We've arrived 'down under'- it's called that because Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere and 'below' many other countries on the globe. Our first stop is Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral system. What a monumental experience.
It's over 2,000 km long (that's like going from Toronto to Winnipeg) and actually made up of around 2600 different reefs that go from the north and down the east side of Australia. It's called a "barrier" reef because in-between the Australian coastline and the reef is a large and deep channel of water.
There are more than 1,500 fish species that live on the reef and there are 6 species of sea turtles that breed here. We went out by boat for a day of snorkelling and it was fantastic:
The real beauty was in seeing the majesty of the reefs and the fish and turtles living together. It was magical:
We saw reefs waving in the ocean and their 'hair' moving back and forth:
We saw hundreds of different kinds of fish eating from the reefs:
The magnificence of The Great Barrier Reef is the size. These reefs seem to go on forever and there is so much sea life. It's one of the best highlights of our journey so far; we wished we had booked more time.
On our boat, we met up with a fantastic group of people who set us straight on a few things regarding Australia and the people. First, Uggs are only for tourists- it's way, way too hot here to wear them anytime. Also, they don't own the word 'Ugg' and there are at least 30 different companies that use the name to sell their 'original' product. And it's always hot in Australia. It goes from hot and tropical (northern Australia) to real hot and hotter in Sydney by Christmas time. A lot of Aussies have never felt snow in their lifetime.
As for their language, they shorten everything as much as they can. They go for a 'sano' which means sandwich. Have you heard the word Oz? It has nothing to do with the movie. It's short for Australia, then Aussie, then Aus, and then they decided to shorten it again and change the spelling and just say Oz!! They shorten as much as they can and sometimes you can't follow them (plus their accent is hard for me, not as much for Cathy).
We haven't seen any kangaroos or koala bears yet, so there's much more to come!