December 13th, 2006 – by: sissanoel
The heart shaped island on Hardy Reef, view from Noel's helicopter trip.
today for Airlie Beach
, a long drive which took all day. We only stopped for petrol or food as we'd passed through most places on the way up to Tully (we did stop at the Townsville Tourist Information to take a photo of the "Big Brolga" and to experience the cleaning toilets in Australia!). We had a quick look at Bowen
, the mango growing centre of Australia. Quite amusing to keep track of mango prices as we drove - around Sydney they were $16 a box, as you got up into northern Queensland where lots of people grow their own in the back yard they were around $8 a box but at Bowen you could buy them in the town for $4 a box!! Northern Queensland is heaven in you enjoy tropical fruit - you could buy enormous pineapples for $2 each and 2 kilos of lychees for $3 - we indulged!
We are staying at the YHA in Airlie Beach, fantastic location but not much parking so took a while to sort that out.
The pontoon moored at Hardy Reef with the transfer catamaran next to it. The little boat in the corner takes people out to the helicopter pontoon.
We went out on a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef from Airlie Beach - you travel out on a catamaran for about 3 hours to Hardy Reef
where you then spend a few hours on a pontoon from which you can snorkel, dive, do reef tours in a semi-submersible and take a helicopter flight, along with getting a seafood lunch. Noel took a helicopter flight, so got spectacular views of the reef from above. Melissa took the opportunity to try scuba-diving - absolutely brilliant, think this might become a habit! We got about 45 minutes underwater, about 6 metres down, going right along the reef. The fish in this area are obviously very used to people and came right up to us, almost kissing our masks. We didn't try to touch the fish, but if you put your arm up they'd swim right under your hands.
Once again, a day trip to the Reef is expensive but well worth it to get a look at this stunning landmark. A HINT: having a YHA membership card is very useful up here - we saved a huge amount on our reef trip as they had a special for YHA members. We basically got 50% off each, so meant we could afford a helicopter trip and a dive!