Apr 24, 2019

Barrier Reef dreaming – by Kandy Shepherd

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!)


 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.


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.


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!


 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.)



  1. What a beautiful post Kandy and huge congratulations on your wedding anniversary, we went to South Mole Island many years ago and did a glass bottom boat tour around there we didn't see much of the reef but some and the turtles they are beautiful.

    It was so sad what happened in Sri Lanka my heart goes out to the people, I actually had a girlfriend who arrived the day before the bombings luckily she and her partner got out safely and I am glad you were in Port Douglas and are safe. I don't think we have ever had any serendipitous plans before.

    Have Fun


    1. So gad your friend was safe, Helen. I'm still determined to get to Sri Lanka!

  2. Kandy, what a marvellous trip. I have wonderful memories of snorkelling on the reef but I haven't swum with turtles. Hope you make it there again. Clearly it's your sort of place.

    1. My favourite destinations seem to involve water and swimming, don't they Annie! I definitely want to go there again.

  3. Yes, Lyn, the budget does determine the bucket list, doesn't it! I hope you get to your bucket list destinations! I'm still determined to get to Sri Lanka.

  4. Dr Itua cure my HIV, I have been a ARV Consumption for 10 years. i have been in pains until i came across Dr Itua on blogs site.I emailed him about my details of my HIV and my location i explained every thing to him and he told me that there is nothing to be scared of that he will cured me, he gave me guarantee,He ask me to pay for items fees so when i'm cured I will show gratitude I did and giving testimony of his healing herbs is what I'm going to do for the rest of you out there having HIV and other disease can see the good work of Dr Itua.I received his herbal medicine through EMS Courier service who delivered to my post office within 5 working days.Dr Itua is an honest man and I appreciate him for his good work.My GrandMa called him to appreciate him and rest of my friends did too,Is a joy to me that I'm free of taking Pills and having that fat belle is a nightmare.you will understand what i'm talking about if you have same problem I was having then not now though.I'm free and healthy Big Thanks To Dr Itua Herbal Center.I have his calendar too that he recently sent me,He Cure all kind disease Like,Cancer,Weak Erection,Wart Remover,Hpv,Herpes,Fibromyalgia,Hiv,Hepatitis B,Liver/Kidney Inflamatory,Epilepsy,Blood Cancer,Prostate Cancer,Colo-Rectal Cancer,Brain Cancer,Lung Cancer,Infertility,Fibroid,Diabetes,Dercum,Copd ,and also Bring back Ex Lover Back..Here his Contact .drituaherbalcenter@gmail.com Or Whats_app Number +2348149277967