Today we were ticking off one of those things on most peoples bucket lists, diving on the great barrier reef. This was something we’d been looking forward to and was the main reason we did our open water certification in Thailand way back in November.
The original plan was to take a dive trip from Cairns like most people as it’s generally closer to most of the reef. However after a bit of reading online we opted to do it from Townsville, a town about 4 hours south down the east cost from Cairns. Apparently many of the trips from Cairns are over packed and the reef can get very busy, whereas from Townsville you’re more likely to have the site to yourself.
We set off around 7am and the extremely choppy ride to Lodestone took about 2.5 hours. I’m pleased to say we managed not to be sick, but about a quarter of the boat were not so lucky and the sick bucket was was in high demand! We met some nice people en route, there was a couple on their honeymoon from Essex (I’d forgot how much that accent stands out! haha) and a few girls who were diving with us from the UK and Perth.
As the barrier reef has such a huge worldwide reputation we obviously went in with high expectations. I have mixed feelings as to whether those expectations were met, it’s hard for me to judge it as we only saw a tiny percentage of the reef and my previous experience stops at Thailand. But, considering the hype there is around the reef, we did feel a little underwhelmed.
Parts of the coral were amazing and I doubt you’d see a more diverse array of fish anywhere else in the space of 50 minutes. But on the downside, waters were quite shallow (we were at 8m most of the time) and the majority of fish were smaller than my hand. What you see obviously varies by day/season and perhaps there are better sites around the reef but my guess would be that there are better dive sites elsewhere in the world. If you are in Australia though it’s a must do, however I wouldn’t say its worth travelling all the way just to dive.
Onto our dives..
Our first dive is all a bit of a blur to me. This was our first dive since getting certified and only our 5th overall so compared to everyone else we were the newbies. In Thailand we got pretty lucky and always dived solely with the instructor, however this time we were plunged in with 6 others and it was all a bit overwhelming to be honest. I spent most of the time trying to remember everything I’d learnt 5 months ago whilst trying to avoid getting in everyone else’s way. When we came back up everyone was talking about the shark they’d seen, turns out Nick and I completely missed it!
The second dive was much more enjoyable, we knew what to expect and were more relaxed and comfortable with the equipment. It probably helped that the other 4 divers didn’t hire the guide for this one so it was just the guide and Nick and I. Not only was the coral amazing and completely different to Thailand but we also got to see a cuttlefish changing colour, check out the video…
There was also a few stingrays, a family of nemo fish, humungous clams and a big barracuda. One of my highlights though was seeing a sea cucumber do a sand poo, it came out perfectly swirled like the WhatsApp poo emoji!
I really am talking shit now so let’s leave it there for today 🙂