The GREAT BARRIER REEF!

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9
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We stopped at a very quaint (as a matter of fact, one could call it quintessentially “Quaint”) town called SEVENTEEN SEVENTY. It was fairly smallish, and was obviously only recently (in the last decade or so) developed. The beach was quite nice, but had very small waves. The town (Hamlet really) is named for the year that Captain Cook first hit Queensland (his second landfall in Australia). They’re VERY prowd of that fact too! Just down the road from our campsite were a couple of tours for the area. One was a Great Barrier reef day tour which we did on our second day there. The other was an amphibious vehicle tour accross the bay, down the beach, accross a couple more seawater creeks, and up to the state’s first lighthouse. These (wonderful) local people were fanatical about their local lighthouse restoration, beleive me! The tour itself was pretty cool. It was a larger, US military amphibious vehicle which held about 30 tourists in the 5 ton cargo area. We put a couple pics up at the . The lighthouse was fun, and pretty standard, but the stories of the caretakers and community around it from 200 years ago were fabulous. Alex even bought one of the “stories” books about the area to read.

One other cool part of this Amphib. tour was a stop at an otherwise impossible to reach sand dune for some sand boarding. This was great for two reasons: (1) it’s a mega tonne of fun! (2) we had lost the disc with the pictures and video from the previous sandboarding tour we had taken. This was a little bit of a smaller hill than the previous one we went on and they used wave boogie boards instead of a wood laminate board (similar to a snowboard) that the other tour used. This one would actually end up in the water normally, but since we were at low tide, we just slid accross the mud. I set the distance record for that day on my first trip at which Alex and Luke were pretty proud. Since we have to walk UP! the hill, I only planned on going once (lazy old fart, I know…) but some y little 15 year old beat me and gave a very smug look afterwards. Thus, there I was once again trudging up the sandy hill (literally three steps forward and sliding two back!) to teach the little twirp a lesson. His rides were still not as smooth as I knew I could go, (thus gaining more distance) plus he had taken at least six or seven runs to beat my one. To much wild cheering from most of my family, (and a couple other 40 year old guys who also didn’t care for the attitude of the young whipper-snapper) I had a fairly nice run and sailed past the kid’s mark. I gave him a look that let him know how upset I’d be if he beat my mark again and made me scale that defying mound of desolate sand. He didn’t appear to care and tried a couple more times in earnest, yet unsuccessfully before it was time to leave.

The next day we finally got to go out to “The Reef”. It was the Southern portion, and the company screamed us out there in an hour and a half on a dual hull, 100 seat comfortable boat. Once in their “lease” area, there was an anchored pontoon platform at which the main boat, two glass bottomed boats, and a semi submersible docked, and the snorkling and diving tours left from. It was very well organized, and our day was very full. The snorkling was similar to what we experienced in the Galapagos, (which is of course to say absolutely phenominal!) but the Great Barrier Reef is just so much more vast. And this is just the local area we were in I’m refering to. The ability to thread their/our way in and around passages of reef in the glass bottomed boats, the semi-submersible or snorkling was mind boggling and very formidable (and REALLY cool!).

The trip out there wasn’t so much fun for Luke’s and my weaker stomaches, but we were ged up. When we had a bit further North to Airlie Beach we plan on taking another similar day tour as well as visiting a Rio Tinto Coal mine in the area.

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