After Fraser Island, our next stop (kind of next, it’s a long way: 10hrs by car) was Airlie beach, where we set off on a two day sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands. The islands are comprised of 74 different islands. While they are named after Whitsunday Island, Hamilton Island is the commercial centre and even has a small airport.
Our boat was pretty big, there were fifteen other people with us four on the tour, but everyone had a bed to sleep in. The food served was absolutely delicious, we even got fresh fruit platters in between meals. The crew sometimes had us help out with the sailing aspect, although I’m sure it was just for entertainment value and they didn’t actually need our help.
The only time we set foot on one of the islands was to see Whitehaven beach on Whitsunday Island. The other days were spent sailing around and snorkeling. The marine life was very used to tourists and some huge fish actually crowded round the boat to be fed. I went into the water with them and they swarmed around me. It was a little frightening, aside from being the coolest thing ever. I tried to google what kind of fish they were, but I couldn’t find them. In size they were about as large as a pizza (I also can’t find a photo of them unfortunately). The weather wasn’t ideal, it was raining and windy. We were still lucky though, because a day later all trips around the islands were cancelled due to a storm coming in. The reef around the island is part of the Great Barrier Reef. The fish and reef we saw gave us a taste for what we were to see a week later on our scuba diving trip.
Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef
When we went scuba diving outside of Cairns, it was just a one day excursion. To be perfectly honest, I was a little disappointed with the reef. It wasn’t anywhere near as colourful as you imagine it to be, both the coral and the fish. That’s probably due to all the tourists damaging it. Someone told me that tours are only taken to certain parts of the reef, and the protected areas are still very beautiful. We did see a clown fish and a turtle, and the whole scuba diving experience was surreal with being able to stay underwater comfortably for so long. It was definitely one of my favourite experiences in Australia. Even if the reef wasn’t as nice as expected, it’s still crazy to think of how vast it is when you go underwater and see nothing but coral.
Australia Part 3: Fraser Island