Sunday 3 October 2010

Plunging into the Coral Sea

Of all the things that one can see and do in Australia, the one experience that so many Australians have said is top of the list is seeing the Great Barrier Reef. So, with a few days break from work I set off with John Pridmore, who is currently on a speaking tour in Australia, to the tropical north of Queensland in search of the Great Barrier Reef. We flew to Cairns and caught our first sight, from the plane, of parts of the Reef; turquoise and coral patterns glistening in the azure blue sea. We had three day trip and, on the first day, we booked on a catamaran to go out the next morning to the Reef. We left at 8.00am and had a journey of one and a half hours to the first location where we stopped to explore. It was at a part of the reef which is called Flynn Reef. The photo below shows some of our company preparing to snorkel.
A part of the reef if visible in the photo, just below the surface and reflecting back the light of the sun. Onboard I was loaned some prescription goggles and a snorkel. We entered the sea, which was an immensely pleasant 27C and set off to explore. Well, even now I find it hard to describe the experience or to describe what I saw. What I saw under the ocean's surface was beyond all expectations, and I found myself thanking God for the wonder which He had brought us to. We snorkelled for about an hour and a half before coming back onboard for lunch. The boat at this time took us to another location - Tetford Reef, where again we doned our snorkels and explored for an hour. There were sharks, three of them, maybe two metres in legth and maybe twelve meters away; we had been told not to worry about them so we didn't. I have been swimming with sharks! The second photo, below, I didn't take. Eventually we set of back to Cairns arriving about 4.30pm.
I first heard about the Reef way back in the early 70s on 'Blue Peter', but I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would visit it. The Reef is so beautiful that it is hard to take it in. And to be snorkelling in and around the various coral formations, with fish of all kinds going about their business, is a sheer wonder. I have to say that this visit to the Barrier Reef and seeing it in the way that we did, is the most wonderful experience that I have had. If I have the opportunity, I would certainly return.

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