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Sailing Rainforests and reefs

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After all the excitement of getting power back  in Airlie Beach we packed our bags and our drink for the Whitsundays Trip! We made our way to Abel Jetty where the group met. We couldn't believe it when we realised that we would be sailing in a group of 18 girls and 1 couple!! The crew members were probably delighted with the set up and said it rarely happened. We got on the boat and were shown to our designated sleeping areas. Now we weren't looking for luxury here but we thought they were taking the p!ss when myself and Mel were assigned a mini double bed just beneath the front of the boat, along with 6 others in the same triangular area of the boat. I'm not joking when I say there was 20cm of space between the bed and the deck. Poor Suzanne, our Dutch friend, was given a place affectionately known as "The Coffin" by the crew members. I don't think I need to go into detail for that one.

Once the boat started to move, we helped to hoist the sail which was nice to be able to do. We sailed along for a couple of hours before stopping at a quiet, calm cove for the night. The radio stopped playing tunes all of a sudden so we had a bit of a sing song while drinking our ever so classy goon, and bundy and coke. Trying to sleep was a nightmare to say the least, it was super warm, felt majorly claustrophic and couldn't breathe. I knew I had to get the hell out of there before I cracked up! I took the padding of the seats and couches and made a little bed for myself on the floor :) Was able to get a few hours sleep but poor Mel couldn't get back to sleep after that.

Wake up and brekky call was 6am and the boat had already started to move. I had no issues with sea-sickness in the past since I got the ferry to France every year with no problems, unlike my Mam and sister. The sea was really rough and the boat swaying from side to side and back and forth that it made my stomach do somersaults. I tried to take deep breaths and focused on the horizon. Poor Mel gotten badly bitten by bed bugs and was feeling uncomfortable and was complaining about the itchiness but all I could think about was trying not to get sick. The German girl beside me saw how awful I looked and gave me a sea-sick tablet, bless her. I took it but it was too late and the contents of my brekkie ended up in the ocean :(.
We eventually made it to Whitehaven Beach, the iconic beach of the Whitsundays. We were given 3 hours there to spend as we wished but we still felt like we were rocking on the boat even though we were on flat land! When we reached the lookout, the aftermath of the cyclone was evident as parts of the water was murky as the dirt gathered up from the strong winds. Other parts of the beach were beautiful with crystal clear water and fine white sands. We got back on the boat and were taken to another island where we snorkeled and was given an intro to scuba diving which was good. The clarity and visibility of the water wasn't the best due to the cyclone, unfortunately. Later that evening, Paddy, one of the crew members decided that we'd have a "Boy's Night" and we played "Goon Olympics". This involved games which any member of the male species would enjoy watching females play against each other, you could say. More crew members conveniently landed on our boat from other boats when they heard that they could party with 18 single girls. It was a fun night even though it felt kinda sleazy.

The next day we did some more snorkeling before making our way back to Airlie Beach. We got to feed the fish and saw loads of snappers and batfish. The journey home was very enjoyable as it was smooth sailing and the radio was back working!

Airlie Beach seemed like a different place to when we first got there, three days before. The place was really busy and there was a nice atmosphere. We had dinner with Suzanne before getting our overnight 10-hour bus to Cairns.

We arrived in Cairns at 6:30am and the weather was miserable....surprise, surprise!! We got to our hostel which people had been raving about but all we could see was a run-down shack of a place. We got shown to our room and knew this was a seriously dodgy place when the receptionist called one of the girls lying in her bed "Crackers" and tickled her when she demanded a massage from her! Another girl in the room was Japanese and was sprawled out on top of her bed in an unflattering position. It was like walking into someone's bedroom as every piece of furniture, wall, curtains were pink! We had single beds which was a nice change from bunk beds. "Crackers", whose name I only found out the day I left Cairns and Kiko, Japanese girl had this amazing connection which really impressed me. Kiko had little English and mumbled and giggled a lot, while Crackers screamed and snorted while she laughed. I have no idea how they communicated together but it worked, they seemed to get on like a house on fire! I was comparing the set up to the film Girl, Interrupted.
We contacted Amy, our English friend from Noosa as we knew she was in Cairns. She replied straight away saying she and her friend Amy C had just rented a car and asked if we wanted to go on a mini road trip! They picked us up and we set out to see Cape Tribulation. We went to Hartley's to watch a snakeshow and hopped on a boat on a swamp where the keeper prompted crocs to emerge from the water by waving a stick with pieces of chicken at the end of it. Afterwards, we saw a Croc Attack Show where we saw crocs sizing up to it's prey. The sound of their jaws clasping together was deafening! We reached Port Douglas and tried to get accomodation at Mossman and Daintree, to where the ferry would take us to Cape Trib in the morning but it was useless. We spent 3 hours driving around and were quoted crazy rates and some of the places looked too dodgy to stay in! We were also told that the ferries had been cancelled and advised not to stay in certain areas because of the risk of flooding! We ended up going back to Port Douglas and stayed in a really trendy hostel called Dougie's.

