November 2003

2 November - Airlie Beach

Arlie beach turned out to be a miniature Surfers Paradise, although it wasn't quite as bad. The best feature was the Lagoon. The lagoon is basically a swimming pool. The water is really warm and the Lifeguards allow you to do almost anything, save diving( because the water doesn't get very deep). Nikki and I had a lot of fun play catch (with a tennis ball) in the water.

On Halloween we saw fireworks! The Australians do not celebrate Halloween, so it is pure coincidence that the festival is on Halloween. The fireworks were very un-coordinated, but they were good. As is with all Aussies, they are very relaxed, so you could sit only 100 meters away. If you sat leeward of the launch area, you would get showered with dead sparks. The finale was the best, as always. The launchers had to have launched at least 30 fireworks at the same time, then they continued for about 20 seconds, and then, silence. Applause. Once the audience was done applauding, I suggested that we go before the mob.

Today we left Airlie Beach for Nara Inlet. On they way there we stopped at Hayman Island to check out the excellent snorkeling at Dolphin Point. For the first time, 100 Magic Miles was correct. The Coral was as abundant as the fish and as beautiful as the fish too. It was all over the place. The colors were what made it awesome. There was everything from blues to purples to greens, lots in neon colors. The layout of the coral itself was cool too. I guess that hundreds of years earlier, the area was just a mass of large boulders. It is still like that today. The area is a maze of deep canyons. I will always remember it as the First Good Snorkeling!

4 November - Whitsundays

The Whitsundays have been an awesome snorkeling experience. We went to almost all the best snorkeling places and were never disappointed. The coral was always amazing and the fish were too. Nikki claims to have seen a Double Headed Maori Wrasse! These are supposed to be very large and very rare type of fish. I saw a coral that was deep purple. I also saw a Seven Banded Batfish, in a place that had the most interesting topography (see one of my previous journals), and later on I saw one of them again. Most of the beaches were sweet, including the famous Whithaven beach, which is made up of pure white silica sand (the posters look better than the actual beach). Nara inlet was also cool because it is a supposed Hammerhead shark breeding ground and it has an Aboriginal Panting in a cave nearby. In “100 Magic Miles” it says that if you have to swim, don't look like a injured fish. Although it may be crowded, the Whitsundays are a really fun place to be.

6 November - Double Skip to Townsville

Right now I am sitting in The Breakwater Marina, Townsville, doing lousy, stinking, homework. Of course, there is a catch. Once I finish my journal, I get to play on the computer!! Yippeee! So, here it comes.

Two days ago, we left Nara Inlet for Townsville. We were supposed to have gone straight to to Townsville in one overnight, but we chickened out and did it in two day sails. One, from Nara to Upstart Bay, and the other from Upstart Bay to Townsville. They each took about 12 hours and were very different. The first on was very boring because it was too bouncy to do anything, and the second was better because it wasn't as bouncy. We even did some Bullet Time Impersonations (from the Matrix). The harness was made up of three sail ties and we used a winch and the rope to pull the boom over to lift the person up and then I said: ''Bullet time'' and the person would do his own impersonation. It was really fun. I was too heavy, so the straps cut in too much, and I couldn't do it myself. Aww.

Nikki even ate a meal that didn't agree with her stomach the first trip, and, well, you can guess. Yeah, you got it. The second trip we had a little bird visit us. He stayed with us for a good hour and then flew of again once we got near Magnetic Island. He looked like he was very tired and just completed an ocean crossing. I can't imagine what it will be like for us. Today we are planning on doing work, work, and WORK!! I can't wait till tomorrow.

