Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Week 5: The Great Barrier Reef

It may please many of my readers to know that this was by far and away one of the most fun weekends of my entire life. Others will probably be jealous. Either way, you are gonna hear about it. On Friday morning at the lovely time of 4:30 in the morning Hayley, Sara, Audra (newest crew member, sorry Molly) and I arose and prepared to catch a cab to surfers paradise so we could catch our 6am bus to the Great Barrier Reef. We first had to ride on a bus that made every single bump feel like a speed bump up to Brisbane where we would meet up with our tour guide and our specific bus that would take us the to reef. Our tour guide was a man named Harry, AKA the Nemo Wrangler, AKA the greatest tour guide to walk this side of the pacific ocean. He was abundant with crazy information about every area we drove through on our trek up, but I won't bore you with the details mainly because I don't remember them. One thing in particular I do remember was driving through the town of Bundaberg. To say this was an eye opening experience would be an understatement. If you read my previous posts you would know that we had some major flooding two weeks ago, some of the worst the eastern half of the country has seen. If you didn't read the posts, go back and do it, this is like a book you can't just go out of order, it's not a pick your own ending book. Anywho, the town of Bundaberg was one of the towns that really received the brute of the flooding and rain and you could tell. At one point we drove over a bridge that was probably 20-25 feet off the ground to which the flooding had reached the bottom of. As we drove through the town, taking the detour routes as the main roads were closed, every house we drove by was completely empty with all the furniture on the front lawn either drying or just beyond repair. Well that is for the houses that weren't washed up into the middle of the street. It was truly a sad site to see and one can only hope that they will be able to rebound from this travesty in a strong way.

Enough of the sadness though, let's move onto the excitement. Along with us on our tour of the reef was an Irish couple who had been in Australia for a wedding. By the end of the weekend we had all been wishing they just left after the wedding though as the husband was an alcoholic who managed to smell up the hostel room after the first night and was really quite the smart ass towards Harry. There was also a young french couple, a Canadian woman and and Chilean. For those of you who are a little slow with the math (ABA right big guy?) that makes 10 people, 11 if you count Harry.

The first night Harry took us to a nice little park where we got to have some delicious pizza while watching the sunset. It was the french guys birthday as well so we had a nice cake which Harry got confused with and initially gave to me thinking it was my birthday. It wasn't. Seeing as we had an early morning the next day everybody went back to the hostel after this, hung out for a bit and went to bed relatively early. Except for Sir Irish. He managed to stumble into the room at who knows what time, drunk as a skunk, and somehow turned getting into his bunk into a life or death task as it took him upwards of 10-15 minutes to climb up to the top bunk. The next morning he promptly got up and moved his mattress onto the floor. Prior planning prevents piss poor performance right?

We woke up at 7 the next morning and got ready to go to the boat for the reef which departed promptly at 8. Where we were going at the reef was not like anywhere else at the Great Barrier Reef. As some of you may or may not know it is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and on good merit as well as it stretches 1,600 miles. We were going to the southern most point of the reef to a small island called Lady Mustgrave. The coolest part about where we were going is that where we would be snorkeling/scubaing was completely enclosed. This meant 2 things in particular. The first was that there would be no swells and there would be no current. This was particularly good news for me as me and the water have never been on the best terms and the last time I tried snorkeling was a disaster because I could barely stay above the choppiness of the waves. The second good thing about the enclosure was that it meant no stingers (big scary stinging jelly fish). So with all of that info I was ready to hit the water and get my snorkel/scuba on alls I had to do was get there.

The boat ride was unfriendly to say the least. One thing I have learned in all of my years of boating is that the WORST place to be is inside. So sure enough we spend the first 40 minutes of the ride inside getting debriefed on how to scuba and sure enough my delicious breakfast did not agree with the idea of that. I'm not gonna spell it out. Once I got into the fresh air though the rest of the ride, although choppy, was smooth in another sense. Once we got the the reef it was as if we were in a who new area because the sky immediately cleared up and the sun shone bright, the rain and clouds weren't ideal on the boat ride. We started our time off with a nice snorkel so we could all get used to breathing with only our mouths and boy am I glad we did. It took a little while to get accustomed to doing so, but once I got the hang of it I got to enjoy fish of all different shapes, sizes and colors including the biggest starfish you have ever seen. It was blue.

Then came the time to really get under water and scuba. The scuba instructor could only take us out in groups of 3 so unfortunately the 4 of us couldn't all go out together and even more unfortunately I was stuck with Hayley as my scuba buddy (boom roasted). It took me a little while and a little reassuring from the instructor to get the hang of being entirely submerged while breathing though the mouth. Again, me and the water-not on great terms. Once I calmed myself down and realized that this was a once in a life time experience I just went for it and boy am I glad I did. Being able to see the reef up close and personal was just an indescribable experience. We got to stay under for about 30 minutes getting to see some of the most beautifully colored fish you have ever seen. All in all I can easily say that it was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had thus far in my life and I do owe it to my wonderful parents so shout out to them in the freezing cold, no power nor' eastern they are dealing with. Below I have included a few more pictures so enjoy and until next time, stay warm!

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