One week from today, we're off to Sydney, then Fiji...Final preparations...A mixed bag of emotions and activities...


Walkway along the pond in Trinity Beach area.  There doesn't appear to be as many vacation homes in this particular area as we've seen in other beach areas.
The final week before departing for a new location is a mixed bag of emotions and activities.  Excitement over the upcoming new environment, a bit of apprehension over the quality of our seen-online-only-accommodations and the hope and expectation that travel day will be seamless.

In the upcoming travel to the second largest island in the Fiji archipelago we decided to break up the travel into two days when we were unable to arrange flights at reasonable hours. 

As it is, we'll have to be up at 4 am next Tuesday morning, September 8th, to board the 6:30 am flight from Sydney to Savasavu, Vanua Levu.  The alternative would have been to spend the night at the airport, simply not our style in our efforts to avoid stress and exhaustion when possible.


A manmade pond at a condo complex in the Trinity Beach.
Today, we're off to the Trinity Beach post office to purchase a large box in order to pack necessary food supplies to ship to Fiji where they do not carry these particular items.  Once we bring the box back home to be packed and weighed, we'll bring it back to the same post office for shipping.

We're sending another box to ourselves to remain at our mailing service in Las Vegas, Nevada filled with tax receipts we must save, paper copies of our medical reports and my Africa boots.  When the time comes that we'll need the boots, we'll ask the mailing service to ship them to us wherever we may be at the time. 

We haven't determined a "typical" style of houses in this area.  Some are gated, such as in this photos but most are not.
Sending this box to the mailing service saves us around 3.6 kilos, 8 pounds, in excess baggage weight over these upcoming many flights.  Sure, there will be an expense to ship this box but with five upcoming flights between now and January, we'd have paid over and over again for the same items.

I must admit, I failed to scan every receipt we needed to save, as I'd originally planned.  In the beginning of our travels, I was all over this.  But, as time marched on I began making a pile of receipts to be scanned never getting around to the time consuming task. 

View or Yorkey's Knob beach and area.
Our portable scanner, which works well, requires multiple receipts be placed inside a clear double sheet of plastic scanning numerous receipts at once. This became time consuming and bothersome.  Failing to stay on top of this task occasionally nagged at me.  Normally, I'm all over this stuff.  And the receipts piled up.

Finally, I let go of it nagging me and decided in the realm of things, its no big deal.  All of the receipts, not organized by year, would only be necessary if, God forbid, we were audited. 

If not, we have all the records of purchases on our spreadsheet with copies on multiple clouds and on our external hard drive. Over these past years, I became tired of hauling around three years of receipts in our luggage.  It looks like I either have to get on the ball and start scanning new receipts or accumulating them once again.  We shall see.  I haven't decided yet.

The view of Double Island and Scout Island are a pleasant beginning to any day in Trinity Beach. 
After accessing the food we have left for meals for the next week, one more trip to the grocery store is necessary.  We wanted to make easy meals as we always do during the last week before departing for a new location.  We always plan to prepare easy meals for which there will be leftovers for two nights for a total of three nights.

For this upcoming week, we decided on pizza with green salad for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and tuna salad, mushroom, onion, bacon burger patties with green salad on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  We often make meals to last for two or three nights.  It not only saves money but also saves considerable time in the kitchen. 

Often, when making meals for leftovers with all the chopping and dicing done in advance, we do the cooking separately each night to ensure its most fresh.  In the case of pizza and the above tuna salad, we'll make these all at once, cooking the mushrooms, onions and bacon burgers and salads fresh each night.

Large house on the shore of the pond in Trinity Beach. 
Many vacation rentals have tiny kitchens and the less time spent in the kitchen the better as in this house which has minimal counter space in a relatively large kitchen. 

The same scenario will be the case in Fiji, a tiny galley kitchen.  It was only in  the fabulous house in Madeira, Portugal that we had a lot of counter space, making cooking enjoyable and easy.

The almost 90 days we've spent in Trinity Beach has been pleasant and in part task related in getting our medical and dental exams and tests completed with good results. 

A car rental shop is located in the heart of Trinity Beach which may not be busy with the car rental shops at the nearby airport in Cairns, a 25 minute drive from this location.  Should a visitor rent a car from here, they'd have to arrange transportation back to the airport.  However, is a tourist is staying in a nearby hotel on the beach, a few day rental may be perfect from this location.
We've found this amount of time (under 90 days) are perfect for familiarizing ourselves with an area, its people and its culture.  We've seen considerable sites and have literally visited every beach in the area. 

