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MY EXCITING NEW CAREER WITH QUICKSILVER - GREAT BARRIER REEF

For over 18 months I have been helping visitors to Cairns book and organise their holidays by working in an Information Centre. ...

Sunday, 18 December 2016

EVERYBODY'S FREE WITH OCEAN FREE!

LET'S GO TO GREEN ISLAND!


via GIPHY

Lucky me was about to embark on another boat journey out from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef. This time, on a vessel that stands out from the rest, something.... a little different. I was heading out for a snorkel and visit to Green Island on the ONLY sail boat departing Cairns for a reef trip. That boat is OCEAN FREE.

Images of Ocean Free on my iPhone.

Ocean Free was purchased by a local couple in 1995. Later on in years they purchased another boat, Ocean Freedom. They really pride themselves on the quality and professionalism of their staff and are well known for that in Cairns. On either boat you are greeted with smiles from the get-go and are well looked after. Ocean Freedom is a bigger, busier boat with plenty of introductory divers in contrast to Ocean Free which is a much smaller boat (maximum 25 guests). You get great service like Freedom but it is oh-so-much-more personalized on Ocean Free. By the end of the day, you feel like a little family!

Checking in takes place in the Reef Fleet Terminal, just inside the main doors to the right. From there, you collect your boarding passes and make your way to A finger wharf.  

We were small numbers on this day and the weather, once again was epic (would I go out to the reef in anything less?!?!?) BUT... being such still calm conditions meant... no sailing. *sigh*. This was the trade off for a day I knew was going to be glassy with great visibility in the water.

Along the way a safety briefing was held for all followed by a intimate scuba dive briefing (this is for first time divers). The sun was out in full force on this day so thankfully the main sail was up providing us with a little shade as well as the under cover area at the stern. The journey would take close to 2 hours... plenty of time to burn! Lately I have been getting burnt in weird places on my reef trips (The sun can attack you from  all directions due to reflection from the water) so make sure you bring a hat, long sleeve shirt and wear loads of sunscreen when you head out.

On arrival to Green Island we motored our way slowly in-between the coral bommies to our mooring at Pinnacle Reef. A bommie is an cluster of reef shelf derived from the Aboriginal word "bombora". A bombora is the large waves crashing over a shallow reef or rock site located away from the Australian coast line. At Pinnicle reef there was at least 3 large "bommies" to explore snorkeling or diving.
The Beautiful scene that greeted us at Pinnacle Reef.

On arrival we were greeted by large fish such as Red Sea Bass and Giant Trevally. This boat has a licence to feed the fish which makes for a fun spectacle for guests. These fish are used to having their daily snacks at this time of day. Other regular visitors are Black Tip Reef Sharks looking for a feed. The skipper was saying they are not sure where they sleep or which area they hand around... they only have them visit in late morning before lunch. If your scared of sharks, don't be! These guys are more like big fish and are not interested in eating human!!!

First up was a guided snorkel tour which you could join if you wish or snorkel off on your own. If a guided snorkel is included in your reef trip, take advantage of it! The guide usually knows where all the cool stuff is like Nemo (clown fish) giant clams and sea cucumbers for example. We saw all 3 on this tour. I even held a Pineapple Sea Cucumber for the first time... a really odd texture and feel in your hands! You cannot touch anything on your own on the Great Barrier Reef as it is protected but Marine Biologist's can so it's worth while to go on a guided snorkel to see stuff up close.
Me holding the sea cucumber. What a strange texture!
A Pineapple Sea Cucumber under the sea. Photo from Google images.

I stayed in the water exploring after the tour while the Introductory  Scuba Dives got underway. What a great way to do your Intro Dive! 2 divers to your instructor. No crowds, no waiting your turn in groups like on the bigger boats and I noticed how patient the Instructors were with first time divers. If you want to get over any dive "fears" and this is your first time to scuba dive this is the perfect way to do it.
Some snorkel images on the Lumix Camera hired by Calypso Cameras.

After our water activities (after a couple of hours) there was a chance to go on an optional glass bottom boat tour. They have a smaller boat they use for transfers to Green Island and it also has glass panels in the floor so you can see the reef and stay dry. The skipper took us on our little tour, giving us information on the Great Barrier Reef and all the animals and fish.

Next up.... lunch time....YEEESSSSS! Cue excited face 😆😆😆 Smoked salmon here I come! I'll let the pictures do the talking. 

We had options for the remainder of the day. We could visit Green Island for 1 or 2 hours. I have been there before so decided 1 hour was enough time to take a walk around the Island and a quick dip in the sea. I wanted to head back and have one last snorkel and have the site to myself.

Green Island is a sandy cay that is 6000 years old and one of it's kind, named by Captain James Cook after his astronomer Charles Green. There is rainforest on the island (by birds over time depositing seeds in their droppings) for shade and lovely walks. There is a resort on the island and some shops, restaurant & bar and even a small zoo. This main area can be very hectic with tourists so it was nice to walk around the island away from the crowds.
Images of Green Island from my iPhone.

On the return journey it was time to chill with my fellow passengers with lovely conditions perfect for cruising, sipping a free glass of wine and eating fresh fruit, cheese & bikkies. We spotted 2 large sea snakes on the journey home, something I hadn't seen on a reef trip before... they were too hard to capture on film! doh!

Overall, this is my top pick for a visit to Green Island including a decent snorkel. By going to just the island there isn't good reef to see swimming off the sand... perhaps good turtle spotting, but not good reef. Joining Ocean Free gives you the best of both worlds and if Green Island isn't really your thing, you don't have to stay long.

Massive thanks to the staff who looked after us that day. You guys were professional, chilled and relaxed and made time to speak with all of the guests. I felt very "at home" on FREE and had a lovely relaxing day. Many people come in to my work asking for a small  intimate boat experience, this is the definitely that! 😊


THANKS AGAIN TO CALYPSO CAMERAS (LOCATED AT THE REEF FLEET TERMINAL) FOR THE HIRE OF MY LUMIX CAMERA.


CHECK OUT MY 6 MINUTE FUN MUSIC VIDEO FROM MY DAY WITH OCEAN FREEDOM BELOW!


WANT TO BOOK THIS DAY TRIP? VIST THIS WEBSITE & LET REEF INFO CAIRNS SHOW YOU HOW!
http://www.reefinfo.com.au



HARD FACTS…

Visit time:
Whole day trip

Times:
08:00am  to 5:00pm-5:15pm (Check in from 7:30am Reef Fleet Terminal)

Suitable for: 
  • Not so good swimmers to good swimmers
  • Nervous first time divers
  • Those wanting a relaxing sail day
Fitness level (out of 5):
  •  💪 💪  
Time of year:
  • All year round (Stinger season is from October through to April)
  • Lycra suits provided  
Price:

  • $185 + $10/Adult levy SNORKEL
  • $100 + $10/Child SNORKEL
  • $105/Adult for first Introductory Scuba dive on top of snorkel price
  • $513 + $40/Family snorkel


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