We were woken early, at around 5:30, by what sounded like a prison riot. Cyril, the cockatoo, had invited a few of his mates around to our place for a bit of pre-sunrise screeching. They were joined by other, unidentifiable , sounds of whistling and warbling. Having enjoyed the gourmet taster menu last night, with accompanying wines for each course, we could have used an hour or two more in bed, but we got up anyway, as it was going to be a busy day.
It was raining heavily first thing, which,we thought, might have prompted today’s cacophany. Not that we have any idea on that front. It turns out btw, that what we thought were kangaroos here are, in fact, wallabies. Wallabies are smaller and more docile marsupials than kangaroos and there are no kangaroos on the island.
It could have been the cruise ship, P&O’s Pacific Aria, which had anchored offshore in the Channel, outside our villa, that had excited the avian interest in our neck of the woods.
The first of our organised excursions was taking place today. Billed as Atomic Snorkel Safari, I did some Google research beforehand, just to check there had been no weapons testing or nuclear “re-processing” (aka deep sea dumping of spent reactor rods) around these parts. I would not sign up for a Chernobyl wilderness walk, and the same goes for glow- in -the -dark swimming.
Anyway, you will already have gathered (being much cleverer and less paranoid than I am), that Atomic was the name of the boat. Bit of a stupid name, if you ask me. It was diesel-engined. Not nuclear powered, and not especially fast. Anyway. Whatever. It was a regular boat.
We headed off to Hook Island to reach the outer edge of the barrier reef. The rain had passed by the time we reached the boat, and we enjoyed a pleasant 45 minute cruise out to the snorkelling area.
The waters are very warm around here, so wet or dry suits are not needed, but they advise all swimmers to wear stinger suits. These look like lightweight wet suits, made of a lycra type material, designed to protect against jelly fish stings. We did see some jelly fish being eaten by turtles, so the suits were going to be necessary.
Fearing jelly fish, sharks, touching anything slimy and, above all, getting her hair wet, Lorna opted not to come snorkelling with me and the other two passengers. Moreover, if she would not wear a blue boiler suit, there was no way she was going to wear a stinger suit. Putting them on, we thought we looked like Navy SEALS. She thought we looked like spermatazoa. Looking at the pictures, I think she made the right call.
She was, therefore, spared the ignominy of wearing a stinger suit and stayed on the support boat in her bikini.
Well, the tide was running quite strongly, muddying the water somewhat. It wasn’t Finding Nemo colours or clarity on the reef, but we did see some exotic fish and coral.
Then the rain set in.
Rain, Queeensland style , in the wet season is not a shrinking violet and the skipper opted to head back to port. The 45 minutes back were wet wet wet,and our on deck cold buffet lunch soon became soggy. The bimini on the otherwise open-topped speedboat did very little to hold off the rain, so by the time we reached port, I was wetter than I had been in the sea. Lorna had secured the dry seat next to the skipper and was dry as a bone.
In the car back to the resort, we begged the driver to turn off the air conditioning and turn on the heating.
We spent the rest of the afternoon thawing out and sheltering from the rain in our villa.
It looks like the rain is going to be with us for a day or so.