I traveled to Cairns, a city in Queensland about 1500 miles north of Sydney. Cairns is known as the “Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef”, and rightly so. I stayed for a long weekend in Cairns and was able to explore fitzroy island, 2 reefs, and the cities botanical gardens. Coming to Australia the Great Barrier reef was the number one destination for me to visit. I have always loved swimming and being able to swim in such beautiful clear waters surrounded by sea life was a dream come true. The first day I was there Friday morning I took a trip to Fitzroy Island and while swimming at the beach a I saw a number of fish, a few areas of coral and even swam with a sea turtle. Swimming with the wild turtle was an amazing experience but it only served to get me more excited to travel to the reef the following day.
Saturday we took a trip to the great barrier reef and over the course of the day we visited 2 seperate reefs and spent over 4 hours snorkeling and exploring the reefs. While at the reef I saw numerous different fish and plant species. Some of my favorite sights were giant clams, sea cucumbers, and a plethora of tropical fish. The fish ranged from the size of an eraser to a small child. The fish were bright colors ranging from white and yellow to green and purple, my favorite fish being a fluorescent blue. It was the trip I had always dreamed of yet it was a little bittersweet seeing the amount of dead and washed out coral at the bottom of the reef. It was still an incredible experience which I will never forget.
Preparing for the trip I was much more proactive using the lessons I learned from traveling to New Zealand. Firstly I made sure to plan what was most important, the reef, leaving nothing to chance for when I arrived. Second I made sure to leave room for flexibility in my planning. Third and finally I allowed myself to take advantage of the opportunities which came my way for instance, once I learned about Fitzroy island on Friday I did not hesitate to book my ticket and run across town to make the last ferry over. While I felt very prepared for this trip I certainly encountered obstacles along the way as well. For example on Friday we had initially planned to visit the rainforest but upon our arrival the weather was uncertain and the potential for mudslides in the area was high enough to convince me to Fitzroy island instead. For other students travelling to Cairns I certainly recommend to travel to Fitzroy island, snorkel at the Great Barrier reef, and to bring a water proof camera to capture the memories.