Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cairns Part II: Welcome to the Jungle

The latter part of our Cairns adventure was land-based and took us to the Daintree Rainforest region. Up there we hiked through the jungle and took a river cruise to see the abundant wildlife and verdant scenery.

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One thing that is commonplace up there that we do not have in Sydney is the saltwater crocs. These can grow up to 24 feet long and inhabit most of the waterways and beaches. In fact, there were signs at all of these areas warning you of the danger posed. Glad I don't have to worry about that every time we go out in the water down in Sydney.
Croc entering the water
No one volunteered to go in to find him

Go ahead and take a swim, what are the odds...?

And, if you weren't put off by the "Croc Danger" signs, they were often accompanied by the Box Jellyfish Warning signs at all the beaches. Mother Nature simply does not want you in the water.

If the crocs don't get you, the jellyfish are waiting

The crocs were evident on the river cruise we took and we spotted several lying on the muddy riverbanks. There was also abundant bird species around the Daintree River, some of which got the birders we were on the cruise with into a stir of excitement.

Heron in flight

Azure Kingfisher, got the birders really excited

Once we retreated to the jungle to hike around (where only spiders and snakes are out to get you), we were treated to old-growth forest as well as the apparently croc-free Mossman Gorge river. If you were wondering what differentiates a rain forest from a regular forest, the answer is of course: the rain. In the Daintree region, they measure the annual rainfall in meters, rather than most places, where it is measures in centimeters. We were told that in the last year, they had 4 meters of rainfall. That is higher than a basketball hoop.

We had a great time up there, it was nice to get away from the city/suburbs and to escape into untouched wilderness. Time to start planning the next adventure!

River running through the Mossman Gorge

This tree could have supported an Ewok village

Daintree River, beautiful scenery

Mangroves lined one side of the river, rain forest was on the other

Lush rain forest running all the way down to the ocean

Butterfly in the jungle, possibly the only thing that is not plotting your demise

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cairns Part I: Diving the Reef

We are back safe and sound from our adventure up in Cairns and it was a great trip. Our first activity up there was diving off of a liveaboard boat on the Great Barrier Reef.

Chris hiding in a rock cleft. It was not easy to get in/out of there.

The diving was refreshingly shallow versus other places we have been and we were able to make some nice long dives.

The reef is a major tourist draw up there and it was great to see that the ecosystem seemed healthy with lots of large coral structures and marine life.

Amy descending out of the sun

Some of the fish we saw included white tipped reef sharks, napoleon wrasse, long tail tuna, starfish, nudibranches, and some of the biggest angelfish we had ever seen.

I (Chris) was also lucky enough to hit my 100th dive while up there. It took me about 10 years of diving to get there and I was happy to hit that milestone in the same place where I started diving.

Huge angelfish

Sea slug Amy spotted. Must have evolved to live in the ocean to get away from kids pouring salt on them.

Napoleon Wrasse, endemic to the Great Barrier Reef

White tipped reef shark

We were also treated to some beautiful sunsets from the boat that were a nice day to wrap up the jammed packed days.

Beer o'clock on the boat

Video of some of the marine life and us swimming through a cave.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Off to Cairns

This week Amy and I are off to sunny Cairns to dive the Great Barrier Reef and explore the jungle.

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We hope to come back with pictures and videos of lots of cool fish and jungle residents.

Until then, here is a picture of a double rainbow over Manly from yesterday: