A Fanatical Sabbatical | Part 16 - Going Troppo

The quest for the 'Beautiful one day, perfect the next!' Queensland experience continues . . .

After our island getaway fail, I still wanted to get the kids out on the Great Barrier Reef to enjoy some snorkelling. Despite the weather remaining gloomy we checked out some of the reef operators from Airlie Beach and chose to set sail on a beautiful old wooden boat, the Derwent Hunter, to take us out on the promise of a stunning reef for a half day snorkel. This old girl has a long and diverse history starting in Tasmania including commercial fishing, CSIRO polar expeditions, movie cameos and even some real life pirate action! Being relegated to a mere tourist cruise is less glamorous, but at least she’s getting out there every day, and the crew loved her to bits.

Unfortunately the weather was still crap, they took us to the same island we had just departed from (albeit a different reef) and the kids were over it after the first swim. The positive was just how divine it was to be on such a beautiful wooden boat, feeling the wind in the sails, hearing the creak of the masts and watching the kids run up and down the deck brandishing cutlasses in a hot battle with the fun-loving crew. We saw some fantastic coral and fish, found a sage old green turtle chilling in some aquatic vegetation, eyeing us with cautious suspicion, and floated over massive purple-lipped clams. Caspar was given an opportunity to steer the ship, as were most of the kids, but showing particular interest, the Captain give him top duties for most of the voyage to home port. Dolphins crested the bow wake as we slid across the turquoise waters in the late afternoon.

I have to admit we haven’t had much luck with the Barrier Reef over the years. There’s only so much money to go around, and we couldn’t keep trying out different operators departing from Cairns or Port Douglas and so on. It’s disappointing that our experience hasn’t blown us away like it has so many others. Maybe another trip in the future when we can afford to get out further will be better.

The Big Lap Bluray Special

Our next port of call was Mission Beach, as we had friends to visit who wintered away from the Adelaide cold for 4 months each year. It was great to see people from home, and we caught a glimpse of a pair of Cassowary on the way in to town, but again glum weather got us down. To add insult to injury the kids and I were absolutely ravaged by midge bites to the point we needed cortisol cream and antihistimes to relive the scratch. Oh the insanity those bloody bites create! Southerners be warned!

Never fear, there was a spotlight of positivity on this part of our trip. An unplanned overnighter at the Paluma National Park turned out to be a ripper of a campsite that will remain as a highlight for us. The swimming hole behind the campground blew us away with its stunningly clear waters, deep holes to jump into and river fish to snorkel amongst. This was then topped off when we discovered further upstream a series of natural waterslides in the smooth river rock. The water slid down well worn paths in the rocks, tumbling into perfectly formed bath sized pools before overflowing progressively again into the next one. We spent all afternoon sliding from one hole to the next with nary a scratch or a banged knee between us. It was like a playground builder had nailed his design perfectly. And then there was the magnificent giant blue butterflies using the riverline like a highway… bliss!

OK QLD, you’re winning me back…

A Fanatical Sabbatical

‘Mark, Kim and the kids are leaving behind their home in the Adelaide Hills to jaunt around the country side while they manage their arborist business remotely. Normally enrolled in ‘bush school’, they thought they could push the kids outdoor eduction experience a little further by living outside for a year.

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