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Thursday 31 Jul 2003
Whitsunday Coast, Australia

Great Barrier Reef

Well Im BACK!!! And I had a FANTASTIC TRIP to the Great Barrier Reef (inner and outer reefs)! Where to begin?!?!...

For one thing Im now OFFICIALLY a qualified Advanced PADI diver which means I can dive down to 40 metres and dive at night. This is a much sought-after qualification since diving at night is one of the most intense adrenalin-pumping experiences one can ever have (Im even considering doing a sky-dive now since overcoming my fears about diving into the black deep)

The Pro-Dive boat headed out last Monday night and a bunch of guys from the car park (now a "commune" we have going) came along as well. This included Mick (pommy lad), Robbie (travelling Ozzie lad) and 3 Swedish guys: Dave, John and Charlie (who were all very experienced divers and great fun on board - I have a video of John singing "What shall we do with the drunken sailor" that is an absolute riot to watch.. will try to put it up soon)...

After a thorough briefing with our new crew and some great food (the quality of which remained constant through our trip) I slept very well on the first night (although I had a bit of trouble trying to sleep the following two.. last night I had but 4 hours in slumberland.... doh!).

The next day we woke up on the Great Barrier Reef and over the 3 day period I took part in 10 dives. During these I saw, among other things, a giant sea turtle (1 foot away from me), hundreds of colourful fish, sharks, cuttle fish and oodles of stunning coral. Some of the dives were against coral walls that sunk 60 metres into the darkness below. Its quite an exhilirating experience to dive beside these since you truly feel like you are flying through an aquatic paradise.

Visibility varied from 30 metres during the day to 5 metres at night - which was particularly scary during the 2 night descents since you could not see the surface nor the bottom of the ocean floor due to such an excess of sediment and copious fish activity.

Diving at night and Diving to 40 metres are great fun. We went down to 30 metres where still its possible to begin feeling the effects of narcosis (like being drunk) and many people started breaking out in fits of laughter at that depth for no apparent reason. The night dives were initially terrifying experiences but once you are down under the water and have reached the bottom the ocean changes into a soothing calm environment considerably different to the world you are familiar with during the day. You see fish you never see during the day and most animals feed at night so you can hear the crunching noises of bones being chewed. In fact there was a rather opportunistic potato fish following us around on the second night since our torches attract the small fish and he would put this to his advantage: nabbing any small fish we shone our torches on (cheeky lil bugger eating fish when Im just about to photograph them too... grrrr)

I could go on and on.. but to say the least the experience was magical. The 25 passengers on board included French, Germans, Swedish, UK, Canadians, 1 Ozzie (!) and Irish. Too many nice people to mention... if any are reading this: Its been a great pleasure diving with ya!

My camera was also spot on and took some great shots down there (the shot of the giant sea turtle in particular came out really well).. youll be happy to know that the card is almost full so Ill be developing and uploading a few photos at first opportunity!

All of us: passengers and crew, are heading out tonight for a post-dive drink-fest so Ill probably spend tommorrow recovering... more then...

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