Also known as the day Pauline nearly met the Lonergans.
An early exit this morning as we had to make it to the pier before all the boats left us behind. Most of them leave around 8-9am and since we hadn’t booked we were afraid we might miss out. The ticket purchase area looks spiffy new – all airy with tonnes of space for people to line up. Unfortunately the place fails if you are someone just turning up to decide your trip spontaneously. The companies all have big signs with their names and some photos but don’t really tell you what they offer. The prices are hidden in brochures on the front desk that you can’t see from a distance. Maybe if they implemented a menu system like McDonalds it would be better.
We ended up selecting the half day trip to Green Island for $58 each since Pauline didn’t think she could handle a full day. All this gets you is a 45min boat trip to Green Island and the opportunity to borrow some snorkels and flippers. No food or drink included but the crappy jokes come free. The half day boat is virtually identical to a Brisbane CityCat while the full day one is a lot bigger and more shiny.
While waiting to board we observed a Navy ship being tugged in to the dock. The sailors were all standing at attention for over an hour I suspect as the boat was taken past the marina to it’s moorings. It was pretty awesome to see them do it because it seems like they are giving great respect to wherever it is they are landing (even if they are discussing how many girls they are going to root once they reach the shore).
Waving goodbye to Deb and Dianne (who were probably glad to get some time to themselves) the boat left the harbour heading for calm seas and Green Island. A surfy looking dude danced around and gave us the low down on the safety aspects of the boat and what we could do once we reached the island. The island is a 5 star resort that charges day trippers $5 each for the use of their pool. As surfer dude pointed out, why would you pay for a pool when there was a whole ocean just outside? It was closed for maintenance anyway. Still onboard and Pauline swapped her driver’s license for two pairs of snorkels and flippers. Once they were in her posession she spent the rest of the trip looking shit scared. Admittedly I was a little bit worried too as most of my snorkeling endevours have been pretty underwhelming (shh I’ve only done it once). This would be the first time either of us have snorkeled near a reef and the idea of seeing tropical fish in a natural environment overcame any fears I had.
The boat landed at a pier that juts out of the island so we disembarked and headed for the toilets to get changed. The wooden boardwalks on the island were wet and slippery under our thongs and we nearly broke our necks a few times. The toilets weren’t really conducive to putting swimmers on – they really need to have proper changing rooms. But the killer was where to store our stuff. The resort does provide lockers but they are $7.00 for 8 hours. There is no other choice than to pay it out because you can’t pick a shorter time for less and you don’t want to leave your camera on the beach. We got them back by later offering it to some other people as we were leaving. I told them the password. Take that you overcharging delapitaded 5 star resort that looks more like 3 star.
Thanks to the resort we were really shitty by the time we hit the beach. We spat in our masks (and cleaned them out) then struggled putting the flippers on (I was stupid to do it in the water) then splashed out in to the sea. There wasn’t any of that shock of hitting cold water because it was a perfect temperature to just slip in to. Pauline and I started swimming out and all we saw was sand. I was thinking “this is pretty lame” when we reached a single piece of coral in the sand that was like Uluru in the middle of the desert. Hiding in the coral was the most beautiful fish I’d ever seen. It had yellows and blues and sparkled in the filtered sun shining down on it. I was in awe of it’s beauty and thought it was brilliant. I also thought that if this was all I was going to see than it was pretty lame.
So we paddled out a bit further where it was still shallow enough to touch. Pauline wasn’t getting very far bacause her mask kept filling up with water so I tried to assist her by pushing it on to her face. This only succeeded in pushing her down in to the water so she told me to go away. In the end we swapped masks as hers wasn’t taking in water when I wore it (it did a little later but it was only a little and just stayed at the bottom of the mask). Finally we were able to paddle out further.
After a bunch of sand watching it was a shock to reach the corals where there were more fish than I’ve ever seen before and they were all beautiful. Black and white striped fish tended to swim above the coral while smaller nemo like ones hung about amongst it. Some unicorn fish swam nearby while schools of fish hid in the darkness under the pier. People walking along the pier probably heard my snorkel yelling “excellent! wow! this is great”. At one point there is a large sandy area between two coral clusters and as we reached the edge of the coral a huge mantaray sauntered past in the sandy area. It was like a huge truck driving by while you are waiting at the lights. I was scared for a moment but thought it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The timing was amazing.
