Friday, June 12, 2009

Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

My last trip in Australia was definitely a memorable one. From seeing wild crocodiles to snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef to skydiving, I had many experiences I am sure I will never forget!

We arrived in Cairns last Monday. It is about a three and a half hour plane ride north of Sydney, and it was much warmer there. Cairns is right on the ocean, but unfortunately does not have a beach. However, they have a giant pool so we relaxed there for the afternoon. We met up with some of friends from the University of Sydney and enjoyed the sun. That night, we all went out to dinner and walked along the marina and the boardwalk.

The next day, Becky and I went on a day tour of the Daintree Rainforest. We started our morning at a Rainforest habitat where we saw lots of birds, koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, crocodiles, and other animals. Our next stop was Mossman Gorge, part of Daintree National Park. It was a nice little hike through the forest and along a creek. After that we went to a restaurant for a buffet lunch. It was right on the beach and we had a chance to hang out for a while and enjoy the scenery. After lunch we went on a walk through the Daintree Rainforest. Our last activity of the day was a cruise along the Daintree River. We saw several crocodiles along with birds, snakes, and crabs.

Wednesday we took a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. It took about an hour and half to get out to the reef, and it was a pretty rough ride. However, once we arrived it got a lot better. After getting our wetsuits, googles, snorkels, flippers, and noodles, we were ready to see the reef. At first, it took me a while to get used to being in the water. I had never been snokeling before, so it was a little scary! Also, I was frightened of the fish and coral...they were so close! After my initial fear subsided, I was able to enjoy the reef. It is an amazingly beautiful place. It felt like we were swimming in a tropical aqaurium! The fish were so vibrant and the coral, although not quite as colorful during the day, was also very pretty. We spent several hours snorkeling and then headed back for Cairns.

Thursday was another very exciting day....I went skydiving! Skydiving was unlike any other feeling. It's not particulary scary because you are attached to a professional who knows how to pull the parachute, land, etc. It is a very fun and exciting experience. I jumped from 11,000 feet, which is about a 40 second freefall. I screamed when we first jumped out of the plane, but the rest of the freefall was such a rush. After the parachute is pulled, it takes about 5 more minutes to float down to the ground, which gave me time to enjoy the beautiful scenery. We were right over the ocean, so I could see parts of the reef, islands, beaches, and mountains in the distance. It was a great location to skydive! The landing was smooth and the I got to spend some time in the afternoon hanging out on the beach.

Here is the link to some more pictures from my trip:

Now I have to focus on school for a while. I have three finals so I should do some studying. Two more weeks until I am home!


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