Snorkeling, scuba diving, coconuts and many crocs

Whitsunday Islands (Dec 15th)

It was an early morning start. We had to be at the harbour at 7:20 to board the catamaran.

There are 74 islands in the Whitsunday Group. The islands are near Airlie Beach. They are famous for the stunning Whitehaven Beach and they’re also one of Australia’s best snorkeling and scuba diving locations in the Great Barrier Reef.

We sailed happily to the Hayman island to snorkel. Perfect weather, warm water, colorful fish and corals – this was my very first snorkeling experience. It was awesome. There was one guy on a small boat throwing food into the water. This attracted an incredible amount of fish who went crazy in the water and if you were close to the action they’d bump into you many-many times. It was very cool! Fishy-fishy-fishy!

After snorkeling for an hour or so we went scuba diving. We had to wear weights around our lower backs because without them we’d never sink. I thought that sinking was the easy part… Anywho we were a bit clumsy at first but got better very quickly. The underwater world was awesome – much cooler than snorkeling. Sometimes we heard a scratching noise which was made by the fish who ate corals. We even found Nemo.

Next stop was Langford Reef. That’s where we saw turtles – I saw about 6 or 8 of them. It took us several tries until we were able to grab the turtles from the bottom of the sea and bring them to the surface. I’m not sure if we were allowed to do that. Nevertheless we had fun. I thought the turtles would carry you under water if you held on to them but that wasn’t the case. They didn’t even budge. I think they didn’t even notice we were holding on to them.

About the video: We’re not at Whitehaven Beach. Rachel asked us where we were and Whitehaven Beach was the first thing which popped up in my mind.

Annette warned us about sailing to the islands. She said if we didn’t have a fast boat we’d spend a lot of the day just getting to the islands. Instead we could’ve spent that time snorkeling and diving. This day were was practically no wind and the catamaran was super slow.

We drove to Townsville to stay at a couchsurfer’s place Rachel found earlier. His name was Troy – an interesting guy, travels a lot and hosts a lot of couchsurfers. We enjoyed dinner, chatted a bit and planned our visit to Magnetic Island before going to sleep.

Magnetic Island (Dec 16th)

It takes 20 minutes for the ferry to reach Magnetic Island from Townsville. We didn’t take our car because that was too expensive. Besides the island was supposed to have good public transportation.

Everybody was really sleepy on the ferry  and didn’t feel like doing much. We rented some snorkeling gear and took the bus to Arthur Bay. We had a brochure which said Arthur Bay was the best place for snorkeling.

We had to walk about 2 km in the summer heat from the bus station to Arthur Bay. There was no road to get down to the bay, only a lookout. We had to improvise and risked with our lives trying to get through the forest down to the bay.

The water was muddy  and we didnt see anything but a few corals and several fish. It was a huge disappointment. I remember we all laughed hysterically in the water once we realized what a scam this island was – public transportation was crap, it was a super hot day and we had to carry our snorkeling gear with all our food and towels etc around with us, the snorkeling was crap, no access to Arthur Bay. It was one of those I-don’t-care-I-give-up laughs. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

The highlight was our photoshoot in our stinger suits. We looked ridiculous! Since we were all tired we decided to have a lazy day on the island and just slept on the beach most of the day.

We were back on Australia’s main land around 19 o’clock and headed towards Mission Beach. The plan was to find some quiet rest area and spend the night there camping. Luckily we found one and that’s exactly what we did.

Mission Beach, Josephine Falls (Dec 17th)

On our way to Mission Beach we saw a Cassowary bird next to the road but weren’t able to take any pictures. The beach was beautiful but full on stingers and sharks. The only place suitable for swimming was a rectangular netted area which kept all the wildlife out.

The water was super warm, we didn’t want to come out. It was so good to chill there. Pete and Rachel also found some coconuts on the beach. Pete had a knife (a real Crocodile Dundee knife) and they were able to drink the milk from the coconuts. Later we tried to climb some coconut trees just for the hell of it. I was quite good at it, well I don’t want to brag but I’m good at everything. Then I grow up I will become a monkey who picks coconuts for a living. That would be legen… wait for it….

Josephine Falls was our next stop. It’s a waterfall which has a swim hole right under it. It was beautiful although the water was much cooler compared to Mission Beach.

We spent the night in a rest area about 25 km from Cairns. We set up camp between two huge trees. There were several hippies at the same place who played guitar. I managed to brake the high e string with my awesome bends in Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight. Sorry hippies, I always leave a path of destruction wherever I go.

..dary!

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures (Dec 18th)

We went straight through Cairns and visited Hartley’s Crocodile Farm. There was a sign near the entrance which advertised a private tour which included feeding a saltwater croc. I asked the lady at the reception whether feeding the big croc was awesome and she said I’d scream like a little girl doing it. That was all the convincing I needed. It cost me $125, a normal entrance ticket was about $30.

First we saw some Cassowaries in the park. Later we went on a boat trip and saw some real crocs in the water. It was really cool.

Freshwater crocs are much smaller than saltwater crocs. They’re also not as dangerous, you can even swim with them.

Pete and Rachel pole-fed some freshies. It was funny because they were allowed to tease the crocs with the food – they’d just pull the food away right before the croc started to close its jaws. Every time the jaws closed you could hear a plop sound.

My moment to shine arrived right after lunch. We walked to the reception and met with our guide who took us on the private tour. The guide lectured us a bit about saltwater crocs, their habitat and life in general. It was good to ask questions. I liked it when other tourists tried to sit down close to us to listen but the guide told them to bugger off because this was a private show. We felt special! 😀

After the lecture we met Louie – a saltwater croc who was missing half of his lower jaw. His ex-girlfriend bit it off. The guide demonstrated pole-feeding with Louie and then said that I’ll feed the next croc Sully.

Sully was a 700kg salty. Feeding him was really cool. In the beginning I kept the chicken too close to the fence and Sully tried to get through it to snatch its food. Scary stuff! I never screamed like a little girl though. Even the guide had a fright or two during the pole-feeding experience. These crocs are very unpredictable.

We also watched the snake show and later the crocodile attack show. It was interesting.

We drove north and spent the night in a caravan park near Mossman.

Ivar the Crocodile Hunter

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