Hanging with Crocodiles

Can you name a famous Australian? Maybe you think of Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine), Keith Urban or the Hemsworth brothers. For me, I think of Steve Irwin. When planning the trip to Australia, I had a goal of going to Steve Irwin’s zoo but unfortunately, the opportunity never arose. If you know anything about Steve Irwin, you know he’s famous for finding and wrestling crocodiles! I didn’t get to wrestle any crocodiles, but I did get to go on a boat tour and see real Australian crocodiles! Here’s a sneak peek at what we got into on our crocodile boat tour.

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Unlike my last post where I went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef and got to ride in a massive 100-person catamaran with 3 stories, this boat was smaller, more rustic and gave you a true feeling of adventure and a sense of going where you shouldn’t.

 

This boat tour was a pretty good change of scenery, but before we even started the tour and headed down the river, we got a glimpse of what was to come.. Okay not really a glimpse but we got our first look at an actual Australian crocodile and she was beautiful! She was just sitting on the other side of the river, bathing in the sun for all to see. After all, a crocodile doesn’t have many predators. Before the tour started, I didn’t know much about the crocs or that they can reach over 100 years in age! Our guide who has been running the tour for longer than I’ve been alive told us that the crocodile we were seeing was about 35-40 years old, and he also informed us female crocodiles are very territorial and each control a 1km stretch of the river. This was clearly her section.

After seeing this croc, we started going on the real tour, heading down river into the belly of the beast. I have no idea what the name of the river was, all I can tell you is that the river was in the Daintree National Park and was the coolest river I had ever been on.  Australia was turning out to be a place with a lot of the coolest things I’ve ever seen or done. The river was lined with mangrove trees that had huge roots on display with green tree canopies and mountains in the background. If we didn’t even see a crocodile, I wouldn’t have been disappointed. Here are a few of the scenery shots taken on the tour.

We saw a bunch of crocodiles on the tour, ranging in age from young kids to midlife crisis types, each crocodile was in a different spot and they all had unique territories. The whole tour was super relaxed, we’d be floating along in the boat and the guide would yell out “Crocodile ahead.” It was an awesome opportunity to see wild crocodiles just being themselves.

If you’re ever in Daintree National Park (Cape Tribulation) the crocodile tour runs quite a few time during the day and it is plenty of fun! 

Scuba Diving at the Great Barrier Reef

Oh man, before I start this post I’m just going to let you know this was one of the best days of my life. I woke up in Australia, took a boat ride, the sun was shining, and then I got to go scuba diving on the largest reef system in the world! I saw everything from a small Nemo fish (Clown fish) to reef sharks and stingrays! Here’s how the day played out:

To get to the Reef I obviously had to take a boat, but not just any boat… I go to go on a massive 100-person catamaran decked out with enough snorkeling and scuba gear for 100 people (with spares) but luckily it was spacious and there were only had 35 on the boat. Imagine enough gear to outfit 100 people with masks, snorkels, fins and all the other scuba gear a person needs, that’s a lot of gear! The boat I went on was called “Ten” very original, right? Someone asked where the name came from, and it turned out to be the tenth boat made in that model or something along those lines, I was too focused on the scuba diving.

Now if you recall from the last post, I had just gotten my open water PADI certification 4 days earlier so I was nervous for my first real diving experience. I had all the training I needed and pretty much knew what I was doing. Getting geared up for this dive was different to what I used during training, not drastically different, but I did need one new piece of equipment. I had to put on what’s called a “Stinger suit,” which is a full-body suit including mitten like endings to go over your hands and a hood to go over your head. The design of the suit is to protect you from jellyfish stings. If they can’t touch you, they can’t sting you, or at least in theory. Once all the gear was on it was time to get in the warm 26°C water.

