Montreal to Atlanta 2 hours and 42 minutes. Atlanta to Los Angeles 5 hours and 15 minutes. Los Angeles to Sydney 14 hours and 55 minutes. Sydney to Cairns 3 hours and 5 minutes. After a record of over 26 hours of flying time, Paul and I arrive at our beautiful Shangril-La Hotel Marina in Cairns Australia.
The location was perfect. Our room was right across the street from the Marina which was filled with beautiful sailboats and expensive yachts. After familiarizing ourselves with the area, we head to the port and book the “Ocean Free” sailboat for Green Island. To start, the name of the boat couldn’t be anymore accurate. A majestic sail boat sailing freely around one of the wonders of the world. The Great Barrier Reef.
We board the sailboat amongst other tourists and after the obligatory coastal debriefing, we set sail for Green Island. One interesting fact was when the Captain mentioned that we will be visiting a 6000 year old coral cay. Can you imagine? The sails are up, the winds are causing clapping sounds and the body of the sailboat peaks and drops continuously following the white soapy waves. Ocean Free…..perfect name.
35 minutes into the ride he anchors, retracts the sails, have some lunch, and instead of collecting any uneaten chicken legs, he tosses them in the ocean. Can you guess what happens next? The boat was infested with several sharks circling the area. As he tosses the chicken, the sharks create a momentary frenzy and as quickly as they appeared, they disappeared. 5 minutes pass with silence and disbelief, Captain announces, that we can now jump in the water and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. They weren’t any great white sharks but 7 “footers” nonetheless. Not sure if I was ever going to return to the reef so I jumped in the water along with Paul and started snorkeling. We were definitely nervous at the beginning, however we quickly overcame the fear and replaced it with awestruck with the absolute beauty of the coral. An hour later, we’re onboard and he drops us off on Green Island.
We walk the grounds of the Green Island National Park and come across the one hotel on the island which would set one back close to 700$ per night. The island had the rain forest which gave every green leaf the crisp, thick wet look. The water surrounding the island was crystal blue and the circular contour of white sand around the island created a marriage of unison so perfect that one would wonder if this can actually be real.
Head back to the hotel, pack and set for the airport to catch a flight to Sydney. As if we didn’t have enough flying time. All part of the experience!
Arrive Sydney, check in our hotel, and start the recognizance. People are friendly, the accent is a reminder that we’re definitely in Australia and the street performers give the downtown area an exciting environment. Paul is fixated with several performers that are using this long wooden hollow branch that makes some type of hypnotic sound. We later find out it is called the Didgeridoo wind instruments which were, in fact, developed by the Indigenous Australians.
We continue to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Bay is just gorgeous. It’s distinctive shape and style is very unique. Can you believe the roof top is made up of more that 1 million tiles? We take more pictures than our memory stick can hold and board a ferry to Manly beach.
The weather was great, the beach was full and the side streets were rocking and rolling. It was as if we were in Fort Lauderdale during peak spring break. Groups of people on balconies drinking, local merchants with all their specials on racks displayed outside and surfers with their wet suits walking along the beach. The day couldn’t have been any better. I was wondering why on earth did my parents immigrate to Canada and not Australia.
One last night, we hit the downtown area, have a good supper and ready for yet another 26 hour flying time back home.
Another successful trip in the land down under!