Next morn we visited the Mossman Gorge which was a rainforest with a river full of rapids going through it. Was beautiful walking under the green trees and plants. We made our way to Daintree and crossed the river by ferry. We made a few more stops to see more rainforests and had to drive over flooded bridges from overflowing creeks. We saw Cape Trib from a height where rainforest meets the ocean, very beautiful. Stayed in Port Douglas that night.
We got back to Cairns, threw on our bikinis and headed to the lagoon to soak up the sun but got soaked to the skin by the rain instead! I got into the lagoon anyway to stay that I was in it and sure I was soaking wet anyway so it didn't make a difference. We went to the infamous Woolshed pub that night and got our free meal from the hostel. Mel ordered a chilli con carne but got chilli con salsa (chilli, sauce, rice and no meat!!) The Woolshed is the best pub in the world! It has entertainment on every night of the week and the prizes are amazing....bungy jumps, sky dives, Oz Experience passes, etc. Sunday is Blind Date night so first up were 3 guys being interrogated by a girl. Really felt for the guys as the questions were quite saucy and they had to give their answer on the spot (Blind Date on TV was far easier with the contestants having time to prepare their answers) Thought their was only one game until the presenter dude came up to me at the bar and asked if I'd take part! Only realised afterwards that Mel was asked before me and she turned it down. My first reaction was ''not a chance in hell'' but after a little convincing and a jaeger bomb, I was in!! I had to wait a little while before the game started and was already regretting my decision :P We got called up and sat on my stool behind the curtain. Mel was being photographer taking loads of pics of the set up and I knew by her face that the guy on the other side wasn't bad at all!! The girls had to introduce themselves and say where they were from. My competition was two sisters from South Australia. They got a bit of a cheer but I got the loudest roar when I said I was from Ireland. Felt that bit more confident when I knew I had good support behind me :) We were asked five questions and I scored 3 points and the other girls 1 point each! When the curtain pulled back I was pleasantly surprised ;) We won a 2 for 1 skydive voucher. We all danced the night away on tables and chairs!
The following day we took a boat out to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel. The boat ride was 2 hours long and felt nauseous again as the sea was very rough and I too was feeling rough from the night before. I sat in ''Adam's favourite seat'' which is basically where Adam, one of the crew members, takes the sick to. We eventually made it to the first reef and was absolutely amazed to see the bright, illuminous colours of the coral and the amount of different species of fish was just incredible. It really blew me away and I never imagined it to be this beautiful. The visibility was excellent with the water being very clear. I bought a special waterproof pouch for my camera and was able to take loads of photos underwater (circa. 400!!) Adam was super enthusiastic and pointed us in the direction of little Nemos :) I was making my way back to the boat when I saw what looked like a mini-sized shark. I leaped up to the top of the water and warned Adam but he laughed at me and said he knew I'd think it was one. I didn't care what it was...I didn't want to take any risks and got back on the boat and had lunch. We went to a second reef (Labyrinth) which had loads of channels but the visibility wasn't as clear as the first reef. Got back to shore at 4:30pm and called into the skydive with Matthew to book our jumps. We booked for 7:30am on Wednesday as no other time suited me. Went back to The Woolshed that night and ''upgraded'' our dinner by paying a fiver and getting a proper meal! Played Bingo but my luck wasn't in that night and got zilt. Checked out Gilligan's which is supposed to be the most luxurious of hostels and listened to live music there. 
Next morn, Mel left Cairns to head west side to Perth while I went white water rafting on the Tully River. Was joined by Suzanne and Anne and we managed to get in the same boat which was cool :) Our guide was really cool which made the experience even more enjoyable. Myself and Suzanne volunteered to stay at the front of the boat where you get most of the impact of the action!! We were in Grade 4 rapids which gave us great adrenaline rushes. At one point the boat was submerged under water and when it came back up I was ''launched'' from it and flew out into the river. I hit a rock under the water and remembered to keep my feet and head up and to float downstream. Current was strong so had to be rescued by a boat ahead. I grabbed onto the rope that was thrown at me and climbed onto their boat and waited for my group to come along. We stopped for lunch and saw tortoises and eels at the edge of the water. We got to steer our boat under a waterfall and got to jump into the river from a rock. We got to go down a really steep drop where almost everyone fell out of the boat...was great fun! Our trip ended where the crocs hang out. We got back to the cafe and collected our photos on disc. Got back to Cairns and to The Woolshed again that night for Tropical Tuesday! I was given ""Paddy", the Irish goldfish and we had a goldfish race. Suzanne wona bungy jump with her Dutch goldfish :) Plenty more crazy antics happened that night before I decided to retire at 1am as I was getting picked up for my skydive at 7:30am. Woke up at 6am and was totally psyched for this jump! I was told that the weather conditions weren't favourable for a jump and was asked if I could wait until 10:30am. When 10am came around I got a call to say they were cancelled for the whole day. Was gutted to say the least. Had a fantastic time in Cairns and would have stayed a little while longer (The Woolshed being one of the reasons, sad...I know!) Got collected by the airport mini-bus and was on my way to meet Mel again in Perth :)
West-side story coming up real soon by Mel! See you all soon :)


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Sailing, Rainforests, and Reefs!

Whitsundays, Cairns, Australia