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March 25-30, 2001: Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

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The Sunny Continent finally lives up to its name.

Next up:  a flight up to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef for 5 nights. (We wonder if everything is Great in Australia - Great Ocean Road, Great Barrier Reef, Great Dividing Range...)  Cairns is a bit touristy (OK, a *lot* touristy), but we were prepared for this, and promptly rented a car and drove up to the much nicer Port Douglas for 3 days.  Taking a day for SCUBA diving at the GBR was amazing; the variety of colorful fish and coral in the clear waters can take hours to soak in.  One night at the local pub we placed bets on racing Cane Toads. (We bet on Prince Charming, Joe bet on Forrest Jump.  We all lost.  Hey, it was a slow night.)  We also took hikes in the rainforest, swam in cold rivers, and even taught Joe how to drive a manual transmission (he's a natural).

We left Port Douglas for a couple of days staying on Fitzroy Island, a national park about 25km off the coast from Cairns.  We paddled sea kayaks around the island, and saw giant clams, sea turtles, stingrays, and all manner of fish and coral while snorkeling just off the coral beach.  It was quite relaxing to stay on the island for the night - we practically had it to ourselves once the day-trippers were gone.  Along with the diving trip, it was a highlight of our stay in Queensland.

A short flight brought us down to Sydney, where we'd stay for three nights. First up was nighttime climb up the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  Don't worry Mom, we were connected to a safety line at all times!  The views of the Opera House, the Harbor, and downtown Sydney were spectacular from the top of the bridge's arch.

We visited the Taronga Zoo, a short ferry ride from Circular Quay.  Then our evening of culture at the Sydney Opera House (Nigel Kennedy with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra).  It was a great place to see the symphony.  (In the "Small World" department, we later learned that our friends David and Lyn from Melbourne were at the same show, visiting Sydney for the weekend.)

We finished our time in Sydney with a day at Manley Beach, body surfing and soaking up more sunshine.  All in all, Sydney was very impressive, with lots of people enjoying the outdoors in the parks, cycling for transportation and pleasure, and we were fortunate to enjoy great weather for our stay.

Daintree River

Joe on the Stick

Kayaks on Fitzroy Island

Lizard on Fitzroy

Sea Turtle off Fitzroy Island

Resort on Fitzroy Island

Leaving Fitzroy by Ferry

Boats off Cairns

Sydney Harbor Bridge

 

March 25-30, 2001: Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

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