10 November - Townsville

Townsville is the largest city north of Brisbane. Our assumptions that it would be a nice place where true, unlike with Gladstone. Townsville has a neat down town (actually 2). The Strand is one of them. It is a long section of beach with restaurants and playgrounds. One of these playgrounds is a water playground. It has water spewing out of almost every possible thing. We are planning on going there soon. It also has the Tobrak Memorial Pools. The pools consist of a baby pool, a wading pool, and a Olympic sized pool. Nikki and I went there by ourselves once already, as it is just across from the marina. It costs 1.25 $ AU for a child. Cheap eh? The other downtown is Flinders street. There isn't much for us to do. It's basically a shopping mall. They're remodeling part of the street, so it's loud and messy on top of that.

Townsville also has a large amount of museums to add to it's arsenal. There are, for instance, the Reef HG, the Museum of Tropical Queensland, and the Maritime Museum of Queensland. So far we have been to the Maritime Museum. It is jam-packed full with models. It costs 12 $ AU for a family. If you'd like they will give you a free tour. Our tour guide told us that he is sometimes called Popeye by the kids because he smokes a pipe, wears a sailor's hat and likes spinach. He didn't have much muscle, though. I'd really like to go to the Museum of Tropical Queensland, but we're already going to the Reef HG, on the insistence of Nikki. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

13 November - Billabong Sanctuary

A few days ago we went to Billabong Sanctuary. The park is built around a Billabong (hence the name). A billabong is a part of a creek that forms a miniature lake. I leaned that Crocs only kill people because people are annoying them, or because they are unaware of the fact that they make themselves available. For example, lets say you caught a fish and you go down to the riverbed to clean them. Normally Crocs wouldn't go for humans, But when your cleaning the fish you squat down, making you look small enough, and then you start splashing the water and drop fish guts into the water. You can clearly see how agitated the Croc becomes. Koalas have the smallest brain of all Marsupials, because they don't even need a larger one. Why? Because all they need to do is eat, sleep, and mate! Their food is right in front of them, all they have to do is reach out and grab it. They don't need strategies to catch it. Wombats, on the other hand, are the smartest. You can train them like a dog and they can remember things. Our example was when the zookeeper opened the door to her den because it was time for “Hold a Wombat”. Angelica stopped eating and walked over to the main entrance, where the keeper then opened the gate. Angelica waddled out, and then started to escape. Luckily, Wombats are very slow, and the zookeeper caught her. The keeper talked to us for many minutes while his fingers were getting nibbled on by the Wombat. The keeper then let the group hold her, one by one. He also told the women that she likes to nibble, so it might be the first time you ever breast-feed a Wombat. This drew a chorus of laughing from the boys. Next thing were the Cassowaries, and we actually got to feed them! They have a brain the size of pistachio nut without the shell! One example is when you come up to a Cassowary with food, you're its best buddy, but when you come back without any food later, you're a pest, and you should piss off. The coolest thing was that we got to hold a Baby Croc! They are very heavy for their size. This was explained when the guide told us they are 50% muscle. This was an exciting trip and it was well worth the wait, since Nikki saw an ad for it in Southport last year.

20 November - 3 Night Trip & Samarai

Night trips aren't so bad. That is, of course if you don't toss your cookies. I did once, but that was because I ate an Almond Finger, and that has a high fat content. The easiest way to pass time is to read, think, or watch a movie. We saw two movies on this trip, Castle in the Sky, and Apollo 13. They are both really good and I recommend them. For the reading part, I mostly read one book (Star Wars, The New Essential Guide to Characters) over and over again. The nights are always the best because time flies. You wake up in the morning to discover that you've traveled 100 nautical miles. On the day we got to Samarai, we met four fishing boats and it started to drizzle. Once we anchored, everybody sat down and said "Aaaaaaaah". It was so nice not to be moving constantly.

If I had a choice of where to stay, I would definitely like to stay here for a while (like, a year). The people are friendly, the water is clear and the kids are cool. The day we arrived in the afternoon we didn't swim. We only checked into the country, walked around for a little, ate dinner and went to bed. For checking in we rowed the customs officer to our boat. Then he check the passports made us fill out some forms, and walked around the boat to check for things. The only thing he found was the orchid. He made us promise it didn't get off the boat.

