15th December 2008
On the basis that I was heading out onto the ocean, I wasn't at all pleased to be awoken by the sound of a thunderstorm... I had better get the 'travelcalm' out!
Got down to the wharf and checked onto my boat - Reef Magic - nice and early and had time to get a nice hot coffee and croissant and put a call into the folks. It seems the prospect of going out on the ocean on a storm is disturbing them more than me so I really must be chilling out!
As part of the package deal that I have booked which takes me out to spend a day on a pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef, I am eligible for an introductory dive - something that I am really looking forward to! Plus, I'm told that I can book to do a helicopter ride when I reach the pontoon out on the reef! Another definite must after my disappointment in the Whitsundays. There is also other activities on board like a sundeck, snorkelling, semi-submersible...
I fill out a questionnaire for my dive, including medical details and go and get my run through on how all the gear works... I'm raring to go having built myself up all morning to go through with it!!
So I'm thinking all is good when catastrophe strikes! The fact that I take a certain type of medication rules me out of the dive. There is no way they'll let me go, even if I sign a disclaimer. Gutted.
Oh well, all is not lost, I can do the helicopter ride instead.... Actually no I can't because in actual fact, you needed to book the helicopter on the boat, not the pontoon so its all fully booked. I miss out on that too.
I get myself one of the free cups of coffee and a piece of cake to console myself and I go and sit out of the way for a while, my bottom lip trembling from the disappointment and frustration over this and the Whitsundays. But, there is nothing I can do about it and so I can do one of two things. Sit and mope (which I probably would have done 12 months ago)... OR, get up, go and get some snorkelling gear and go find nemo. He's waiting for me!
And so I did - after a short interlude on a semi-submersible which took us around and about showing us underwater. I see a few reef tip sharks and plenty of characters from Finding Nemo (I'm sure they've all got special names but to me they are just all colourful!).
The reef itself has obviously seen better days. The pontoon here has been here a while and I suspect gets damaged from time to time so its not looking its best. However, that doesn't stop the fish being about and indeed the colours of the coral still being as vivid. Its such a peaceful world down there and I spend about an hour on and off just wandering around on the surface marvelling at the sights around me.
I'm adopted for the day by a family from England with two young boys who spend the day heading round and saying "hi kerry, bye kerry"... I'm reminded of Sean and Brendan back in Ireland! But its company and they look after me after having such a bad morning!
Having returned to Cairns, I head to look around the shops and can ignore the temptation of being opals no longer! I am now the proud owner of a new opal pendant but I'm not allowed to open it until I leave Australia - how rude!! I'm very pleased with it and I guess its only the money I would have spent on flights in the Whitsundays, a helicopter ride today and I'm sure I can think of other things I've saved money on... Thats how I justify it anyway!
I've got another day free tomorrow and after having a few busy days, I'm looking forward to a lie in!