Global: Session 2 - Billabong: Australia
Posted: Sun, Jul 27, 2014
Great Barrier Reef Days 16-17
Location: Great Barrier Reef
Diving the Great Barrier Reef
by Emma C.
We had an early start today to ride the bus to the Sea Quest boat. We started by signing in, then heard all about the rules and anything that would be happening for the day. After a couple hours of traveling and briefing we started our first dive on the Great Barrier Reef. That was the first of many but through all of them we remembered our reef teach and were searching and identifying what we could. Some of us saw a shark hidden in the sand! There were many people on the Sea Quest boat, so it was a little chaotic, especially at lunch. Lunch was a “tropical buffet.” There was fruit and make-your-own sandwiches with lots of yummy options. After lunch we did another dive in a different location that was even more amazing than the last. Soon after some of the people on the Sea Quest boat transferred to the live aboard Ocean Quest boat, including us. We munched on yummy brownies while we heard all about what our next few days on the boat would be like. Before dinner we did our third dive of the day. The great barrier reef is so amazing! No matter how many dives we do I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of looking even if it’s at the same place every time. For dinner we had salad and noodles with beef. It was nice to not have to cook or clean up. Everyone went out onto the balcony and watched the sharks and fish swarm around the lighted end of the boat, then prepared to dive with them. For some of us it was our first night dive ever. We saw lots of sharks and some people used their flashlights to show where the fish were so the bigger fish and sharks could eat them. We were in the same place as earlier but it looked so different at night than during the day. We finished the day with chocolate ice cream and crumble cake for dessert. Awesome first day of diving and we are all so excited for the couple of days ahead.
Diving Eating and Sleeping
We awoke early this morning for a dive before breakfast. Others took this as an opportunity to sleep in. Once we were all up and ready we ate breakfast and then started preparing for our second dive of the day. Briefing for this dive commenced and we got our gear ready to go. This time we dove all around a giant wall of coral that stretched out across the ocean floor. The reef looked amazing at this dive spot and there were so many different fish and coral to look at. We got back to the boat and took an hour break until the next dive. This next dive happened to be my favorite of the day. It had to be my favorite in particular because of the marine life that we saw while we were down there. The first was a stingray laying in the sand and slowly gliding around on the floor. The next was a reef shark that was a bit farther away. Then later on in the dive we saw a sea turtle laying beneath a rock. After more swimming around our group surfaced back onto the boat for lunch. After lunch we were back at it again into the water at a different spot along the huge coral wall. This time the dive was more a fun free time around in the water. At one point a reef shark was spotted swimming around us. After this dive was done we took a couple hour break until dinner. Later on in the evening everybody went for their last night dive of the trip. Thus concluding the day of diving.
Posted: Fri, Jul 25, 2014
Photos for Days 9-12
Live From The Field
The day started with me waking everyone up to begin out final morning in the Daintree Rainforest. We split up into groups to complete out community service project. Jimmy was the carpenter for the day while Palmer, Steve, Max, Mauricio and myself helped clean out Hugh’s garage full of nick-nacks. After a short morning of community service we decided to go on one final hike to take in the beauty of the Daintree Rainforest. After that we departed the Bat House and headed back to Cairns on a very long bus ride. We finally checked back into civilization where the girls and guys finally got real showers. We then headed into town to the Night Markets for dinner and some shopping. On the way home we played “what are the odds” and some ended up walking home blind like Steve with Jin leading, Jade, myself, Caleigh and Jimmy. After we got home, everyone went to bed because it was super late. Overall it was a good day.
Day 14 Educational Exploration
Today we woke up bright and early to an American classic of toast and cereal. After a quick bus ride we arrived at Tjupakai, the aboriginal culture center. Through several shows and demonstrations we gained a better understanding of Australia’s history and the culture of the Aboriginal people. The men taught us how to hunt with a boomerang, throw a spear and play the didgeridoo; while the women shared their knowledge of the land by speaking of the berries and nuts used for medicines and food. Before leaving the center we watched a very interesting dance show put on by the aboriginals and Steve even lost a bet and had to join them front and center. A trip to the grocery store was next on the to-do list where the girls and boys split to shop for the master chef competition. The rest of the afternoon was spent chopping, boiling, sautaying, prepping and finalizing our dish of choice. Bri led the girls and Max led the guys.
