Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cairns, Australia: Land of the Great Barrier Reef...and Swiss Ice Cream

We had our first Amazing Race experience during our journey to Cairns. Our flight left Sydney at 7:00 am. There are two airports in Sydney: international and domestic. Since our flight was domestic, it naturally left from the international terminal. We did not know this important piece of information until we arrived at the domestic airport for check-in. After first being told we would miss our flight, we waited in line only to be informed we had 15 minutes to get a cab to the international terminal before the flight closed. We (along with about ten others that made the same mistake) ran to catch a cab and got there just in time. Turns out our flight was continuing on to Osaka, Japan, but that was not indicated anywhere on our ticket or on the airline's website. The race continued as we were going through security. They were announcing last call as we were stuck behind a Japanese woman emptying what looked like the entire contents of her pantry from her carry-on bag. Oh, and Chelsie also was randomly selected to test for bombs. Luckily she didn't have any that day and we all made it through and ran for the gate and made it on.

After a three hour flight, we arrived in Cairns. It was a beautiful sunny and warm day. What a nice change from the mostly cool and rainy weather we had in Sydney. We checked into our hotel, grabbed some lunch, and booked our boat out to the Great Barrier Reef for the next morning. Marina then left to encounter some wildlife and Chelsie booked a bungee jump in the jungle. The rest of the group went along to watch her do something crazy and for moral support. For the record, she is still alive and had great form as she flung herself off a huge platform in the middle of the jungle.

The next morning was our big day of exploring the Great Barrier Reef. We woke up early and headed to the marina to board our boat. It was a nice boat that accommodated about 70 or 80 divers and snorkelers. The ride out to the reef took about an hour. While traveling, we got a safety briefing and were told about what we could expect to see at the three sites we would be visiting. One of those things was sharks! Our crew member, Shiloh, said "We see sharks on every trip out. But don't worry, they are more scared of you than you are of them". Probably true but still a little unsettling. The sharks they typically see are both white tipped and black tipped reef sharks. She also said "Obviously there are also big scary sharks out here like bull sharks and tiger sharks but they usually don't like the shallow waters of the reef". What?!?! USUALLY?!?! Needless to say, we were a little apprehensive when first entering the water. Once in though, it was amazing. So many fish and types of coral all around. A few of us even spotted a sea turtle as it was surfacing for air. It took a few breaths and then dove back down to the bottom. At our last site of the day, Shiloh (who I forgot to mention looked almost exactly like Lady Gaga when she had her sunglasses on) took the group on a snorkel tour and pointed out a giant clam, a sea cucumber, and various other reef life. As the tour was wrapping up, she told the group "Those that are afraid of sharks, don't head back for the boat". Apparently some in the group spotted a shark just under the back of the boat where the swim platform was located! It was time to head back to shore after a thrilling day at a natural wonder.

We were all pretty exhausted after a long day so we had dinner and then Swiss ice cream at Movenpick. This ice cream is delicious. They don't have it in the States but apparently it's in Canada so you might want to cross the border to try it if you don't want to make the trip to Australia or Switzerland.

Sadly it was time for the South Pacific crew to go our separate ways. We had a great time and will have tons of memories that will last a lifetime. Thanks to Chelsie, Maria, and Marina for adding so much to the world tour!!


  1. I love experiencing life through Sara's adventures because I am NEVER going to do these things. Wish I had known about the Swiss ice cream when we were in Canada about a month ago. Sara - I am very happy that you did not bungee jump.

  2. Hilarious posting, esp the part about the Japanese pantry, good job guys! Miss you already, I'm a little heart broken from having to leave and I'm not even home yet.

  3. you guys rock! jealousy rages in my heart.

  4. Love your stories. The Great Barrier Reef sounds as amazing as I have it pictured.