TKAPUKAI ABORIGNAL CULTURAL CENTRE
We headed to the Tkapukai Aboriginal Cultural Centre as soon as we returned to Cairns. There we learned about the indigenous cultures of the country by watching the traditional dancing, listening to the funky beats of the Didjeridu, checking out the spear throwing demonstration, and even trying our hand at throwing a boomerang.
Back at the resort, we met up with more Contiki travel members who would be later continuing with us to Sydney. With our full group of 50, we had our first official welcome dinner at Gilligan’s and then proceeded to pub crawl our way through Cairns. Boozing hard the night before scuba diving is never a good idea…
GREAT BARRIER REEF
Diving the Great Barrier Reef was – and still is – the best scuba diving of my life. I went with two other certified divers from Contiki aboard the Silverswift (A$250 for 3 dives). We departed at 8:30am, visited 3 sites at the Outer Barrier Reef, and then returned to Cairns by 4:30pm. At the Great Barrier Reef, bigger is better! All the corals and fish and other squishy creatures were huge in size. Watching the massive Queensland groupers glide past left me awestruck.
Dive 1: Pellowe, max depth 19.7m (64ft), water temp 28°C (82°F), time 41min
Highlights: Bumphead parrot fish, sting ray, big orange squishy sea cucumber, angel fish, parrot fish, butterfly fish, surgeon fish, and my favorite: the garden eels! There were hundreds of them, and they all looked like pieces of seaweed waving in the water, but as you got closer, the eels would hide away into the sand.
Dive 2: Whale, max depth 16.7m (55ft), time 40min
Highlights: my first shark! whitetip reef shark, green turtle feeding on the coral, clown fish (we found Nemo!), giant clam, trumpetfish
Dive 3: Fish Town, max depth 15.8m (52ft), time 42min
Highlights: Having a staring contest with a green turtle, sweet lips fish, bat fish, pufferfish, giant queensland grouper, neon colored damsel fish
The next day, the extreme water adventures continued with white water rafting down the Tully River! This was a full-day optional activity with Raging Thunder. Queensland had some serious flooding prior to our arrival, and this meant the water had just subsided down to a (reasonably) safe level. We spent 5 adrenaline-pumping hours battling the grade 4 rapids and jumping off cliffs.