If you’ve never been snorkeling or scuba diving, you are really missing out! There is a completely different world under the water and it gets on perfectly fine without human intervention. The colors you can see underwater will amaze you, they definitely amaze me every time I’ve been snorkeling, and now scuba diving. I’ve seen turtles and various other ocean animals while snorkeling, but getting to go underwater and stay at ~15 meters of depth for just under an hour and be level or deeper than ocean animals is incredible. You get to see them interact with one another and interact with the plants. There is so much life on the reef that I couldn’t focus on just one thing! I was like a kid on Christmas looking at one fish then seeing something else move and following it. Here are a few of the hundreds of pictures taken.

Oh wait, I’ll just put some more here.

Once all the diving and snorkeling was done at three different sites we went to,(Nobody’s, Totem and Advanced Bommie all of which are part of the Agincourt Reef system) I sat up the second level of the boat and looked out at the reef. It seemed to never end! Waves were crashing to my left and to my right the water was turquoise. I just stood in awe looking at the largest reef system in the world. Some people wait their entire life to dive on the great barrier reef and I had the opportunity just 4 days after completing my Open Water. I can’t wait to see what places, animals, and adventures that scuba diving might bring me.

 

 

Bucket list:

  • Scuba diving at the Great Barrier 

 

Certified to Breathe Underwater

When you think of Australia what do you think of? Sydney Opera House? Kangaroos? The Outback? Well, I too think of those but there is one more you should be thinking of, the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef has become an icon of Australia and is something you’re always told to go and see. The best way to see it? Scuba diving of course, and that is exactly how I plan on seeing it this week. In order to scuba dive to the depth of the Reef which can be ~18 meters deep, you need to be trained properly.

It was time that I became certified to breath underwater.

Like any course or education, you have to learn the theory behind it. This theory starts in the classroom, so bright and early on Wednesday morning, I was in the classroom eager to learn and start the journey to becoming a certified scuba diver.

Classroom

There were 8 people in the course including myself. We sat in this room watching videos, reading the textbook and completing quizzes. I learned quite a bit in this room, I never knew there was so much to learn about Scuba Diving. The classroom covered everything from gear, how long you can stay at a depth, how long you have to wait before flying, and all the hand signals one could ever need underwater. But enough of the classroom let’s start diving!

This course I was doing was 3 full days of scuba in order to go from knowing nothing to being a certified open water diver. It got broken down to a classroom and a pool session on Wednesday, 2 dives in the ocean on Thursday and 2 dives on Friday. The pool session was where we got to find out what it was really like to be under water and practice skills in a controlled environment before heading to open ocean where we would really be put to test.

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I have the yellow tank (Go Figure)

I think we spent ~2 hours in the pool, and let me tell you if you are ever trying to be certified it isn’t fast and it isn’t fun (but in the ocean is another story).

On Thursday we were finally going to the ocean and diving in. We got to the dive school at 7 am and had to move fast to ensure we made the window for diving. We got our gear together, loaded up the boat and headed out to the ocean. We dove to a depth of around 10 meters and practiced all the skills we had previously learned in the pool. We had to practice skills that included clearing a mask that became full of water, under water navigation, buoyancy control and swimming with a partner.

Friday was pretty much the same as Thursday, but the only difference was having to write a final exam (which I passed with flying colours). I got the fancy dancy temporary card to make it official.

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This little piece of paper made it official. I was certified to breathe under water. Now I just have to see the reef.

Chasing Waterfalls In Australia

Chasing waterfalls is fun no matter where you are, but when its international, it’s even more fun. In my opinion, adventuring the waterfall(s) is the best part. The best ones are generally up mountains, remote and difficult to get to. The waterfalls we visited today were no exception. We ran into quite a few barriers just trying to get to the beginning of the 4km trail.

On our journey to simply get to the right trail, we came across a road closure which resulted in us going on a 30-minute detour and to top that then when we go to the trail head we walked in and found that trail entrance was closed. (Don’t ask me why they were closed, I have no idea). We were not off to a good start, but when something goes unplanned, that’s when the real adventure starts. Eventually, we managed to find another trail entry point and we were good to go on this adventure.

Getting out of the car and walking ~200m down the trail we came across this view of the waterfalls.

