Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Rock Tour: Uluru or Bust

When you think of Australia what comes to your mind? Perhaps the iconic Outback with its dingoes, kangaroos and red sand soil? Well these images resonate as true Australia to me. I finally change up the scenery from coastlines and cities to experience the bushland of the Aboriginal people.

My tour group was extremely international. We consisted of: two Australian guides, one girl from Hong Kong, two boys from Indonesia, three French photographers, one Brazilian girl, one Italian girl, two German girls, an Irish and English couple and four American girls hailing from the Southern states of Georgia, Louisiana (Katie) and Kentucky (me)!  

Leaving Alice Springs in the morning was such a thrill because I was finally on the road to the Great Outback of Australia. I was surprised when I heard that due to the above average rainfall in the area, vegetation was actually growing in the Outback. It was nice because the red color of the rocks really stood out against the blue sky and green shrubs. Our stop for the day was King's Canyon. The start of this 3.5 hour hike is called Heart Attack Hill because it is a very steep climb and during the hot summers can really take its toll on hikers. The hike wasn't too bad. When we got to the top, we stopped for lunch.

Blue, Red & Green
The main part of the hike was through the Garden of Eden, a desert oasis with a pool. It was a nice break but the water was way too cold to go for a dip. After the hike we headed to Curtain Springs where we set up camp. Now let me tell you this isn't the kind of campsite my mom would drag me too; it was a bush campsite with bush facilities a.k.a. trees. Plus we collected our own firewood, basically pulling limbs off of dead trees. The bonfire we made was epic. We were really doing the Real Outback experience. After cooking a delicious meal over the huge bonfire and unrolling our swags (canvas sleeping bags with a head flap). I feel asleep under the Milky Way and a million stars. The night sky was right up there with Techapo in New Zealand and I learned how to find the famous Southern Cross constellation.

The second day of our tour was my favorite day. After a quick breakfast of Nutella toast (yummy), we entered the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the home of the Anangu aboriginals. This is their sacred ancestral land.

Panoramic of the Olgas
We headed to the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta (pronounced KAT-a Jew-TA). The views were amazing. The largest rock (pictured above center) is 500 meters tall and named after Queen Olga of Spain. At the top of the hike, Katie and I did a couple fun pictures.

Jump Picture
From there, we went to the Aboriginal Cultural Center. They have a book called the "Sorry" Book. Since this is a national park, it's illegal to take rocks, sand, etc. from the park. Also it's frowned upon to climb Uluru because it is disrespectful to the sacred rites of the Anangu people; the walking trail traces a boy's walk to becoming a man. Some tourists have sent apology letters and these souvenir back, claiming that since leaving the park bad things have befallen them. One man sent back the shoes he had worn when climbing Uluru because he had horrible karma now. I got a jar full of the red sand from the Outback but I made sure that it was well outside of the park. I don't want any bad mojo with finals next week.

I got fancy and did a changing color & sky picture
After a little taste of walking around Uluru, we headed to the sunset viewing area to take in the changing colors of the rock due to the sinking Sun. Once it got dark, we went to the Ayers Rock (another name for Uluru) campground for hot showers and bed; what a treat! We made a controlled fire and set up our swags. Since sunset was around 6:30 p.m., we weren't tired. The group stayed up playing mind games around the fire which bonded us even more as a group.

Now it was time for sunrise at Uluru. Another early morning-actually the 4th day in a row waking up around 5 a.m. We were going to eat breakfast at the viewing site so we all piled in to the bus straightaway. we hadn't even left the campsite when our guide realized we had a flat tire. My heart sank. After three failed attempts, they finally got the tire on correctly and we were heading back toward Uluru. We made it in time for sunrise but it was only OK. I was expecting a more brilliant sunrise but during the winter months the Sun rises to the left of the rock and not behind it. Plus it was absolutely freezing that morning, even wrapped up in my sleeping bag. I couldn't even look at the sunrise because the wind would blow right in my face. I'm definitely a Southern girl.

My one picture of sunrise
The trip was finished off with a walk around the base of Uluru. Since this is a sacred site to the Aboriginal tribe from this area, parts of the rock can't be photographed. The signs were confusing about what areas were restricted. I didn't want a $5,500 fine so I just took mostly mental pictures and talked to new friends from our tour. It was an enjoyable hike and before I knew it the trip was over and we were headed back to Alice Springs.

Katie and Kim at the base of Uluru
 I now feel like I've truly studied in Australia after having explored the Outback. I saw kangaroos, dingos and camels. I slept under the stars in my swag. I visited Uluru, the world's largest rock located in the middle of Australia.

