Team VA's Wonderings

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

In the Ocean

So we head off to the reef on our very swish boat, with complimentary (i.e. paid for in the pricey ticket) brekkie and lunch with lots of vegetables to follow. After our quick intro to diving (refresher for John and me, new for the other 'introductory' divers), I realise that I have made a total arse of this diving lark. I've now done two introductory sessions, 5 dives and haven't got my Padi; when we booked the trip I thought this would be OK. Turns out that I've forgotten in very short space of time just how much I love diving. I've been running round trying to find a way to get this taken into account and get my padi, but with the rush down the coast, it's starting to look like I'll have to do it in NZ and do even more introductory dives down the coast (I have a free dive included in my Whitsunday sail). All this moaning is just a reflection of how marvellous Saturday's 3 dives were. I'll also need to find a way to get some photos underwater (John did get a couple of disposables, so will see the results in June).

We had to do a quick skills session when we got under the water-hanging onto the rope anchoring the boat, we cleaned masks, switched regs and took out our regs and cleared them. While we doing this we saw our first sealife. Someone pointed a couple of feet from where I was hanging and there was a jellyfish. John remarked later that it was rather box shaped, so that could have hurt. (I have subsuently read that box jellyfish aren't meant to be on the reef, which is reassuring).

There are some downsides to diving, aside from the risk of agonising death, but I seem to enjoy those too. After my first dive, I was completely covered in snot-it really does clear you out in a most effective and amusing way. I also developped a reasonable sized lump on my head from the cheap mask, tho I must say that it didn't leak and the visibility was A1. When we were in the water I remembered some loony advice from the previous night's reef teach. Apparently sea snakes are very inquisitive and almost friendly; they'll see divers and can easily mistake the tubes on your gear for a possible mate, so they'll swim over, have a nose round your tubes and bugger off when they realise there's no action with rubber. They'll only bite you if you try and push them away. So I'm supposed to leave a randy sea snake to rootle about behind my head! Fortunately I was not presented with this horrific choice.

We did see a lot (and had a massive backpacker on the scrounge buffet lunch): reef sharks, a ray, nemo a clown fish, parrot fish (tho I couldn't hear them eating the coral as when snorkelling yesterday) and I watched massive wrasse (2m) chomping while being cleaned by a smaller fish. As well as heaps of coral and other fish and stuff. It was wicked and I recognised more than I did in Zanzibar.

After all that nature, the obvious way to spend the evening was watching Rocky Balboa at the flicks. I've only seen Rocky 4 previously and I think this was even funnier; I'm not sure that's the intention tho. We both agreed that the highlight was the trailer for Die Hard 4. Oh yea, John McLaine is back; I reckon he might be about to have a bad day. Cue European terrorist....

It's my birthday/in the jungle
I'd like to start by thanking you all for all the birthday wishes, which I received from a whole heap of different media. The lodge that John got for us was amazing, right in the rainforest (it probably didn't do to think what happened to the rainforest that had been where our cabin now stood). Through a combination of sober birthday reflection and sheer stupidity, I don't have a photo of it-will have to scrounge off John who flew to meet the Big Fish in Sydney this morning.

Anyway on Sunday we went to Cape tribulation in our very cheap hire car. We made a few stops including one for a birthday pie

before we got the ferry to cross over to Cape Trib.

I was unaware of the precise reason for John screeching to a halt, until he said Cassowary and pointed. We were looking at one of the 1200 cassowaries still in the wild (for those who are unfamiliar, they can be summed up as being psycho and prehistoric). Later at the Cape Trib beach we learned there was a rogue one-presumably some idiot had been feeding it; they're usually a bit shy, but you don't want to annoy them. So I committed the memory the instructions for 'escaping a Cassowary in one piece'. I've been reading Bryson's Down Under, which I think has refocused me on just how ridiculously lethal much of Australia is. Didn't see any crocs tho; I hear most people don't....until it's too late! Sadly my cassowary photo is pony.

We went on several walks, but Cape Trib with all the crabs on the beach was the definite winner. I felt it was a bit like Cornwall covered in rainforest.

For the first time it really feels like rainforest here-it's humid, sticky, sweaty. Not like others, which have a more English feel, odd as that sounds. I loved being up here, as it seemed another world at another time and was a big break from the tackiness of Queensland.

In the Mountains of the Tableland
Afte a lovely, slightly hungover walk on the beach, we headed for the Atherton Tablelands, another natural wonder nestling in the hills above Cairns. You can imagine our delight when we chanced upon the Big Peanut, 5 kms from Atherton.

We saw truly mad fig trees and went on a boat cruise with a driver called John. It was all great and beautiful and too involved for me to write about in the time I have. I'm sorry. In the evening, we reverted to type made a total mess of things and then went to eat pizza. We'd gone out at dusk looking for tree roos and platypus; despite the map all we got was lost, muddy and this photo.

I would like to stress that is the RIGHT way, after we double backed.

The following day saw a tour of many majestic falls

turtle spotting, the marvellous crater (need a helcicopter for the photo), more food, another crazy fig tree tried to eat me (turn your monitor, you know the drill)

and then we went back to look for Tree Roos again. Since they're in the trees during the day we were succesful this time.

At one of the falls, we had an even closer Cassowary encounter (just 1198 to go).

Then back to Perth for refelction, a few last night jars and a bizarre movie at an open air cinema in a beer garden. All good. I'd like to formally thank Mr Adams for a most enjoyable last 6 weeks and wish him all the best as he travels on to Sydney, then Perth (via the train-now I'm jealous) and wherever else he can fit in from there. Send me photo CDs! I forgot to say that this morning!

Part of my evil plan has fallen into place; I now have a return flight to Easter Island for May 19th. I need to change my flight to Santiago from Auckland to a week earlier and then try and get an air miles freebie back to the UK in time for some weddings or summat. I had to hold on the phone to the UK for 20 odd minutes, but BA delivered the flight I wanted-almost. I do have to fly club class (thanks to my miles for 10% of the cost of an economy ticket). I don't know what I'm going to tell them at the hostel......


  • Hey Mr. Poll Star,

    Belated many happy returns - I looked in on your site as I thought it was your birthday coming up. Sorry to have missed the actual day.

    Sounds like your still having an amazing time. Keep blogging!

    Tim F.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:15 PM  

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