Life Aboard the Tongarra

Trip Start Jan 19, 2013
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Trip End Apr 12, 2013


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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Our first morning aboard the Tongarra started pretty well. It had stopped raining although was still very cloudy but we had slept pretty soundly and I at least really liked the rocking of the boat to put me to sleep. As we were getting down from the top of the cabin where we slept we saw a group of blue flying fish whizz past which was pretty cool.

Mosquitos were in quite an abundance last night so lots of itchy bites as well which isn't great. Anyway, we had to put all our bedding stuff away before we could have breakfast and the Germans had already done that and started eating. They didn't seem particularly conscious though of the fact that there was still the rest of the boat to feed and although they were the first up, it didn't mean they could take as much as they wanted. There was enough to go around but a fruit platter that was there went very quickly. The breakfast was pretty good though.

Once we had eaten, Dave cleaned up everything whilst we pulled ourselves together. Our first activity was to go to the beautiful White Haven beach which would have been really lovely had the weather been good. We got weather from completely the opposite side of the spectrum. Because of it being the Stinger Season (poisonous jellyfish) they got us to put on stinger suits to help prevent a possible sting in case we wanted to swim in the sea. Since we were already in the right place to go to the beach, Johnny just had to prepare the smaller motorboat they had and start ferrying groups of 8 over at a time. There we waited until everyone had come and then hurried through the forest to the other side of the island, hoping to be the first group on the beach.

On our walk there was a massive spider and its web blocking our path. Dave told me it was a Golden Orb spider and it gets its name from the fact that its web shines yellow in the sunlight. The web is also in equivalent amounts, stronger than steel which is very impressive. We made sure to avoid the web and moved on to find a short while later, Citrus Ants. I have never heard of these before but Johnny showed us why they get their name. For each of us he got an ant in his fingers and on its tale is a tiny little lime coloured bubble. He held its bum up to our tongues and when the bubble touched it we got a strange zing of citrus flavour. It was sort of like a tiny electric shock of lemon and lime. Really bizarre but very cool.

Once we got to the lookout, the weather still seemed stable and we got some good photos of the beach and of us as a group. We then headed down to the beach where the sand was super fine and very white, the purest sand in the world in fact being something like 98.9% silicone. We took some more group photos there forming a human pyramid, letters spelling out Tongarra and and also jumping into the air at the same time for a freeze frame mid-flight. They then left us for an hour and half to go and have a rest I guess but also to prepare lunch for our return.

Almost 5 minutes after they had left, the heavens opened and the most amount of rain I have ever seen chucked itself down. It was painful rain and absolutely ridiculous. We still had a little swim and waded around the beach but we didn't have any place to go for shelter except for the trees which provided some but not great shelter. I saw quite a few stingrays and different kinds of fish and also lots of dead jellyfish on the beach.

As the rain got heavier and heavier, we did eventually seek shelter under the trees before slowly making our way back to the other side. There we got picked up and taken back to the boat where a huge spread was laid out for lunch. There was homemade coleslaw and some salad, meats, cheese, bread, wraps etc. There was loads and we all ate well.

After that, we had a short rest and then they took us to a small place where we could go snorkelling. We all put our stinger suits back on and grabbed a snorkel and then in small groups we got back into the small boat and got taken about 10 metres away where we rolled backwards off the boat into the sea. We couldn't see that much stuff as the water was so murky. But I saw two different kinds of fish - nothing on what we were going to get in the Great Barrier Reef. We didn't stay there that long as it was a bit cold and there wasn't a great heap of stuff to see.

Back on the boat we got dry and warm again and grabbed some cider and played a few drinking games with the group. Dave was preparing our dinner of spaghetti bolognese which was pretty nice. They had some trouble lighting the BBQ to cook some garlic bread they had as the rain had gotten torrential again. We had been outside until the tent but because the wind and rain was so bad we all wanted to go indoors.

After dinner, the Germans got themselves ready for bed whilst the rest of us stayed with Johnny and Dave and had quite a good chat about random things and also playing a few drinking games. At one point there was quite a loud whoosh as the boat got swung around so quickly by the wind that it spun the propeller round in the water! It was quite an experience. Anyway, eventually the Germans came back into the shelter because the rain was so bad but they were only allowed to stay if they joined in so some of them reluctantly did. We ended up going to bed around 2am and it was such a good night and very funny.
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