Monday, 11 June 2012

Brisbane, Barrier Reef and Beyond...

Arriving into Brisbane we set up our base in West End, staying at a more chilled hostel and having the opportunity just to walk into the city. So life was more laidback and relaxed for us. We spent the first few days catching up on things like washing and emails. We explored the city taking in the sights of the river, galleries and museum. We also grew to love the 'Queensland State Library', this is a brilliant building, fascinating architecture and free internet! So, we utilised this offer and spent our internet time residing here in the library. Brisbane is much calmer than any other city we had been to, I feel after a couple of days we had seen and done everything we needed to do. We where constantly thinking about and trying to make plans for travelling further up the coast upto Airlie Beach then maybe onto Cairns. We had lots of considerations though, timescales, costs and where we really wanted to go. This became a little stressful, added with the rainy weather of Brisbane, I almost became a little sad. It's natural when we are constantly travelling and on the move, when things don't always go to plan it's hard to deal with sometimes. So, after looking at many options, around 10 in all, it got to the point where I just wanted to leave and move onto somewhere new. So, the cheaper option and quickest option which was better for us both was just to fly directly to Cairns and catch a return flight back to Brisbane in order to get our international flight out to NZ in May.

So, taking the chances, we booked with Jetstar two return flights for the next day and packed up our bags and left the day after. That night we decided to get an early night, all tucked up by 9pm, then we heard a knock on the door. Answering the door we where greeted by a Liverpool man from Netherley called Lee Jenkins, who said he had heard there where two other Scousers in the hostel so wanted to say did we fancy a drink with him. He was armed with three glasses and plenty of vino, so we felt it would be rude not to say yes. After chatting to him, we found out that John knew his family and used to do some boxing with his relative. It's a small world sometimes! He lives out in Adelaide now, but was on business in Brisbane for the night, so we enjoyed lots of drinking, talking and laughing...was great end to our night. The next day, we caught our flight out and headed upto Cairns. I was eager and excited to see Cairns, I remembered it from last time, the way in which I describe it is 'tropical'! This is exactly what it is, lots of lush green surroundings, marshlands, vast wildlife from birds, marine life, bats, crocodiles, you literally have everything up here. The humidity was the first thing that hit us, the heat was overwhelming but lovely. We spent the next few days taking it easy, enjoying the heat and finally after a couple of days the sunshine appeared. I knew right then we made the right decision in coming up to Cairns, it is a place to relax and take it easy.

We booked onto a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. Upon our catamaran called Reefkist, we cruised out to the Outer Reef. Arriving onto our first reef, I hopped off the boat, suited and booted in my wetsuit, snorkel gear and fins. Swimming over to the reef I was greeted by an abundant amount of marine life, it was beautiful. Lots of love colourful coral, graciously flowing in the current and glistening in the sunlight. The fish carry on their daily lives, chasing one another, prodding and eating the coral and cruising happily past me. I am an observer of their habitat, respecting and observing from the top, as I glide and float in and around the reef. It was a brilliant experience, it's a heritage site and a special place to be, knowing so much life is happening out here, I swim around in awe and wonder at the amazing fishes, turtles and live corals I see gracing this earth. After a tasty lunch on board of vessel, we rested on the deck out from, taking in the sunshine and calmness of the water. Then we reached our second reef in the afternoon, this was much bigger reef with even more marine life flourishing. When I popped into the water, there was a bit of a current, but I always feel confident and happy in water so with a little bit of energy and paddle in the fins, I was soon exploring around, in and out of the reef. After another hour in the water, I headed back to the boat and was greeted with a freshly made scone and cup of tea, what a perfect way to end my day! Cruising back into Cairns marina, I enjoyed the sights and backdrop of the luscious mountains of Cairns and the surrounding areas. It's so tropical and different to any of the other places I have experienced when travelling Australia. That's one thing I love about over here, you can travel between states and the differences in landscape, wildlife, culture is huge. There is just so much to see and do here, it's the perfect place to end my Oz Adventure!

So, as we leave Cairns and head back to Brisbane in order to catch our flight to NZ, I take time to reflect, ponder on my experiences and prepare myself for the new adventure ahead. New Zealand is a multi-cultural country filled with lots of beauty, this is something I am most excited to see. Australia is a vast country, inhabiting so much wildlife, natural beauty and amazing culture and people. I have loved my time in Australia, seeing my family, friends and also meeting lots of new people. The experiences I have gained here over the last three months have been enchanting and will remain with me forever. It's a land I have grown to appreciate for the vastness, openness and freedom I was always in search for. I now leave feeling happy, fulfilled and appreciative of my journey across this land they call Australia.

Strolling along the Esplanade in Cairns

Couldn't resist a little workout on my stroll

Enjoying the sunshine in Cairns

John about to take the plunge into the Great Barrier Reef

Looking out to Cairns as we journey to the Great Barrier Reef
The wonderful Great Barrier Reef

A magical island on our boat trip

Enjoying the boat trip...trying not to be sea sick!

Meeting our lovely French friend Nicolas

A daytrip out into the rainforests with our German friends

The lush rainforests that surround the landscape

John taking a dip in the calm lake

A hundreds of years old Fig Tree

Looking into the crator in the rainforests of Cairns

Admiring some street art in Brisbane

Joking around and just booked out campervan for New Zeland....farewell Australia!

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