Pauline and I paddled out further along the pier. By this time the flippers were giving us grief as they didn’t quite fit or something and it cut in to my feet. I heard a lady yell from the pier that she had 10 more minutes so we figured it was time to head back. We only had 2.5 hours on the island and didn’t want to miss the boat. I popped my head up to discuss going back with Pauline and accidently drunk a few mouthfuls of saltwater. Where we had ended up was the point where the wind comes around the island and makes the water all choppy. Pauline drunk some sea water as well and couldn’t recover from it. She was having trouble catching her breath and wasn’t getting enough air in to her lungs. I tried to pull her by grabbing her arm but that just made it worse. She paddled in one spot while I looked at her wondering what to do. She said imploringly “I need help” while looking at anyone other than me. She wanted a life buoy thrown over the edge but no one around us noticed the trouble she was in. I thought that for someone who was drowning she was being very unco-operative. It was then that I remembered that lifesavers say that people drowning aren’t very welcoming to people who are trying to save them. This reminded me of how lifesavers save people so I got behind Pauline and put my arm around her and started paddling backstroke to shore. I was thinking “damn I wish she would paddle” while I was staring up at the sky going “will this ever be over?”. My body was starting to strain and hurt when I realised that we were now at the point where we could touch the bottom. With great love and care I said to her “You can stand up now” and then left her there while I pulled myself to the beach. Not the most sympathetic lifesaver I guess. It would have been very odd to anyone looking from the pier.
A few minutes later Pauline finally made it to the sand and as we dried off she said to me “You saved my life you know”. I think she overestimates the danger we were in because I don’t think it was anywhere near that kind of trouble but I told her that she was indebted to me for life anyway. 🙂 I was too busy freaking out that we may be late for the boat so I hurried her up so we could find out the time. It turned out we still had an hour left so we had probably only spent 30-40mins in the water. At least it gave us enough time to shower and get some water and a coffee.
As we sat and pondered over the ordeal we had just been through we watched some of the resort guests battle with the birds. One guy left his plate unattended and as soon as he took a step away they all pounced. A girl came back a did a mattador dance between the two tables trying to fend them off. I sat there laughing at all the kerfluffle and burnt my tongue on the horrible coffee. I shouldn’t have discoverd Cafe Modena before I left as I’m now ruined for other coffee. It was the worst coffee I’ve ever tasted and everytime I went near a bin I was tempted to throw it out. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that it cost so much. We explored the rest of the island in the 15 minutes we had left. Pauline posed for a photo pointing out where she almost met the Lonergans then we went on to the pier to buy a t-shirt to commemorate her almost drowning.
The ride was quiet on the way back to Cairns as we slowly regained the energy back that we had expended on the island. Nearing Cairns we stood at the front of the boat to watch planes take off from the airport and get closer look at the Bodeacea docked at the marina. Apparently it is owned by Reg Grundy (think producer of Neighbours, Prisoner and virtually every other aussie tv show). It is about the 33 rd largest yacht in the world. I wonder if any wheeling and dealing was going on onboard even if the guy is over 70.
Disembarking we headed past the lagoon and down the esplanade to fill our stomachs. I’m pretty sure it was the vespa at the front that convinced us to stop at the italian restaurant but it was the $15 wine and pasta/pizza deal that convinced us to stay. Villa Romana has impeccible service, nice wine and great pasta. The four cheese pizza wasn’t as good as the one from Park Rd Milton but it still hit the spot. We had a good seat to watch the people pass by and when some people scootered past it planted a seed of an idea in our heads. We tipped the restaurant because their service was outstanding then headed out to slowly explore the CBD of Cairns.
It’s overwhelming how much Cairns is geared for tourism. The guy making the most money would have to be the one making the pamphlets for everyone. I’m sure they would have them in the toilets if it wasn’t for that fact that people would probably use them as toilet paper. Every second store is geared towards sending people to the reef or to the rainforest. I guess Cairns has realised that it isn’t the city the people come here for and they may as well not hide the fact. Kind of like a prostitute who realises that people aren’t there to look at her eyes.
We wandered about for a while then made our way back to the Lagoon to pick up our bag. We had left it there because unlike green island it only cost $2 for 2 hours. Dianne picked us up after her appointment in the city and we headed back to theirs. Deb was making a lovely canneloni for dinner so while she prepared it I was subjected to a peformance from Dianne and Pauline. Dianne has a karaoke machine so her and Pauline belted out some of their favourite tunes from Celine and the Corrs. Thankfully it was soon over so we sat down to eat in front of the tv watching the second episode of Big Brother.
A quiet ending to a dramatic third day in Cairns.