I flew in to Brisbane and had a five-hour stop over before continuing on to the airport near Airlie beach. Luckily the boys were on my connecting flight so I wasn’t on my own for too long. I hadn’t seen Sparrow yet so it was great to be reunited 🙂
We were all staying in X-base hostel in Airlie beach. I had to go straight for a nap since I was up so early for my flight that morning. When I got up, it was straight to the boy’s room for some pre-drinking. The boy’s also had friends who were joining us so we had a big gang of Irish boozers – naturally we ended up in the Irish pub.
The next day we nursed our sore heads at a bakery and the lagoon before getting down to some serious boat prep i.e. stocking up in the offy for our trip.
We were going on the Atlantic Clipper for two nights to sail around Whitsunday’s islands. Our tour guide was another Irish fella and the boat was full of Irish people. The weather was disappointing but at least there was plenty of food and booze on board to keep us occupied! I was sharing the world’s smallest cabin with Paddy and Gilbride – I literally couldn’t turn around in my bed, I had to lay perfectly flat.
The next day we woke up to the best surprise ever – the sun was shining!! Wuhoo! Even though it was sunning, it was still mandatory to wear wetsuits (or stinger suits) in the water to prevent getting stung. We went snorkelling first and met the resident Maori Wrasse, Elvis, who is so friendly and loves to be pet like a dog. The tour guides brought fish food with them and we were literally surrounded by fish.
Afterwards, it was time for scuba diving – I was delighted to discover you don’t need a PADI license to dive since I never managed to get it in Vietnam (thank you Typhoon Nari). I was a bit nervous at first but got used to it straight away. It was on my bucket list to scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef so I was thrilled to get that ticked off. FYI – I found Nemo 🙂
That night it was drinking games all round – I feel myself and Gilbride were robbed of first prise for the dance off.
The next day we spent on White Haven Beach, which is the nicest beach I have ever seen, hands down. The snow white sand is made from 98% pure silica and you can brush your teeth and ex-foliate with it. We were recommended to wear stinger suits but it was too sunny so we took the risk in our togs. The water was crystal clear and as warm as a bath.
When we arrived back to Airlie, we met the Galway Med heads at the lagoon. Neil, Gilbride, Sharky and I were planning to drive to Cairns, but we didn’t have enough room in our little rental. The boys offered to cart our stuff up as they had rented a giant hippy shagging waggon for the journey. I was SO jealous of their ride.
Gilbride and Neil took turns driving (3.5 hours each) and we stopped in Townsville for lunch and to visit an Aussie animal sanctuary. Here, we got pics with koalas, wombats and baby crocs and fed kangaroos.
Our hostel in Cairns was fab. It was huge, so clean, had kitchens on every floor, double beds, beach themed pool and the only nightclub in Cairns was attached to it – SUCCESS!
The boys were going skydiving the following day but I was running a bit low on funds so instead I joined John on a sailing trip to the GBR. We booked a trip on a bargain website for a day trip on board The Falla. We had such an amazing day – we could swim sans stinger suits, which made a nice difference, the owner of the boat was a great story-teller, the food was delish (as was the goon) and WE GOT TO SWIM WITH A TURTLE! This was such an amazing experience. “Leroy” was so chilled, exactly like the turtle from Finding Nemo. We also saw sting rays and a reef shark. Scarier than the shark was this very menacing looking barracuda (complete with a fish-hook stuck in his mouth looking like a piercing) that was lurking around. The ship parked about an hour and a half from land by a sand bank so we were able to stand up in the water in the middle of the ocean.
Both days I was in Cairns I ate at this amazing Paleo Café right across the road from the hostel. I was now on a major diet after NZ so this suited me down to the ground.