The boys chose an original dish of coconut curry chicken, which somehow ended up spiced with peanut butter, salt and pepper. The girls on the other hand perfected terriyaki chicken stir fry, which of course took the gold medal. With food babie we left Ayashe behind and headed to our next event, Reef Teach, an information session on the Great Barrier Reef to prepare our eyes for the diving yet to come. After roughly three miles of walking and another half hour searching we finally reached our destination. With an interest in marine biology, I genuinely enjoyed the presentation of the reefs and creatures. With the Great Barrier Reef containing 1,500 different species of marine life we obviously were only able to focus on a few coral formations and other animal species. We were taught where to look and what to look for on our live-aboard trip coming up in just a few days. After losing a game of what are the odds we trudged the 3 miles back to the motel while playing endless games of what are the odds to keep us occupied. At the motel we met up with Jin and Ayashe where we were told the good news that she would in fact be joining us for scuba diving. We decided to check in for the night and end our day on a good note. All excited for a full day in Cairns tomorrow.
Today, everyone woke up in by 0800. The girls cooked French toast for everyone while the boys cooked French toast for everyone and steak and eggs for themselves, as well as a few strips of bacon to share. After breakfast was devoured we set off down the road to catch a bus to the pier in Cairns.
Once we arrived, everyone saw a Zorbing field and immediately set off toward it. Essentially it is a game where everyone gets inside extremely oversized beach balls and attempts to play soccer. The result was 14 people charging at each other, trying to knock each other over and send each other flying/rolling as far as possible. Hilarity ensues, everyone struggled to stand up after being knocked down and once they got up, were knocked down again.
Seeing as we were inside giant plastic bubble balls the heat from the sun was magnified immensely. After ten minutes most of us shed out protective bubbles and rested while others tackled the people still lounging about in their bubbles. After our short break we all completely abandoned the idea of attempting to play soccer within our plastic prisons. We lined up, boys against girls (and Steve) and charged. From then on we tried to knock everyone down as many times as possible as violently as possible. Once our time on the field expired we walked down the boardwalk.
We came across multiple work out stations and while the boys tried to show off their athletic abilities us girls sat and watched. We continued to walk down the pier and found a playground to sit at to eat lunch at. Our lunch consisted of wraps and chips. Most of the wraps had become soggy but they weren’t too horrible. After lunch and some horse play at the playground we walked farther down the boardwalk. We came across a beach volley ball court but seeing as we did not have a ball we could not play. So we sat there for a while until we decided to move over to the rock climbing area where we sat for a while longer. After that we walked to a pool area where a few people swam and the rest of us sat in the grass, ate ice cream and chatted. Once everyone finished lounging about we took the bus back to the motel. On the way, we picked up some pizza and brought it back to the motel. We ate pizza and had our nightly squeeze the boys and girls went our separate ways. Us girls made a brookie which is a combination of cookie and brownie. Probably one of the most delicious combinations known to mankind. We then had a girls movies night and enjoyed a 90’s chick-flick. After the movie, we all went to bed excited to dive the Great Barrier Reef tomorrow.
Posted: Sat, Jul 19, 2014
Location: Daintree Rainforest
Day 9: Koala Kisses andKangaroo Selfie
I woke up fairly and decided to wake everyone else up too. We had breakfast and some downtime after so people showered, slept some more or just talked. Being the Kangaroo today, my joeys (Richie and Brie) and I made quesadillas for lunch. Mauricio was there for moral support. It was quite fun. So around 10am we left for the Billabong Sanctuary. Even when we first arrive we were ecstatic to see the koalas and kangaroos. We got a personal tour and met the koalas first. Everyone loved the fluffy adorableness. After we met Tonka the wombat, Jin LOVED Tonka. Well how couldn’t anyone not. After people were brave enough to hold a snake and a baby saltie; another name for a saltwater crocodile. We explored the sanctuary some more and people chose to get the chance to hold a koala; but of course, everyone’s favorite past time at the sanctuary was taking selfies with kangaroos that just ran around the area. Aaron completely won the selfie award. Caisha and I struggled to get a selfie but eventually got one. Once we got to the hostel, we had some free time. Some people helped clean the hostel while the kitchen crew and I were in charge of making pasta. Bri basically completely took over, since she works in a kitchen. For the squeeze question we discussed our favorite sounds. Jin taught us a fun game so we all played, then we all learned an amazing group hand shake. Everyone was pretty tired from our busy day with the animals so we all headed to bed early. We also had to prepare ourselves for an early morning departure. We will dream of wombats and kangaroos!!
