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Whitsunday Islands

Airlie Beach

sunny 30 °C

I took the overnight bus from Cairns (which was surprisingly good, thanks to my Symantec travel neck pillow :-) ) and arrived in Airlie Beach in the morning. Had a look around as I had to wait until I could check in. I am staying at the Koala Beach Resort which is by far the worst hostel I have stayed in. Not nice and it doesn't help that my very young Swedish room mates are very messy, but David had already warned me. It's surprising how many Sweds you meet. Sometimes I wonder whether there are actually any left in Sweden. Maybe that is the reason why their population is only 9 Million, the other 20 Million are out of the country travelling. I can see now why Chris quite often wants to avoid Swedish groups, as they are quite often quite ignorant (particularly the young ones) and just keep speaking Swedish. My day in Airlie was quite un-eventful. I just had a look around in town, bought myself a new bikini, chilled out by theh lagoon, checked my budget and wished I hadn't done it :-( but was sensible to leave the other clothes I wanted to buy until I checked my budget. I had to admit that I didn't really need them. Who needs shorts boat shorts on a boat? :-(
The next day was pretty much the same. Went to the lagoon etc. and then got picked up at 6.30pm to board the boat. We are 26 on the boat - Anaconda III - one of the biggest sailing boats here in Airlie and one of the very few ones that can make it out to the Great Barrier Reef no matter how bad the weather is.
The boat was okay, not as glamorous as on the brochure (bloody marketing people :-) ). I share my room with 3 very nice Irish girls (Deirdre, Claire and Sharon). The cabin and toilet is tiny but fine. Also met a very nice English girl (Alex) who travels by herself before moving to Indonesia. We ended up chatting quite late having a few drinks and had very nice evening. On our first day we all got up early and went to Whitsunday Island, which is the main island out of the 74 islands. It's not inhabited and looked just amazing, unfortunately it was overcast but the they dropped us off at the beach which was completely white and soft. It has a very high percentage of silica which makes it so white and so soft. It makes very funny squeaking noice and you can even polish your jewellery with it, it's so soft that it won't scratch it. Unfortunately you again have to wear those very sexy stinger suits to go in the water. The water was completely turquoise. Looked as if someone put some artificial colouring stuff in it, like Evete does with the water feature :-) And the rainforest with very strange and eerie noises in the background. Shame it was cloudy but you have to be grateful in Australia when it doesn't rain, so no complaints. We all just chilled out and went for a walk and then got picked up by the little boat to get back on board. We then sailed to the next island where we went for a snorkel. I wanted to check out the situation first before I paid the next dive and be disappointed. I went with Pete my new buddy who as an amazing enthusiasm about the underwater world and shows and tells me a lot. The snorkelling was brilliant. They dropped us off on another uninhabited island at wonderful little beach with a waterfull coming down running directly into the sea. It was surrounded by rainforest, cliffs and caves. Really cool. Sometimes it was difficult to decide whether to keep your head under water or have a look at the scenary on land. The corals were amazing here and I was so happy and pleased that not everything is dead. Pretty much the opposite. The coral landscapes were just amazing and it does look so much better when the sun shines. Althought the corals were beeter and far more unspoiled than in Cairns. We have seen loads of nice fish as well. Huge Angel Fish, clamps which were really cool. They straight away close when you get near them but are very beautiful. All in all a wonderful first day. We anchored there for the night which was a great setting with a nice sunset and a cold beer... what more could you ask for? Had a great evening again, met the Irish boys and had a good laugh. Everyone was knackered though, so it was an early night. Something is wrong with our cabin, as it really smelled, we must have been close to some unpleasant storage as it wasn't anything inside the cabin and even our toilet smelt better. Although it was quite disgusting we had such a giggle that the whole thing was just funny.
