Friday, 17 February 2012



Cairns airport is small, with a limited amount of facilities.  At 5am these facilities are all closed.  It was 34c and about 90% humidity as we walked the 8 miles (500m actually but the weight of BOTH of the bags amplified this somewhat) to pick up our hire car. 

By 6:30am we were at Port Douglas, a sleepy port town 70km to the north of Cairns.  It seemed like everyone was still sleeping too as we couldn’t check in for another 7 hours! 

Port Douglas is home to 4 Mile Beach – and it indeed it was a beach that was about 4 miles long. Stunning!

A beach that is 4 miles long. Our apartment is in the block in the bottom right hand corner!

So we checked in to our apartment, went out and bought some wine to chill (oh and some food too) and set about planning our trips for the week.

Skippered by a Yorkshireman!
You can’t come to North Queensland without exploring the Great Barrier Reef.  We found the smallest possible boat to ensure we weren’t crowded on the reef and with a sea sick tablet swallowed, set out to find Nemo. 

We travelled for about 90 minutes to Tongue Reef, on the edge of the Outer Barrier Reef, and the first stop was Turtle Bay. It was once home to loads of turtles and it was almost guaranteed you’d see one. Then Cyclone Yasi ripped straight over the top of the area last February and the sightings are now few and far between. 

Undeterred we donned our extremely sexy lycra body suits (to avoid being stung by jellyfish and other marine stingers) and dived into the 30c water.


Still a tool

Although we didn’t fund Crush, we did find the cousin of Bruce – a White Tipped Reef Shark.  4 meters long, powerful, big teeth and completely harmless to humans. It still makes the heart race a little though to see it so close!

Not quite Jaws!

Yasi had stripped most of the coral from the reef, and the coral left behind tended to be brown but did you know that >80% of the world’s coral is brown? Nor did we! 

A bit of the rare 20%!

No idea what that is!

Our next stop was Sno, part of Opal Reef, featured in the upcoming BBC documentary about the reef (it may have already been on since we left??). The weather had deteriorated and it had started to rain.  We were disappointed, but Suz the onboard marine biologist told us that this was perfect weather to see the reef as infra-red light was lower meaning that the coral fluoresced under the remaining ultra-violet light. So there!
And she wasn’t wrong – here are some images (apologies for the quality but it’s only a cheap underwater camera!)






You get the idea

After an hour of stunning colours, we were promised another amazing site – Long Bommie.  We liked it – see what you think....

And did we find Nemo?

No :-(    These are Anemone fish too, just not clown fish.  Thanks to the film they were captured from the wild and taken as pets.  There are some left but until the numbers increase the dive boats try not to publicise their location.


We sailed back to shore, tired but very happy, just as the weather took a turn for the worse and stopped all reef trips until after we left Port Douglas!

Big Storm in Little Harbour

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