Day 10 On the road again
Today we all woke up at 5:20 in the hostel. It began being a cold day which it was obvious how tired everyone was. It was fun bossing everyone around, telling them what to do, but I wasn’t sure how to make sure everyone knew what was needed. We left the hostel and went to Cairns. (Aaron say sit is spelled Cains) We needed to make a few stops because it was a 5hour trip, most of this was spent with some of us talking with our shipmates, if we were close to them, others just slept. After leaving the Greyhound bus and saying “hello” to Cairns I am convinced Aaron spelled it wrong. We carried about a block away where we boarded a van. On our way to the place where we were going to stay we wrote a story. That was surprisingly comforting for me actually. I learned quite a bit about myself and was also entertained for most of the trip.
In the hotel there is a library that beholds the world’s most precious books. We found a funny book filled with anecdotes that we all laughed to. When Hugh, the owner of the hotel saw us laughing and looked at the book he did not freak out but just asked, “What book are you reading? Oh! That one? Ha” We also found a book of Aussie jokes that we all enjoyed. At the end we did the squeeze and shared the most embarrassing moments with each other and shared much needed laughs, a whole discussion followed that topic and was the perfect end for a tense and tiring day.
Day 11 Where the rainforest meets the reef.
We awoke today at 7:30 to a breakfast of cereal and toast. Soon after eating we headed over to the beach. We walked to where the rainforest meets the reef, through the mangrove boardwalk, along the fringing reef, on to the rocks of Cape Tribulation. A solemn counter-part to the hotel, the local Mt.Sorrow. We admired the beautiful view, the wind blowing the plants along the rocks, the waves crashing upon the cliffs and those gliding up the flat beach with a backdrop of the tropical forest and the mountains whose summits were smothered by the clouds despite the blue, clear sky above us all. We then decided to traverse the cape although we ended up walking behind the cape along the trail. We ended at a look out with a beautiful view over the shallow bay. Many of us talked and joked jovially as we hiked back along the road surrounded by the oldest continuous rainforest in the world. Upon returning, we decided to eat a brief lunch, ham turkey and pb and j sandwiches were provided for us campers.
Soon after this, we began our community service. Three groups were formed; one for pulling vines in the forest, one for digging and sifting dirt for the plants at the station, and one to replace the recently broken power cord buried under the ground. Hours later, with the vines pulled, dirt-sifted and power cord replaced we all decided to go back to the beach; not before we stopped by the market to pick up much desired necessities. Once we reached the beach we all relaxed, talking, joking and playing games ranging from birds on a perch, to a guys vs girls game of ‘put it together’. As the sun began to set we began to walk back to the cabins. Upon returning we prepared for a delicious dinner of tex-mex. Then we sat and talked until the daily squeeze where the question of the day was “what is your favorite quote”
Day 12 Swinging and Volunteering
Today we woke up at around 8:00 am to a breakfast of cereal and muesli. Then we spent a few hours removing invasive vines from the rainforest. We had fun chopping down the vines with saws and shears. Then we walked to a swimming hole. There was a rope swing to jump into the water. Some people thought the water was cold and wouldn’t stay in it for long. Mauricio showed us his acrobatics skills and I was the first one brave enough to try out the swing. At one point we even got Steve to go on the swing. Afterwards we went back to the Bat House for lunch and had a concoction of corn pancakes which were pretty good. After lunch we split into two groups and did more community service work.One group stayed behind and made an electric fence around a fruit garden. The group I was in went out to remove more vines from the rainforest. We spent two more hours removing the vines before returning to the Bat House. When we got back people started taking showers before dinner. For dinner we had eggplant lasagna and Steve had a spider for dessert.
Posted: Thu, Jul 17, 2014
Island Hopping and Airlie Beach
On the morning of day seven, the entire group woke up, some of them after a rough night of sleeping on the boat deck, to a delicious breakfast prepared by the Eureka’s own Corbie. After eating the meal, we all prepared to go for a snorkel in the most beautiful reef of our sailing trip. During our preparation, Jimmy lost a game of “what are the odds”, which meant that he had to wear a bikini and pose for a picture. Once that was over, we headed out to the snorkel spot. Many of the group returned to the boat but Jimmy, Mia and myself stayed out a bit longer to enjoy the scenery. After our snorkel, we shuttled over to the beach to spend the rest of the morning hiking to an amazing lookout of the beach and reef. Everyone enjoyed their time spent outside. We came back to the boat for a lunch of roast beef sandwiches and nachos and then spent the afternoon lazily sailing back towards the harbor. Although coming back from the Whitsunday Islands was sad, we were all excited for our night out on the town in Airlie. The group split up for dinner and Palmer even ventured to try both crocodile and kangaroo meat. After dinner, we spent time just strolling around the town and taking in the sights. After a long day, the group retired to the boat to watch a movie and rest up for our early morning the next day