. A good part of the trip was that we got to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. The visibility was not as good as it could have been but it was good enough. We saw a lot of cool fish and got to see the reef up close and personal. The reef is composed of so many different colors, it is really amazing! Unfortunately our dive master that was supposed to be guiding us was too busy hitting on a girl that was diving with us. He must have been speaking "fish" to her underwater because it seemed to have worked. So Tara and I just scubed around without the guide and hoped that we wouldn't get stung by the "stingers" that are in the water; including Man-O-Wars and Box Jellyfish. Not cool! Especially because we paid like $220 for the service and we could have been chewed up inside a shark's stomach or filleted on the end of some stingers when all the dive master was interested in was getting the girl's number. Apparently some kid dove off one of the boats with us and landed face-first into a Box Jellyfish. That is not a fun way to end anyone's day. Today we drove another 8 hours and ended up at Cairns. We get to take van back tomorrow. Other than the sweet Jimi Hendrix paintings on the side, the van was not worth the money that we paid for it. It was basically a '69 VW with the back seats torn out and replaced with couch cushions from an old couch (that they probably bought off a bum living under a bridge for half a sandwich and an old pair of shoes) which they call a bed. The gas milage was terrible too. Like 1-highway, 0-city is what it seemed to get. And every time a truck drove by us it felt like we were going to summersault off the side of the road. It was also supposed to come with a kitchen, but the "kitchen" was a piece of wood nailed to the back of the "bed" and a backpacker's stove that we had to light by smacking two rocks together and screaming like chimpanzees. I guess it is all part of the experience. We got a lot of slow-motion thumbs up from burnt-out hippies along the way though, probably because of the Jimi murals on the side. I guess if we have their respect, that's all that matters.... ?
We got to the Whitsundays late after a 7 hour drive up the coast. We will be really excited to get rid of this van when we go to return it. Driving on the left side of the road, right side of the car, and 5-speed tranny is not so fun when my "navigator" (Tara) is sawing logs in the passenger seat next to me most of the 3200 km drive from Sydney to Cairns... luckily she woke up to tell me today that I was driving on the right side of the road and not realizing it, so I gotta give her credit for that :). It's force of habit! Driving on the left will never feel right to me. We had a great time at Airlie Beach by the Whitsundays though. We did a lot of hiking around the area and saw just about every peak of every mountain in the area. We have been staying in caravan parks the whole way up the coast, but the one we stayed at here was really cool. There was a pool with water slides, tennis, golf, basketball, big screen movies, kitchen and a bunch of other cool stuff to do while we were on the property. One of the days, we each paid way too much money to go to the Whitsunday Islands to get eaten alive by these horse flies that are around here