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Monday, July 25, 2011

Port Douglas :: Jellyfish, Sharks, Ice Cream in the Great Barrier Reef

Port Douglas Port Douglas-1
I had a fantastic time in Port Douglas. While I did not explore the town very much, it was the perfect jumping point to Cape Tribulation and exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

Travelling alone has its perks – I found that I was much braver and willing to try new things. I didn’t have to ask for permission to do anything, I just did it. I could change my plans on a whim, merge with random groups, and spend a day doing absolutely nothing if I wanted to. This day, I felt like swimming in the Great Barrier I did!
So I will confess something. I can’t swim very well. I can flap, I can flounder, but I can’t really get from Point A to Point B  very gracefully. Even worse, I can barely tread water. Sooo...I surprised myself when I zipped on a stinger suit and hopping into the water.

I realize that it is a bit blogfail to have almost no pictures, but you’ll have to excuse me as I felt overwhelmed by the apparent abyss below. I was nervous but intrigued by the bright blue patches in the ocean that told me that there was something wonderful hidden below (see above).

Surprisingly, swimming in the ocean is very easy - I suppose the salt water makes you rather buoyant and you almost have to make a real effort to go beneath the surface. When I finally figured this out, I really relaxed and enjoyed my time in the water!

Port Douglas-2
Decent lunch spread :-)
Wavelength, while taking a good bite out of my travel budget, was a fantastic experience – guided by marine biologists, we visited 3 sites and my heart almost stopped when I was able to look below. I saw clown fish, reef sharks, giant sea cucumbers, and countless other species all over the place. At times, I felt like I was surrounded by schools of fish. The colour of the reef was amazing – bright, firey red, beautiful blues and greens…one of the biologists brought a cucumber to surface and I got to poke it, feeling a tad guilty about noshing his cousin in Melbourne.  It was absolutely amazing to see.

They sell plenty of underwater photos, but alas, the budget did not allow – so my memories will have to do :-)

I was particularly tickled to see a GIANT clam at the bottom, “coral” disappearing when we snapped our fingers close by, and a reef shark calmly swimming past me. It’s a full day with lunch and “tea” (which I learned was just snacks, thus clearing up a note I got from my previous host saying “Ill be back and we can cook tea together”).
The biologists were particularly good about helping us identify what we were seeing and teaching us a bit about the ecology. I recommend going with them, if you can squish it into your budget!

PortDouglasAfter a full day of exploring the ocean, I sat by the ocean and felt teased by the brilliant blue water filled with horrifying jellyfish. Before setting off, we grabbed ice cream from Wicked Ice Cream Co., which melted within seconds of being plopped on a cone, and started my journey back to Sydney along the East Coast.
<—That was within seconds of of handing it to me. Talk about intense heat.

If you’re hoping to visit the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, I strongly suggest Port Douglas as an alternative to Cairns. It’s a quaint town with beautiful surroundings and brilliant people - and I've been told by many that the reef is more vibrant and colourful as you move up north.

Wicked Ice Cream Co on Urbanspoon


annie said...

Had a similar ice cream served by Wicked Ice Cream in Port Douglas yesterday. It slid off the cone to the ground within 5 seconds of being handed across the counter. I hadn't even paid yet and they wanted me to pay for a replacement! We went somewhere else.

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