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Jen and Dan
Roadtrip Through Oz

Below the Ocean in the Great Barrier Reef

Tuesday - 19 Nov 2002
Great Barrier Reef - Australia


On Tues, Nov 19 we spent the day travelling from Yeppoon to Airlie Beach, which is an Eastern beach town at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The city is a party central and, as it turned out, was a popular hangout for schoolies (high school students at the start of their summer break). We got into Airlie Beach in the late afternoon, checked into a hostel and walked around the town. We saw the beach, which despite the name of the city was not very impressive. Airlie Beach is home for the box jellyfish, which is a poisonous and very deadly jellyfish that is almost impossible to spot in the water (they are the size of a fingernail). Needless to say we avoided the ocean. Instead we did some e-mail, had dinner at the hostel BBQ and went for a drink at a local bar.


The next day we were set to begin our sailing trip of the Whitsunday Islands, which are a series of islands in the Great Barrier Reef. The trip was supposed to be a 3 day trip, but it only started at 2:30pm, so we had some time to ourselves (the captain of the ship later told us that they did 3- 3 day trips per week, which is a pretty neat trick). We spent the morning dealing with the travel agent, who had promised us "resort accommodation" on the trip but was actually putting us into bunk beds in a 6 person dorm. After 3 calls and 2 hours of arguing, we were upgrated to a nice private hotel room. To celebrate our victory we went for a great lunch at a nearby cafe. At 2:30pm we met the 30 other travellers on our trip and we all waited by the dock for our boat. After a 1 hour wait we boarded a large catamaran and met our captain and first mate, who were trying to start the trip off right with a few beverages.


We sailed for 2 hours to the South Molle Island where we were to spend the night. The boat trip was peaceful and beautiful. On the island we went to our room (which was REALLY nice), and then went for a swim at the resort pool, while the other travellers on our trip checked into their dorm rooms. That night was a full moon and as luck would have it, they were having a big full moon party on the island. After a tasty BBQ dinner, we got ready to party. Unfortunately, the DJ was horrible and the music prevented the evening from getting off the ground. We ended up spending the night talking to a guy from Holland, a girl from Switzerland and a guy from England. The next day we woke up early and jumped back on the boat. The weather was windy and the water was extremely choppy. The boat started to rock and twist just like the SS Minnow from Gilligan's Island. The waves, which at some points were 5 feet high often swept across the front deck soaking all of us to the bone. While at first we all thought it was amusing, eventually a number of travellers were beginning to feel the affects of the sea and gradually made their way to the back of the boat to reproduce their breakfast over the side. After a half hour of waves, the number of travellers on the front deck had dwindled to half its original size. Eventually we made it to Whithaven which has been named by some as the nicest beach in the world. This was probably a pretty fair statement. The sand was white, fine and incredibly clean. We spent 2 hours on the shore just enjoying the sand and the peacefulness of the island.


In the afternoon we were taken to a secluded spot and were given the opportunity to snorkel. We had all rented these attractive stinger suits which were designed to prevent the deadly bites from the box jellyfish. We went snorkelling for a half hour and got a chance to see beautifully coloured fish as well as some of the most amazing coral we had ever seen. It turned out to be a great way to spend the afternoon!


Later on, we returned to the boat and then back to the South Molle Island. On the Island, we decided to go for a quick 5km hike with a Canadian girl that we had met. We hiked up to the top of the mountain and got a chance to watch the sunset from the top. Even though it rained on our return trip to our resort the hike was still worth the effort. That night the majority of the travellers were exhausted so after a quick bite, we all headed back to our rooms and crashed for the night.


The next day we left the island early in the morning and got back onto the boat. A scuba instructor came aboard to tell us about the opportunity to do a 1 hour introductory scuba lesson. He made it sound amazing and convinced us (as well as 20 other people) to sign up. The sailboat brought us near to a small island and we were fitted with scuba equipement. Then, an instructor took both of us on a 30 minute, 6 metre dive. The scuba dive was even better than the snorkelling because you got a chance to see the fish up close. Often, the fish would swim right into you (or circle you if you stopped). We also got a chance to touch some of the coral and watch it react to our touch by opening or closing. The scuba dive turned out to be the true highlight of the sailing trip. Afterwards, we got back on the boat and headed back to Airlie Beach. On the way, Dan got a chance to play the roll of skipper, Aussie style (which means sailing while drinking).


We reached the shore at 2:30pm and said our goodbyes to our fellow travellers. While the travel group was very mixed in terms of age and nationality, we all got along pretty well and managed to help each other have a great time. That night we went to a local bar with a some of the travellers from our boat trip and had a dinner together (and of course a few drinks). We left the bar at 10:30pm and packed our bags. The next day we were moving on to Rainbow Beach and the famous Fraser Island.

The Koalas of Yeppoon
Off Roading On Fraser Island
  Jen and Dan - Bio and Journals
  Roadtrip Through Oz - Intro Average Rating of 13 Viewers
Chapters of Roadtrip Through Oz
  A view from Sydney
  The Koalas of Yeppoon
  Below the Ocean in the Great Barrier Reef
  Off Roading On Fraser Island
  Bushwalking through the Rainforest
  Jen joins the Byron Bay circus
  Bushfires, Shiraz, and Harry Potter
  The Preston Resort in Melbourne

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