OFFSHORE - THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

The Marina at Port Douglas

The Marina at Port Douglas - click to enlarge

Above is Port Douglas Marina - the starting point for most trips out to the Reef. On several mornings we breakfasted in a lovely cafe right on the wharf. Open air, but, as were most eating places and shops in the town, sheltered from the sun (& the monsoons!). What better view to have at the start of your day.

The marina was full of superb craft - I had a hard time keeping Chris away & finally gave up!!

We'd left our own trip out to the Reef until late in our stay, which turned out to be a mistake. For the preceding weeks, the Coral Sea had been as still and calm as glass. Not so on our day! Not precisely rough, but choppy enough and with a strong wind to make the trip uncomfortable for all but the strongest stomachs. We headed first for Agincourt Reef and were given the introductory talk below decks. Now, I come from a long line of seafarers on my mother's side of the family. I discovered that day that I must take after my father's side and, like several others, was feeling decidedly queasy by the time we dropped anchor! For shame!

The Poseidon, our transport to the Reef

Our craft was incredibly well fitted out, with a trained crew of expert divers. We had the choice of scuba gear or snorkels and since we'd never dived deep before, we were amongst the snorkellers. Everything was geared towards safety, with a crew member shepherding each small group and lookouts posted both on the boat and in dinghies.

Sadly, the day became cloudy, which meant the glorious colours of the Reef were dulled. An expert underwater photographer took a video of us all and was able to `light` the film to show Mother Nature (and us!) in technicolour, but our waterproof camera was a disappointment when we had the film developed. I've had to rely on the professional for the shots below.

We visited three reefs, each as fascinating as the last, then sat down to a splendid lunch. By the time I'd had something to eat I was feeling more `human` again! Despite my seasickness, I did enjoy my day. It's not a trip I would have missed for the world. I'll just have to make sure that if I get the chance to do it again, I choose a `flat calm` day!

Our entire holiday has taken on the aspect of a wonderful dream. I sat writing this in the depths of an English winter and looking at the photos and putting my memories into print brought back the sights and sounds, the heat and humidity, but most of all the terrific people we met both in New South Wales and in Queensland. Both Chris and I hope we'll one day get the chance to go back. We crammed a lot into a short space of time, but there's so much still to see and do!

I enjoyed putting these Australia pages together - I do hope you've been able to share that enjoyment.

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