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AUSTRALIA, BARRIER REEF & CORAL SEA

This page was updated on  05 April 2016

Our first of 3 trip's to Australia was back in 2000. Where to start on our journey of Discovery……..Our first trip Down Under and we were not dissapointed. 
We flew into Sydney and after Collecting our camper from Britz Rentals we did the tour of all the sights, what a great place Sydney is. 
We had three weeks to get to Cairns before we boarded our boat “Aquarius III” for seven nights diving the Coral Sea. 
We headed north in our camper and fell in love with this peaceful Continent. The camp sites we stayed at were all very friendly, inexpensive and the facilities were excellent. 

We had some memorable dives travelling up the coast on the Pacific Highway, I remember the friendly Sun Dive center in Byron Bay who helped me out with blown “O” rings, the dive we did there to StJulian's Rocks was very good, we saw our first Wobbygongs here…………Sharks, but they have flat heads and “Barbles”, I’m told they are the only Shark that can turn and bite you if you have hold of their tail, not sure why you would want to try this out. 

 

Jan & Potato Cod at the Cod Hole Leopard Shark at Noosa Jan & Butter Bream at Noosa

 

We stayed in Byron Bay for a few days and we were parked next to another couple in a beat up old van from the UK who had sold all their possessions to come to “Oz” and chill out. I also remember the dives we did at Noosa Heads with Noosa Bluewater, another friendly dive center, it was on one of our dives here that we filmed a Leopard Shark taking a rest. On another dive at the “Pinnacle” we saw a huge shoal of “Butter Bream” ???? the video footage is great to watch, Janet swimming in and out of the fantastic shoal of fish, it was excellent diving.
Onward to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays, an idylic place to stay, the town is touristy, but a lovely place.  It was here that we met the "Barefoot Bushman" Rob Bredl at his Zoo, Rob has made countless documentaries for TV, it was at his Zoo and shown on one of those documentaries that his niece was attacked by a large Croc and thrown about like a rag doll, she was severely savaged and allmost died from her injuries. 
Rob calls his zoo a DOO ZOO as opposed to a "dont do" zoo, as he say's, most other zoo's are full of sign's that say "dont do this " "dont do that"..............Robs zoo is what i would describe as "open plan", yes the Croc's were confined.
Our next diving was done from “Oceania”, based in Airlie Beach, a large aluminium twin hull boat that had 30 guests on board, it was a state of the art boat with all the go faster bits you could think of, the crew were excellent, it was aboard this boat that we experienced the best dive and boat safety talk i have ever had, it was very reasuring. 
We had three nights on the Barrier Reef aboard Oceania, sadly, the boat was catering for divers taking their open water courses, the student divers were great guy’s and gal’s , (we were open water students once), but to come from the UK, book a liveaboard on the Barrier Reef and find you were moored in the same spot for 3 days and 3 nights where the Coral had been kicked to death was to say the least, dissapointing. 
We did complain to the crew about this but they just shrugged their shoulder's and said where they moored was allways the captains decison, i can accept that in the case of rough weather etc, we all knew why though.  So allthough the staff were very good, the food and accommodation was excellent, the boat was clean and tidy we shall not be going diving from Oceania again.

We arrived in Townsville on a Saturday afternoon, we had learn't by now that everything shuts down for the weekend on Saturday's, so we hung around till the dive shops opened up again, We were trying to get a dive on the wreck “Yongala” but this was proving difficult, none of them appeared interested in "experienced" divers, they were all looking for open water students they could sell courses to, so we gave up and headed for Cairns.

 

 

Sharks on Holmes Reef Janet & Sharks on Holmes Reef Jan on Nash's Reef

 

We arrived in Cairns mid afternoon and decided to carry on north to Port Douglas, about 50 - 60 miles up the Captain Cook Highway, we parked up for the night right on the beach and in amongst the trees, the following morning we drove back down to Cairns and looked for somewhere to stay for the last couple days before we handed back the camper van. While in Cairns we stayed at the Coconut Palms Resort, one of the best camper sites we had found on our travels. The camper van was due to go back to Britz the day after we arrived in Cairns so we treated ourselves to a luxury chalet, after three weeks in a sleeping bag in a camper van we thought we deserved a little pampering.

At the end of our mammoth drive we  had a few days rest before we boarded Aquarius III in Cairns, this was a much smaller boat, there were about 8 guests on this trip out to the Coral Sea, we had seven fantastic nights diving the reef's of Holmes and Bouganville to name just two. I forget the name of the skipper, but Mick cooked our food, Tim was the deckhand who caught most of the fish we ate and Gerald was our guide.

 

Holmes Reef Coral Sea Holmes Reef Coral Sea Holmes Reef Coral Sea

 

The following year 2001 we flew into Cairns after spending 10 days in Sabah, Malaysia, diving Mabul, Sipadan and Kapalai, from Cairns we flew North to Lizard Island in a small 8 seater plane, the views over the Reef were stunning. At Lizard Island we boarded our livaboard "Nimrod Explorer", we were diving the Northern Ribbon Reefs and North Horn on Osprey Reef for seven nights, the Christmas eve we spent with a few locals on the dock in Cooktown while waiting for Nimrod to refuel will stay with us for ever.....for a variety of reasons. All our diving in Oz is organised by www.diversionoz.com  After our stay in Australia we flew on to Fiji, Hawai, San Francisco and Florida.

The guests onboard Nimrod Explorer were asked to draw the topography of this unnamed reef, the captain said he would allow the person who did the best drawing to name the reef, Janet was judged to have drawn the best likeness and was asked to name the reef, she decided to call it "all nations reef" because of the mixed nationality on board Nimrod, the crew in true Australian style said it was a good name and said "Nash's reef" it is then. They probably do this with all the guest's they have on board.....................

 

 

Dave & Sharks on Holmes Reef

Guests on Nimrod Explorer

This Shark on North Horn was particularly aggresive

 

Below i show a few photo's taken with the video Camera, the shot at Cooktown was taken as we were waiting for refueling on Christmas Eve, Coff's Harbour was just one of many places we stopped at on our way up the coast, the shot of Sydey Opera House and the Harbour Bridge was taken from a helicopter.

 

Cooktown, Christmas Eve Coff's Harbour Sydney Harbour & Opera House

Nimrod Explorer Crew We Boarded Nimrod Explorer @ Lizard Island Tim & Mick on Aquarius

Janet 30km North of Cairns

Me & Janet, on the way to Port Douglas.

Me, we stop for a photo here every trip.

If you are interested in Sailing the GBR or Far North Queensland, check out this very informative
website, it's a collection of stories, great info and tips for those who want to travel off the beaten track.
www.cruisingtheedge.com

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