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MY EXCITING NEW CAREER WITH QUICKSILVER - GREAT BARRIER REEF

For over 18 months I have been helping visitors to Cairns book and organise their holidays by working in an Information Centre. ...

Monday, 1 May 2017

OCEAN SPIRIT - GREAT BARRIER REEF - BE AWE INSPIRED!



Shhhhh! I've got a secret!

I am going to be honest with you, I am writing about this Great Barrier Reef experience almost a year after it happened! I know, I know... the shame! I started to write about my Cairns tour experiences shortly after I went on this boat (April last year) and I forgot to write about little ole' Ocean Spirit!

There are many different Great Barrier Reef operators which can frustrate and confuse you to no end when trying to book online. It can leave you dazed and confused when confronted with a wall of brochures and options in a tour shop in Cairns as well. Believe it or not, these reef options all have their differences and highlights and Ocean Spirit is one of those unique options!
via GIPHY

The vessel is a luxury catamaran that visits Michaelmas Cay, a sandy coral cay surrounded by reef and is home to many migratory birds. There are now only 2 boats that visit the cay with overall low passenger numbers. The site is vast and shallow making it an excellent choice for relaxed swimming and snorkelling (and also the nervous snorkeler). You have snorkelling included in your day with 4 hours out at Michaelmas Cay to explore. There is also an included 1/2 hour semi-submersible boat tour that explores the deeper sections of reef. This option is great for those not snorkelling at all and want to see what's going on down below. You can also pay a little extra to do a scuba dive for the very first time or join the guided snorkel tour. The staff shuttle you over to the cay from the catameran in a tender craft and can spend as much time as you like there. If you're not snorkelling you can be sunning yourself, checking out the birds and their cute chicks, making sandcastles with the family and having a little paddle. You can return to the boat anytime and catch some rays on the large front deck there instead or take a break in the air-conditioned saloon... you are on holiday after all! It's all about rancho relaxo!
Some activities on the boat. My iPhone photos.

Michaelmas Cay. Photos with the Canon G16.


After the relaxing journey out to the cay we witnessed a fish feeding. You will be surprised how many big fish hang out around the cay, for example Giant Trevally, Red Sea Bass and Bat Fish. Get your cameras out ready to film for this one!



We jumped on the Semi-sub tour first up as we opted to stay dry for the first part of the day. The tour lasted half an hour and was extremely informative. We passed through some great walls with a large variety of coral species of all colours of the rainbow. We even spotted Mr Turtle having some dinner and many fish species. We followed this by enjoying our included buffet lunch. The lunch is served on the boat and remains open for awhile so everyone has time to come and enjoy it.


Loads of hot & cold dishes to choose from... and those prawns...YUM!



It was now time to head over to the island and partake in our guided snorkel. This does cost extra however it comes highly recommended! This is the best way to see stuff you can easily miss snorkelling on your own. The Marine Biologist pointed out so many things to us and explained it all. The highlight would have to be our encounter with Nemo's (a true Clown Fish) in their little anemone. Unfortunately due to a very hot past summer the anemone was bleached somewhat but having the Nemo's living in there is a sign their house is on the mend.


Images from the Canon G16 hired from Calypso Cameras.

Images of Nemo (Clown Fish) taken with the G16.

The Snorkel Tour went for an hour. Once it was done we still had a further hour to explore the site. My friend and I are die hard snorkelers... so off we went exploring and snapping pictures. We were in our "happy place". Your happy place may be laying on the sand or returning back to the boat to relax and have a beer or wine... it's entirely up to you!

Colourful Giant Clams. Taken with the G16.

Images from our second snorkel. Photos from the G16.


Michaelmas Cay is so shallow all the good stuff is so close to the surface you are almost guaranteed to get great photo's. I have been to this site many times before and you usually see at least one Green Sea Turtle or even a Black Tip Reef Shark (They eluded us on this day...*sigh*).

You can hire cameras like the G16, Lumix or a GoPro from Calypso Cameras, located at the Reef Fleet Terminal. Or check them out here>> http://calypsoproductions.com.au


The amount of time spend at Michaelmas Cay is perfect. It was time to head back to the boat and enjoy the afternoon tea service. The relaxing sail back to Cairns is the perfect way to unwind from the day. You even get to indulge in some cheese and crackers and a included glass of bubbles as you enter Trinity Bay.... my kind of heaven! 

