Friday, January 27, 2012

The Great Barrier Reef

Now, the day we had all been waiting for. Ever since we moved to Australia, the Great Barrier Reef had been the number one thing on our to do list. I mean, how can you come all this way, and NOT see it? Bob felt pretty much the same way, so when we started planning for Laurel's family to come out here, it pretty much centered around visiting the Reef.

Laurel and Olivia were the planning champions for our Cairns trip. They found a full-day tour that picked us up in the morning, took us to two reefs for snorkeling with optional scuba diving and helicopter flights to see the reef from the air, and fed us lunch and snacks. Olivia was the only one who was interested in scuba, but we all wanted to ride in the helicopter. Here are most of us on the boat ride out to the first reef.

Our boat as seen from the water. A boat from some other, not as good, tour is in the background.

The helicopter! We're never flown in one before, so were pretty excited. They had a pretty good system set up, where four people flew at a time. While one group was in the air the next group was being taken out to the platform, so the chopper was never on the deck for more than a few minutes. Fuel is expensive!

Since there were six of us and there were only four to a flight we were split into two groups of threes. The three sisters and then Greg, Bob, and Tina. Bethany and Olivia, ready for take-off.

This is Laurel your co-pilot speaking...

A very small piece of the Great Barrier Reef, seen from above.

Before and after the chopper ride there was plenty of time for snorkeling and swimming with the fishes. Literally. This is a giant barracuda that the guides said was perfectly harmless. They told us this as they threw about a pound of dead fish into the water to feed him before we got in. We made sure to stay well clear of him.

We've been referring to this photo simply as "What Lies Beneath."

Laurel found a sea cucumber! She later described it as, "like a giant booger."

Bob enjoying the water.

While Olivia scuba dived Laurel followed her around and took pictures. Olivia is kind of a big deal. She travels with her own fish papparazzi.

The whole family snorkeling! Or nearly. After much debate we decided it was Bethany who is being blocked out by Olivia's flipper. It was hard to tell because everyone kind of looks the same in snorkeling gear.

And now just some fun underwater snorkeling and reef pictures.  As you can tell, we had an amazing time!

This fish was clearly tired of being followed around and having his picture taken repeatedly. He looks like he's saying, "Back up off my reef!"

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