Cheers for now,

Uluru or Bust:
The tour drew on all the bus windows was these cool markers

Monday, May 30, 2011

Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

The song "Waltzing Matilda" is a traditional Australian bush song sung by journeymen through the Outback. Some Aussies would go as far as to say this ballad is the "unofficial national anthem."

{via Google Images}
Since I am about to head out on my adventure in the great Australian Outback, I figured I would share this song with you. The above excerpt is just the beginning of the song; it is rather political as the song goes on.

Here is a little cheat code to understand what the song is about:
waltzing-traveling as a craftsman from one area to the next
Matilda-a romantic term for the swagman's bundle
swagman-Outback wanderer looking for work who carried his belongings in a swag
billabong-water hole
coolibah tree-a kind of eucalyptus tree
billy-water kettle

Therefore to waltz Matilda means to travel with your swag around the countryside. I will be waltzing Matilda on my tour across the Outback.

How legit does that sound?

Cheers for now,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Day in Alice

Since my Uluru tour didn't leave until the next morning, I had the day to see what Alice Springs has to offer. Our hotel was outside the town center but it was a pleasant walk especially after a morning of flying. Alice Springs, like the rest of the Northern Territory, has a strong Aboriginal presence. The town center is Todd Mall and has many stores selling Aboriginal artwork. The patterns were brilliant and I wanted to buy them all. Katie and I went into a gallery and the large canvas painting I liked was oh $899. I settled on a painting a lot cheaper ($20). It depicts a dream story about thunder and lightening.

Walking around the city, we found the following historical buildings and sites:

Old Stuart Town Gaol
Completed in 1908 and remaining in service until 1938, this gaol (how weird is that spelling!) was built of mostly local stone from the MacDonnell Ranges. This is the oldest building remaining in the Alice Springs town area. Fun fact: You could go to gaol if you branded cattle incorrectly.

Royal Flying Doctor Service
Opened in 1939, the RFDS is a living legend of the Outback and is still fully operational today. Because Alice Springs is in the middle of nowhere, it's vital that medical care is mobile.

Anzac Hill
Giving a superb view of the ranges especially at sunrise and sunset, this visible landmark has a memorial to lives lost in all the world conflicts. The words "Lest We Forget" really get me.

The town is small; the afternoon was the perfect amount of time to spend in Alice Springs.

Cheers for now,

{Hotel Review: By booking our tour through Alice in the Territory, we got our night before and after for free. You can't complain with free! The place was a hotel though it has a few backpacker rooms with bunks. Our two German roommates were doing the same tour and had been traveling around Australia for six months. Our room had a TV, bathroom and pool but no kitchen. Overall it was nice.}

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wandering Melbourne

My favorite thing to do in new cities is to explore. Wandering around Melbourne was a treat because there were heaps of landmarks and historical buildings. Katie and I explored Federation Square and the waterfront the first day. The Australian Center for the Moving Image had a free interactive exhibit called Screen Worlds that dealt with the evolution of film, TV and the digital culture. It was really interesting as a Public Relations major to see the development of communications over the past century. The end of the exhibit asked museum goers to predict what the future of screens would be. I said that dreams could be recorded and TV could have food come out of them i.e. Willy Wonka. How amazing would it be to taste all the delicious creations that were made on the Food Network? Sounds good to me!

The modern Federation Square coupled with the traditional Flinder Street Station. A Melbourne skyscraper in the background.
Jessica took us to Queen Victoria Market and St. Kilda one day. That same night, Katie and I watched an AFL footy game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Panoramic of the world famous Brighton Beach huts
The last day Katie and I were in Melbourne, we spent the whole day wandering. Melbourne has amazing resources for tourists. There are designated volunteers on major street corners who help with directions. Also there is a free visitor shuttle that serves as a mini guided tour to all the major areas and landmarks. I didn't realize how many historical sites Melbourne had to offer. We saw Parliament and the Shrine of Rememerance. You can hop on and off the shuttle though Katie and I stayed on for the whole 1.5 hour loop.
Aussie Parliament building
We wandered through the Royal Botanical Gardens then along the waterfront. There was a little amusement park on the walk with a Ferris Wheel. At one point, we walked down an alley completely covered in graffiti; it was quality work. 
Ferris Wheel with Eureka Tower in the distance
Alley Artwork
It was a fabulous way to end our trip. Melbourne was definitely my favorite Australian city and I could see myself living there.
Last picture in Melbourne: Sunset & the City
Want to see more pictures from my time in Melbourne? Visit my Picasa Web Album for all things Sratting Down Under.
Cheers for now,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Great Ocean Road