If you like the sound of this reef trip, you can book online directly with QUICKSILVER by finding them here>>>

Or alternatively drop into my old workplace at Reef Information Centre to talk to the friendly staff and make a booking, located shop 1/34 The Esplanade. Right near the Reef Fleet terminal!

HARD FACTS…

Visit time:
Whole day trip

Times:
08:00am  to 5:00pm  (Check in from 07:45am Reef Fleet Terminal)

Suitable for: 
  • Not so good swimmers to good swimmers
  • Non-swimmers & elderly
  • For those wanting a slower paced relaxed day
  • Families with children
  • First time scuba divers

Fitness level (out of 5):
  •  💪 💪  
Time of year:
  • All year round (Stinger season is from October through to April)
  • Lycra suits provided  
Price:

  • $202/Adult (+ $6.50 levy) SNORKEL
  • $101/Child (+ $6.50 levy) SNORKEL
  • $505/Family(+ $26 levy) SNORKEL
  • $62/Adult $32/Child & $156 Family (Additional cost) Guided Snorkel
  • $126pp Introductory Scuba Dive

Monday, 17 April 2017

A GREAT GREEN ISLAND & REEF EXPERIENCE WITH GREAT ADVENTURES



Green Island is around 6000 years old and is 45 minutes by boat away from Cairns, Queensland.Over time, waves and currents  dumped sand on top of coral gardens and with a little help from bird droppings, eventually vegetation grew leaving us with lush tropical rainforest, it is one of a kind.

Because Green Island sits within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is so close to the mainland it is a very popular day trip for families, tour groups and non-swimmers wanting to experience the reef without getting wet. Your ticket can include a glass bottom boat tour or snorkel equipment (take the boat tour, you will see more and have better luck spotting turtles). There is a small resort on the island, shops, restaurant & dive centre. Marineland Melanesia & Crocodile Habitat is a small zoo/museum with Melanesian & Polynesian artifacts, aquariums with fish & turtles and the largest crocodile in captivity resides there, Cassius. There are rainforest boardwalks on the island with information panels and you can walk along the beach around the whole island in around 40 minutes. Scenic helicopter flights are also available as the island has a heli pad and the patrolled beach has equipment you can hire.

Today my co-worker and myself were visiting Green Island and also the Outer Reef. YES! You can do this easily in one day... the ultimate package fantastic for the time poor. You spend 2 hours in the morning on Green Island (45 minute journey) and then get a 55 minute transfer over to the platform at Moore Reef.

Once on the island we headed strait to Marineland. We put our stuff into a locker and paid the entry fee to check out all the animals. Cassius is clearly the star! He is over 110 years old and still rejuvenates his teeth (usually at that age they loose them all and have a gummy smile).He is over 300kgs and is 5.48 meters long and in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest in captivity. 
Images of Mainland Melanesia. 

The mighty Cassius, the largest saltwater crocodile in captivity.

If you have the stomach for it, check out the Gruesome alley section with articles on croc attacks.

Following the zoo we made our way back to the jetty to go on the glass bottom boat 1/2 hour tour.Your ticket will have an allocated time for this if you have it as your inclusion. These boats are the best way to see the reef surrounding Green Island, the better stuff isn't easy to snorkel to. The skipper was very informative and we saw a few turtles and different coral species. They also do a fish feeding so there are plenty of large fish to see.
Images on the glass bottom boat taken on the Go Pro Hero 5.

So it was eventually time for phase two, to head out to the Outer Barrier Reef to the activity platform. Morning tea was handed out, a piece of chocolate or carrot cake. The passengers next to us clearly were enjoying their day, documenting every moment with a gazillion selfies. They decided we needed to be in their pictures (the token Aussies that we are) Ohhhh....So hot right now 😎

It took awhile to get on and off all of the boats on this day so you have to be a little patient. Due to the clientele on this reef option the line up for the semi-sub boat tours was constant so we opted to skip that and not spend our time waiting in line. Platforms are always a good option for families and non-swimmers. We didn't mind not getting on the semi-sub as we wanted to snorkel and check out the site. On arrival we made our way to the sundeck, away from the crowds where there was plenty of room and settled into our spot. 
The platform and semi-sub boat.

