07 May 2006

The Great Barrier Reef: The Land

We have returned from our Captain Cook Cruises Ultimate Reef Cruise and are settling back in to life at work. I've decided to break the cruise down for you into what will likely end up as a four part mini-series. Today we cover The Land.
We made several stops at small islands during the week. We saw Green Island, Cooktown, Lizard Island, Ribbon Reef No. 5, Hedley Reef, Hitchinbrook Island and of course Cairns, our port. This first picture is Cook's Look on Lizard Island. It is 1200 metres up, and we hiked to the
top Wednesday morning. The second picture is of me at the peak. This site is called Cook's Look because Captain Cook's ship was stuck in the reef and he couldn't find his way out. He climbed to this peak to get a view of the reef and figure a course that would allow him to get out without wrecking his ship. He actually climbed it twice because when he climbed it early in the morning, the sun was at his face and he couldn't see the coral. When he went back in the afternoon, the sun was at his back and
the reef was easily visible.
We also took a second hike on Lizard Island, but not back up Cook's Look. On Wednesday afternoon, we walked across the island to a lagoon on the other side. The water was waist deep and crystal clear as far out as you wanted to go. That walk took us along an airstrip. There is a very exclusive private resort (three night spa package: $2700) on the island that the VIPs are flying in for. Another part of the walk took us past these mangroves. Cook's look is
in the background.
We saw more mangroves back in Cairns on Friday on a tour of a crocodile farm (more on that coming), as well as the mountains pictured fourth. As you can see, the river was smooth as, leading some tourists to ski on it from time to time, we were told by the guides. These tourists are apparently unaware of the crocs lurking just under the surface.
All in all, we saw some fantastic views on the trip. Heather said she enjoyed the walks more than the snorkeling. While I personally wouldn't go that far, it was amazing. At Cook's Look, you had trouble distinguishing the water from the sky on the horizon. We saw and climbed mountains. We walked across wild islands virtually untouched by man. If you want to "get away from it all" the islands of the Great Barrier Reef would be an excellent choice.

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