June 26, 2013

Bye Bye Whitsundays From Hammo

I am writing this from the airport on Hamilton Island. I have an hour and a bit until my flight to Brisbane. I have had a lovely day here. I go tup nice and early and took a ferry out here at eight. I have done some reading, writing post cards, and did a walk(hike really cause it was all uphill up a stupid steep hill to the top of the island) to the top of One Tree Hill, ostensibly for the view, but really to find the geocache there. The view is the one you see above.

Yesterday I went on a boat trip out to the islands. We went to Whitehaven Beach for a relax and snorkeling in a couple spots. I took lots of pictures. I will write more and post tons of pictures in the next week or so. I want to thank my lovely hosts here in the Whitsundays for showing me around and putting me up, not to mention introducing me to a new leafy green! Thanks heaps!

A Day Around Airlie

Here are some pictures from my first day in Airlie Beach.

These first two are from Shute Harbour. Most of the land you can see in the distance is bits and pieces of the many island of the Whitsundays.

This next one is from one end of town. That big three master washed up on a sandbar during a big storm at high tide, and has been sitting there ever since. There are a fair number of wrecks around actually, most victims of the most recent heavy storms to hit the area.

In fact here is another wreck right here!

Next up we have the Airlie Lagoon. This is where people come and swim, or lie and sunbathe. It is actually quite a nice swimming lagoon.

This is Airlie Beach itself. The whole town is named after this piddly little bit of sand....There is not really much to do in Airlie except party. All the really nice beaches and things to do are out on the islands.

When I went into town yesterday afternoon, obviously I went on the internet, but after that I did a nice little walk to Able Point Marina. There is a nice little walking path along the shore all the way from one end to the other of Airlie Beach, and that is where these photos are all from.

Just as I got to Able Point Marina, the sun began to set. It was a very nice sunset!

I think today i will wander around again, and tomorrow go out on a day trip to the islands, then head on my way the next day. I dont exactly know what my plans are though. I am kinda taking my time here in Airlie Beach as just a bit of a chill out time after the last few weeks of busy.

June 23, 2013

Tour de Airlie and Surrounds

I just got back from a couple hours of being shown around Airlie Beach. We drove around town and the surrounds to show me the lay of the land. It is quite a nice place!

We started off by heading down to Shute Harbour. That is where a bunch of the boats to the islands leave from. We had an ice creame there while looking out over the beautiful blue water. The air is nice and warm in the sun and even in the shade, but the wind is quite brisk with just a t-shirt on.

We drove back, past the little airport with the hanger homes to the other side of Airlie, Able Point Marina where the rest of the boats leave for the islands.

A little drive through the small town later and we are back at home. I think I will go into town later for a walk around, see the sights of the town itself, perhaps have a beer or two. I need to figure out what I am going to do for the rest of my time here. I dont really do planning very well, so I have not actually got any plans as such...

I am so glad I came here. It is a nice change of pace from the last few weeks in Cairns, and I am happy I have started travelling. It feels good.

Sleeping Well in Airlie Beach

Oh what a beautiful morning oh, what a beautiful day. I just woke up from the most wonderful sleep I have had in ages. By the way, I dont think this will actually get posted for a little while, so I wont have actually just woken up when I post it, but right now, writing it that is what has happened.

The train was about 10 minutes late getting into Prosepine, the closest station to Airlie Beach, about a half hour inland. I transferred onto the little shuttle bus waiting for the 8 or so of us making the journey to Airlie and had a nice drive along the dark roads (it was about 9:30pm then.

We got into town, the main street of which is all torn up on one side and has been for a year while they replace all the sewers and water pipes and everything. The bus driver dropped me off at the other end of town and I got picked up by my flatmate in Cairn's father.

We got in just a few minutes later and after some supper and a little bit of the end of the Lions-Wallabies game, I hit the sack and had a beautiful 10 hour sleep. The curtains are blackout curtains and work very well. Added to almost perfect silence and a comfortable bed, and you get a very nice sleep.

