We had ambitious plans for celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this month. Maybe a party. Certainly a dinner at a special restaurant. Definitely an overseas trip to somewhere I’d always wanted to go. As it turned out, budget and other constraints put paid to the overseas trip.
Instead we turned our sights to somewhere closer to home—beautiful Port Douglas in tropical North Queensland just a few hours flight from Sydney. Tropical Port Douglas, on the Great Barrier Reef, is a wonderful destination loved by both Aussies and international visitors. I adore it (and have, of course, used it as a location in my books!)
|FIRST SWIM OF THE TRIP!|
Our four nights away weren’t a private second honeymoon. We were joined by very good, longstanding friends which made it all the more special. We stayed at a lovely resort with an enormous, beautiful swimming pool of which I took full advantage.
|LOW ISLAND - OUR DESTINATION!|
Rain had been predicted for every day of our stay—it held off until the last night. The sea was a welcoming 26˚C. This was a very good thing because I wanted to fulfil a long-held ambition—to snorkel on the Barrier Reef the world’s largest coral reef system and a World Heritage Site.
|ON LOW ISLAND|
People seemed stunned when I admitted I had never seen the reef. Had never taken a ride in a glass-bottomed boat or swam in the tropical waters. The first opportunity had been way back in primary school when the school took an educative visit to the Great Barrier Reef. I was one of the ones left behind in the classroom. I wasn’t alone—in fact not many of the class were able to go. But I remember how gutted I was, as I so wanted to see the reef and the Great Barrier Reef assumed mythic proportions in my mind!
|LOW ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE|
Then when I eventually did visit northern Queensland, the weather was never right with seas too rough to venture out on a boat. Or no-one else wanted to go with me and I didn’t care to go on my own.
Not this time. Five of us were up very early to take a fast speedboat out to the inner reef at Low Island for our first, tiny taste of the reef. We were kitted out in full-length “stinger suits” that covered any part of us that wasn’t covered by mask, snorkel and flippers. This is because these waters are host to marine stingers—including the deadly box jellyfish. We were nearing the end of “stinger season” but were happy for the protection.
|All kitted out in our stinger suits!|
It was only a small part of the “inner reef”, miniscule really, as there are thousands of reefs stretching along the coastline for more than two thousand kilometres. But that was okay for our little party of snorkellers, as one of us wasn’t a confident swimmer and it was safer for her in these waters. (In fact pool noodles were provided for non-confident swimmers.) Next time, I'll be aiming for the outer reef.
|Not my photo, but I swam with a beautiful sea turtle like this one. (Deposit Photos)|
It was wonderful. There were colourful corals, really interesting sea creatures and exquisite fish of all sizes and hues. Apparently we swam near some baby sharks but thankfully I didn’t see them! What I did have the good fortune to see was a large, handsome green sea turtle. No one else spotted him/her and I swam alone with him for what seemed like ages, fascinated by his grace and beauty as he glided through the waters. It was the highlight of my trip.
The rest of our short trip was devoted to the delights of eating out in Port Douglas, perusing the fabulous Sunday markets and enjoying our time with each other and our friends. It was a truly memorable way to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
And the overseas destination I so wanted to visit for our celebration? Sri Lanka.
I was born in Colombo and have always wanted to go there. If we’d made it for our hoped for anniversary trip we would almost certainly have been there at the time of the terrible, terrorist bombings. My thoughts to the people of Sri Lanka, the victims and their families.
Have you ever had a serendipitous change of plan? Or a bucket list holiday? We’d love to read your comments!
(We did our snorkelling trip with Reef Sprinter.)