arrived into Cairns expecting hot and tropical weather because that was what literally everyone told us to expect. NOT! It was probably in the 60's and a little wet. Anyhoo, not to waste time and to maximize the short time here, we decided to rent a car and hit the left side of the road running as soon as we got to Cairns. Yes, I not only drove on the right side of the car, on the left side of the road, but also with a stick shift on the left side. Phew! If it weren't for this big yellow sticker on the wheel that said "KEEP LEFT," who knows what could have happened?! Ha ha! No, it definitely did take a little getting used to, especially that I also was driving on very windy and hilly roads (last I checked Chicago was pretty flat and umm... I never really learned to drive hills). But alas, we survived! ;-) SO FYI, here is where Cairns is, basically the top point on the map (north-east):

We drove inland between Innisfail and Cairns to the lush Atherton Tableland, located in a place of the tribe named Ngadjon-Jii. The Tablelands are known for its beautiful scenery, with lakes and waterfalls, national parks and state forests, so of course we wanted to see it. And yes, it indeed was very impressive and had all of that and more, including REALLY cute tea houses, which I REALLY liked the idea of (I looove tea). I don't even know what was more beautiful, the pristine landscape with rolling rills, exotic trees, unique bird songs, or this REALLY REALLY REALLY amazing Curtain Fig tree, With a fig tree, basically a fig seed is planted in a host tree and a root develops and descends to the soil. Enriched by the soil, the fig develops aeriel roots which encircles the tree and within hundreds if not thousands of years, it eventually 'strangles' the tree (hmm... not such a nice tree) and the host tree eventually rotts away. So actually, fig trees are also known as "strangling trees." In the case of the massive Curtain Fig Tree, it not only strangled the 'host' tree, but it fell onto another tree and vertical roots formed to eventually look like a curtain (it really does). hence the name. It was REALLY interesting to see this MASSIVE tree, and I of course took lots of pictures. Unfortunately, and this website is LAME-O and doesn't all too many picts, so sorry I can't show any yet. When I get back to Sydney, I am going to put some picts on kodakgallery and include a link from here so you can see this cool tree amongst other neat things I'm seeing! Yea!

Today was very nature-oriented and I'm really realizing more and more how Australia is top notch in terms of nature stuff and active things to do.

Okay, I'm on a time limit here, so I gotta run before I lose this!!!

Posted by travellen 01:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

I PASSED!!

I PASSED!

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This has nothing to do with traveling or anything, but I PASSED my licensure exam and am officially, Travellen, DPT!!! (doctor of physical therapy!)!! Just wanted to share the good news!!! The e-mail from my parents (who never e-mail) was: "congradlation. you pass. love mom and daddio." It was cute!!!

But I guess that means when I get back home I have to work. Oh well.. I guess life can't be all fun and games, but it definitely will be these next 4 months! WOOO HOOOOOO!!!!!

Time to celebrate!! I'm off to the Great Barrier Reef!!

Posted by travellen 15:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

G'day!

Watch left, and stay to the left!

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The "watch left and stay to your left" is key here, and I have to make a conscious effort everytime I cross the street, walk, stand on the escalator, etc. Its soo backwards to me, but I'm slowly but surely getting the hang of it. What? It only took a few near-death experiences...

I'm super tired after being on my feet the whole day and have to re-pack things and get organized for an almost 2 week excursion up north to Cairns and then back down to Sydney. Hopefully things will be more entertaining for my blogs! I know there are lots to do there, but the thing I'm most excited about is going scuba diving! yea! A life dream will finally come true - scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef! Yeaa!!

In case your interested though (hehe), today the family friend took me around many bay areas, which was super beautiful because we FINALLY had a warm sunny day (its been overcast and kinda cool). Went to Woolloomooloo (seriously, thats the name), an old shipping wharf, the Towers Point (the tallest building in Sydney, a whopping 250m above the ground. Sorry to sound snooty about it, but coming from Chicago, land o tall buildings, I can't help it!), more botanical gardens (which is HUGE and just ah-mazing. Its a park for all/botanical garden), Opera house again, and ended the day with a Wildlife museum, which was really cool (speaking of, the aquarium and wildlife museums are open till 10pm every night. Isn't that cool?!?!).

Posted by travellen 05:19 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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