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March Week 65 2016

This was an incredibly fun week. On Monday morning we woke up in Sydney (after a much needed good nights sleep) and headed back to the Sydney airport where we caught our plane to Cairns. We got into Cairns around midday so we checked in to our hostel, then explored the city a little bit. During this (hot, sticky) walk we saw trees full of bats and some beautiful birds. Unfortunately, I also hurt my foot, making it really painful to walk for the next few days. Fortunately, our hostel had a swimming pool giving us a built in, pain-free activity. The next day we had booked a tour to Michaelmas Cay, a sand cay on the outer Great Barrier Reef. I snorkeled nearly all day and it was just as amazing as you’d imagine. I did get stung by a jellyfish, but I guess that’s the price you pay. Once we were back to land we stopped at an amazing public pool for a swim on our way back to our hostel.

On Wednesday we were on a bus tour that picked us up at 7:15 and dropped us off at 8:00 that evening. One of the coolest things about this tour is that our guide had not only grown up in the area, but it’s where his family was originally from. At one point we drove past a beach and he informed us that his great grandmother had been born there. Our first stop was a wildlife habitat where we did the cheesy thing and held koalas (and a snake). Then it was off to Cape Tribulation for lunch by the beach, which we couldn’t use because of a recent crocodile sighting. From there our guide took us on a rainforest walk, then off to the Daintree River for a boat ride and some crocodile watching. We saw a couple of big ones (four meters or so), but the coolest thing was a bunch of two-day-old babies that were on the bank of the river. After driving all the way back to Cairns, Michael and I had a cheap dinner then wandered through the night markets. Thursday we were up nice and early again for a sailboat ride out to Green Island. This was probably my favorite thing we did in Cairns. The crew was really cool and friendly and there were only nineteen people on board. Once we got to Green Island we immediately got to snorkeling. Michael and I had also signed up for an introductory scuba dive (I’m certified but Michael had never done it before). Michael had been nervous about it all week but it was one of the easiest things either of us had ever done. They taught him how to clear his mask and regulator, then a guy grabbed a hold of us, one on each arm, and swam us around. We literally only had to breathe and look at all of the cool things, though I tried to help by kicking a bit. On the dive we saw some clownfish (along with numerous other types of fish) and a blacktip reef shark (that was my goal so I was stoked)! After lunch and a walk around the island, we got some more snorkeling time in, where we saw a beautiful green sea turtle and much more of the sharks, including once when it was obviously chasing something and then got startled by us.

Friday morning we flew to Brisbane and took a train from there to Gold Coast. Michael and I got picked up by my cousin, Nathan and his fiancé, Ashley who drove us to my cousin Lisa’s house for her hen’s do. All the girls got to make flower crowns while the boys made themselves scarce (Michael went for a swim in the pool). Later in the day all of the cousins (except for Lisa, who was preparing for her impending wedding) had dinner with our Grandma Char. It was so much fun to see them all and catch up with all their news (every single one of them has gotten engaged since we last saw each other). Saturday morning the six of us (Bryan, Alanna, David, Lucy, Michael, and I) drove down to Byron Bay, where the wedding was held. It was only an hour drive but in a different time zone so we were all a bit paranoid about being late. Naturally we arrived nearly an hour early so we walked around the beautiful venue (a restaurant with a big outdoor space and a view of the ocean). The ceremony was touching (tears everywhere) and the reception was six hours long, during which time I was almost never without some kind of (delicious) food in my hand.

Thankfully Michael and David were willing to abstain from the open bar and drove us all back to Gold Coast, where we were staying.

We woke up Easter Sunday and all went out to breakfast before saying our goodbyes, then Michael and I headed off to Brisbane. We had a bit of time to kill before our flight so we wondered around the city, to the river, through downtown, and to the botanical gardens. After a somewhat eventful couple hours at the airport, we had an easy flight back to Auckland where we landed just before midnight.

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