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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

From Great Barrier Reef to Outback!

Fri/Sat Sept 13/14: Surfers Paradise, NSW to Hervey Bay, Qld.

Hervey Bay was wonderful. A smaller town, right on the beach. It seemed like city council here had the foresight to preserve the entire water front as park and green space. A long walk/bike trail led from one end of town to the other, stringing together parks, playgrounds, even a free water park. The three campgrounds, right on the water, were council parks. We had a spot on the beach but it WAS windy! Beautiful warm swimming along with the pelicans. Spent 2 nights here.

Sunday/Monday Sept 15/16
243 years ago. At this very spot. A large sail ship approached the north east coast of Australia. Captain James Cook and his botanist, Mr. Banks, came ashore here as the very first Europeans.
No GPS. No mobile phone. There’s still no internet so that part still feels primitive. But otherwise Cook would probably not recognize this very spot, the Town of 1770. We arrived here by road, not ocean. We navigated north along smaller backroads from Hervey Bay. We were surprised how quickly green and relatively populated areas made way for dry and isolated range land. Sometimes it felt like ‘outback’ already. Town of 1770 has not much besides a crowded campground at the end of the road. Good thing we phoned ahead and booked a site for 2 nights. As soon as we stepped out of the car, a lady said “Hello again! We met at the Horseshoe Bay ferry on our way to Bowen Island!” We racked our brains... until we discovered that she mistook us for other Canadians and that she meant HERE, not in BC! Amazing.  
This is just looking down from the boat!

The campground is fairly run down and feels more like a parking lot. Our neighbors are less than 2 mtr away. But we spent all day Monday away on the Great Barrier Reef! Since we came all this way we decided to follow our heart and see for ourselves what we were taught about even in grade school in Holland. The catamaran took us out into the open ocean for over an hour before we spotted what looked like sandbars. But they were corral reefs, exposed at low tide. The high ocean waves came to an abrupt end into a shallow, peaceful and turquoise lagoon. We navigated through a channel into the lagoon, spotting mating turtles and an amazing aray of fish. The boat moored at a floating dock and we were taken, in small groups, onto Lady Musgrave Island, the most southern of the Great Barrier Reef islands.
Wading thr0ugh the water, we reached a bleached corral beach where two huge loggerhead turtles had stranded themselves on too hot a day. The guide was worried about them dying and so Kees, along with six other strong guys found themselves a loggerhead turtle rescue squad.
It took 7 men to lift the turtle back to water.
Me snorkeling!
They hoisted the 300 some pound turtle toward the cool water. Until she frantically flapped her flippers. But, in the end, they both made it back into the water. Likely after having deposited their eggs on the island, which will hatch in just eight weeks.  The rest of the island was bird paradise. Black Noddy Terns make their nests among the tangle of tropical trees. Their nests are all over and their guana covers everything. The birds themselves are so at ease in this paradise that you can practically pet them. You can be within a foot of them and they still don’t fly away.  I snorkeled in the blue waters, seeing hundreds of different colored tropical fish, ranging from bright blue, to yellow striped to skinny barracuda’s. We also took trips in a glass bottom boat and in a boat with a deep underwater keel and glass windows. We had tea and a lovely luncheon on the boat. All together well worth the cost. It made for one of those fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime days!

Tuesday Sept 17
Drove 500 km from 1770 to Emerald, Queensland. Landscape changed from lush green to dry green. Cacti along the roads. Towns further apart and temps higher. Nice green corner of a campground though. And from now on.. 500 km per day will get us to Uluru!

1 comment:

  1. Love the turtle story. What a fantastic experience on the Reef! I am enjoying your daily writings and musings. Keep having the "time of your lives"! Love you!