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These are the Twins Fall and they were the reason we were out at Springbrook National Park. Getting this sneak peak was such a tease, but it definitely put a pep in my step and I quickened my pace to get as close as possible to the falls. While walking to the falls, we came across multiple little falls along the way, though they were nothing compared to what was to come. Half way through the Twin Falls circuit, we came to the base of the waterfalls.

Twin Falls was probably the best waterfall site I have ever been to, mostly because there was not one, but two waterfalls.

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But like all good things, our time at the falls was over and we had to start the hike out, but this time it was uphill. Leaving the falls and having an uphill hike is just the worst of both worlds, or so we thought. On the way out, we managed to come across another waterfall called Rainbow and this one had the trail going under it!

 

This is looking out from under the falls against the back

 

After Rainbow Falls, there were no more surprise waterfalls and we really had to leave the trail for good. I wasn’t sad to leave though, it was an epic day of chasing waterfalls, on steroids.

Here is some bonus, smaller fall we came across. They were just all over the place.

 

Australian Beach Day

I don’t even know how to start this post, so here is a photo I took from my first day in Australia.

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I swear I didn’t photoshop this.

That picture should set the tone for the following post, I was in awe myself when I first saw this and let me tell you, I already don’t want to leave.

 

I’m going to say it was about 26°c (Rough estimate I don’t carry a thermometer on me) and after a long Canadian winter, a day on the beach in this heat was much appreciated. Here take another second to go over this photo of the same beach.

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From the AirBnB we’re staying at, it’s only a short 5-minute walk to the beach. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be making the most of the beach and swimming every day since we are so close.

Although it looks beautiful and it was warm out (the making of a good beach day), the water was cold, like really cold. Before I could even think of touching the water, I had to slather on some sunscreen because I burn like a new born baby! Having fresh sunscreen on means you can’t be a rookie and just go straight to the water, you have to let it dry and set. This is where beach toys come into play.

Beach Dayz

Grab a whistling football, some friends and you’re in for some fun. Playing with a whistling football is key for a beach day; work up a small sweat and your sun screen drys, two birds with one stone. After that, the water just calls to you.

Now, back to the cold water. We walked towards the ocean and as soon as we touched the water, we almost immediately turned around to head back to the safely to the towels and warm sand. But the crowds of people playing in the water and waves encouraged us. We manned up and did just what men do, slowly walk in screaming about how cold the water is until a wave comes and smacks you right in the face and you are relieved to find out it’s not actually that cold, you simply have to get used to it. Also, remember the above pictures, it was too beautiful not to go in.

That was it for the beach day, we swam, threw the whistling football, and enjoyed the sun.

 

 

Countdown to Australia

Today marks the official start of my countdown to Australia, 2 months till departure day. I seem to never start the countdown till a trip is within 2 months. Anything more than 2 months is just too far away, who knows what could happen within that time.

But back to the matter at hand, getting to Australia is no easy task, I have 2 separate flights and over 19 hours of total flight time. There is also the layover to take into count. Let’s just say I am super excited to be going to Australia but I am not excited at all about the travel time that it will take to get there. I will also never see April 28th, 2017. We take off on the 27th but by the time we get to Australia its the 29th because of the time change. How weird is that?! I will simply never see it… Closest I’ll ever get to time travel is a time change!

We land in Brisbane on the east coast of Australia; from there we have about a 40-minute drive to Gold Coast (It’s where my brother is currently living.) Gold coast sounds like quite a lovely place to me! We spend a week in and around the Gold Coast. From the Gold Coast,  we take another flight north into Cairns. Cairns apparently has a more tropical climate (I’ll tell you the truth after the trip) We spend another week up north by Cairns.  After the visit to Cairns, we fly back to Brisbane to finish off our trip and head back to Canada  (I’m hoping it’ll be summer here by then)

I have three goals for this trip:

  1. Go to Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin’s Zoo)
  2. Learn to surf
  3. See the Great Barrier Reef

Other then those goals above I’m just going to wing it and see what everyone else wants to do, but I’m sure there will be lots of beach days in my future.australiamap