Diving into the new year

A new year with new travels. 2019 started on the road for me. This time I was one of the travellers instead of the tour leader. As part of my apprenticeship I got to experience a trip in Australia. My first day of 2019 was actually spent on a train to Cairns. Everyone was pretty tired and I passed the time with some movies. But on the 2nd of January… Cairns had something great in store for me.

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The Great Barrier Reef!!!

Australia’s cyclone season seems to have started early and even on the way to Cairns we saw flooded plains from the train. Cairns had been rainy and stormy for days and in the 3 days before we arrived, the boats couldn’t go out to sea or found out the sea was too rough to enter for snorkeling. When we finally got off the train it was humid, but sunny. Dark clouds delivered some rain during the evening and the night, but the next day was mostly dry. It was the 2nd of January, the first day the boats went back to the great barrier reef.

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The water was choppy, the visibility under water average and the 2 hour ride over was fairly rough. But we were going! I’d decided to do 2 scuba dives instead of snorkeling. On the way to the reef we got our dive briefing. The news wasn’t amazing: “Stick close together because we will easily lose each other with this viz. There are strong currents and we might not be able to do 2 different dive sites. We’re on our way to the most sheltered one.” When we arrived it turned out my dive guide had gotten sea sick and was replaced with someone else.

At least I was at the great barrier reef, not seasick and jumping in the water. I hadn’t dived in a while and I felt a bit nervous, especially since my mouthpiece had been chewed up by previous users. Every time I looked to the left, it popped out of my mouth. Look ahead then. The visibility was pretty bad anyway. We had a pretty shallow dive, so I hoped we could stay for a while, but when I had halved my tank, at 100 bar, another diver already signaled that he only had 50 bar left and so we headed up for our safety stop.

My 2nd dive was much better. I felt more comfortable, our heavy breather wasn’t there anymore and the underwater sightseeing was much better. The reef looked a lot healthier than in the Whitsundays and even though we didn’t see anything super special, I saw the usual fish, a moray eel, boxfish and a lionfish. Many others had photos of gigantic jellyfish (2m!) that had drifted over from the arctic, but somehow I completely missed that! Not sure I wanted to see that in the water anyway!

In the end I was pretty satisfied with my day. It was great being in the water and out on the boat. I had fun with my new friends and I had finally seen the great barrier reef! As far as dive sites go, this wasn’t my favorite, but it was definitely worth coming out here.

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