We've been to the closest bigger city, Cairns, many times, visiting many of its most popular tourist attractions.  We visited the popular Port Douglas and meandered many of its tourists attractions.

We've come to know the people at Woolie's, the pharmacy, the farm stand and the butcher on a first name basis.  We've frequently seen interesting birds and learned to tune out the noisy curlews at night, now able to leave the narrow window with a screen open for fresh air while we sleep.

Red Cross Road leads to the hospital and medical facilities in Cairns with many restaurants nearby including this Flying Monkey located on Highway 1 which travels through the city.
Now, we're on a fast path of becoming organized with careful packing to keep the baggage costs under control and packing a separate carry on bag for the overnight in Sydney to avoid opening the three larger checked bags.

Its all good.  We're content, not anxious.  That's not to say that Tom won't become "overly grumpy" on travel day as I continue in my annoying "overly bubbly" state of mind.

Happy Sunday or Monday to all of you!
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Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2014:

No photos were posted on this date one year ago as we made our way via a private car to the port in Harwich, England to the pier to board our ship to Boston, Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas for a 14 day cruise.  Instead, we posted the ship's itinerary which is shown below.  We'd intended to post later in the day but time got away from us not posting again until the next morning.  For details from the day of departure, please click here.

DAYDATEPORTARRIVE  DEPART
SunAug31London (Harwich), England5:00pm
MonSep1Paris (Le Havre), France7:00am9:00pm
TueSep2Portland, England7:00am4:00pm
WedSep3Cork (Cobh), Ireland10:00am4:30pm
ThuSep4At Sea
FriSep5Klaksvik, Faroe Islands9:00am6:00pm
SatSep6At Sea
SunSep7Reykjavik, IcelandNoon
MonSep8Reykjavik, Iceland5:00pm
TueSep9At Sea
WedSep10At Sea
ThuSep11At Sea
FriSep12At Sea
SatSep13At Sea
SunSep14Boston, MA6:00am

What we love about the Australia people...Friends we've made throughout the world...Year ago link to expenses for 15 nights in London...


We're always fascinated with this puffy flowers, often found in tropical climates.
There are so many aspects to living in Australia that we find endearing, humorous and pleasantly surprising that it would take days to write about them all.

Instead, today, we've share some of those thoughts and perspectives.  Sure, our opinions are tainted with our long established Americanized views (some of which are wafting away as we travel the world) but, after traveling to countless countries we're beginning to feel we're acquiring an ability to make a fair observation.

This creature was in the living room with us.  We scooped it up in the dustpan putting it outside on the grass. Immediately, it ran back toward the open door to the house.  Picking it up a second time, Tom took it out to the rainforest in the backyard.  We'd expected to see more insects in the house in Australia and although we've seen quite a few, there hasn't been nearly as many as there were in Kenya and South Africa.  As we were warned, flies are rampant preventing us from keeping the doors open.  There no screens in the house other than on two small windows, one in the living room and another in the bedroom.
And for those of you out there that always hover on the side of being "politically correct," which we strive to accomplish in a subtle manner, we may seem to be generalizing and stereotyping an entire continent and culture.

We can't help it.  Australians are simply unique in many wonderful ways!  To say everyone falls into the wonderfulness category would be foolhardy since every country has some less than desirable types.  Thus, we don't include them in this category. 

Sunrise this morning which ultimately brought a sunny day.
However, there is a common thread that appears to run through the Australian people that we've observed over and over again, everywhere we go, in literally everything we do. 

Australians are a fun, friendly, generous and considerate people.  Their manners are impeccable.  They laugh easily and find a way to bring humor into many situations and yet remain sensitive, often easily showing emotions in times of worry, compassion and sorrow.

When we spent 18 days on the cruise on our way to Australia with over 1400 Australians on board, we had the most fun we'd ever had on a cruise, day after day, night after night. 

Limes growing in the yard ready for picking.  Guacamole, here we come, using pork rinds for dipping.
Early on in that cruise, Tom and I both noticed our feet were swollen, a condition neither of us normally experienced.  It was due to sitting with people all day long, drinking our iced tea (and other beverages for Tom) while engaged in lively conversations, often laughing our butts off, hardly moving from our seats. 

After a few days, we made a point of getting up and walking around a bit while the other of us held our seats and the ongoing delightful banter.  The swelling dissipated in a few days while we continued having such an extraordinary time.