It is now almost 11. Breakfast is done, it is a beautiful day, and I am just about ready to head into town.

Train Time Again

It has been about four or five hours since I wrote the previous posts. I am still on the train, and still have about 4 hours to go. The trip from Cairns to Airlie Beach is about 12 hours. We had a stop about an hour ago at Townsville. We had about 15 minutes to stretch our legs.

Since then I have been drawing with the little guy in the seat next to me.

It has been a lot of fun, but I need a little bit of peace and quite now so I am sitting in the club car listening to the Beatles. It is just about time for sunset. As we head south along the coastal plain, the beautiful soft golden light of the sunset is bathing the fields in warm lovely light.

I am so glad I have had this amazing experience in Australia, and I am so glad it will continue for a while yet! Though it is sad to leave friends in Cairns, I am sure I will see them again if I put my mind to it, be it here or in Canada, or in some third location elsewhere in the world.

I am just going to sit back now and watch the sun set.

A Day on the KE

Just leaving Cardwell now. I thought it would be good to ell y-all about what a day volunteering on board the Kangaroo Explorer actually entailed.

The days start early on a dive boat in the Coral Sea. I tended to get up at about 20 after five to get the day going. The first duty was to set up the kitchen for the day ahead. Turn on the lights, the fans, make sure the bin is empty, pull in the floor mats from the dive deck where they hang overnight, and grab any things the chef told you the evening before. This was usually a tin of tomatoes and a tin of beans from the depths of the hold on the port side of the boat, as well as a watermelon and some fruit and hash browns from the fridge.

There was a brief respite for tea after that. 15 minutes to relax before the chef awoke. First crew, then passengers filter slowly into the saloon, the largest common room on the boat. When the chef gets there we would ask if he needed anything, and inevitably he did. We would rush around and assemble it by about 5 mins to six while the passengers were getting their dive brief done for the 6:00 dive, then jump into our dive gear and try to be the first in the water so we would be the first out. This time of year the sun doesn't rise quite as early so sometimes by the time we all jumped in the water it was more like 6:20.

Some days we moved the boat to another site between the 6 and 8 dives, so on those days we had to be out of the water by 7:10 or face the consequences. The consequence usually being a big spoonful of Vegemite. The 6 am dive is pretty nice once you get in the water which feels pretty cold at about 24 degrees...The boat rules are return to the boat with at least 50 bar of air left in the tank (bar being a unit of pressure) and no longer than 50 minutes dive time. The first guy I dove with, the volley who was on board before me, was a very advanced diver. We both just sip air which meant we were often limited by time rather than by air on our dives, a nice feeling that I could keep up with the air consumption of a diver with over 600 dives!

When diving one should start with the deepest dive of the day first, then only do shallower dives as the day progresses. I am certified to 18 meters, so on the first dive of the day I would try to find a patch of water where I could get down that deep. Usually by they time I had done that, the sun was starting to shine into the water and as we slowly worked our way upwards it got brighter and brighter. The morning is a special time on the reef as it is when the night fish go to sleep and the day fish wake up. It sounds stupid and simplistic, but as soon as the sun comes above the horizon, fish explode out of every little crack and hole in the reef.

After jumping out of the water at a few minutes after seven we went in to have breakfast. A hot cup of tea was a must to warm up from what I am sure was mild hypothermia, then some toast and eggs and whatever else was on offer. We had to be the first ones done as we were about to wash all the dishes. There is no dishwasher on the boat, so everything is done by hand. By this time the chef has also started on lunch, so there are cooking dishes starting to pile up at an alarming rate.

We usually caught up sometime around eight, just as the passengers were getting their dive brief for the 8 o'clock dive. We were not able to do that dive however as it was time for us to get our clean on and vacuum the public areas, the cabins being vacated, and whatever other areas of the ship were on the daily schedule. While on person did this, the other volley would fill up and put away all the jams and peanut butters, and fill all the butter dishes, and wipe all the tables in the salon, then give all the bathrooms in the rooms being vacated a clean.

