Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

It feels strange to be in Australia, which feels a lot like home despite it being on the other side of the globe. Our first stop was Cairns, where we took a trip out to see the Great Barrier Reef.

Our flight to Australia was an overnight ordeal, which as usual meant we arrived after very little sleep. We couldn’t check in to our Airbnb until later on in the day, so we spent a couple of sleepy hours at the airport waiting to head into the city. When we finally reached our bed we crawled into it and slept for the next three hours.

The next couple of days were pretty laid back, mostly just filled with lazy walks around the city and to the shops nearby. We also took a look at the Cairns Art Gallery, which reminded us just how much time we can lose staring at art. Once we were done doing all that though, we booked a trip to go snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef.

For Mark, a trip to see the sea life at the reef was pretty much the only thing on his to-do list for Australia. I was a little less enthusiastic thanks to the dread I’m filled with when I’m near the sea, but I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see the Great Barrier Reef either.

Unfortunately we’ve arrived in Cairns at a time when winds are high, so our journey to the reef was going to be a choppy one. I took a motion sickness tablet straight away, but Mark presumed he wouldn’t need one having never experienced motion sickness before. We quickly realised though just how turbulent the journey to the first reef would be and it wasn’t long before we both had to step outside to get some air. The 90 minute journey was brutal, with more than a few people huddled at the back of the boat feeling awful.

When we reached the first reef we waited a little while to feel normal, then put on our flippers and got ready to jump in. Mark was in right away, but I was frozen on the edge of the boat feeling terrified at the waves and wondering if I’d wasted my money coming here. Thankfully one of the staff members whom we’d briefly spoken to earlier had a lifebelt and encouraged me to get in the water so she could show us ‘where Nemo was’. Forcing myself to trust her and the equipment, I dropped into the water and swam behind her as we headed over to Mark.

We’d hired a waterproof camera for the day, so when we reached spots with cool fish our guide would dive down and take a couple of photos for us. She pointed out a few fish as we went, which we might not have seen without her, and snapped a couple of photos of us as we wobbled about in the water. I’m so grateful she took the time to help us out as I might not have even got in the water at all without her.

It didn’t take long before the motion of the water made us feel queasy all over again, so we decided to take a break and wait for the second reef in the afternoon. The feeling of queasiness never left me though and I had to sit outside holding my breath every time someone with food from the buffet passed me, for fear it would push me over the edge.  When it came time to get back in the water again I decided against it, leaving Mark to enjoy his experience rather than slowing him down. I watched from the top of the boat as he swam about looking for fish, and even caught him taking a few cheeky selfies in the water.

The journey back was easier than the journey out, and we even managed to eat some of the fruit they put out for everyone in the afternoon.

If we end up coming back to Australia before the Great Barrier Reef is inevitably closed off to tourists, I’d definitely like to visit again on a calmer day. I’d also consider diving to see the fish, as everyone we spoke to who has done it says the view is amazing. Hopefully we’ll get that opportunity again some time, but I’m glad we were able to do it here.

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