17th January 2012 02:03
Hi, my name's Luke, and I'm a nudeaholic. I stayed with another male nudist. I'll let you start wondering about my sexual orientation while I continue with the the blog.
Hands up if you've heard of The Great Barrier Reef! *raises hand eagerly* ... Cairns is one of the places you can visit the reef, and having dived in Thailand previously to get a taster of marine life, I was really looking forward to it. The fact I'd dived already on my trip also gave me a conundrum though - I wasn't sure whether to pay a bit more money at the reef and go scuba diving, or save and just snorkel instead. In the end I went with snorkelling.
The vessel was a modern, stylish catamaran, with full access at the back to get down to the water.
The boat did provide the option of diving if you wanted to, once at the reef, but it really wasn't worth it at the places we went to. The first dive site was at Paradise Reef - full of beautifully patterned, vibrantly coloured fish. It was best to swim just at the edge of the reef, as it dropped off steeply into the depths below, as there lay the greatest variety of marine life. But as I was swimming along here, I could see the scuba divers not far below. They couldn't have been more than ten metres down, and I could see everything they could from the surface anyway. The great thing about snorkelling is it's also far less cumbersome than the scuba equipment you need to use when diving. Great for quickly jumping off the back of the boat and getting maximum time in the water with Nemo.
I had debated whether or not to hire an underwater camera for this trip, but as I'd already got plenty of underwater shots from my scuba diving in Thailand, I decided against it.
Paradise Reef was a fantastic location, I believe mainly due to the fact our tour company "Passions of Paradise" was the only operator allowed to visit that particular reef. This helps ensure marine life remains healthy and as undisturbed as possible. It certainly appeared to be thriving, the coral was very colourful and seemed in good condition. The fish were everywhere, and very diverse.
After our first snorkel, we sailed on to our next site at Michaelmas Cay.
The beach was a birdlife reserve, but obviously the most interesting stuff was underneath the water. Clownfish, angelfish, stingrays, maori wrase, butterflyfish, sharks. There was a great variety. Also immediately surrounding the boat were huge numbers of giant trevally, an extremely quick fish that are an apex predator in those waters. The crew of the boat would throw food overboard to the fish, and they're actually clever enough (and quick enough) to see the food in mid-air, and swim to where it will land before it's even hit the water, an amazing sight.
The travel time to and from the reef was a good chance for sunbathing, and most took full advantage!
Back on dry land I made my way back to Frank's. Frank was a Couchsurfing host who had very kindly answered an emergency couch request I placed on the website. The hostel I had been staying in was one of the worst I've encountered. There were no useful staff members in the whole place, instead being run by backpackers themselves in return for free board. I was lying in bed one day, when a lost looking Japanese girl wandered into the dorm and asked if there were any beds free. I had no idea, but pointed out the ones immediately surrounding me were already in use. The girl strolled off, presumably to find a useless staff member, and I went out for a while, thinking no more of it. When I returned a short time later, I found all my things had been dumped off my bunk onto the one above me, including my bedding, and the girl had taken up refuge there. Brilliant. Thanks for that. I'm sure you're not likely to anyway, but don't ever stay at Reef Backpackers in Cairns.
Having received Frank's invitation, I jumped at the chance. There was a slight catch, however... Frank's home is a nudist one. And it's even more nudey than Stephen and Kevin's place in cairns, as being nude is more of a rule/lifestyle rather than an occasional thing. To the extent that clothes would need to be removed on the secluded patio before even entering the house. Frank was also hosting other surfers at the time as he had a few spare beds. Four naked men sitting down round a table to dinner is something I doubt I'll ever experience again. The funny thing is, it actually felt less weird eating dinner in that situation than it had on the nights I'd spent in the hostel. They gave out daily food vouchers for a huge backpackers down the road, letting you pick up a free "meal" each night. This resulted in a huge queue of people lining up to get their free dinner. It almost felt like a homeless shelter.
Frank is a really cool guy, he's hosted hundreds of backpackers already so is well experienced and fantastic for helping out with seeing things in the area. To the extent that he hired a car for us all - splitting the cost between us - and drove us up to Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge on a day out. Above and beyond the call of duty! And a great example of the kindness of hosts you'll experience on the Couchsurfing website.
Mossman Gorge was good fun, if very busy. You were able to get down to the water and go for a swim, and play around near the cascading water flowing down over the rocks from further upstream. It was a very picturesque place and a really nice spot to spend some time.
Next up was Airlie Beach. And I promised myself I'd avoid getting naked at all costs.