This all had to be done before about 9:15 because at 9:30, the day boat, Reefkist, comes to drop off passengers, supplies, crew, take on its lunch, and grab a bunch of dive tanks. This transfer varied every day. Sometimes we had a loaf of bread and some milk come aboard as well as a couple passengers and their bags, and some days we had 12 or so passengers and a couple hundred kilos of supplies, mostly food. The transfer was done as fast as possible so that Reefkist could move away to another nearby dive site to do their first dive of the day. All the crew formed a chain to pass things along. This worked for all but the hot things such as soup or lasagne. I always tried to carry these over because it was the only chance all day to get off the Kangaroo Explorer, if only for a minute.

Storing all the supplies was next, then making sure chef had all that he needed. This could take no time at all, or an hour or two depending on the load. The worst to put away were tins. They weigh 3 kilos, and they must first be moved from the salon to the hall, then taken out of the three pack boxes, then handed down this narrow steep staircase, then chucked into the hole in the floor, then moved up to 20 feet forward in the low sores area at the bottom of the hull, complete with massive stringers and pipes and such. That was a terrible job.

The next dive we did was at 11. Depending on the workload that day we either got to sit around for a while before that, soak up some rays, read a book, whatever, or we were working most of the time. The second dive of the day was usually the brightest in terms of sunlight, and as such, the most colourful.

After drying off sometime around 12, we tucked into lunch, a hearty affair. Again we had to wash the dishes, and again the chef was already into the next meal. If he was prepared, most of the dishes had already been created, so at night there would not be much to do. We had until about 4 to do that little bit of work, so after we finished, there were usually a couple hours of chill out time, and time to watch the passengers who had gone in at one swimming around.

The four was the last dive of the day for us. Shortly after we got out from that one was supper. Again we ate firstish, and then had to do the washing up. By this time of day we were very tired and standing up was the last thing we wanted to do...

The passengers got briefed at about 6:45 for the night dive at 7:00, so after we finished the dishes there was a nice little bit of calm with just a few people sitting quietly. After all the divers were out of the water, we pulled out the floor mats again, scrubbed all the counters and appliances, swept and mopped the floor. Sometimes we would pull a roast or some other kind of meat out of the freezer to defrost overnight, but after that we were free to go.

By this time it was usually about eight, and we were pretty beat. I usually tried to read my book for a while, or just sat and watched tv in the salon. I usually sat up until 9:30 when the hostie closed the bar and went to bed. A nice sleep rocking in my bed like a baby with the waves, and it was all to soon again before the next day started all over again.

It was tons of fun and tons of work. Worth it though! Met some fun people on the boat, both crew and passengers, and it would be cool to run into them again sometime!

I think I am done writing for now, I am going to sit back and relax, maybe play some cards or read a book. I hope you enjoyed!

On My Way

I figure it is about time for a nice post with lots of writing, not just videos or pictures. I have finally finished a very busy few weeks. With the end of classes, the trip out to the reef, and then a couple weeks of exams, all intertwined with preparing to leave Cairns, I have had my hands pretty full. Full hands are not necessarily a bad thing though, and I have certainly had tons of fun!

I am sitting here writing this in the buffet car of the Sunlander. I am on my way south, and this train will take me as far as Airlie Beach. This of course means I have now officially left Cairns and am about to embark on the fourth and final phase of my trip. This last phase will take me to Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Melbourne, and finally back to Sydney as the last stop before I fly home.

Omm nom nomm. Burger

It is a bit sad to be leaving Cairns. I have met so many great people and had so many fun times up in the Far North of Queensland, but at the same time it feels really very good to start moving again. Knowing that I have a decent amount of time left helps I think. I certainly want to come back to Cairns at some point and check out more of this wonderful part of the world.