The first thing my friend suggested to Katie and I to do while in Melbourne was a tour of the Great Ocean Road. We couldn't have asked for a more gorgeous day than the day we got. The drive was picturesque down the coast of Victoria. It reminded me a lot of the bus rides in New Zealand and I'm sad to say that I was a little jaded by the drive. I've done similar excursions in Cairns and New Zealand. The furthest points away from the city (about 3 hours) are the most famous and made the day. This included the 12 Apostles and London Bridge.

There are only 8 of the 12 Apostles still intact
London Bridge has fallen down
 Back in the day, this area was known for the shipwrecks along this jagged coastline. Lookout points were established all down the Road.

I really like all the stickers on this sign
Other highlights of the trip included feeding birds out of my hand, a delicious lunch at a coastal cafe and stopping at the beach.

All smiles before the bird tried to climb down my shirt
 If you have a day to spend on the GOR, I would recommend it unless you have already done something similar. Australia is a beautiful and scenic county, but the coastlines all start to look the same after 4 months here.

Cheers for now,

Koala on a Surfboard-So Aussie.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good Travel Karma

As many may know I am a student blogger for the Embassy of Australia's Study in Australia program. The 16 bloggers this semester are studying at a variety of schools around the country. I thought it would be fun to meet up with the Melbourne bloggers to have my own personal guide around the city. I got in touch with Jessica, a Canadian exchange student at Deakin University. She was a doll and even put Katie and I up for the time we were in Melbourne. She called it "good travel karma" for all the traveling she has done.

Wine, Tim Tams & a new Friend
Jessica took us to the Queen Victoria Market for some souvenir shopping. Some people who are reading this got a few treats so I can't say exactly what I got. One clue though: I spent a lot of time at the Aboriginal craft tables. After an exhaustion morning of shopping, we took the tram to St. Kilda. I wouldn't have gone to this little beach suburb if it wasn't for Jess. She even had a friend whose family owned one of the famous Brighton Beach huts. These bathing boxes date back to around 1862 and now cost about $200,000 AUD! We ate Grill'd burgers on the little porch and I felt so VIP.

Goofing off in front of the famous Australian flag Brighton Beach hut
This whole experience just goes to show that reaching out to fellow study abroad students really pays off. They are in the same boat as you in terms of interests, budget and lifestyle. It was such a pleasure to meet Jess. Her Indonesian roommate even made us dinner; twice. Thanks so much Jessica!

Jessica and Katie on the Melbourne riverfront
Have you ever practiced good travel karma?

Cheers for now,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fashion From Abroad: Peter Alexander

While out shopping one day, I came across the most adorable store ever: Peter Alexander. Basically think the chicest pajamas you can imagine. I wanted everything from their new winter collection.

Wild Nights All-in-one: The sexiest onesie I've ever seen 
 Spotty Waffle Legging: Tucked into Uggs for an extra cozy feel
 Ribbon Strip Bow Shorts: I'm considering wearing these shorts in public because they are too cute with that bow
 Lace Pearl Bow Top: I like the school girl feel 

And for the men in y'alls lives, who wouldn't want to wake up to this? 
 Mens Bow Tie Pj Set: Fratdaddy!

And Peter if you want to send me this I would be thrilled :)

Chiffon Alpine Nightie: Perfect for lounging in front of the fireplace at the mountatin cabin

What are your picks? Don't you just want EVERYTHING?

Cheers for now,

{All pictures are screenshots from the Peter Alexander website.}

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guest Post: Dream Trip Down Under

As I get ready to leave the beautiful city of Melbourne for the red soil of the Outback, I thought why should I have all the fun traveling around Australia? I asked my new blog friend Jennifer to join in on the fun and plan her dream Australia trip. Here's what she came up with:

Hi y’all! My name is Jennifer and I am from blue-eyed belle. I’m so glad that Kim asked me to guest post for her today! Since she has been traveling abroad in Australia, she asked me to tell you about what I would do if I were given the opportunity to visit Australia!

I have wanted to visit Australia since I was 12 years old. I find it so fascinating and I don’t think that it is like any other place in the world. I have known for as long as I have wanted to visit that I would want to go to Sydney. The iconic Sydney Opera House would one of the first stops on my trip. Then I would love to take a ferry in Sydney Harbor.

