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Australia: Day 12 – 23.11.18…………Sun, sea, sand and snorkelling!

Today we’re off to the Great Barrier Reef, well a very small part of it anyway, to the Low Isles, which is a sand Cay, about an hour away from Port Douglas. It suits us fine as neither of us fare well on open water, particularly if it were to get a bit choppy. It had rained last night for about half an hour, quite torrential in fact, so we wondered if the overcast skies this morning meant the weather may not be too good. A few showers were forecast for today but it was still hot and very humid.

The catamaran we were cruising on, Wavedancer, was one of the smaller of the Quicksilver fleet and held 150 passengers. Today however there were only sixty of us which included three small groups of school children (about 25 in all) so we had room to spread out which was great for us. I must say the crew were exceptional. Extremely helpful, very professional and everything went like clockwork.

It was so nice to relax on the boat which unfortunately was short lived for me as my eye started playing up again. Luckily I’d brought some facial wipes with me, but to no avail and my eye remained sore all day. No ‘eyedea’ what the problem is but it’s getting to be a bit of a nuts Ian Eastwood (predictive text, should say nuisance).

On the way to the Low Isles a briefing session was given by Glen, the marine biologist and university lecturer who was going to lead a snorkel group around the island. Then there was a general talk about the day and what you can and you can’t do on the island. Anchoring just off the island we hopped into a small tender to take us to the island where we changed into our ultra sexy stretchy Lycra wetsuits. Everyone had to wear one of these if they were going into the water as protection from the ‘stingers’ (jellyfish) and the sun. We looked most fetching, in fact we looked ‘awesome’ in our suits which had hoods and mitts attached! I must say the suits were easy to get on and off, with a zip in the front, not the back as is usual, and they’re very lightweight, not like the heavy duty ones we’ve got at home, another of Maice’s brainwaves so that me, Maice and Jane can go sea swimming in winter!

So, suited and booted, snorkel in place, floating sticks under the arms, we waddled into the water and followed Glen. Both Maice and I had problems with our goggles fogging up despite spitting into them, so for us visibility wasn’t as great as it could have been but we managed to see giant clams, a huge sea cucumber, which apparently are a delicacy in China, although how you could eat one of those....yuk! (Maice tried one when she was working in the Caribbean and said they were ‘disgusting’). We saw Rainbow fish, a Mini-Ray with a white tail and other little fishes we can’t remember what they’re called. As we came out of the water there were shoals of fish being ‘goaded’ by quite a few reef sharks which was interesting to see. It was a good snorkel although in all honesty, having snorkelled in both Ras Mohammad (Sharm-el-Sheikh) and the Maldives, our snorkel today was not a patch on either of those two, the Maldives winning hands down, in my opinion.

We went back to the mother ship for a wee and some lunch which was lovely, lots of fresh prawns and really nice salads. After lunch we were back on the tender and off to the island again only this time we were walking round it with Glen. Making sure we were covered in suncream we set off on our educational walk. Apparently, in 1928 the island became the base for the first scientific study of a coral reef anywhere in the world, which examined the structure and ecology of the surrounding reef. It was a really interesting walk in which we saw an Ospreys nest perched at the top of the lighthouse with the Osprey literally perched next to it. I tried to get a close up using my new camera, but to no avail. When I zoomed in it took ages to try and locate the subject so the photo I’ve got of this magnificent bird is a brown blob! We saw Bridal Terns sitting on their eggs, we saw Brown Booby’s catching fish, a group of Pelicans chatting away to each other on the beach and other birds we can’t remember the name of although we were paying attention. After our guided walk we went out for a guided trip on the glass-bottomed boat and saw more giant clams and a few turtles. We both tried to get photos of them but they too turned into brown blobs on our photos!

All too soon we were making our way back to Port Douglas where we headed straight to Hemingways Brewery for a cold beer. We were lucky, the weather had been sunny all day except for now as dark clouds were starting to roll in, it was becoming more humid and we were getting hot and sticky. Thankfully the beer was cold and oh so refreshing. On the way home we were going to book a table at ‘Salaa’ restaurant, recommended to us by Johns cousin but it was fully booked for the next three days. Well, that’s thrown our ‘eating out’ tonight into a dilemma. We pondered for a while, we even regrouped to have a conflab and decided we’d go to Dave’s, just two doors down from us. It’s more of a take-away burger come fish bar but you can eat there too so that’s where we went having first sat in the jacuzzi to ease our hot and aching limbs, carried out Day 10 of our yoga challenge, showered and then made it to Dave’s for 7.30pm. We sat outside and wondered if our food would come on a plate or in take-away form as it seemed they were closing up. It came in two bags and a box! Oh well, another in-fresco evening it is then!. We decided to watch the telly whilst enjoying our grilled fish burger, beef burger, chips and water.....I must say it was a delicious meal, further enhanced by watching the antics of 007 himself Mr James ‘Sean Connery’ Bond in Thunderball. The film is so dated and what with his corny lines, it was most amusing.

After supper we sorted our photos out and updated our spreadsheet which is telling us we’re still ‘on budget’. Regrouping on the sofa we contemplated our day out on the Great Barrier Reef. It’s been another great day, we’ve learnt things, we’ve seen birds and fish and we’ve got some great photos.....what more could we ask for!

We’ve made a plan for involves Four Mile Beach. Let’s hope we stick to it....!

M&A xx

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