In the morning we managed to catch England get knocked out by Croatia in the European Championship Qualifiers
. Never mind, it only means we don't have to have our hearts broken next summer. Anyway we had much more on our minds. The guy had just come to pick us up for our skydive. Amy and Jose had bottled it for various excuses that Lee, Ben, Shipley, Neil and I were never going to be able to use. So we set off with a few others on the two hour drive south to Mission Beach. We were paired with our instructors that would be firmly strapped to our backs for the decent. We made sure we would get on the first plane because hanging around just wasn't what any off us wanted. However because Acky and Amanda were doing a higher jump they had to go with the second group. As we walked to the plane the instructors tried to get more excitement out of us for the cameras than we we really wanted to show. The plane went up and we were now at the point of no return. I was now looking forward to it and watching Lee, Ben and Shipley jump out the door made me eager to jump. Hanging over the edge is surreal but as soon as you jump and free fall all worries disappear. It was amazing. Like nothing else I have ever experienced. I would do it again, any day of the week. As the parachute came out, it felt so calm and safe that I just enjoyed the views. The landing was effortless and the buzz we felt once we were reunited on Terra firma was awesome. Unfortunately, it physically looked as though Ben had had a very different experience. He was gray and his eyes were white like the Whit Sunday sand. He was so ill we couldn't help but laugh
. His instructor told him he had had an adrenaline overload ha ha. See his DVD and you see him visibly turn colour and his head start to spin. He was alright after ten minutes and we watched Acky and Amanda float back down to earth. We spent the rest of the day hanging around the small town just passing away the time while we waited for the others on our bus to land.
On the night we had a quiet one while Jose went out with others form the hostel on the prowl, probably using his Italian alter ego with the ladies. While sitting around the pool drinking, Shipley made a life changing decision. He decided he wanted to stay in Australia so he rang work and told them he wasn't coming back. He didn't get quite the response he was hoping for from his boss and after a bit of debate he decided he should go home finish work properly and come back after Christmas.
We woke up pretty early the next day so that we could catch a boat out to the Great Barrier Reef to do a spot of snorkeling and Scuba Diving. The crew were nice enough and the older Indian crew member who entertained us with guitar and jokes, mostly teetering on racist stereotyping of every culture on the boat, kept us awake and in high spirits. We were all looking forward to our dive, as we filled out the usual paperwork
. Unfortunately, Amanda ticked that she suffers from asthma. This meant she couldn't dive and it put a bit of a dampener on things. Ben, Amy and I went out with a different group as we had our PADI qualification. We had a bit of trouble on the first dive as it was hard to get used to it again. We felt completely rushed as the guides tried their hardest to get everyone out. There was way too much rushing around and as I put on my equipment one of the crew told Amy to move. I reacted with the old, "don't you dare talk to my girlfriend like that, you want to get some manners". We got a half hearted apology later on so all was well. If you want a quick dive go with Ben. He uses all his oxygen at a rate similar to the way he walks, it is funny when you indicate you have half a tank left and he is almost empty. We never really saw that much during the dive apart from a clam which I nearly stood on. I did find Shipley and Acky, who I swam down to, but despite my best efforts at tugging Acky he did not realise it was me so I swam away not wanting to lose my dive buddy. We actually saw a lot more fish and corals on top of the reefs when we were snorkeling so to be honest Amanda did not miss out on too much.
After a decent buffet and a few beers we returned back to Cairns ready to celebrate our last night of the trip. We had an Aussie/Indian meal (Crocodile Masala and Kangaroo Madras) and then hit a cheesy club dancing to Queen's don't stop me now and a rendition of the Grease Medley
. The next day we dropped the car off and caught our flight back to Sydney.
Back in Manly, we watched the DVDs with our Manly mates, probably watching Ben's jump about ten times. We then hit the Goon, Extreme Hunter and had a real piss up for their last night in Australia. We were rejected from the bars we wanted to get in and got in the ones we didn't, but all in all it was a great night.
The farewell the next day was very emotional, I think Lee and I being the only ones not to cry like a girl. We just took the piss. Shipley set everyone off in the pub and he looked like he really didn't want to leave.
It probably was the best three weeks we could have ever had. It was so much fun and I just want to say thanks to Amanda, Lee, Acky and Shipley for saving up to come all the way across the world to see us and I hope they think it was worth every penny.
We arrived in Cairns very late and were greeted at the hostel by the drunk night manager and his mates chanting football chants including derogatory comments about North East people. Too tired to care and completely sick of retaliating with more chants, which we have had to do more than a few occasions during our time in Australia, we just wanted to get checked in and to bed. It sometimes gets beyond a joke the amount of new people from England that we meet who we have to reassure that we were never in Byker Grove, have never met Ant and Dec and are not the narrator on Big Brother. Sometimes it as if a southerner has never come across a really life Geordie or Mackem, like we are rare or almost exotic. I don't usually mind the banter, in fact I used to enjoy it but because we live in a hostel and meet new people every day it has become very tedious.