Tom reaching up to pick a lime.
Living in Trinity Beach we didn't have an opportunity to make new friends.  The privacy of the house and the fact that we hadn't gone out to meet people at social functions and various establishments was entirely our own fault.

By perusing menus at dozens of local restaurants, we realized it was too risky to dine in restaurants while here.  Although the options sounded tasty, many included sauces with ingredients I can't have. 

Also, when foods are cooked in pans with gluten, sugar or starch, my food could easily be contaminated if cooked in the same pans.  Few restaurants throughout the world make this accommodation although, we've been lucky on cruise ships and dining in some restaurants.

On a walk in the area on this narrow road.
Had we gone out to the pubs and casual dining, most assuredly, we'd have made new friends.  I practically made friends while grocery shopping at Woolie's (Woolworth's) or the pharmacy where even the other shoppers often started up conversations, let alone the friendly staff.

Whether we were walking on the beach running into others doing the same, sitting on a bench at a park or walking down the street, friendliness is the expected norm in Australia.

In our old lives, I walked almost every day, often in cold weather.  Living in the same neighborhood for 26 years, I'd often encountered the same people doing also on a regular walk. 

Its hard to avoid taking more photos of these Flintstone's character statues in a nearby yard.
A friendly nod or hello may have been in order but a conversation was seldom to be had. The busy nature and fast pace of life in the US, often attributed to keeping people constantly on the move, seldom with time for idle chatter.  We were no different.  The pace of that life contributed to our desire to travel the world.

But, that life was our norm.  We never questioned it.  We had our own little neighborhood and circle of friends, rarely stepping outside that safe cocoon of people we knew and loved, still staying in touch with many of them today.

This is not to say that people haven't been friendly in other countries.  We had a phenomenal time we'll always treasure with many new friends we made in South Africa, hopefully to return someday to see them all;  Okee Dokee, Louise and Dani, Dawn and Leon, Linda and Ken, Hettie and Piet, and Kathy and Donald.  The list could easily continue on and on.

Most yards are left relatively wild in order to embrace the local vegetation.  However, this neighboring home has a more manicured yard.
Also, as any of readers who followed us through Kauai, Hawaii will recall, we made more friends that we can count, particularly our dear friends Richard and Elaine.

Richard proved to be the best social director in the world by virtue of a kind and loving nature that made him revel in bringing good people together. We easily recall countless great social events and ongoing connections with Pat and Brenda, Vicki and Jerry, Cathy and Rick, Bev and Sam, Alice and Trevor, Louise and Steve and Cheryl and Paul (who are from Minnesota).  Here again, the list could easily continue on and on.

We miss Richard, frequently touching base by email, as we do with many of the other friends we've made in various countries and of course, those we've met and come to love, having met them here online; Liz and Dave, Staci and Glenn, Pat and Dan, Joanette, Jodi and countless more, too many to list.

(We apologize for not mentioning everyone's name).

Funny looking tree with a type of fuzz wrapped around the branches.
Of course, closest to our hearts on the most recent Australian cruise from Honolulu, Hawaii to  Sydney, Australia was Reene and Geoff, a couple we hope to see again in our many future travels in Australia.  We couldn't have had a better time with them.

We could go nuts listing all the new friends we made on cruises and even some we've met online and will meet in person on an upcoming cruise next year, Staci and Glenn.  Much to our delight, Laura and Michael, a fabulous couple we met on the cruise from London to Boston, one year ago, are coming to visit us in Bali in 2016.

As a result of all of our past experiences in making new friends, we never felt lonely not making many new friends in Australia.  We've enjoyed countless conversations and banter with our landlords Sylvie and Andy, who although aren't native Australians, (Sylvie's from France, Andy's from the UK), they too possess that warm, friendly and considerate demeanor we've witnessed everywhere we go.
Although most homes in the area are well kept and maintained, occasionally we spot a house that could use a little fixing up.
When we shop in the stores, saying "Thank you" to the salesperson for their thoughtful assistance, they always respond, "No worries."  Each time we hear this adorable response (as opposed to "you're welcome"), we chuckle over its endearing quality. 

Another of the expressions we've loved  in Australia is "good on you" which indicates "good for you" when we've been asked where we're from and we mention we're traveling the world.  They look into our eyes with an enormous smile on their faces saying, "Good on you."

In eight days we'll be flying to Sydney, staying overnight to head to Fiji early the next morning on September 8th.  From what we hear the people of Fiji are equally friendly as are those in New Zealand, where we'll be living in a little over four and a half months. 