I’m not a big water person, but I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to dive into the Great Barrier Reef. Pictures of it are breathtaking so it would be amazing to see in person. Also, I think it would be pretty important to do some whale and dolphin watching.

I think that koala bears are one of the cutest things in the world so I would have to visit the zoo. It would also be pretty important to see a kangaroo! I also think that aquariums are pretty boring, but since all of the sea life is so exotic and different I would have to stop by. And sea turtles are just too cool!

Lastly, I would have to do some hiking. Of course, I would try to avoid snakes and other dangerous wildlife, but I think it is important to just take in Australia. I’m sure free time would be supplemented with other fun activities. These are just the have-to that I’ve known I wanted to do since I was little.

Thank you Kim for having me today! It was so much fun to plan my dream trip to Australia!


What would your dream trip be?

Cheers for now,


Thursday, May 19, 2011

What to do in Melbourne

I'm setting off for Melbourne today and then to Alice Springs for a tour of Uluru. I got in touch with a friend of mine from South Carolina who studied at Deakin University last year. Here are a few things she recommended that I do:

Great Ocean Road:
It's not actually in Melbourne but about three hours down the coast. Find a tour bus and go down the Road and see the Twelve Apostles. You definitely don't want to miss that!

Flinders Station/Federation Square:
When you're actually in the city, you should either tram or train for Flinders Station, right in the middle of the city. From there, you can check out Federation Square; it's right across from the station. It's just this big plaza that has cafes & galleries and often there are festivals occuring there. There's also the Centre for the Moving Image, so you should check that out if you have time. It's free and there's just some cool things down there if you're into that kind of thing.

Eureka Tower/Crown Casino:
It's the biggest residential tower in the world. Go up to the Skydeck and see the entire city; it's amazing. They have student discounts so make sure you get those. I recommend going during the day and at night, but if you only do it once, go at night for sure! I'm pretty sure the tickets are good for all day, so you could do both. It's right behind Flinders Station and you can't miss it. It's the tallest building. To get there, you cross the bridge over the Yarra River which is cool. I also suggest going into the Crown Casino while you're there! It's just down from Eureka. It's a hotel and casino but it's super nice and soo much fun. I won a lot of money there actually! :):) And if you're walking from Eureka Tower to the casino along the river, look for a place called World Bar. We went there a couple of times and it's really cool. Pretty expensive, but hey, it's Australia.

Melbourne Cricket Ground:
Oh and you HAVE HAVE HAVE to go to the MCG and watch a footy game!! Aussie rules footy is hugeee in Melbs so you have to go to a game. The MCG is the biggest and most famous cricket pitch in Austalia but they play AFL there too. Different teams play there all the time, so just check the MCG schedule and get a ticket. Student tix are only like $13 and it's soooo worth. I am a Richmond Tigers fan if you get to see them play :):)

Okay so I also recommend going to Chinatown in downtown Melbourne. They have tons of BYO restaurants and we would take in goon and get hammered for cheap before we went out on the town. Soo much fun. So if you're at Flinders Station, go down Swanston Street towards all the American fast food places and just keep straight. I'm prettyyy sure Chinatown is on Lt. Bourke street but I could be mixed up. Either way, you'll know it when you see it. There's a big like pagoda entrance thing. Anyways, the further you go down that street, the cheaper the restaurants get, so don't stop at the first couple!

Oh! The Queen Victoria Market is awesome too, so I would do that while you are there. If you go one tram stop past the major Flinders Station stop and go pretty far down Elizabeth Street, that's where it is. You can just ask anyone for directions. Melbourne people are so nice!

Okay so yeah I gave you a lot of things. I just love Melbourne so I want you to see fun things :):)

Whew.... She obviously had such a great time studying aborad there. I am so excited to try out everything on her list.

Cheers for now,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fashion From Abroad: Bohemian Layers

