Back to Cairns, where I am right now. I love this town. Its small(ish), has a great atmosphere and it's location, fronting the Coral Sea and backed by beautiful rainforest-covered mountains, is quite stunning. I'm staying at a charming Bed & Breakfast at Kewarra Beach, just north of Cairns. I went to Cairns yesterday and walked around the town centre. It has a lovely provincial, very laid-back feel.
The streets run in a grid pattern and are full of souvenir shops, restaurants, boutiques and cafes. The seafront features the Esplanade with a 'lagoon' which is a local favourite, especially in the weekends.
There are loads of terraces where you can just sit back with a cold beer or a glass of wine and enjoy the sea breeze and the scenery. I had lunch at a sushi bar and I must say, the sushi was very good. There are lots of Japanese who live in/visit Cairns and that translates into a whole range of Japanese restaurants and sushi bars. I tried crocodile karaage (deep-fried crocodile meat) and it was really yummy - crocodile tastes very much like chicken and there are loads of crocs here in Queensland so I guess it wasn't too difficult to make the leap from chicken karaage (the more common karaage sort) to crocodile karaage.
This morning, I was picked up at 7:30 for the 40-minute drive to Port Douglas, the embarkation point for most cruises from this area to the Great Barrier Reef. The drive, along the coast, was stunning: on one side, forest-clad mountains and on the other, palm-fringed beaches, rocky outcrops and the gorgeous sea. It was a very windy day and the trip out to the Outer Reef was quite thrilling. The catamaran we were in bounced up and down and swayed from side to side, with large waves crashing onto the decks. Some of the passengers sat up on the open top-deck and they were completely soaked. Some of them also became very ill.
When we arrived at the reef, the wind was still very strong and the waves were rolling in but we braved it. I put on a wetsuit (it was quite chilly) and snorkel gear and jumped in. It was simply stunning. I can't quite get over the amazing diversity of coral and fish around the Great Barrier Reef. Totally breathtaking. As we jumped in, a giant Napoleon wrasse came to greet us. It's a huge fish (about 1.2m long) with thick lips. It just swam around us for a bit, then disappeared into the reefs. We visited three different spots around the sprawling Opal Reef and wherever we went, the thing that was so impressive was the diversity.
Fish and coral in innumerable shades of blue, red, green, yellow, orange, etc... Some were striped, some spotted... It was just incredible. I saw a large cuttlefish and giant clams (about two meters across ok!) for the first time too. We had another wild and bumpy ride back to Port Douglas.
I felt fine on the boat but when we were finally on dry land, I suddenly felt very dizzy. Seasickness on land!! I've been told that it does happen.
Anyway, when I got back, that queasy feeling in my stomach disappeared rapidly after a glass of wine :-) and reading my e-mails. I have another trip tomorrow, this time a one-night camping trip to the Outback. This one should be very interesting!
Till my next blog. Take care.
I'm feeling very excited. I went on a fantastic boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef today. And when I got back to my B&B, I checked my e-mails and got a huge surprise: this travel blog has been chosen to be featured on Travelpod.com. There's me, right there on Travelpod.com's homepage. I'm really pleased. Thank you Travelpod!