The world is a big place and we're often bombarded with all the bad news, the bad people and the horrifying events.  Amid all of the horror in the world, there are more loving people willing to make new friends, willing to extend their kindness and willing to make an effort to make the world a better place. 

We continue to be in awe of having had the privilege of spending time in the friendly continent of Australia and similar locations all over the world.

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Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2014:

Tom got a kick out of this car which appeared to be the "shortest" car we'd yet to see in Europe.  We were quickly winding down our time in London and had listed all our expenses for 15 nights in South Kensington, dining out for all meals.  Click here to see the total expenses.

Aging while living a life on the move...Check out these final Green Island photos...



There were many seagulls in the area surrounding Green Island especially when the fish were fed by the staff.
Providing we take care to avoid injuries and happen to be fortunate enough to avoid natural disasters and risks in public or at our home at the time, our biggest enemy is aging.  Of course, we're all aging from the moment we're born and in reality, aging appears to progress at a regular and consistent pace once we become adults.  
The green cast from the coral below created the water's pretty color.
Recalling our own differences between ages 30 and 40, 50 and 60 and now that we're both in the 60's to 70's decade, it all seems to have progressed similarly, unfortunately, all downhill.

All the exercise, healthy diets and lifestyle changes can't stop the progression although it may slow it to a degree.  Although, if one is lucky, the progression may not be as evident on them as on others for the sake of appearances.  However, what's going inside the body is another matter.

Although there were a number of boats conducting tourist activities around the island, it wasn't as crowded as we'd expected.
For most of us, as we age, our appearance becomes less and less important. Being alive and well becomes of the ultimate significance. We do our best to show the world a pleasant appearance, through whatever means suits us whether its a mustache, haircut or close shave for men or makeup (or not) and certain hairstyles for women.

To a degree most of us make some sort of effort whether its wearing a clean tee shirt and pair of jeans or an entire put-together outfit that makes one appear to have stepped out of a magazine advertisement. 

The seagulls went wild when the fish were fed by the staff in order to give the visitors a show.  They explained they monitored the amounts they fed the fish to avoid them becoming complacent in their search for food.  However, with these multiple daily feedings, complacency may have been unavoidable.
Its all a matter of personal choice and who has a right to comment or complain about the decisions of others in this area? As we live in a world desperately attempting to love and accept each person, regardless of their appearance, we find we still have a long way to go.

Will the future bring "designer babies" with perfect features or will we all meld into a level of total acceptance finding beauty in all of our differences?  When we lived amid wildlife in Africa, we observed even the most peculiar of animals with admiration regardless of their snarly looking faces, unwieldy tusks and unkempt sprouts of coarse and wild hair. 
Few tourists spent time at the beaches at Green Island from what we observed during our half day visit.
I speak of the ungainly warthog, which some may consider as one of the ugliest creatures in the wild.  And yet, when we saw those unruly faces, we felt admiration and warmth in our hearts, not over their looks but over their playful demeanor.  Would that we could feel such admiration and attraction for one another regardless of our appearance.

As it relates to aging, the inevitability of it all becomes more evident for me as I approach 70 years old.   It was only yesterday I was in my 30's and yet...here I am, happier than I've ever been wondering how long this amazing life will be able to continue with aging knocking at my door, the same aging knocking at your door.

A few of the beaches had lifeguards on duty and yet few visitors hung out at the beach.
This all came to my mind on Thursday as I completed three loads of laundry, spent hours in the kitchen making various foods for our way of eating, cleaning and dusting the house, never asking Tom for help while he sat outside on the veranda. 

He was happily content researching his family tree, never aware as to what was going on inside, other than when I asked him to put the freshly washed tight bottom sheet back on the mattress and walk the garbage down the steep hill to the bins.  He'd have easily helped me with anything else on the agenda, had I asked.

Tom walking on the pier checking the sea for signs of life, carrying our huge unnecessary bag loaded with towels, ice tea, extra camera batteries, etc.  We could easily have gotten by without the bag and its contents, putting everything we needed in our pockets.  Since I no longer own a handbag, Tom usually carries my few items in his roomy pockets.
But, like him, I was happily content busying myself inside doing household tasks I've always seemed to find rewarding for some odd reason. 

As I did the work, periodically I checked my Fitbit device hooked to my shorts, wondering how many steps I was taking in my frenzy of activity.  It was less than I'd anticipated in this relatively small house at a total of 5800 steps for the day, a far cry from my goal of 10,000 steps hardly reached most days in this life unless we're out for a long walk.

There were hundreds of these birds in the visitors shopping area where there's scraps of food offered by tourists, not a good idea when "people food" can be harmful for birds.
For the first time, as I whizzed through my day, I began to wonder if I will be able to keep up this pace in 10 years.  Will I still have the energy and ability to move relatively freely from one task after another?  Will the bit of exercise I get and walks we take be enough to see me through these upcoming years to allow me to continue to perform these tasks.

Seagull amid flight in the breeze.
One could say, since I'm five years older than Tom, that eventually he can do it all.  As much as I'd like to think he could and would, its not likely he'll be motivated to make the low carb, grain, starch and sugar free muffins or the delicious mushroom casserole we've been enjoying as a side dish recently.

Yesterday, with the house clean and laundry done (except for the daily one load of bath and kitchen towels), I found myself on a new reign of activity while I prepared two free range chickens with vegetables (great leftovers for tonight)to begin to roast at 4 pm, baked a batch of our favorite macaroons, made a salad, cleaned fresh green beans and folded the one load of wash.

As we waited for the Rocket Reef (boat) to arrive at the pier to return us to Cairns, the seagulls gathered around us.
(We can't purchase "take away" meals when none of the options are suitable for my way of eating.  Dining out is challenging at best.  Instead, we cook all of our meals, many simple meals prepared in short periods and others requiring more time and effort).

All of this type of activity is commenced after typically spending my entire morning preparing the daily post, often not finishing until close to noon.  Don't get me wrong...I love doing the posts. 


This scene reminded us of the many ports we've visited over these past years.
To date, our daily post never feel as if its a chore. Then again, neither do the household tasks as long as good health continues and I'm able to continue to perform these daily tasks.  Is it inevitable that one slows down in their 80's or even 90's?

We left friends behind 10 years older than I, still able to keep a pace comparable to mine.  They remain an inspiration.  Aging is not an illness or condition.  It is a fact of life that faces every single one of us.  How we choose to live through that process whether we have limitations or not, is truly our choice.


We couldn't imagine what an eskie is when we read this sign.  Once home, we looked online to discover its a cooler or "chill box."
Putting negative thoughts behind me after allowing them to fester for two days, today I awoke with a fresh perspective.  No more worrying about my ability to be as active in 10 years as I am today.  Instead, I choose to embrace the moment and the imminent future. 

Good grief, we're on our way to Fiji in nine days! 
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Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2014:

It was one year ago today that we posted this taxidermy kangaroo photo from our visit to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, UK.  Now, we can drive down the road to see live kangaroos. How ironic. For more museum photos as we wound down the time in the UK, please click here.


The Great Barrier Reef tours...Glass bottomed boat...Semi-submersible interior photo...Cost for the day...


A semi-submersible boat with passengers in the lower deck checking out the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef.
Once we arrived at the pier in Green Island, it was almost time to board the first of the two boating events we'd booked, a tour on the glass bottom boat. We'd both wondered what a tour on this type of boat would be like.  Our expectations were in check.

There was a support post down the center of the boat that sorely impeded viewing and photo taking opportunities.  I'd expected a single flat window running along the bottom of the boat over which we'd lean, watch and take photos.


The glass bottom boat wasn't as conducive for watching and taking photos of marine life and coral.
With the equivalent of window panes trimmed in metal frames as shown in the above photo, when a fish swam within the frame of our window, it was lost in a second when it reached the "window pane" of the person sitting next to us. Also, there were vertical posts supporting the structure between each two people further impeding the view.

Photos of the coral reef appear monotone.
As a result of this design, it was nearly impossible to take any decent photos. Of the group of possibly 40 tourists a few were taking photos struggling for good shots not unlike me.  The glass appeared to be tinted a light green making everything in view a monotone color.  This proved to also be the case on the semi-submersible submarine.


More coral reef from the glass bottom boat.
As for the semi-submersible...it had an appearance comparable to an aluminum pontoon, such as an old fishing boat.  Once on the deck of the boat we walked down a short staircase broken up with a landing, turning and then maneuvering a steeper almost ladder-like structure into the full interior.


The variety of life in the coral reef in beyond anything we'd seen.
Two tourists sit side by side on a pull down aluminum seat until all 20 were in place.  Tight quarters.  The interior was no more than 1.22 meters, 4 feet wide.  Very tight quarters. 


