Cairns!

Waste no time!  Just 2 weeks after getting my dive certification, Ben and I headed north to Cairns – the Australian city just a short boat ride from the Great Barrier Reef.   Yep, that’s right – I don’t mess around.  If I am going to be a SCUBA diver I’m going to dive in one of the Natural Wonders of the World.

Just kidding.  I’m not stuck up – just happen to be that lucky.  :)!

We have had the trip planned since we first arrive down under so by the time it got here we were SO excited!  Warm weather, beaches, ocean – YES PLEASE!

We arrive late on Friday night. Cairns is the quintessential beach town.  Tons of restaurants, ice cream, souvenir shops & tourists!  We had a quick bite and called it an early night.

Our Saturday morning started at 7am.  We were to meet at the dive boat which was luckily in the harbour right outside of our hotel.

The boat itself was an awesome experience.  It only takes about 35 people each day so there was plenty of room for us to walk around and get to know the other (American) tourists.

It was about an hour and half boat ride out to reef and we had two different stops so we had a full day ahead of us!  There was only one other diver on the boat with us.  Everyone else was there to snorkel the reef.  This was SO comforting being that this was my first real dive! I pretty much had the divemaster all to myself for questions and tips.

The first stop on the boat was actually a small sand island which was a bird sanctuary.  Now, my love for birds is almost at the same level as my love for fish (why I’m ok 45 ft below the ocean is beyond me) so while the lovely Eugenia (a 75 year old woman from Georgia) wandered around looking for an extremely rare bird species, I stayed far away from that island stuck to the view of the reef!

At my request, we *hired* a digital camera for my first dive experience.  At first Ben had the camera.  I was way too nervous about my first attempt at the underwater world so he manned the pics.  Those are the only good pics we were able to get!  When I got my hands on the camera the pictures look like Mason had his tiny little one year old hands on a digital camera for the first time.  Needless to say, the quality of pictures was pretty awful.  Here are some cool ones that we were able to take.

Beware – WAY too many pics below…

This picture is just to give you a little perpective.  This was our dive guide doing a snorkle tour.  He swam down to show everyone the clam

Aren’t the clams cool?!  If your shadow went over them they would shut real fast!

I know it’s hard to see so I made a circle over it…that’s right!  It’s a SHARK!

This picture is a little eerie. It took everything I had not to think about how many living (BIG) things was in the same body of water as us.  How weird!

See Nemo down there!

I loved looking at all of the tiny fish living in the coral.  It was one of the coolest parts!

By the end of Saturday, we were BEAT!  Food, wine and bed!

Sunday morning we decided to take a day trip to Port Douglas.  It was a cute newer town about 45 minutes north of Cairns.

The drive was spectacular.  It reminded us of HANA!

We laid out of the beach…with caution:

After a few hours of walking around and laying out at the beach, we had officially finished with Port Douglas and continued on our journey north to the Daintree Rainforest.  We stopped at the Bruce Belchers Daintree River Cruise to take in some crocs in the wild!  I was a little nervous at first – afraid a croc would hurl its body at our flimsy pontoon but have no fear – our crocodile sightings were limited to 10 inch long baby crocs.

On our way back to Cairns we made one last stop at the Mossman Gorge.  Apparently this was a MUST SEE!  It was a little too cold to take a dip but still great to see and make the most of our trip!

The water was crystal clear!

 

Day three – somehow Ben knew where we were going!  I never saw a map or GPS and we never went back on our tracks.  He had somehow memorized a circuit – of WATERFALLS!

First we went into the Australian hinterlands – that means up a mountain!  It was a tight windy road but provides some amazing views of Cairns and the surrounding areas.  We ended up on the tablelands – this was mainly rolling farms.  Still amazing views!  We stopped off to see the cathedral fig tree – it was  MASSIVE!  There are a few of these fig trees in Brissy and their branches have hanging vines that root in the grounds and continue to grow.  They are really amazing trees!

We stopped off in a creepy little town.  I felt like I was about to be in a horror film! Luckily we made it out alive – with a tasty Aussie style burger, beetroot and all!

Off to the water falls!

And with that we were heading back to Cairns to check in for our 8pm flight home!

But not before we met a storm!  I took this as my chance to take a nap in the car while Benny got us back safe and sound.

I wouldn’t call it relaxing but it was SO FUN!

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