Welcome back pilgrims,
This journ-e is about my recent trip along the east coast of Australia. We've already been to the Great Ocean Road. Next Stop: Queensland.
So due to time constraints we flew the rest of the destinations. We flew in to Cairns. Cairns depending on who you ask is pronounced a bunch of different ways. I've heard 'Kerns', 'Cans', 'Carns' (I think the most popular pronunciation is 'cans' (which is slightly confusing as I initially thought they were talking about Cannes). Funny enough, no matter how I said it-- I was never understood.
Cairns is considered 'The Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef'. The GBR is 1,400 miles (2,300 km) long so it's actually accessible from many places, however Cairns is the home to the airport closest to the reef. Located on the coast of the Coral Sea, Cairns is a subtropical climate.
Located in the state known for it's warm climate, ironically,Cairns actually doesn't have a beach. There is an esplanade. We traveled during the shoulder season meaning there wasn't as many people there as would be. That was a bonus for me though.
In Cairns, we were proper tourists. We went on paid excursions.
Day 1- Travel Day
For those that don't travel often, take it from me. Don't pack too much in to your travel days. I have done that in the past and have almost always regretted it. I didn't want to miss out on being in a city and I was stressing to max out every day in a new location. This trip, I learned my lesson.
The day that we arrived in Cairns had nothing else on the agenda other than making it to Cairns. We booked a hostel close to the Esplanade and were able to walk everywhere else. I know some of you are remembering my other stay at a hostel, and thankfully this was much better. Though this was better, I do believe my days of staying at hostels are coming to a close.
The hostel was full of backpackers on Working Holiday doing their obligatory tourism or farm work to qualify for a second year in Australia. They were using the hostel as a dorm and they had created friendships with the other internationals. It was really sweet to witness and it made me a bit nostalgic...
But then some of our groceries went missing from the kitchen so...the nostalgia didn't last long. I'm sure the missing items were assumed to be communal property, and we were planning to leave it anyway, so it was only a mild annoyance.
Day 2 - Great Barrier Reef Excursion
We rose before the sun to make it down to the docks. We hoped on a catamaran and headed out to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef. I will preface this to say: I have a mild fear of open bodies of water.
So, I had to conquer some major anxiety leading up to this excursion.
Now here is a full circle moment. I have gone out to sea with a Tribe called 'Team Awesome' and we had the opportunity to go snorkeling in Costa Rica. I will admit that time I took up the offer of life jacket and pool noodle and all the other safety equipment that they offered. I cringe at the memory. Despite all of my safety gear, I still felt anxious and didn't spend much time in the water.
This time, at arguably the best dive site on the planet, I could not let this opportunity go to waste.
We had about two hours of boat riding to go before we would dock in the designated areas. Once at the dive spot, the crew asked if there anyone needed more assistance. I am proud to say that I only had a pool noodle. They offered me a life jacket, a wet suit and to go with a guide, but I didn't come this far to be babysat.
It is hella cool to say that I snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef, but I'm proud of myself for facing a fear (not quite conquered... but I'll get there eventually). I won't lie. I did panic a time or two in the in the beginning. Once when I drifted further from the boat than anticipated. Prior to the trip, some dark humored people decided that it was funny to tell me about the TRUE story of divers getting FORGOTTEN at sea! So when I came up to adjust my mask, I realized that I was outside of the monitored area, I got myself back expeditiously (T.I Voice).
Another time something touched my leg-- thought it was a shark.
After a while I was able to calm my nerves and truly enjoy being 'in the moment'. Diving at the Great Barrier Reef is a big deal. I honestly never thought I'd be one of those people who'd be able to say that they have done it. I thought it unattainable, something only the rich or brave of heart would do.
While I am no Mansa Musa, nor Evel Knievel--yet, I did it. Don't get me wrong it wasn't cheap and I was anything but fearless out there, but I still did it. Now, if I had drowned or been eaten by a shark, I'm sure I would have regretted it. I didn't, so I don't.
Until next time,
While the fish were cool, I was much like Marlin, I spent much of the time looking for Nemo.
Alas, I didn't find him. I'd hoped to have better luck in Sydney...