Marine life in the coral reef is unlike anything else in nature.
With babies crying, passengers trying to find seats where there were none, I felt like offering up my seat and getting out.  Tom looked at me reassuringly that staying put was for the best.  There was no way I could crawl out anyway. 

Although, there were a few moments of passing massive schools of fish swimming, here again, it was nearly impossible to get good photos through the green tinted glass as the semi-submersible vehicle moved along the water.


This tiny space in the semi-submersible had seats for 20.  As shown, its packed as tight as sardines.
The reason the boat is referred to as semi-submersible is due to the fact that the top deck of the aluminum boat is not underwater.  A door is left open during the tour while a tour guide sits on the steps describing some of the fish passing by below.

If one suffers with claustrophobia, this boat may not be an ideal scenario, not as much from the submersion, as from the tight person-to-person contact of a total of 20 people jammed into very tight quarters.  From what we'd read online at the company's site, no more than 10 passengers would board the boat.


The fish have learned that these boats provide a government approved "feeding" of a marine based pellet to allow the visitors in the boats to see more fish.  As a result when they see the boats coming, they gather around for food.
We saw a number of fish, a few sea turtles and a small section of the coral reef.
Although photos taking wasn't ideal, we were glad we had the experience and sighed a breath of fresh air when it was over.  I doubt we'll care to partake in either of these two types of boat tours again in our future travels.

Surely, snorkeling would have been a better alternative but, much to our surprise we only spotted a handful of snorkelers in the designated areas, although many tourists were swimming at the sandy beach, most without wetsuits.


Mostly, tourists used smartphones for photo taking.
After the back-to-back boat tours ended we wandered down the long pier to Green Island stopping frequently to peak over the edge of the pier to check for any signs of life. 

With no tinted glass to impede our view, we still weren't able to get good photos being high above the water's surface while standing on the pier.  Also, as much as a sunny day was preferable, the brightness of the sun created a glare on the water.


With only a small amount of food offered to the fish from the boat, in an attempt to keep them interested in seeking their own sustenance, the fish quickly swam away.
At Green Island, we were surprised to find a beautiful visitor's area shaded by trees, including a variety of shops, dining establishments and scuba and snorkeling rental shops.  Tables, chairs and park benches lined the area creating comfortable seating for tourists to stop to relax. 



After taking our time walking through the tourist area, it was fast approaching time to return to the pier to board the departing 4:15 pm Rocket Reef boat to make our way back to the port in Cairn  The return boat ride included a distant whale breaching sighting, here again too distant for any good photos. 


The boat to the left is the semi-submersible "submarine" we boarded to see the coral reef.
Including the two boat tours, the glass bottomed and semi-submersible, our total cost for the half day visit to Green Island was AUD $219, USD $157 plus AUD $12, USD $8.61 for parking.  The parking area was approximately 10 minutes from the boat tour check-in building that had restrooms, seating and beverages. 

Only credit cards with a built in chip are accepted in the pay machines in the car park at various points in the outdoor lot.  Luckily, a few of our newer cards actually have chips and this worked well.


A boat, the Big Cat, remained docked at the pier in Green Island for visitors to use as a rest station and meeting point for other tours and events their company hosts.
Finding the Reef Fleet Terminal at Pier Point Road, for check-in was tricky if unfamiliar with the area as we were.  With less than ideal directions from the website of the tour company, we easily spent extra time searching for the building.  We'd suggest allowing no less than an extra 30 minutes before required check-in time to find the terminal. 

In essence, we were smart to have booked the half day tour as opposed to the full day.  We had the perfect amount of time at the site.  If we'd booked the full day, we'd have an extra four hours. 


A view from the pier at the reef.  As the coral ends, there often a pristine sandy bottom.
I'd have enjoyed lounging on the sandy beach for a few hours but, Tom would have been sunburned.   In all of our travels, our first consideration is one another's comfort and well being.

Had we known more about the experience we still would have booked the tour. There was no way we wouldn't have gone to see a portion of the Great Barrier Reef when we were so close living in this area.  Overall, it was a fine experience.


Another view of a small portion of the reef from the pier.
We're fast fast losing interest in booking any large group tours if other options are available such as small groups we've joined with other cruise passengers we've met on cruises or at cruisecritic.com.

However, in our upcoming Mekong River cruise, there are days and days of land group tours with other passengers.  These types of tours are unavoidable and there's no doubt we'll have a good time as we tour Cambodia and Vietnam.