Got up early again and had a wonderful day with loads of sunshine. Wonderful. We sailed all the way out to the Great Barrier Reef, which was great. Turquouis water again, sunshine, wonderful islands that looked like a setting from Jurassic Park and great company. We got to the reef and the view was just breathtaking. Whereever you looked you saw reef with little shallow turquois pools in the middle of them. Hard to describe. So, I was definitely going for a dive here to finally see what the GBR looked like when the sun shines. Something was wrong with my BCD, so I had problems going down but once that was sorted everything was great and I could even stay longest down with the dive master I had most air. 11 divers for one dive master was a bit much, especially with a lot of people being beginners like me and having problems with their equipment. The dive was really good. We again saw loads of really beautiful coral landscapes, swam through really cool tunnels. When we were waiting for the little boat to pick us up and were just floating on the surface I saw so much, it was just great. I finally saw my first clown fish, which is basically Nemo. Sine the film was launched it is the most photographed fish at the reef. I finally found Nemo :-) ! It was the first time that I had to dive from a little rubber dinghy. My backwards role went really well, unfortunately my neighbour somehow landed with her tank on my head which wasn't very pleasant, so I tried to dive away but the BCD drags you up to the surface and I almost ended up with my head in the propeller. Great, mental note to myself sit in the front of the boat next time and not at the back. Fortunately our skipper saw it and pulled it away in the last second.
After lunch we went snorkelling. First we just jumped off the back of the boat as there were loads of Giant Travelli, which are huge ugly fish with big teeth. We were told that they were about 36kg each! And they were loads and all of them were just swimming around us like crazy, almost bumping into our masks, hitting us etc. It was really cool but after a while and the longer I looked at their teeth it got a bit scary and I was glad to get out of the water. Especially after Pete got bitten by one of them, when he tried to get a piece of chicken thrown in the water before the GT. Bad mistake Arni! So I had enough of the big ugly fish and wanted to see the pretty ones so I went to find Nemo! :-) We got dropped off at another reef and had an amazing snorkel. Wonderful corals and so many fish, clamps, Angel fish etc. Really good! Although I love the diving I have to say most of the times I see more when I go snorkelling and I am certainly one of the divers that dives to acutally see stuff and not for the sensation to be able to breathe under water like a lot of other divers... Again, another fantastic day and we have been lucky with the weather again. Everything looks just so much nicer when the sun shines. We stayed the night out in the reef. I just love being out at sea. Nothing around us, no land no nothing, just the ocean. Absolutely love it. Had a great evening again ending with ghost stories....
On our last last and final day we started sailing already at 6am and had really rough weather. And again half the people where just sick, sick and sick again, so I decided to stay in my cabin for a little while until the worst was over. At aound 9am it calmed down and we stopped to have breakfast. The weather was brilliant again. Unfortunately we had run out of water (you were only allowed to shower once a day for 2 minutes) so we had to get a back a little earlier. I thinnk they just cut off the water, as we so many people didn't even have a shower every day that I find it very difficult to believe we have used it all but never mind...
We went snorkelling again in the Blue Pearl on Hayman Island. Apparently Posh and Becks have spent their honeymoon here. The snorkelling and the scenary was again amazing. Loads of coral, a baby Nemo, sea star and a huge Maori Wrasse, which had changed sex from female to male after the leading male died, so Precilla became Elvis!!! Strange things happen in Australia, fish that change sex, that cross dress, trees that drop their bark instead of their leaves, animals with 2 penises.... bizarre, bizarre....
I was drifting through big flocks of fish, so they were everywhere. Right, left, straight ahead just in front of my mask underneath me, just incredible.
We then sailed all the way back to Airlie Beach, or Scary Bitch as we decided to call it....
That trip was certainly one of my highlights in Australia and I am so glad I did it. Unfortunately I am missing the night out as I have to take the overnight bus to Rainbow Beach. Tried to change it, but it doesn't work. Absolutely gutted!
Spent the afternoon at the lagoon with Alex and the Irish girls and then got back to Alex's to shower and get ready. We all went out for a couple of drinks and I then had to leave them... boo hoo..... But at least I will see Alex, Anka and Kivi back in Sydney, and Gary possibly in NZ, so something to look forward to.

Posted by Julia1976 01:32 Archived in Australia

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