With limited time out on the platform we decided to go for a snorkel first up and check out the site.We donned our included Lycra suits (it is jellyfish season in summer months)and armed with a Go Pro... it was time to explore...YEW!The afternoon was fining up to be spectacular conditions with great visibility.

Another draw card to this platform option is once again, perfect for those who don't swim. They have an underwater scooter product called "Scuba-Doo". You aren't alone on the scooter, you have a scuba diver guiding you around and if you're lucky, Wally the Maori Wrasse might come and say hello.

Check out the little video of the Scuba Doo in action when Wally comes to visit>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbqC1Gvdm9Y&feature=youtu.be

The site was beautiful loaded with fluorescent colours across a wide spectrum, but alas, this isn't good sign as it is a sign the corals are bleaching. This is a large bleaching event effecting large portions of reef close to the surface all over the Great Barrier Reef, not just at Moore Reef. Hopefully soon we will get cooler water temperatures so it will slow the process down and give them time to recover before they die. Fingers crossed!
Images on the Go Pro Hero 5.
After our exploration we headed back in to have some lunch. It is a hot and cold buffet with plenty of options. The hot dishes are a Japanese Curry and excellent Potato Bake (amongst other options). To accompany this is sushi, fresh prawns, an array of salads and platter of fresh fruit. It was all very delicious and even nicer was being able to eat our lunch Al Fresco up on the top sundeck.

After letting our food settle we were back in the water once more on a guided snorkel. Thankfully the snorkel went to part of the reef site we didn't explore earlier. Guided snorkels are always a great way to see stuff and learn about stuff. The guide tells you all about Clown Fish (Nemo) giant clams, Mushroom corals and more. The highlight for me was the fish feeding. Most of the platforms have resident fish and the most famous resident fish is called Wally, the Maori Wrasse. He is timid and very used to people and doesn't care if your right there when he is getting fed. You can never tire of wally prancing and dancing around you! I am pretty sure he is just showing off his striking facial markings and big lips.
Wally and the guided snorkel. Go Pro pics.

There is also an underwater observatory, scuba diving and helicopter scenic flights available at the activity platform. There are loads of activities to suit everyone in the family or group however bare in mind the time frame out there(3 hours).It is advised to pre-book your activities to avoid missing out and disappointment. 

By the time we had finished our snorkel it was already time to return back to Cairns. If you want a sleep in because you are on holidays you can skip the visit to Green Island and just visit the platform, the boat departs Cairns at 10:30am. 

With wine in hand, cheese and crackers in a little napkin on my lap seated outside on the back deck of Reef King we departed. On the journey back we stopped via Green Island again for passengers staying on the island to alight. The resort on the island is part of the same company so you can head out to the platform directly from there.

As the summer storm clouds build we cruised into Trinity Inlet with the Cairns hotels and Mcallaster Rangers on the horizon. It's always lovely to cruise back into Cairns and a lovely way to finish the day. The Carins Marina is located at the Cairns CBD so it's very easy to get back to your hotel on foot for that long awaited shower to wash the salt off.

Massive thanks to Jake & Great Adventures for hosting us on this day.

Also... much thanks once again to Calypso Cameras for the hire of their new Go Pro Hero 5. What an awesome little camera for all adventures! Visit them at >>> http://calypsoproductions.com.au/cairns-underwater-camera-hire/ or visit them in store at the Reef Fleet Terminal, where the boats depart from in Cairns.

You can book this awesome package and all it's upgrade options with the Reef Information Centre http://www.reefinfo.com.au/or in the shop, 34 The Esplanade (also right near where all the reef boats depart and cruise liner terminal).

Check out the fun Go Pro movie I made >>>>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS_kPpCD_Mw it's full of funky toons and an entertaining way to see what the day with Great Adventures is all about!


HARD FACTS…

Visit time:
Whole day trip

Times:
08:30am  to 5:30pm  (Check in from 07:30am Reef Fleet Terminal)

Suitable for: 
  • Not so good swimmers to good swimmers
  • Non-swimmers & elderly
  • Those members in a family group seeking adventure when others don't
  • Those staying on the resort on Green Island

Fitness level (out of 5):
  •  💪 💪  
Time of year:
  • All year round (Stinger season is from October through to April)
  • Lycra suits provided  
Price:


  • $252/Adult levy SNORKEL
  • $133/Child SNORKEL
  • $637/Family SNORKEL
  • $165/Adult Scuba Doo
  • $62/Adult $32/Child Guided Snorkel
  • $179 per person Helicopter Scenic Flight

Saturday, 15 April 2017

POSEIDON REEF TRIP TO AGINCOURT RIBBON REEF

Photo from Poseidon's website.

