Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 1294 - The Great Barrier Reef

Today I celebrate checking off a major bucket list item.

Lady Musgrave Island and the Great Barrier Reef
Image Source
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef.  It just always seemed too far away* and with my "legs dangling in water" fear it also seemed a bit scary. But being up in the Gladstone area visiting Chelsea has meant we're right at the southern end of the reef.  It was time to put fear to the side and take the plunge.  I am very grateful for the experience.

Yesterday we woke at dawn and drove the 90 minutes to a gorgeous little seaside town called Seventeen Seventy (named after the year Captain Cook landed on its shores).

Derek at the Captain Cook monument at 1770
(C) Deep Fried Fruit

The view from houses at 1770
(C) Deep Fried Fruit
We then boarded the boat for a 90 minute cruise to Lady Musgrave island which is somewhere out in the middle of the ocean.  It had been strongly suggested that we take sea sick tablets before we head off so we bought the ones with caffeine in them to counteract the drowsy side-effects.  I'd hate to have taken the ones without caffeine ... I still went into a drug induced slumber. The steady roll and fall of the waves made me feel like I was riding a swing for an hour and a half.  Up and down, up and down, up and down.  Rock-a-bye baby ....

Getting ready to board the boat to Lady Musgrave island
(C) Deep Fried Fruit

Taking the boat trip out to the island
(C) Deep Fried Fruit
Once we got out there the boat was tethered to a permanent pontoon about two hundred metres off the island.  From there we boarded a little putt putt glass bottomed boat for a short trip to Lady Musgrave Island to check out the flora and fauna.

The pontoon at the Reef.
(C) Deep Fried Fruit

Lady Musgrave Island
(C) Deep Fried Fruit

Walking around Lady Musgrave Island
(C) Deep Fried Fruit
Once we returned to the pontoon they fed us morning tea and then it was time to jump in the crystal clear waters.  You can imagine that my heart was in my throat.  But I had to be strong for Darby as he was starting to feel fear. There was so many fish right where we had to dive in. God only knows what else was in that water. For Darby's sake I sucked it up and took the plunge.

Photo taken through the viewing glass of the pontoon
(C) Deep Fried Fruit
All four of us swam side by side with our faces in the water and our legs kicking out behind.  It was amazing (as you can imagine).  While my face was down and legs out back I was fine.  The moment I had to tread water to empty out my snorkle or adjust my goggles the "legs dangling" panic would set in with my heart beating wildly and images of Jaws flashing through my mind.  But as soon as I got back into swim position with my eyes in the water looking at the world below all was good with the world.  I did not see a single shark while snorkeling (she says whipping her brown in relief), although we did see the fins of a reef shark cruise by when we were standing on the beach at Lady Musgrave Island.  Eeeeeek!

Derek and the kids swimming with the fish at the Great Barrier Reef
(C) Deep Fried Fruit

Deep Fried Fruit swimming with the fish at the Great Barrier Reef
(C) Deep Fried Fruit

The kids swimming - photo taken from pontoon viewing area
(C) Deep Fried Fruit
We stayed this way for hours. We'd come out to eat or take a moments rest, but the rest of the time was spent swimming around the reef in our designated section.  By far the most memorable part of the day was cruising alongside an enormous sea turtle.

We forgot our under water camera, so this picture has been borrowed
Image Source
It was with sadness mixed with exhaustion that it was time to leave.  The wonder of the reef will forever be planted in our minds as one of the most amazing experiences we have ever had.

For information about the Lady Musgrave tours departing from 1770 click here.  Tours depart at 8.30am each day and return at 5.00pm.  Our family of four cost $480 which included the trip out and back, a tour of the island, hours of snorkeling, a ride in a glass bottom boat, a ride in a semi-submersed boat with underwater viewing area, all snorkle sets, flippers, morning tea, afternoon tea and an extensive buffet style lunch. Wet suit rentals are available for $5 a person.

For the campers among you, you can get a full "cast away" style experience by camping on Lady Musgrave island for only $5.15 a night (not sure where they get the 15 cents from).  That requires you to take all your own gear and to ensure you take everything back off the island with you.  No camp fires allowed on account of the turtle breeding areas on the island.

In this land of ours called Australia, there is definitely a whole lot to be grateful for. The big, the small ... and the Great.

Happy Saturday!

*The fact that I deemed it too far away is a poor excuse given it's closer than the USA and Hawaii which we frequent regularly.

1 comment :

  1. Such a beautiful part of Australia and definately a must see! Iv cruised around there before but never swam because of the stingers ... and sharks ... Im a bit of a scardy cat really! Looks like your having a fantastic time discovering whats in our very own backyard :)


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