The next day was the best. Nikki and I went snorkeling. The coral was spectacular. I saw 12 clownfish, 3 Moorish Idols( this is Gill in Finding Nemo) and so many Athias I lost count. We had sooo much fun playing in the water with about 20 of the of kids. There were so many things to jump off of that I couldn't write it without draining the batteries on the computer. Our favorite is a big concrete block that is about 5 meters from water level at low tide. We also walked to the highest part of Samurai and received 4 excellent drinking Coconuts from a man on the top of the hill. We drank three right away and got a fourth for later. The guy hacked the coconuts open at the bottom with a machete. They were delicious. Later on we invited one of Nikki's new friends over for a little and gave her some candy to take to the kids on the dock Today we are going swimming again and I hope that many kids came again today.

21 November - Leaving Samarai

Leaving Samarai was really hard. All those friends that we had to leave behind. Everybody was so nice too. For example, once we all jumped at the same time and when we came up everybody was laughing. Then I heard someone say: "Someone landed on top of me!"

Then someone else said "That was me. Sorry."

When you wiped out you would come up to a chorus of laughing. For those of you who have seen the surfing movie "Endless Summer 2", it sounded like the laugh that the kid did when he nearly dropped a coconut on Pat. We had so much fun playing on the jetty. The wharf was falling in disrepair, so you could get up anywhere. You could also jump off of everything. My favorite was the big concrete block that was five meters from water level at low tide. It was an experience I hope I never forget.

29 November - Pitt Bay, Kau Kau Bay & Port Moresby

1. Pitt Bay

Pitt bay was our first "third world". The people immediately swarmed us with canoes. We said "Hi and talked for a little, then told them that we'd come and visit and exchange gifts tomorrow. We were tired and it was getting late. We hadn't started our malaria medication on time, so we still needed to be inside by dusk. The next day we went to shore and got a tour of the village. I got to ride in an outrigger with a guy. These boats are really fast! We beat my dad, who was rowing the dingy, from the shore to the boat. One of the ladies had a parrot that we got to hold if we wanted to. He had his tail cut off so he couldn't fly away. We got to try a whole bunch of tropical fruits. They were all very sour. We also found a giant clam shell that weighed almost as much as Nikki! When we left we gave the village almost our whole stock of trading goods, and they gave us pineapples, lobsters, coconuts, and a giant shell. We had so many pineapples that once we were out of the bay we dumped one or two. We had a really tough time leaving here.

2. Kau Kau Bay

We only spent a day at Kau Kau Bay, even though we were planning on spending a night. This was because the anchor started dragging. This wasn't noticed until late in the afternoon. We wanted to re-anchor, but we couldn't because at night you can't see the coral reef. But, before all this happened, we had some fun with balloons. Actually, Balloons filled with water. We were talking with some people from a nearby village and we decided to give them the rest of our stuff. While we were looking for the stuff, nikki came across some balloons we got for ourselves. We filled them with water and showed the villagers. The thought they felt so weird. But it all went wrong: first my balloon popped, then Nikki's. We almost soaked the people, and we laughed about it for a while. While we were sailing at night, were attacked by bugs that looked like flying lobsters...

3. Port Moresby

Nothing much has ha.... No wait a minute, that wrong. We saw a Manta ray and.... A.... Oh yeah, we nearly crashed into the breakwater. We were anchored in the marina and suddenly a huge wind gust came through. It was like, 45 nm an hour. This blew us off the anchor and the following 15 minutes so much happened. The worst was that one of the stanchions, the poles that hold up the lifelines, snapped. I was right there when it happened. We had a stern line out and it was stuck. We were also turning so the stern line was forced to press against the stanchion and ... Boom. Afterwards, the marina manager told us we could got to the fuel dock for the night while they work us out a berth. Today we are at the work docks, And... Oh I finished.