Two days on a ferry with a two year old. In the middle of the ocean. Would you venture? We did. And it was just as insane as it sounds!
This is how the story begins:
My husband is an avid diver. Our vacations are usually beach ones to enable him to clock in some more dives at a new, exotic coast. Since the Great Barrier Reef was very high on the bucket list it was impossible to go all the way to Australia and not dive there. So from Sydney we headed to this small town called Cairns, on the Queensland coast, that gets tourists largely for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. But what about the baby? Well the Husband did his homework and found a dive company that allows families with tots.
Of all the 2900 or so reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef, hardly any are located near the coast. The solution? Catch a two-hour long ferry ride to where you find a suitable reef and dive. So since we had to go all the way with the Toddler anyway, why not exercise the more feasible option and sleep on the ferry for the night?
I am sorry I went into this long preamble but I had to explain why chose this emotionally debilitating decision to take the little one on the boat with us for two WHOLE days. Chasing a two-year old on a ferry’s deck in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef is not my idea of fun. I’m crazy but not a stark raving lunatic yet. It was nuts. The more we tried to contain him and keep him away from danger the more tantrums erupted. The skrieky kind. But, as always, there is a sense of accomplisment: we did it! And survived!
We took turns in the water when the other was tending to the baby. It was great getting back into the deep after a two-year hiatus. While snorkeling I saw turtles and murray eels, a great many shoals and some gorgeous coral. The turquoise water, the undulating reefs, the stunning sunsets literally call out to you. Imagine waking up in the morning and finding yourself in the middle of the deep blue sea at the Great Barrier Reef watching the light dance on the waves. The very thought is exhilarating. Three-fourths of earth is water and it’s amazing how so many of us spend so much time on land. Get under in the Land Down Under. You won’t regret it.
Cairns, the city
Flight from Sydney (refer previous post here) got us here. A quiet coastal town, you would be surprised how much it has to offer. Sprawling malls with high-end brands, a massive salt-water public pool, a vibrant night market, a range of cuisines– the city has much to offer for all ages, shapes and sizes, and wallets. The first two nights we stayed at Rydges Esplanade Hotel – cosy, clean rooms with decent wifi were all we needed. The place has a massive pool to boot. The third night was on the Live Aboard with Deep Sea Divers Den. Great dive company, friendly staff and this was our room on the boat:
On Christmas Day we stayed at the Cairns Queenslander Apartment hotel. The bed was MASSIVE. The place was very neat and we wished we could’ve stayed longer. For meals and groceries we would head to Captain Cook Highway where there was a strip full of different eateries- independent Turkish, Italian operations; a Pizza hut; a fish and chips place. Excellent fare. But the most satisfying was sinking teeth into a doner. I don’t know what is it about trips abroad that makes you crave meat so bad.
When in Cairns, do check out the night market- the stalls, the food, the crowds just grab you and you get immersed in the friendly spirit of Australia.
Seat belts fastened for the next post: Melbourne.