Diving on the Great Barrier Reef: The Final Post

A pair of anemone fish in a bright red anemone

A pair of anemone fish in a bright red anemone at Steve’s Bommie on the Great Barrier Reef

Finally, here is my last batch of diving photos from the Great Barrier Reef. These photos come from Christmas Tree Bommie, a relatively deep, small bommie that is visited less frequently than a lot of the other sites up in the Ribbon Reefs. There’s also a final group from Steve’s Bommie, whose photogenic qualities never cease to amaze.

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Diving on the Great Barrier Reef – Take Two on Taka!

A cute spotted sweetlips at Clam Gardens on the Great Barrier Reef

A cute spotted sweetlips at Clam Gardens on the Great Barrier Reef

I loved my Great Barrier Reef diving trip on Taka a couple of months ago so much I wanted to do it all over again, but alas, it’s obviously not cheap! In Cairns it’s relatively common for dive companies to offer “hostie” gigs – room, board, and a handful of dives in exchange for washing dishes and doing other odd jobs on the boat. I jumped at the chance to do it with Taka this past weekend so I could go back to the Ribbon Reefs.

It was much, much harder work than I’d expected and honestly I’m not quite sure it was worth it. If I’d taught English for the 25 hours I spent working on the boat, I would have made enough to pay for the trip outright and then enjoyed it a lot more  (and spared my hands a couple of burns and cuts – those industrial dishwashing machines aren’t messing around!). However, it was definitely a different experience than anything I’ve done before and I’m glad I did it, if only so that I’ve gained a new appreciation for people who do that kind of work full time.

Now, on to the diving. I did 8 wonderful dives this time around but only brought my camera on half of them as I wanted to really focus on breathing and maximizing air efficiency. Of course, the dives where I saw sharks, a Maori wrasse, awesome eels, and stingrays I didn’t have the camera. Murphy’s law, I suppose. This batch of pictures comes from Steve’s Bommie and Clam Gardens.

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Sightseeing in Cairns

Gigantic estuarine crocodiles at Cairns Tropical Zoo

Gigantic estuarine crocodiles at Cairns Tropical Zoo

I spent about six weeks total in Cairns, mostly working with teens at language schools but also doing a fair amount of hiking and other activities with a Meetup group, which as usual was filled with lovely, happy people. I was also fortunate because the school programs I was teaching for combined classroom hours with excursions, so I got to go on trips like taking the famous Kuranda Scenic Railway and visiting the Cairns Tropical Zoo – and get paid for the pleasure! It was certainly a departure from my typical budget-minded sightseeing style, and I was glad to be able to see so much.

It’s hard to believe my time there is over. Six weeks is the longest I’ve spent in one place in a long time, and it actually started to feel a bit like home. Of course it’s the nature of the traveler to move on, and my next Australian adventure lies in the Northern Territory!

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Whales and Dolphins on the Great Barrier Reef

A migrating minke whale seen on the Great Barrier Reef

A migrating minke whale seen on the Great Barrier Reef

A huge draw of the Taka liveaboard trips is the possibility of seeing minke whales during their winter migration. I did have the opportunity to snorkel with some friendly visitors and get a few snaps. We were also treated to a dolphin show of sorts. Dozens of the creatures hitched a ride at the front on the third day of our trip and spent about 15 minutes jumping and swimming alongside us.

 

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef: Taka Range

Blue and green soft coral at Taka Range

Blue and green soft coral at Taka Range

I’ve had these photos ready to post for weeks and have been so busy working I haven’t had a chance! These were taken at the Taka Range dive site on the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef. It had only been scouted a few weeks before my trip and visited by a handful of dive groups. The corals – both hard and soft – at this site are abundant and pristine. The colors are mostly soft pastels unlike what I’ve seen at other sites. There are also loads of nudibranchs and other small critters.

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Diving on the Great Barrier Reef: Pixie’s Pinnacle

A giant clam and some vibrant yellow coral at Pixie's Pinnacle

A giant clam and some vibrant yellow coral at Pixie’s Pinnacle

Pixie’s Pinnacle is a massive cone-shaped dive site covered with hard and soft corals. There are loads of giant clams that express a variety of colors and patterns. There are also tons of hawkfish and cod!

I got the settings on my camera more or less working for me at this dive site, so the colors of the fish and the corals really came through. The photo of the freckled hawkfish in particular is a pretty nice one, as well as the coral cod.

 

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