The cool May weather has put a damper on my summer wardrobe as I study abroad in the Southern Hemisphere where the seasons are reversed. Gone are the days of colorful sundresses and tank tops; replaced now by the bulky layers of sweaters and jackets as I struggle to stay warm.
That was until I ran into this Australian Fashionista in my creative writing class. Chloe's self-described “classic nerd” style blends a fitted button down shirt with a loose sweater and flowing skirt. She combines timeless pieces with a bohemian touch, making layers work during these brisk days in Newcastle, Australia.
{Photo Shoot in the Courtyard}
A 2nd year journalism student at the University of Newcastle, Chloe hopes to one day write for the European versions of Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar. She looks for inspiration from the high fashion boutiques in her hometown of Sydney. Since she has yet to purchase winter wardrobe staples like a long skirt, she donned a summer maxi dress instead, opting for tights underneath for added warmth. Petite boots, reminiscent of the days of Jane Austen, add to the lengthening effect of the continuous black dress. 
Her Moschino floral oxford was a salvaged treasure from her mother’s closet. I love the crispness of the open collar. Paired with a crochet jumper and a simple pendant necklace, the ensemble flows without looking sloppy or adding extra weight to her petite frame. A chic bun, Lovisa intertwined silver earrings and pink lipstick completes her bohemian look.
{I am obsessed with her earrings}
Her layered look can easily be replicated using some of your summer essentials. A cropped cardigan can be worn over a tight long sleeve shirt. Scrunching up the sleeves add a more relaxed Aussie feel. Pairing shorts with tights is another way to work in warm weather favorites. Keep the color palette fairly neutral for the fall; your hot pink mini shorts should be retired for the season.

Do you just love Chloe's bohemian nerd style?
Cheers for now,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2 John: Walking in the Truth

Tonight I went to Bible study with a few Evatt girls. I've been regularly attending Unichurch on Sundays, but tonight was the first time going to a small Christian event. We read the whole book of 2 John a.k.a. 13 verses. The main message that I got out of it was that the author (most likely the apostle John but we don't know for sure) wants us to follow God's command of not only loving one another but walking in obedience in the truth.

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6

Our main focus of the Bible study was defining what is "the truth." We came up with quite a variety of ideas like Jesus Christ, God's Word and the Holy Spirit. All these terms were deemed to fall under the Trinity. Therefore the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is the truth.

At the end of the study, we had a prayer circle. I had to say something I was thankful for and something I wanted to pray for. It's been a while since I've actually prayed, but with the help of the Holy Spirit words came to me :)

Pray for: the safe return of my sisters and Carolina friends back to their homes
Thankful for: such a supportive family in Christ at Evatt and especially on my floor.

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.
2 John 1:4

Cheers for now,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

One Lovely Blog: Twinings Tea on Sundays

The lovely Jennifer at blue-eyed belle {check out her Derby series that I just participated in} gave me this award a couple of weeks ago. I've been so behind on life lately and am just getting around to responding. What better day to get back on track than Sunday. Also how adorable is this blog award?

Seven Lovely Facts About Me:
1. I love tea. Peppermint is my favorite and perfect for sipping on just before bed. Australians love either Twinings or T2 tea.
2. I'll be traveling for the next three weekends of May- {Port Macquarie, Melbourne/Uluru & Gold Coast}
3. I am constantly playing around with my handwriting. My lowercase 'a' is my current fixation.
4. I've finally caught up on Gossip Girl. Favorite quote on the season finale was of course "I'm Chuck Bass, the love of her life. Anyone else is just a waste of time." Swoon!
5. I wish I could speak another language.
6. I have twin younger sisters who just finished up their freshmen year of college. One goes to Mercer University in Georgia and the other goes to Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. I miss them a lot!
7. I never listened to country music until I came to college and yes, I know this is a crime.

I know this award has been going around and I'd hate to give it to someone again, so I give this award to any of my sratty readers who hasn't been awarded it yet. All that I ask is that you let me know if you end up doing it! You are all lovely blogs to me.

Cheers for now,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Take Me Back to Cairns

