DAY 1Nov 17 2016
Spent night at Reef Lodge in Townsville. Right near the HQ aquarium. Super cool with a great barrier reef tunnel. Full of fishies, sharks and amazing coral. Caught ferry to Magnetic Island (Maggie) which is where I would be doing my scuba certification for 3 days. Bumpy ride. Arrived by the town bus (nicest drivers) at our adorable airbnb cottage in Horseshoe Bay. Lovely living room and bedroom. And bikes! Discovered an amazing path behind our house, full of huge eucalyptus trees.
Vertured out to Balding Bay and Radical Bay. So so pretty and no one was there! Very lush jungle feeling but right on beach. Clear blue ocean. Did a small rock scramble over beautifully shaped rocks.
Got home in time for a delicious meal (prawns, coconut cream, lemon, spaghetti) at barefoot food and wine. Tons of flying fox bats on our street swooping around. So cool.
DAY 2Nov 18 2016
Woke up at our lovely Kismet cottage and I headed off to day one of my Ssi open water scuba course with Pleasure Divers. Tom owner was my instructor. Ami, a super nice gal from London was my buddy. She was training via padi but didn't matter. Pool training all day and some theory. Panicked during TV mask clearing! Twice. Ate at Gilligan's. Met Hans in PM and took a walk across the inner parts of the island to look for koalas aka kokos. On my way, spotted three basking in the sun. So cute! Found Hans at the Forts entrance. Nice walk to old war barracks. Views were amazing. Spotted a few more kokos. Hans is a fab spotter. Ate dinner at nudies, complete with burritos and the resident possom family.
DAY 3Nov 19 2016
Back to Pleasure Divers, while Hans tooled around on the bike and explored much of the island. And took a lot of buses. Day 2 of ssi entailed our first dive in Alma Bay! The conditions were miserable. Couldn't see a thing, super windy and wavy. Was pretty unnerving. Panicked again with mask removal and clearing. But Tom was cool as a cucumber. So comforting and gave us a lot of attention. Ami was also miserable and almost puked in her regulator but we survived. Did 2 dives. 2 more the following day back at Alma. Saw one fish and ripples in the sand to keep us oriented. BWRAF! Gilligan's again for lunch. Met Hans in the PM and biked around. Hans was supposed to dive the yongala ship wreck this day but it wasn't in the cards. Too windy and they wouldn't be going back out there until after we left. He tried to do yongala 15 years ago but had the same problem. Will need to come back in years to come! Tomorrow I (hopefully) get certified! Chicken parm for din din!
DAY 4Nov 20 2016
Certification Day! Passed the theory test with flying colors and then we completed two more dives in Alma. Conditions were slightly better and we got it done! These were both 20+ min each, and stayed around 7 meters. Officially open water certified! Such a great feeling and so excited to do a actual dive where I could see things. Had a beer with Ami and Tom to celebrate, and walked to the walaby feeding rocks. Super cute! Hans had a fabulous day golfing. Half price sunday! It was packed. Only one other group on course. The biggest trap wasn't the sand. It was a crazy bird dive bombing at Hans' face, protecting its nest. He even dove behind his gold bag to avoid a peck in the eyeball. Met Hans and we did a few more walks around town, found one koko (not easy to spot!) and then grabbed Italian on the other side of Maggie for dinner. Wine for me to celebrate!
DAY 5Nov 21 2016
Rented real bikes and biked up to West Point and Nelly Nay. We rode up and down the hills to the Forts and down to Florence Bay to go snorkeling. The Bay was deserted, long and beautiful. We unfortunately had to abort when Hans ripped open his toe (again) on coral. Given these waters can be shark infested, we opted to ride on back. Crazy hills. I was grumpy but felt accomplished. Ended at Wallabys.
DAY 6Nov 22 2016
Hans and I got to scuba together in the GBR! Went with Adrenalin scuba - picked us up from the ferry and rode 2 hours to a beautiful part of the reef. While a bit windy we found our dive spot and boy were wee spoiled. Hans was my buddy and we drove in a group of 6. It was the most beautiful site! So many layers of life and colors.
Then back to barefoot for din. It was such a beautiful and relaxed place. So many tucked away beaches, and a ton of walking trails. What a special place to get scubaed up! Next up: Fraser Island!
DAY 7Nov 23 2016
Travel day! Lunch at early bird. Then bus to ferry to Townsville. Then text to airport. Took 3 flights to get to Hervey Bay. Nice lady and her hubby gave us a ride. Slept at hostel. Peacocks.