12.04.2011 - 20.04.2011 33 °C
We had a brief overnight stop at near Bowen, the location where they filmed Australia, on our way from Airlie Beach to Cairns. This was another huge drive but we wanted to spend more time up there so just bypassed the places on the way. We had a day in Cairns before doing our day trip back out to the great barrier reef. Like Airlie Beach, Cairns also had a big lagoon and although is much bigger it is still a nice place. We sorted out hiring an underwater camera after seeing the amazing photos our friends took at the Whitsundays.
We booked onto a powered boat to get us to the reef quicker so we were guaranteed six hours out there to go snorkelling and diving. Linda couldn't dive, due to her previous collapsed lung, but I was desperate to dive again and was lucky enough to be out first since it was only me and another girl who had ever dived before - being first generally means having a better chance of seeing more before the sealife swims off as more people dive.
The dive did not disappoint as almost straight away we were approaching a big reef shark, which looked almost my size but are thankfully harmless. Amongst all the amazing fish and coral we also found a turtle, stingrays, clown fish (Nemos) and more large reef sharks (video below of one swimming off as I approach). It was great only being the two of us and the instructor as we were shown far more and it felt less crowded than the dive at the Whitsundays (but that was still really good too!).
The snorkelling was amazing too and we spent hours exploring two seperate reef locations. There were loads of fish and coral with unbelievable colours and the giant clams were really colourful and impressive. To Linda's delight we also found more Clown fish, although she was not a fan of the school of large fish that lingered at the back of the boat. I found it pretty amusing watching them swarm around her when she got in, until one of them bit my finger!
We were delighted with our photos from the underwater camera, as they came out clearer than we imagined. The water visibility was also really good and we chose another great sunny day to do the trip. The company we went with were also really good which added to a cracking day.
We had a couple of days left before returning the campervan, so we headed north up to Cape Tribulation. Port Douglas was our first stop, which is a really pretty town. We then had to get a small ferry across a river to get further north to get to the Daintree National park. This has the oldest rainforest in the world and in this area it meets the coast where you see great beaches at the edge of this impressive forest. We did a few of the rainforest boardwalks and were really lucky to see a rare cassowary (like an emu but with a blue and red head). We also took a walk down the side of a river hoping to see salt-water crocodiles but unfortunately didn't see any. When walking along a beach later that day where we think we saw one in the water, which must be fairly common as the signs state no swimming due to the crocs.
Our final night with the van was spent at a town called Palm Cove, which was really pretty and peaceful, before returning to Cairns to finally move out of the campervan. We had two nights in a nice hostel there before leaving the east coast for Perth. The last couple of weeks have definately been the best part of OZ so far for us with our trips out to the great barrier reef being the highlights.