End of the long drive
After the Whitsundays (from Airlie Beach) it was still a bit longer drive to get to Cairns (623km). That always means a lot of Flat White Coffee, plenty of dead animals along the road and listening to all sorts of music (ranging from Erika’s electro, through Isi’s hip hop and rnb to my Led Zeppelin). Surprisingly Erika’s knowledge of the rock classics got better over the last few weeks. Mine about electro and hip hop remained pretty much the same (non-existing).
I did a post last week about a small trip around cairns, which pretty much ended our driving on the mainland of Australia.
Start of the dive trip
The day after, we finally got a pick-up for the dive shop that was organizing the 3 day diving trip at the GBR (Great Barrier Reef). We boarded a nice new boat and went off for about a 2 hour ride to the first dive spot. This whole thing was a bit of a madness as there were millions of people on this boat who went for either a 1 day trip for snorkeling, diving (first-time divers and experienced), or like us starting the 3 day trip.
Luckily at the end we would jump to another (even bigger) boat just for the divers staying multiple days. The first 2 dives were organized still from this first boat though. Having had already several dives recently in Thailand, we decided to do our own dives without dive masters and instructors in smaller groups (me, Isi and Erika). And of course, we made a nice plan on which way we would go under the water and naturally we got lost like 5 minutes into the dive 🙂
After lunch we changed the boats, got to our rooms and wheeey, me and Isi we somehow got the biggest and fanciest room on the whole boat. Rather than the bunk beds that were common in all the other rooms, we got a nice king size bed with lots of space, and had a big window all over the side of the cabin.
The boat accommodated about 40 divers, had its own chef, dive instructors and dive masters.
Many people did their courses (beginner open waters, advanced – such as Erika) or did fun dives like us or some even just snorkeling.
The dives were nice, not too shallow, not to deep (max usually 24 meters). I was wondering if we’ll see any of the discussed coral bleaching (of course not – why would the dive boat bring you to those?).
On the other hand we had 2 night dives out of which 1 was really fancy – with special UV lamps and yellow filters for the masks / GoPro (the photos are anyway pretty much unusable due to the lack of light). Very few companies around the world do organize these special dives.
In short – the corals and some animals have the ability to absorb the energy from UV light and as a result they glow with some special neon light. So during these dives, you pretty much end up crawling on the sand and looking at the strange lights.
Another nice aspect of any night dive is the sharks. As there are some non-divers on the boat, they will usually do some snorkeling. In the evening the boat crew organizes a little show. They will throw fish food near a small observation platform at the rear of the boat. The fish will come and eat the food and eventually the fish become the food for the sharks. End result – plenty of sharks near the boat exactly where you enter the water for your night dive 🙂 So literally the way to enter the water for the night dive is to jump directly into sharks below you.
As to be expected, we met plenty of nice people on the boat – one a young German dude with very good observation skills (Gunnar), who rightly spotted, that there was something going on between me and Isi (when he asked Erika if by any chance we are together), Charles (a kiwi) who was a law student who happened to be allowed to marry people (which he proposed to me and Isi) and at the same time leading some hiking organization in the south island of New Zealand. Then one UK dude Jordan (whom was super happy to find out about my secret ‘black tea’ which was a rum bought in a liqueur store a day before starting the dive trip) and many more.
Typically you would meet during the food time (which was good and plenty-full in buffet style) and evenings and sometimes under the water as well. One needs to eat a lot considering that most of the day you dive (5 dives a day!!!). Especially you would meet Jordan also in the evening tasting the ‘black tea’ 🙂
Back in Cairns
After 3 amazing days at the GBR we got back to our spacious airbnb in Cairns and invited Jordan with his girlfriend (we really had had a hard time believing him on the boat, because he spoke so much about her that she almost became a myth).
Cairns is a nice little city with a bit of a Mediterranean-style promenade and luckily some Mövenpick ice cream (with the Swiss chocolate flavor). Not that Australia would have bad beer, but the German Weissbier was also a nice change.
Leaving Cairns meant to say goodbye to Erika (after really nice 4 weeks of traveling together… – I will really not miss the electro music, though) and to fly south to Melbourne for a short stop before heading down to Tasmania (which – completely out of sequence – you can already read about here since some time).