Farewell Whitsundays, Hello Melbourne!

October 20, 2008 - Melbourne, Australia

 Well, here we are at Brisbane airport again, this time waiting for our connection to Melbourne. Our weekend went just as planned and was great. On Saturday we were picked up at our door and taken to Shute Harbour where we got on our boat. The weather was pretty bad though - dark skies, strong winds and rain! It felt just like home, apart from it being about 20C or so!

Our first stop was Daydream Island where we had a chance to look around this small resort island. We went up a wee rainforest walk path, though it was more of a small wood than a rainforest to be honest! Fortunately it was dry and the sun even poked out for a bit while we were there.

Next up was Hamilton Island, via some pretty rough seas. Its quite a big island with its own airport and seems to be the main tourist spot among the Whitsundays. Once again we were lucky with the weather as the sun came out just as we arrived. Everyone gets around on golf buggies which we were going to hire, but unfortunately I didn't have my driving license with me so we couldn't (since when did you need a driving license for a golf buggy anyway?!). We had a look around the marina area and then jumped on a free shuttle bus which took us around a bit of the island. Back at the marine we stopped for a pre-lunch snack: a banana each and half a 'Snickers the Lot' bar which was great - hope they make it to the UK soon! While we were eating we saw some wedding buggies go past, all decked out with ribbons and flowers...quite a bizarre sight!

Back on the boat we had a great BBQ lunch that the crew had prepared for us and which went down a treat. Once that was done, we headed to Whitsunday Island which contains Whitehaven Beach. We were dropped off at the beach by a smaller boat which took us in groups from the main vessel. The beach itself was fantastic...white soft, fine sand with fantastic turquoise water and not too many people there (just our boatload and one other). We had a good couple of hours there, again in the sun, though it was a bit windy which helped the sand get everywhere.

On Sunday we again left the same port and headed out to the Great Barrier Reef. We decided to give scuba diving a try and signed up for an introductory dive. The company we were travelling with have a permanent marina moored at one of the 2900 reefs that make up the entire barrier, called Reefworld. We stopped there for the afternoon and had a go at snorkelling though the rough seas made it quite tricky and Cara struggled to master breathing properly! The scuba was great though - after a brief introduction in a little pool area beneath the marina, where we learned how to use the equipment and how to communicate with basic sign language, we went down to a depth of about 12 metres with our instructor, Heath. Cara was a bit unsure at first, especially after the snorkelling experience, but she got on just fine.

The scenery underwater was amazing - we dived down the side of the reef, following a guide rope and were down for about an hour in all. We were surrounded by fish all the way down, all sorts of weird and wonderful varieties and all very colourful. We stopped a few times so our instructor could show us some plant and shell-life as well us pointing out some of the more colourful parts of the reef. We had an underwater camera with us so hopefully there'll be some half decent pictures from it! I can't remember the names of everything we saw but hopefully the pictures will help jog the memory a bit. It was a great experience and literally having fish swimming within a few centimetres of us was great!

After the dive, we grabbed some lunch then had a look underwater again from the observation deck on the marina. We then went on their semi-submarine (basically a glass bottomed boat) which took us back over other areas of the Hardy Reef to get a great look at the wildlife. Cara was lucky enough to have the person next to her throw up during this part which livened up her day!

And now on to today. We're en route to Melbourne where we're hoping to stay for 4 nights before we return to Sydney. We'll hopefully be catching up with some old friends from home and maybe some new friends we met on our tours in Asia.

We're already starting to plan out the next leg of the adventure, when we head to New Zealand on the 29th. More of that later, but it'll hopefully involve a bit of travel by campervan if all goes well, then we can feel like real backpackers!





Mum & Dad McElhinney:
October 20, 2008
It must have been amazing swimming under the surface with all the different fish - you both very brave.
Hope the wind wasn't blowing Caras way when the person was sick!!! Sunny here but cold. xx
Lindsay (Ric's sis):
October 22, 2008
G'day you 2,
Oz sounds like one of the best places so far. My kinda holiday. Glad you had the chance to do scuba-diving & snorkelling, I did a bit in Egypt and it was quite surreal swimming with tropical fish & turtles. Hope Melbourne is as good.
Can you get a VW pop-top in NZ?
October 22, 2008
Adam's very jealous that you've dived the Barrier Reef - can you bring back a nemo for him???


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