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Australia

Port Douglas, AU


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Moved up to Port Douglas to be closer to the outer reef. Checked into the Ramada Resort, time share and hotel, which immediately seemed odd. The front desk welcomes you with the molasses and the tour desk gives you the sulfur: you are 2.5 miles from town and there are crocodiles on the famous 4 mile beach. I'm going to write an entry about nightmare hotels separately, but now is not the time to be "bad husband". There is a stream and pool down the center of the resort and the restaurant looks like an Australian "river station". It's half Disney and half weird. It kind of grows on you. UPDATE: turns out every restaurant in town has no wait staff. You order your drinks from the bar and your food from kitchen. Condiments and salt and pepper are on the sideboard. WHY DON'T YOU KNOW THIS (maybe posting this somewhere would help). Once you know, it works pretty well. Travel can sometimes be like a thousand irritating cuts, some places are easier than others....
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Guests waiting to place their dinner orders (no wait staff)
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Four Mile Beach
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Photo of a crocodile just 20 meters offshore on Four Mile Beach in August 2017 IMAGE: Newsport.
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Following our Cairns experience, we decided to double up our chances and booked two outer reef trips:
1). Mine is the Quicksilver Wave Piercing Catamaran tour (tomorrow) .
2). Jan's is the Calypso Reef Charters tour (the next day).
Different reefs and boat types.

We'll report back.
Quicksilver Wave Piercer Catamaran
The tour was aboard the 45 meter 480 passenger Quicksilver Wave Piercer Catamaran and its dedicated island platform anchored 72 kilometers out on Agincourt Reef. Travel time to the platform was 1 hour 45 mins (23 knots) the tour included a buffet lunch, semi submersible viewing boats, underwater viewing deck, snorkel gear, and sting suits. Underwater visibility was unlimited with many fish and coral. The purpose built boat and tour platform with its submerged step off snorkel decks, showers, and changing rooms made the trip effortless. Weather was perfect.

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4,000 HP engines

Calypso Reef Charters Tour
This catamaran tour goes to Opal Reef. The boat is 21 meters long 100 passengers (only 30 the day we went) and grantees three 1 hour long snorkel tours at 3 sites. It's more low tech than the Quicksilver and a lot rougher ride. The snorkel sites had higher waves and more current but the extra variety paid off with this meter long Maori Wrasse
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Posted by lhuff35204 04:38 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Cairns, AU


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Arrived yesterday from Sydney. Jan is still under the weather with a cough so we're taking some more rest days. The marina is really the center of Cairns as it is a jump off point to the Great Barrier Reef. There is only a tidal flat for a beach, so the city built a nice pool, beach area, and board walk. There are plenty of shops and restaurants.
We've booked a day trip to Fitzroy Island and then we move on to Port Douglas that has access to the outer reef.
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Jan's still not well enough to be on a tour, but if you know her that is exactly what she did. The Island is just 45 minutes from Cairns by catamaran and it has a beach and two snorkel areas (these are just local reefs). The weather was perfect but it was low tide when we tried snorkeling and the coral was too close to surface to safely navigate, plus Jan saw a shark loitering nearby. We came ashore, took a nap, and waited for the tide to come in before round two. This time we had plenty of depth and saw numerous large fish, a large green sea turtle and many giant clams. We rated the beach a 2 (out of 10) because of the amount of coral shards and the snorkeling a 4 (similar to Hawaii) because of the poor visibility. This is always the problem when you only have one shot to visit an area; if the water conditions are bad that day there is nothing you can do.

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Posted by lhuff35204 06:31 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Sydney, AU


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It was a 3 hour flight over from Queenstown, NZ. We're staying in Potts Point which is backpacker central with lots of bars and hip restaurants all open late. Hotels are expensive but food seems cheaper than NZ. We're about 2 blocks from Kings Cross station (the tube). You can purchase an "Opal Card" in convenience stores and use it for all public transportation: trains, buses, ferries and light rail and you never pay more than $15.40 a day no matter how much you use it. It's the best option to see New South Wales. Jan lost no time in getting us down to Circular Quay, Luna Park, Manly, Darling Harbor, and China Town. It's a world class city to be sure.

The escalator ride down to Kings Cross station
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Double decker trains
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Ferry terminal
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Opera House
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Harbor Bridge
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Harbor Ferry
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Luna Park
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Luna Park
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Luna Park
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Luna Park
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Darling Harbor
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Maritime Museum
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Light rail
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China Town Market
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Central Station back home
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Whale watching. It's peak season for Humpback whales but it was a little slow, only 10 whales. Great crew and a fast boat able to race around to different sightings (We've been on so many catamarans we totally forgot to snap the boat...very comfortable and safe).
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Basically the same sights at night. Shot from the ferry, sorry about the blur...
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Drove by this fireworks display at Luna Park bay on the harbor ferry. No idea who put it on or why. That's the "Harbour Bridge" in the foreground.


"The Rocks" bar and restaurant district. Very hip place to eat and drink.
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Posted by lhuff35204 13:24 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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