30 August 2010

Stereotypical Oz - And PERFECT

There are those “things” that people associate with Australia:

The Great Barrier Reef
The Rainforest
The Outback

What if I told you there is a place where you can see ALL of them at once? I know, right? It’s called Northern Queensland, where the Great Barrier Reef runs into the mighty Daintree Rainforest which trickles into bush and outback just over the mountain ridges. Once there, kangaroos abound and koalas munch intensely on the native Eucalyptus leaves. It’s pretty darn perfect.

Nothing quite compares to the tranquil wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. There you are, 30 miles from shore, finning around in crystal clear water with the likes of fish, sea turtles, and sting rays zipping by in every direction.

One fin, two fin, goggles on, wetsuit zipped, snorkel placed in mouth and kerplunk! You join the other world that lives below the sea. I felt like I was simultaneously living through Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid with a tinge of Jaws in the back of my mind.

One minute the boat is zipping along at Mach 3 and the next minute you’re apparently “there,” though “there” looks a lot like that scene in Open Water when the two people mysteriously disappear.

Paddle paddle here, paddle paddle there. “Look over there,” I shout and point. “It’s amazing!” A few seconds later a new “most amazing thing ever” appears and I point once again. Paddle paddle here, paddle paddle there. I hold my breath and duck dive to get a fully submerged look, spinning 360 degrees to find myself completely enveloped by a school of brightly colored fish.

The whistle blows and it’s time to go, the fastest hour of my life having zoomed by without fair warning. It’s back on the boat and onward to our next dive site. Two hour-long dives later and we’re zooming back to shore to re-enter our World, which suddenly doesn’t seem quite as vibrant, lively, and social as the one I just left behind.

Fortunately, global warming means I might have the opportunity to call the fish “neighbor” a whole lot sooner that I would have liked.

You can find more pictures of the Great Barrier Reef on my flickr site.

Kyle Taylor

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