Global: Session 1 - Billabong - Australia
Posted: Tue, Jul 14, 2015
Location: Brisbane Airport
As I write this the crew of the AQ Billabong 2015 is boarding their flight in Brisbane, bound for LAX and eventually home.This will literally (LITERALLY) be the longest day of their lives, as we woke up at 3 to catch our first flight and thanks to the international date-line, they will all be arriving home later “tonight.” The past 3 weeks have been SO amazing and it has been great to watch everyone on the trip get to experience so many things for the first time, push their limits and become a family. It is crazy to think about everything we have done in this time – learned to surf on Bondi beach, visited the famous Sydney Opera House, sailed the beautiful Whitsunday Islands with the amazing crew of the Eureka II, held koalas and crocodiles in Townsville, saw the most amazing stars on the beach in Cape Tribulation, dove the Great Barrier Reef and rafted down class 4 rapids on the Tully River.Not to mention how much we learned about ourselves and each other as we lived and worked together 24/7 in a foreign country. Thanks for being such a great group, we hope that you all continue to travel, learn, explore and have amazing adventures!
Love, “Mom” and “Dad” aka Carolyn and Andrew
Posted: Mon, Jul 13, 2015
The Last Adventure
Although today was our intrepid group’s final day among the Aussies,it began just like any other: an early awakening followed by a bus ride to our next, and in this case, sadly, final adventure. We ate breakfast or ‘brekkie’, in the local dialect, our two hour bus ride to the Tully River, located deep in the middle of the rain forest – the oldest forest in the world. While we all knew what we were about to do, nobody could have expected the true intensity of what was to come.Thankfully, our guide, lovingly nicknamed “Ryan 2.0”made us feel safe as we paddled our way through class 1-4 rapids. We quickly learned to work as a team, coordinating our movements as he yelled forward paddle, back-paddle, hold on – and most importantly – get down! We had a few tight situations (literally, as our raft got stuck between two rocks), but we worked together to get out of them, and are proud to say that none of us fell out of the raft (other than the onetime that we all did it on purpose). It was an awesome last adventure in Australia.It was a long drive back to Cairns, but full of beautiful scenery with sugar cane fields on one side and banana fields on the other, with the sun setting behind the mountains nearby. Once in town we got cleaned up and headed out to our final dinner together at a local Thai restaurant. Full of Pad Thai were turned to our motel for one last squeeze and of course one last round of TimTams.
Posted: Sun, Jul 12, 2015
Under The Sea
Location: Great Barrier Reef
Bright and early at 5:45 in the morning, the crew of OceanQuest rapped loudly on cabin doors. A few brave souls put their wetsuits and gear on for a sunrise dive at 6:00 am. The rest of us woke at 7:30 for breakfast, followed by 2 great dives. An octopus, an eel and many other marine creatures were spotted. After our final dive in the Great Barrier Reef, we ate lunch and got some sun on the top deck and even got to see dolphins jumping in the water below. We moved to the day boat and headed back to Cairns. After returning to our rooms and showering we ordered pizza for dinner. We are now beginning the long and necessary process of writing cards to each of our new friends. On each card, we describe memories and what we love about each person.These cards serve as a way to remember each other and to look back on all of the amazing times we have had while in Australia. Tomorrow is our last full day in Australia and we plan to make the most of it!
Posted: Sat, Jul 11, 2015
Shark Bait Boo-Ha-Ha
Location: Great Barrier Reef
Beginning our second day began on SeaQuest, we were by now well familiar with the dive routines and geared up quickly to get in the water. Some of us were so excited to continue diving on our second day that we started our first dive at 6:30 am! Out of the 4-5 dives that we did today, each reef location offered something different and exciting to see. From lionfish, to black tip reef sharks, to vibrant colorful coral mountains, the Great Barrier Reef had no end to its beauty. Today we also proudly congratulated some of our students as they completed their dives to become advanced open water divers. After several hours of underwater training and intense study sessions five of our comrades became Advanced open water certified. This evening proved to be quite exciting beneath the dark waters as we went fluoresce diving. Using yellow tinted mask attachments and blue led flash lights, we saw the coral and organisms alike come to life with neon fluorescent colors. The reefs lit up with neon greens, blues, yellows, pinks and reds as shined our beams of light through the dark waters. It was a spectacular sight! Once we returned to the boat we also got to see the crew chum the waters, attracting hoards of trevally, sharks and other predatory fish. We finished off our night with a dessert surprise of delicious but unknown fruit, cream and crunchy chocolate. Our day on the Great Barrier Reef couldn’t have been more beautiful and surprising!
Posted: Fri, Jul 10, 2015
After an early wake up call this morning, the chefs started to prepare breakfast of fruit salad, sausages and toasted English muffins. Following clean up, we drove to Tjabukai, an Aboriginal historical park named after the local Tjabukai people. We started the tour with traditional face painting by an artist, followed by an interesting explanation of the various art styles! We then walked through the various acts and performances in the park, learning about the Aboriginal culture and lifestyle along the way. Specifically, my favorite acts were the original dance performances by the Aboriginals themselves. We were pulled onto the stage, where we danced along and participated in their dances. We learned how they play their traditional instrument the didgeridoo and also about their traditional hunting methods using spears and boomerangs, and even had a chance to try each of them!Following the tour,we ate our pre-made sandwiches in the park before taking a taxi into Cairns for the afternoon. We were allotted some free time, some of which we spent catching up with families and friends after we were graciously gifted our phones. We met up as a group again for dinner after an exciting day of final gift shopping. To close the day, we went to Reef Teach, and educational lecture to educate and prepare us for our dives tomorrow. We concluded the day with squeeze, eagerly anticipating our dives tomorrow!We are not sure if we will have internet access out at sea, so if you don’t hear from us on the blog for a few days don’t fear, we are just enjoying ourselves under the sea and will be back on land on Monday!