This is the day my photography failed me 😦

Day 4 was snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef with Ocean Safari. Like most places in the Daintree, they came up to the Beach House and picked me up and took me down to their facility. It was at this point I met a young couple out of the UK and another young lady from the US. The UK couple were in Australia for a wedding and took some time to come up to the rainforest and the US girl was backpacking throughout southeast Asia. We all had a great day chatting and comparing notes. If either shows up here – hi from Canada!

We get to the Ocean Safari facility and they get me all suited up in a stinger suit (wetsuit). Stingers are basically lethal jellyfish. They grow pretty big and they can be lethal if not treated fairly quickly. This is one of the many reasons why Australia has the flying doctors and as a result very few people have died from stingers, spiders, snakes, etc…. over the past years.

Anyhow, you get your stinger suit to protect you, even though they are not in season right now but it also protects you in case you inadvertently rub up against the coral. We walk through the bush down to a beach to catch our boat.

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Our boat

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British friends behind me to the right (he is hiding behind me) and US on the left.

Onboard we get a safety speech and we head 20km’s straight out to the Mackay and Undine Reefs. During the trip out we get a bit of a history lesson, mostly things I had already heard from Neil the day before but nice to see some constancy. As we neared our snorkelling spot we spotted a big green turtle in the water and I thought – “cool, a lot like Bermuda” as we see the turtles there as well.

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Our reef with little sand beach

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Our guide and safety lady.

No picture as I had limited myself to the smaller Fuji camera (the x100f) with no zoom lens and brought my old GoPro for underwater photography. I needed small so I could keep the cameras in a dry bag – apparently this tour gets wet during high waves.

My first impression after going overboard was the reef was pretty boring when compared to Bermudas. Hindsight being 20/20 the reefs are very different from Bermudas but I have to admit I still like the Bermuda ones better. Now is this because of the obvious bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef? Or has this reef been snorkelled on so many times that damage is coming in? Or is it just different? Not sure but it was not as visually stunning to me but those around me who had never been on a reef were very impressed.

But what did blow me away was the turtles. They are completely unaffected by people swimming around. I was so excited to be catching this on the gopro. Imagine my horror when I pulled these onto the computer to see how bad the video was. I had also taken hundreds of photos with the gopro as well and in my opinion they are all CRAP. I have never managed to get good underwater imagery with the gopro. I was do disappointed. But I still pieced a couple of short clips together where you can see the turtles swimming with me. One is edited to try and bring the colours up, the other is straight from camera but a few clips pieced together.

The videos of the fish, clams and reefs are so poor that I won’t bother putting them up. But I can say the place is truly beautiful. Watching all the fish dart in and out of the coral and the formations are amazing to see. Bur seriously, don’t fly all the way to Australia to see reefs, just 3 hours from here in Bermuda you can see the same, if not more, and much more pristine. Now I am sure there are other areas in the Great Barrier that are in better shape but I hope they will recover and get back to the beauty they once were.

Driving back in I was reminded that the view in front of me was the same view that Captain Cook seen as he approached the Daintree and his trials and tribulations began. Such a beautiful scene in front of us.

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The lesson learned is that I need to figure out my underwater photography. Either I get a case for my fuji equipment or I do some research and get some more appropriate equipment. This was a great opportunity lost. But I still have it clear in my head as to how lovely it was. Also learned that you can never put too much sunscreen on your head when snorkelling. Without a hat, bald heads burn fast. As I walked around with a peeling head for the next week.

Back to the beach house where my new UK/US friends and I decided to take a run to Mason’s Cafe (since I had a car) to try out some of the more exotic meat that they have sample trays of.   In my case I wanted to try the Emu and Croc.   I had already had Kangaroo by this point but still, what about in a burger?

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The croc was still my favourite.  I found the Emu very dry but it was ok but the Croc was very strange.  Almost like a fish cake but with chicken added….. like I said – weird.    The fries in the picture are Taro Chips which are from a local plant.   They kinda taste like chips but were very dry.  Needed ketchup!   (and good luck getting an Aussie to understand that – it’s tomato sauce…).

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Couldn’t agree more.

I can’t say enough about the rainforest.  I was really reluctant to leave there the next morning and was sad as I drove south out of this magical place.   I can not ever see going back to Australia and not spending time in this place.   If you go there, please do not blast in on a 1 day bus trip.   Take a few days and spend time there to really appreciate what it is like to get back to a simpler life in a place that is 135 million years old.

Next morning I packed up and started the drive back to Cairns. Didn’t really take any time anywhere except to stop on the side of the road to make phone calls home to check in as I needed to get back to Cairns to restock, repack, do laundry, turn in the rental car and get ready for my next leg of the trip into the Outback.

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