Lovely stinger suits
So, after our wonderful helpx we arrived in Cairns.
We had wanted to go to Cairns as there is meant to be very good snorkeling on the Barrier Reef. Cairns is a very different climate from the other parts of Australia we had encountered. The heat is about the same but the humidity is about five times as high, it was hovering at the 85% the entire time we were there. It left us dripping in sweat within minutes of leaving air conditioned coolness and the clothes in our backpack became damp and started to smell.
We had booked a one day tour online to go snorkeling. The is a boat that acts like a shuttle out to Green Island, the only sand bar that has rainforest on it (birds dropping seeds etc).
We were able to hire snorkeling gear and yet another wonderful stinger suit from the boat. This stinger suit was much thinner but still as unflattering, it even had gloves and a hood this time!!
Once we arrived on the island we headed to the beach, it was an un lifeguard patrolled area as the water was never deeper than knee high. We snorkelled out quite far, going past the grass to find the coral. We were quite disappointed when we did see the coral as a large percentage of it was dead, huge swatches lay lifeless with only tiny patches showing any sign of life. The sun has bleached most because it lays so close to the surface of the water, it heats up and dies off. We did see some amazing sea cucumbers and a bright blue star fish. I also saw an eel, which freaked me as it headed straight towards me! After snorkeling in this area for a while we decided to head over to the patrolled part to see if things were any different over there.
Amazing Green turtle
We did stop for lunch first as we discovered we were quite hungry. We'd had the pressence of mind to buy subway before leaving, something that would of saved us quite a bit as the only resort on the island looked quite expensive. During lunch I made friends with a tiny little lizard, I named him Leonard and hid him from the many ground birds wandering about.
After we had let lunch go down we headed back into the water, pleased to find that the water got much deeper this side and the coral was in much better condition. We had been swimming for only a few minutes when we saw some huge fish, as we got closer I saw something else, it took me a few moments to realise that what I was looking at was a rather large turtle!! A turtle, a huge green turtle was swimming a few feet away from us!! I grabbed Rachel and pointed to it, who was just as excited as I was.
We swam closer, maintaining a space so that we didnt scare it but it seemed not bothered in the slightest, mearly continuing to graze on the grass below. We noticed a small metal clip on its flipper, it was clearly tagged so that biologists could keep track of it. We followed it for ages, stunned by the sheer beauty of it, the grace in which it floated through the water, awestuck by nature. We had our trusty underwater camera with us and took plenty of pictures, hoping that we would get some decent photos. When we eventually come out the water we were grinning like loons, wanting to run up to everyone and tell them what we had just experianced. It was definetely one of the highlights of our trip and one that will stick with us. On our last night in Cairns we went to a carol service. Because it is summer here they were held outside in the park, a stage had been built and all the performers were locals.
Can you tell I enjoyed swimming with Crush?!?!
It seemed like the whole of Cairns had turned out to watch, families had come prepared with picnic blankets, chairs and hampers of food, others had wandered past and stuck around to see what was going on. We managed to find a spot where we had partial view of one of the big screens and settled down to watch. As it got dark we were lucky enough to witness another wonderful sight, a colony of bats flew over head, streaming from a nearby roosting spot and out into the night to find food. Some circled overhead, perhaps confused by the huge mass registering on their echo location or perhaps just enjoying the carol service. Either way it was a very nice extra to a very nice day.