MY PASSION FOR POSEIDON!

My photo from the water on the hired Lumix Camera.

If you read my blogs on Cairns & Port Douglas tour options (if you can be asked 😜) you would have noticed I have written about the Great Barrier Reef boat Poseidon already. Yup... this was my second time with this boat (which is part of the Quicksilver Group). What amazing day ahead!
Amazing conditions!

So why on earth and I writing about it again? It is such an amazing day out on the reef I just had to tell you all about it and highlight why I feel it stands out from the rest.

There is the right day out on the Great Barrier Reef for everyone and the style of day that Poseidon offers is right up my alley. This type of day trip does not suit a non-swimmer, for example. You might have a lovely boat ride and get some sun but you won't really see anything if you don't get in the water. There are other options (like an activity platform) that have other ways to see the reef suitable for the needs of a variety of people.

Poseidon, like her sister boats Silversonic (Port Douglas) and Silverswift (Cairns) are some of the very few boats that visit 3 different reef sites in one day (most visit 1-2 sites). Poseidon leaves from Port Douglas Marina so you either take the scenic drive from Cairns yourself or book transfers. If you are staying in Port you can get a free transfer to the Marina.

Poseidon visits guaranteed Outer Reef sites on the edge of the Continental shelf. Here are some excellent snorkel and dive sites for those who love the water and are happy to jump in and give it a go.

So what do I REALLY like about this vessel? Here is my TOP 10 on Poseidon's best.

1) The boat layout and organisation!!!! Numero Uno! Everybody has their own area, snorkelers up top and divers down below. On arrival to the site the snorkelers have their own site briefing up on the top deck while down below, all the divers are getting in the water from the dive deck. All without getting in each others way! Boats can be very congested on their dive decks, this is an exception. This doesn't mean divers can't come up to the sun deck and catch some rays! This arrangement is also great when getting out of the water as the top deck is a "wet" area so you don't have to get out of your lycra/wetsuits on the dive deck on top of each other. 
There is also no lunch line as snorkelers eat first at the second site while the divers get away, then they eat after their dive. Woolah! No queue!
Introduction Dive briefings
 Dive Deck
 Easy entry
 Sun deck Marine Talk

2) Fast travel time of 90 minutes.

3) Less boats depart from Port Douglas so check in is fast and easy peezy.

4) The sites... Agincourt & Ribbon Reefs have a huge ensemble of coral species of all colours of the rainbow. Your almost guaranteed to see something cool like a Black Tip Reef shark and Clown Fish (for example) and a variety of fish species. On this trip I had never seen so many schools of fish... it was epic!!!!
Schools of fish everywhere!
 Hump Head Parrot Fish.
 Nemos cousin.
Clown Fish. 

5) Less people crashing into you while snorkeling 😉 Lower passenger numbers.

6) The staff!!!! The whole vibe of the boat is relaxed and chilled. This is not a cattle call people, the boat doesn't even have a PA system so the staff all become your friends as well as the other passengers.

7) In-depth snorkel briefings at each site and included guided snorkel. The staff really inform you well on what there is to see and where, enhancing your experience. 
Great Snorkel briefings.

8) As a snorkeler you feel just as valued and respected as a diver. Sometimes you can feel a little second class, not on this vessel!

9) Swim time! Loads of time to explore and check out the whole site. The divers cal also get a snorkel in at each site.

10) The food. Yummo...nuff said.

I think that about sums it up! If you are a Certified Diver, please please please consider Poseidon! If you want to learn to dive for the first time on a Introduction Dive you will definitely see loads! And as a snorkeler... like me you feel just as important as the divers and see plenty from the surface and duck diving.

Thanks again to Quicksilver and the Poseidon crew for having me. I'll be back out again with no hesitation! Check out the link to my Youtube video >>>

Love the sound of this Reef trip? You can book with the Reef Information Centre in Cairns on http://www.reefinfo.com.au/or visit the shop, 1/34 The Esplanade, Cairns.