November 18-19 Monday (Day 23-24) Anna's post
18.11.2012 - 19.11.2012 32 °C
As mentioned, we were only able to secure a diving trip from Port Douglas, which is about 90 mins from Cairns. With our budget limitations and the influx of unexpected tourists we’d been staying at a trailer park in Cairns – they actually call it Leisure Park to make it sound more appealing. For 40 AUSD we had a clean cabin with hot stove, mini fridge and TV that gave us privacy if not luxury.
(Home sweet home - living at the Leisure Park)
We’d been warned that Port Douglas would be even more expensive but to our surprise, we were able to secure a quite luxurious fully equipped town house for less around 90 USD. We caught them at the right time apparently as the owner explained that we were benefitting from a half off discount. We were thrilled and that evening prepared our own meal of fresh prawns, noodles and salad. Btw, prawns seem to be sold at bargain prices here - we paid less than 10US$ for a huge bag of them.
(Home cooked dinner at our townhouse in Port Douglas)
The area is beautiful with a much different vibe than Cairns; it’s warmer, both in temperature and friendliness, with quaint shopping areas and a gorgeous 4 mile white sand beach that we could easily walk to from our place. The only drawback is that we couldn’t swim as between October and April the deadly box jelly fish and Irukandji are prevalent. They have no brain, four eyes to avoid collision and can have as many as 60 tentacles covered with stinging cells. It was quite startling to walk this miles long beach with dead calm water looking like it extended to the end of world, white powdery sand fringed with palm and other beach trees, and see no one in the water. There are a few places where they have nets to block the jellyfish but I wasn’t taking any chances with the consequence of possible death looming.
(Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas)
Early the next morning we departed for the Agincourt reef which runs parallel to the Continental Shelf and is located at the very outer edge of the GBR. Our catamaran was geared for scuba diving, snorkeling and hosting about 100 people.
(Boarding the Silversonic in Port Douglas)
The same company also offers another option; a catamaran that docks on a platform built in the middle of the reef and from there you can opt for a submarine type vessel so no breathing apparatus is necessary, take a 10 min helicopter ride, whatever you fancy they can provide for you to view the reef. We had 3 dives and because the box jelly fish are a potential problem had to cover ourselves from head to toes including fingers in a lycra suit (very unforgiving to any excess bulge so you can imagine what that did to us:-).
(In our lycra suits before our first dive at the Great Barrier Reef)
You could then add the typical wetsuit as well but we decided to forego that additional piece as it wasn’t absolutely necessary. There was a strong current with this dive and not being that experienced I worried that I could lose my party but it didn’t take long to adjust to the ebb and flow of the current and there was so much to see (soft corals, grey reef sharks, huge clams that snapped shut when you touched them) and enjoy that you were soon caught up in the beauty surrounding you. There was one rather overenthusiastic diver, who was so concerned with taking pictures and was clearly not an experienced diver, that made us cringe as he bounced off of and trampled on corals with nary a concern. I think such people should be restricted in what they can do underwater. The reefs shouldn’t have to suffer to satisfy careless pleasure.