Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Australia - it's a Big, Big Country

Brisbane's Story Bridge shot from water in day time
Brisbane's Story Bridge

Three weeks in Australia and we've seen as much as we could see, but there is still so much more that we just couldn't get to in the time that we had.  Sigh...

The day we returned to Sydney we boarded the Rhapsody of the Seas and began an 11 night cruise north with stops in Newcastle, Cairns, Airlie Beach and Brisbane.  In route, we anchored at Willis Island (280 miles offshore in the Coral Sea) where there is a weather station installed and staffed for the purpose of early cyclone detection.  It was a brief stop and we're really not quite sure why it was on the itinerary...  From Cairns we made an excursion to Green Island to do some snorkeling and take a trip in a glass bottom boat.  We'd assumed the "glass bottom boat" was going to be sort of hokey - but it was actually really great for underwater viewing.

The highlight of the trip was cruising the Great Barrier Reef and flying over the Whitsunday Islands.  We'll post our flight photos for you in a few days.  In the mean time, here's a few shots from our other ports of call and the glass bottom boat.  Ahoy mates! 

The Brisbane River, which has caused so much flooding havoc in recent years, cuts through the heart of
the city.  A variety of vessels are available to tour the city - making stops at various docks along the way.
We opted for the little red "City Hopper" and enjoyed a free hour and a half tour of Brisbane from the water.

Sights along the Brisbane River.

Downtown Brisbane


Willis Island Weather Station in Australia shot from the water
The Willis Island weather station is an early warning monitoring station for cyclones.
Staff pulls six month shifts in this remote locale.

Underwater shots from Green Island Australia
From the glass bottom boat ride at Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Note that the fish in the first photo is about a foot long so that gives you
some idea as to how "giant" the giant clam is!

Water and island shot of Green Island Australia
Waters surrounding Green Island

Jellyfish in Australia in mass with inset of close up shot
Australia's jellyfish are prevalent and it's "stinger" season!

The birds are spectacularly colorful and very loud and chatty.

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