As the boat left Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef.
With only 10 days remaining until we depart Australia, we now feel satisfied that we've experienced the area as much if not more than we intended.  During this remaining period, we'll visit a few parks and beaches, walking for exercise and to further revel in the beauty of this nature-rich continent until we return again in the future on many upcoming cruises.

Tomorrow, we'll post a new story and wrap up a few more Great Barrier Reef photos.  Have a wonderful day!
 ___________________________________________

Photo from one year ago, August 28, 2014:

As we wound down the time in London with only three days remaining, we had dinner after a visit to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington.  For many museum photos, please click here.


Th

The Great Barrier Reef...Green Island history and tour...


The Great Barrier Reef covers 344,400 square kilometers (132,972 square miles) in area.
The Great Barrier Reef is considered one of the world's greatest treasures and is a vital aspect to the world's eco system.  Yesterday, having an opportunity to see a portion of this vast natural icon that can be seen from outer space, was rewarding and memorable.
We waiting on a curb for the boat to arrive at the pier for our 45 minute ride to Green Island.
For reasons we posted two days ago, we choose not to snorkel.  However, I can't say that had we been able to snorkel, our experience would have been a lot different.
We weren't able to get a spot in the bow for photo taking during the ride to Green Island.  We remained inside in air conditioned comfort although I was anxious to take photos outdoor photos.  Our boat, Big Cat's Reef Rocket, was modern with free wifi, restrooms, beverages and snacks.
What lies beneath the sea is undoubtedly awe inspiring.  It appeared that scuba diving would be most rewarding, as opposed to snorkeling, being able to maneuver more freely over the endless coral reefs.  Actually, we saw few people snorkeling and less scuba diving.

Snorkelers were able to purchase their snorkel gear and wetsuits from this bar inside the boat.
In all, there are 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays and approximately 150 inshore mangrove islands.  We visited Green Island, only one of those many islands that has been built into a tourist ready environment, enabling visitors from around the world to see this natural phenomenon.


With ocean spray on the windows I shot this photo of the massive pier at Green Island which accommodates several companies providing a variety of activities including wind surfing, scuba diving and tours on semi-submersible and glass bottom boats. 
Australia, from what we've seen thus far, is a continent highly in tune with its rich natural resources.  When a venue is created its done so with respect for those resources with the intent of ensuring as natural an experience as possible when sharing those resources with the public. 
Another of the charter boats heading to the Great Barrier Reef.  Not all boats go to Green Island with numerous other charters available for different prices and arrival times.
Green Island is no exception.  Every consideration was made over the years to develop a significant space where the visitor would feel in one with the environment.  In doing so, a little of the magic is taken away but what is left is a fair representation of what explorers may have discovered centuries ago.

The colorful views around us was only a small section of the Great Barrier Reef.
Nothing was spared in providing safety and convenience and in allowing visitors the optimum experience savoring the beauty of the island while respectfully representing the significance of the surrounding treasures only a short distance below the water's surface. 

Green Island, as we approached (through the glass).
Over and again, visitors are reminded to treat the coral reef with reverence and respect to avoid upsetting the ecosystem and habitats for thousands of creatures.


This parasailing equipment included a chair for two at a cost of  AUD $280, USD $200 per couple.  Although some of these types of activities may appeal to us, we have to pick and choose what is most important to us for the long term
Green Island has a rich history dating back to the 1770's as shown in this chart below:

"Significant Historical Dates for Green Island

Green Island has an amazing history! Even though Green Island is a very small island, it has played an important role in the history of Tropical North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef region.

