In Easter of 2017 Cat and I finally had the chance to venture up to North Queensland and dive the Barrier reef. 6 days in total with the first few nights based out of Cairns while Cat did the first part of her dive course, with the last half spent live aboard a dive boat on the outer reef.
I took the two days to hire car and explore the area. First day I pushed south to the foothills of the Atherton tablelands and down a lush valley flanked by forested mountains. It was pure tropical weather – humid with the sun beat down with clusters of dense water laden clouds upon the mountain tops.
My first stop of the day was Babinda’s Boulders. A confluence of two freshwater streams that cascaded down the forested hills and boulders. The swimming was as fresh as it gets amongst the lush forest. Cleansing.
The second much the same, though this was a 4 tiered waterfall off the back of Queenslands highest mountain.
Second day I head north to explore the scenic drive to Port Douglas, and then inland to the Daintree forest at Mossman Gorge. The drives beautiful but can’t help but be a little disappointed by the beaches. Though clearly they are still feeling the after effect of the recent cyclone.
The diving out on the Coral Sea sees the water turn to a mix of vivid azure green and blue, much to our satisfaction. We’re on a boat with around 20 others who will do nothing but sleep, eat and dive for the next 3 days. 11 in total including 2 night dives, a deep sea dive, and both of us completing courses – Cat the Open Water, and me the Advanced.
The reefs are utterly alien. Stunning collections of the weird and wonderful lifeforms. Massive clams and sea slugs, bommies rippling with coral that decent down 30m walls.
I lead us on two dives of our own. Free to go where we choose in the underwater garden. We cover Flynn Reef, and Milln Reef with a variety of dive spots. Highlights include a 30 strong squad of giant parrot fish in the morning, 2 giant sea turtles on the night dive – 150 year old beasts of the sea. A dozen or so sharks circling the boat on the night dives and the lone tree’s of white coral who were home to delicate schools of fluttering reef fish.