Saturday 11th March 2017

Cairns and Green Island

Our scheduled arrival time in Cairns this morning was 10am, which meant that we could have a leisurely breakfast and then enjoy our approach to the city in glorious sunshine.

Before we left home Gill had booked a superb (and very expensive!) excursion out to the Barrier Reef, where she could enjoy several hours snorkelling. Unfortunately, when we boarded 'Sirena' we discovered that the excursion had been cancelled due to insufficient interest. We think that there were two reasons for this; the huge expense and the average age and mobility of our fellow passengers. There don't seem to be many people on board younger than us!

So, taking advantage of our limitless WiFi, earlier this week Gill booked a local excursion direct with a ferry company in Cairns, and everything worked out well. When we left the ship at 10.15am it was only a short walk to the ferry terminal where we picked up our tickets and boarded the 'Reef Rocker', a fast catamaran. The journey to Green Island lasted 45 minutes, skimming across turquoise seas under bright blue skies studded with cotton wool clouds. Yes, just like yesterday!

Green Island is described as a 'sand cay' rather than an island, and it's set on the edge of the Barrier Reef. It was formed 6,000 years ago by wave action depositing sand and other debris on to its coral foundations. It's a tiny place.

On arrival we shared fish and chips to tide us over, and we had to keep fending off the local birds while we ate. The were signs everywhere telling us not to feed them, but the birds clearly can't read ;o)

As part of the package that Gill had booked we had a 30 minute trip on a glass-bottomed boat scheduled for1.45pm, rather than go snorkelling beforehand we just waded and then sat on the beach. The water was very shallow, and so was amazingly warm. The beach was over-run with day-trippers like us, but the vast majority were young Japanese.

The glass-bottomed boat was great fun. The centre of the boar was glass-panelled and passengers sat along the edges looking inwards. As soon as it moved off shoals of expectant fish started to gather – they obviously knew what to expect. The helmsman went to one side and threw fish food out, leading to a mass feeding frenzy. When it died down the fish all shifted to the other side, ready for another frenzy and another feed. After that we pootled around for a while admiring the coral. The water was shallow and the sunlight was really bright, so visibility was excellent.

After this we went back to the beach so that Gill could snorkel. The problem was that the water was shallow, and in the time we'd been away the tide had gone down about a metre, so it was virtually impossible for her to make any progress. She's going to try again another day.

At 4.15pm we set off again in the catamaran heading for Cairns. The weather was still gorgeous, and we both thought we'd had a wonderful day. All we needed now was a cuppa. We were so ready for dinner that we went to the restaurant pretty much as soon as it opened, and afterwards enjoyed another 45 minute performance from the string quartet. The performer in the lounge was a Kiwi singer who's awarded himself the title 'The Voice', but he left us both cold. We'll miss tomorrow night's show because we'll be enjoying our second premium restaurant meal in 'Red Ginger' at the end of another sea day.

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