I believe we have just pulled into Cardwell. Indeed we have. This is where there was that petrol station which had poutine on the menu.

Well, that post didn't turn out to be very long, but I will write another right now.

June 21, 2013

Bye Bye Cairns!

I am officially done my semester abroad! Last exam over, one last beautiful sunny day in Cairns, then I am off in the morning for three weeks of exploring this amazing country. To all of you wonderful people I met here in Cairns, thank you! You have made my time here even more amazing than I imagined it would be! I hope to see you all again someday! So this is not a goodbye, this a see you later, be it here, or in Canada, or somewhere random! See you later Cairns people, and thanks again!

June 18, 2013

Getting Wet Again

Another diving video! Make sure you watch in HD!

I have tons more footage to go through, but I don't know I will have the time to do that before I start travelling again. It might just have to wait until I get home!

Speaking of travelling, I only have three days left in Cairns! I cannot believe it! I have packed all my stuff up in my backpack, ready for three weeks of travelling down the coast. I just have to get these last two pesky exams out of the way....

I am very excited to get on my way again. It will feel good to start moving again. But at the same time, I have met a lot of really great people here, and it is so weird to leave them behind. Also I will miss walking on Clifton Beach quite a lot...

I plan on doing a lot of writing while I am on the train, so there should be a fair bit of reading to do next week. I know that it has been somewhat lacking in recent posts.

June 16, 2013

Aboard the Kangaroo Explorer

Whats this?! Another video?! Its true! This one is a bunch of clips and such from daily life aboard the Kangaroo Explorer.

I am just about finished another diving video, but I think I will wait until tomorrow to post that one as it will take ages to export and upload. 

Once again, remember to watch in HD!

June 15, 2013

Getting Wet on Moore Reef

Finally! Here it is! The moment you have been waiting for! Ok maybe not, but I am excited!

All this footage is from the first couple of dives I did on the reef. There are just so many cool things I want to put in that it got kinda long...and that was leaving out some really cool stuff too! There should be many more to follow!
 Make sure to watch full screen in HD!

White Shores and Golden Beaches

I promise that videos from diving are actually coming! I took more than four and a half hours worth of video, and it all looks pretty much the same now! I am sifting through to find all the good bits for you! I have just finished the first one and it will be posted in a little bit, but right now I have made this little video up.

I took that video yesterday walking back to my house from Palm Cove. It is about six kms I think. I am really going to miss that beach! I cannot believe that this time next week I will be on a train heading south!

Enjoy, and as always make sure you watch it in HD!

June 10, 2013

Out to the Reef

This is the first of what I hope will be many videos from my trip to the reef. This one is just getting out to the live aboard boat, the Kangaroo Explorer. The morning was a nasty one when I woke up with pissing rain as I left the hostel, however it cleared up a little as the day went on. The seas were pretty bad though. Most of the passengers and some of the crew, myself included were turning a little green from the waves. It was good fun though, and we made it out to Moore Reef in about two hours, 70km or so from Cairns.

Make sure you watch the video in HD by clicking on the little HD in the bottom right corner of the video, and in full screen by clicking on the little rectangle beside the HD button.

Manta Ray Bay

Here is some coral. This is from the top of a bommie at a dive site called Manta Ray Bay on Moore Reef. -16.870779, 146.207482 Search that in Google maps, and I think that is pretty much exactly where the photo was taken.

I came back from the reef with over 60 gigs of video....that is a lot....It is going to take me a while to sift through it all and make some videos, so hold tight!

June 09, 2013

Back on Solid Ground

I am back! Finally off the boat after 8 days at sea! This pic is of me on the Kangaroo Explorer. Had tons of fun, but it is nice to be back on solid ground. The first night back on land I would have sworn I was going to fall out of bed it felt like it was rocking so much!

I have tons of video to go through and stitch up, then I will make some awesome videos from down under down under! Catch ya later!