The Great Barrier Reef is a mere hop, skip, and jump from jobsite, so it was only a matter of time before we found ourselves enjoying its illustrious scenery. Considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world, its vast collection of reef systems, coral cays, and tropical islands encompasses an extensive 2,300km long ecosystem along the Queensland coastline. Near or far, it’s a destination worth seeing and exploring.
Port Douglas, a small coastal town situated 70-km from Cairns, is regarded as the most popular base from which to explore the northern part of the reef. In addition to a wide array of water activities (including scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, and turtle spotting) it’s an ideal place to escape and unwind. We spent four days in Port Douglas enjoying its charming shopping district, snorkeling around and above Agincourt Reef, and walking through Daintree National Park.
Before heading back to jobsite, we spent three days in Cairns doing what we do best there – grocery shopping! Bags of brown sugar and chocolate chips topped the list. Closely followed by several packages of whole bean coffee, a handful of spice jars, and a few boxes of Kraft Easy Mac. Just enough to fill the Australian expat’s customary packing implement – a banana box.
A view of the Coral Sea from Port Douglas.
Chris and the girls enjoying the views from the Port Douglas Marina.
Great Barrier Reef Catamaran Excursion
We took an all-day catamaran tour on the Poseidon to snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef. Ally popped her head up just in time to have her picture taken with the catamaran in the background.
Snorkelers swimming around Agincourt Reef. The reef sits on the very edge of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s described as a ribbon reef that runs parallel to the Continental Shelf. It’s home to large schools of fish, tiny iridescent fish that find shelter in the coral, giant clams that can weigh as much as 440 pounds, and harmless reef sharks that make surprise appearances. A reef shark showed up during our second snorkeling stop. We weren’t lucky enough to see it, but the chatter between those who saw it was exciting. Chris and Ally are somewhere in the water hoping to get a glimpse of the shark.
Kylee (wearing a full jellyfish bodysuit) snorkeling above a coral spire.
A closeup of the reef.
Another closeup of the reef.
A small school of fish swimming above the reef.
Daintree National Park – Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is a short drive from Port Douglas in the Daintree National Park. Owned by the Kuku Yalanji people, it is described as a spiritual place that offers a small glimpse of an ancient landscape. This is a picture of Chris and the girls standing at an overlook near Mosssman River.
Ally cooling her feet in the crystal clear waters of Rex Creek.
Chris and Kylee taking a short break on massive granite boulders that line Rex Creek.
The girls surrounded by the trunk of an old Morton Bay fig tree.
A final picture before leaving Port Douglas.
The highlight of our time in Cairns was going to Cairn’s ZOOm and Wildlife Center, a challenging ropes course set in an indoor wildlife habitat. Its continuous belay system guides participants through a course with three zip-lines, a dome climb, and a 13m high rapid descent tower jump. In this picture, the girls are gearing up in helmets and harnesses before setting out on the course.
Ally and Kylee walking through a part of the mid-zone course that required them to cross swaying planks and traverse hanging nets.
The girls navigating the high-zone course. Ally is on the log course at the top and Kylee is on the log course below her. The two girls on the top right are preparing to go down the rapid decent tower.
Kylee riding a zipline that had her dangling over Goliath, a four meter long salt water crocodile. Goliath’s tail is the jagged brown object in the tan colored sand. If you continue looking to the left, you will see the main part of his body.
This is a close-up of Goliath, the famous resident crocodile. He was rescued from the Cairns Crocodile Farm (which is now owned by Louis Vuitton) in November of 2003.
Ally and Kylee walking towards the rapid descent tower.