When on Green Island, take some time to visit the colourful Interpretive Boardwalk. Designed in 6 languages, it showcases the island's European and Aboriginal histories as well as its outstanding natural values.
Pre 1770 Local Aboriginal tribes (Gungandji and Mandingalbay) used Green Island and its reef for fishing, hunting, and manhood initiation ceremonies.
1770Captain Cook first marked Green Island on the navigational charts and named it after the astronomer onboard, Charles Green.
1857A bech-de-mer (sea cucumber) smoking station was established on Green Island. It was operated by a fisherman called JSV Mein, and operated for several decades before closing down.
1863A ship called the ‘Antagonist’ shipwrecked on Green Island reef while carrying horses to India (14 May 1863).
1889
  • Coconuts were planted to provide shelter, food and drink for shipwrecked sailors.
  • Grass hut accommodation was constructed for fishing and hunting parties.
1890The first organised pleasure cruises to Green Island commenced on a local coaster called ‘Zeus’.
1906
  • Green Island was declared a Recreational Reserve under the Cairns Council.
  • The first public jetty was constructed.
1924Hayles commenced fortnightly passenger service from Cairns to Green Island.
1930Kitty & Noel Monkman, pioneers in underwater photography and videography, moved to Green Island. During WW II they acted as volunteer air observers.
1931The replacement jetty was constructed by Cairns Town Council.
1932Cairns Town Council was granted a license to remove coral from the Green Island reef flat to make lime for mainland cane fields (operated until 1945).
1934Green Island declared a Fauna Sanctuary
1936Management control of Green Island changed from Cairns Town Council to the Queensland State.
1937
  • Green Island was declared a National Park.
  • World’s first glassbottom boat launched.
  • Research facility built (now Dept. of Primary Industry Research Laboratory).
  • Hayles was granted the first 20-year lease to develop a hotel with tourism activities
1939First groyne was built to protect the foreshore.
1942 The first hotel, Coral Cay Hotel, was constructed by Hayles.
1946Jetty was reconstructed after being destroyed by cyclone.
1954World’s first underwater observatory opened.
1958Island camping permits no longer issued.
1960Present jetty constructed.
1961Great Barrier Reef Theatre constructed.
1963Redeveloped hotel, the Green Island Reef Resort, opens.
1964Crocodile Farm opens – the first ever on an island. Renamed Marineland Melanesia in 1972
1970
  • Queen Elizabeth II visits Green Island on her 44th birthday – as part of her tour that followed in Captain Cook’s footsteps.
  • Sandbag retaining wall built near jetty to protect resort land from erosion.
1974Green Island Reef declared a Marine National Park by the Queensland Government.
1978Seaplane access to Green Island permitted.
1981Green Island Reef zoned a Marine National Park ‘B’ with a Buffer Zone under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act (extending 500m out from edge of reef).
1982Daily fast catamaran service from Cairns commenced by Hayles Pty Ltd.
1988Dreamworld Corporation purchased Green Island Reef Resort and ferry services from Hayles Pty Ltd and renamed the company Great Adventures.
1989Green Island Reef Resort closed due to disrepair.
1991Daikyo Pty Ltd purchased the resort and ferry service on Green Island from Dreamworld Corporation
1992Redevelopment of Green Island Resort and day facilities commenced.
1993Redeveloped day facilities opened to the public.
1994The Green Island Resort luxury accommodation opened.
2001Green Island Resort desalination plant operational – producing over 55,000 litres of freshwater daily.
2005Quicksilver Connections acquires Great Adventures and Green Island Resort from Daikyo Pty Ltd
As shown in the above chart, Green Island has grown as a popular tourist attraction over the years.  From this perspective, we accept the commercialism required to make Green Island a viable location to which visitors will flock after writing good reviews all over the web. 

After disembarking the Reef Rocket, we walked along the pier heading to the boat at the end of the pier, the Big Cat, where tourists are to wait to gain access to the semi-submersible submarine and the glass bottom boat.  The pier was high above the water but we did our best to take a few photos of the colorful fish.

Blue fish!  Wow!
Did we have a great time at the Great Barrier Reef?  We had a good time, very grateful for the experience.  Who visits Queensland and doesn't see the Great Barrier Reef? 

Its never easy to take photos from above water.  We did our best, hoping to capture these colorful blue fish.  There are hundreds of identify this specific species.
Back home by 5:30 pm, with everything for dinner chopped, diced and relatively ready to cook, by 6:45 we sat down to dine, smiles on our faces for having taken the time and expense to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

The walk down the long pier to the Big Cat, a huge air conditioned boat that stays anchored for most of the day used as a lounge and rest area and loading area for glass bottomed boats and semi-submersibles.
Tomorrow and over the next several days, we'll share our photos both underwater and above water, describing the tours on both the glass bottom boat and the semi-submersible submarine and, how we spent our remaining time on Green Island.


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Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2014:
 
It was one year ago today that our dear new friend Liz from Bristol, England took the train to South Kensington to visit us for the day.  It couldn't have been a more wonderful day the two of us sharing girl talk at lunch and later the three of us at dinner.  At the end of the evening, we walked Liz to the train station, said our goodbyes and have stayed in touch since.  We miss and love you, Liz!  For details from that date, please click here.