Dan and Justy Down Under


January 27, 2005

Dan or Justy

I'd like to amend the usual measure of good airplane landing to include not getting hit by a wall of water while inside the plane. I hope no one objects.

The low pressure system just sat off the coast pouring rain on us in regular sheets. The system had been with us for a couple days and we didn't see any reason to postpone our trip to Lady Elliot Island. So we took a bumpy little plane over. Two seats per row. No aisle. Everyone had a window seat.

The landing field is like a reverse mohawk across the island. It had so much water on it that we could just as well have used pontoons on the plane. The water thrown up at landing pushed against the non-airtight door and, well, into the plane. It was a spread out like a mad sprinkler on high because of the quantity of water trying to come through the small aperture on the door. A big surprise, in any case.

The staff met us with some rain jackets and made us feel at home. If home is a tropical version of the Aleutians. Rain and more rain. Thick clouds on the ground and when they weren't, all around the island.

It was purgatory, albeit a happy one.

While we got used to dodging rain on the island, we took in the education center. It's a massive undertaking that really conveys the facts (very little sugarcoating) in an accessible manner. They even have a series of education videos on the GBR and various marine topics. You can watch them almost anytime (meaning whenever there's no one watching cricket or Lleyton Hewitt). We watched an incredibly detailed documentary on poisonous marine animals (blue-ringed octopus, cone shell snails, sea snakes, box jellyfish). Fascinating stuff and definitely got our attention with the line: "welcome to the Great Barrier Reef, the most poisonous place on earth!"

The best surprise was that we got upgraded to a real building, from our reserved tents. There was much high-fiving and shocked gratitude. We wouldn't know just how good this was until later.

Our first dive was a shore dive into wicked surf and surge. We walked about 60 yards out into a pounding tide and hopped in at the edge of a reef. Our course took us down a canyon and then back to exit at the same point. We were not disappointed in the wildlife department. Several white-tip reef sharks were having a rest and only bolted as we seemed a mob. At least 4 turtles, with up-close and personal attention. The reef was quite healthy overall, and this was what you could walk to. We were very excited about the prospects of the boat dives, promised for the next day, when the weather was expected to break.

The magical quality of the place continued after dark as the turtles came in to nest. All over the island they crawl up, dig craters, lay eggs and hasten back to the sea. Roughly eight weeks later the little blighters crawl out and make pell mell for the same sea. The miracle of life, yadda yadda.

It was another thing to hike barely 5 minutes in a random direction and come across a large turtle laying eggs practically next to one of the bungalows. This was real. We found several others still in the digging stage. The effort the mothers put out is awe-inspiring.


So, here we are on the amazing Great Barrier Reef, and all we do is quarrel! Ok, thats not entirely true, but it sure takes your last possible breath to stand some of these close quarters and make it through the day.

What could you possibly have to argue about? You ask. You're in Paradise! I hear you exclaim. So, in no particular order here is a small (real small) list of things that we have a go about:

1. You said right, but you meant left, right?
2. How d'you expect me to...clean these dishes/cook this thing/eat it?
3. Where the f#*k are you going?
4. What the f#*k are you talking about?
5. How literal do you want me to be about passing me that bag?
6. Speaking into the wind, doesn't work!
7. We cannot 'share' a shower if you take it all up!
8. You wanted to come here just as badly as I did!

and so on...

More topics to be posted by the quarrelsome one.

Itinerary Highlights
January 20: Winery Tour
21-23: Moreton Bay Diving
25: Australia Zoo
26-30: Lady Elliot Island
February 13: Diving the Yongala
15-17: Cape Tribulation + Daintree Rain Forest
17-20: Atherton Tablelands
22-28: Coral Sea Diving Liveaboard
March 11-13: OzTek Dive Conference: Sydney
14: Fly to New Zealand
20: Poor Knights Islands Diving
31: Mt. Cook
April 2-4: Queenstown
TBD: To Be Dreamed

Digital Pix Courtesy of Shimmivision.com
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