After a 10 hour drive we finally arrived at our last destination in Australia: Cairns, the getaway to the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s the largest living being in the world covering over 344,000 square kilometers. It is also the only living being that can be seen from outer space. I had high expectations for this day since scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef was on the top of my list of things to do before I die, and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. In this trip I had many “wow” moments, like when I went jogging in Sydney and saw the Opera House across the bay, or when I held a koala and pet a kangaroo, but being underwater watching colorful coral and neon bright fish was definitely the biggest WOW moment of Australia for me.
At first scuba diving was a little hard because you have to get used to the breathing in addition to the pressure, which kills your ears just like in skydiving, but after I remembered my breathing techniques from yoga, my anxiety dropped and I was able to enjoy the ocean (always holding the hand of my hot instructor, of course). I thought scuba diving would be very similar to snorkeling, but when you’re 6 meters underwater, everything is more colorful, more abundant, brighter, bigger, and better. There were sea turtles, reef sharks, barracudas, sting rays, giant clams, and tons of clown fish. It was not hard at all to find Nemo.
Unfortunately my underwater camera broke after I took my first picture, so I had to buy a disposable underwater camera and go on a second dive to take more pictures. We’ll see how they’ll turn out. By the way, everybody thinks I’m crazy when I say I’m bringing four cameras, but I’m glad I did this time because one of my cameras broke during the first week and now the underwater one is done as well. All I have left is my big DSLR one and my crappy camera phone.
After my dive I was rewarded with some more kangaroo meat. This time it was a delicious steak and it tasted like venison. Kangaroos are also just like deer in Australia. On our way up the coast, we would always see some hopping on the fields and just like deer in the US, they cause a lot of accidents down here too.
Later that night the group I’m travelling with went to a pub crawl. It was actually a good deal: five drinks for $20, but I went to get a massage at the Night Markets for the same price and buy some more souvenirs. Call me anti-social, but I’ll take a massage over beer anytime.
Cairns is right on the water, but the beach is not suitable for swimming because of the crocodiles. Australia is known for its deadly animals: the taipan is the world’s most dangerous snake, for example, and crocodiles can eat you in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, you can still enjoy some sand and water by the man-made lagoon they have, just like the one in Brisbane, and that’s where I was all day long during my last day in Australia. The weather was perfect – any hotter and I would’ve complained. And remember my two great finds in Sydney? The restaurant Grill’d and the paintings of Lloyd Rees? Well, right in front of the lagoon, there was a Grill’d place awaiting for me and right around the corner the local museum was having an exhibit on Lloyd Rees and his early paintings. My trip to Australia had come full circle.