My lovely readers, I have been holding out on you. As I unwind from last week’s adventure in New Zealand, I realized I never finished telling you about when Ryan was here. After a lot of calculations and one spontaneously booked flight, we were heading north to the Great Barrier Reef and the city of Cairns.
Our two major excursions for the week were hiking through the rainforests of Cape Tribulation and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef.
Cape Tribulation:
Sometimes I feel like we have the worst luck any couple can have and then other times everything turns out perfect. Cape Tribulation is two hours north of Cairns, and the day we went it was pouring down rain. The northeast part of Australia is super tropical a.k.a. rainy season all year round. Here’s where the luck part comes in. Every time we got out of the bus to explore an area, the rain magically would stop until we were safely back on board. I swear this happened EVERY time and we had a lot of stops.
In order to reach Cape Tribulation, you have to cross the Daintree River by ferry. On the way up, we stopped for morning tea and a river cruise to look for crocodiles! How Australian does that sound. The Daintree River is really, really brown so you couldn’t see anything under the water which made it perfect for lurking crocodiles. Scar Face is the 12 feet long alpha male of the river which we thankfully didn’t run into. I was sitting right on the edge. Ryan kept spotting “log-odiles,” bless his heart.  
{Crocodile River Cruise on the Daintree River}
Once we made it across the river, Cape Tribulation was our next stop. You might be thinking “Doesn’t tribulation mean grievous trouble and suffering; why would anyone want to go to a place like that?” Well my friends, you would be correct. When Captain James Cook was sailing up the east coast to claim the land of Australia for the British, his ship The Endeavor hit a coral reef during the night. His crew worked tirelessly through the night to keep the ship afloat. By morning, The Endeavor had been freed from the reef. Captain Cook looked out to the nearby land and named it Cape Tribulation for all the woes that had befallen him.
{Striking a pose where the rainforest meets the reef}
As this little history story illustrates, Cape Tribulation is the point where the tropical rainforest meets with the Great Barrier Reef, both of which are World Heritages Sites. This is the only place in the world where this happens!
{The lush green rainforest}
Australia never ceases to amaze me with all its wonders.  Ryan and I have been tramping through the forests and rivers that the beautiful wetland area of Queensland has to offer.
{Staying dry at Mossman Gorge}
The day we went was St. Patrick’s Day {I know I am sooo late with this post}.  At our stop in Port Douglas, we were given an hour break to explore the main street and marina. In true American drinking style, the two of us found the first pub and ordered a pitcher of green beer. After two beers, it was back on the winding road with one spot en route to Cairns.  
{I’d like to think I’m windblown and not frizzy}
Great Barrier Reef:
Another early morning for Ryan and I, this time we took to the water. This was the moment I had been waiting for. I became scuba certified just for this reason: to dive the Great Barrier Reef. What a bucket list thing to do!
{Under the Sea}
Both Ryan and I were doing two snorkels and one dive. The first two sites we stopped at, we snorkeled. The water was so clear in the Coral Sea that I could see everything down to the bottom.
{Zebra fish, blue water & Coral}
The first reef was my favorite. The fish were so numerous. The parrot fish was my favorite because they were so colorful. Their bodies were a fluorescent blue with bright pinks and purples that dazzled underwater. We also saw a white tipped shark (!) and sea turtle; both of which I failed miserably to get on film.
{A school of Parrot fish}
It was decided that I would do an introduction dive with Ryan at the third reef. He did so amazing for his first time diving even though he was SUPER nervous. I was surprised how quickly all the technical aspects of diving came back to me. I hadn’t been diving since October. I will admit I got a little nervous right before I stepped off the boat and into the water. No worries though. It was so surreal to swim all the way down to the bottom of the reef. Our guide pulled a sea cucumber off some coral and let just touch it. The suction cups felt so creepy. I wasn’t a fan of that.
{Coral Reefs & Stinger Suits}
I must say that the color of the coral was a little disappointing. When I think of the Great Barrier Reef, I think bright orange and red colored coral. The Outer Reef, which is where we dove, is suppose to be better than the Inner Reef because less people make the longer boat ride out there. So I was a little disappointed with the color of the coral, but the coral itself is so intricate. There are just layers and layers stacked on one another.
{Orange coral & itty bitty little blue fish}
I am so blessed to have gotten to do this once-in-a-lifetime experience with someone I love!
{Ryan & me}
A note to anyone who is planning on diving- Don’t buy a disposable underwater camera like Kodak. The picture quality is horrible. I wish we would have spent the extra money and rented a legit {read: huge} digital underwater camera. For only $20 more than a Kodak, you can take as many pictures as you want. It’s the best choice for your money and experience especially if you have a group to split the price. Plenty of shops in town offer rentals.
{Gorgeous day in Paradise}
Cairns doesn’t have a beach which I was surprised about but they have a lovely boardwalk called the Esplanade. The main feature to the esplanade is the swimming lagoon with five steel fish squirting water from their mouths. Also, all the restaurants are down the road running parallel to the esplanade so you can’t miss it.
{The famous Cairns fish}
Sorry this took so long to post but I must say it’s nice to reminisce. All I can say is take me back to Cairns.
Cheers for now,
{Hostel Review: We stayed at Gilligan’s in the heart of Cairns. Unfortunately, Ryan and I had a bad experience there. The customer service was horrid. We waited for 30 minutes to get checked in. Plus their wireless Internet was out the whole entire week which made it hard for Ryan to watch March Madness. Gilligan’s does have a great bar and all the rooms have private bathrooms. Overall, not my favorite.}