Great Barrier Reef

Spring break saw the family jetting off once again. This time we were headed to the southern hemisphere to take in our first experience of the Great Down Under.

As per usual we did a lot of research and planned out what we wanted to see and do. Australia is a massive country and we wanted to see it’s main east coast cities but experience some of what the countryside had to offer as well. A plan emerged that we would alternate our time evenly moving from city (Brisbane) to country (Great Barrier Reef) to city (Melbourne) to country (Great Ocean Road), back to City (Sydney) and then back to the country (Blue Mountains). This proved to be a great way to travel and take in the country. We love exploring cities, but find after about 4 days we are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle and to decompress. After 4 days in the country we are looking forward to getting back to exploring a new city. For us it really was the best of both worlds.

Our first “country” stop was the Great Barrier Reef for a couple of days snorkelling. Whenever we do a tropical destination we try to throw in at least one snorkel trip. The GBR has to be one of the most amazing experiences we have ever had in the water.

FUJIFILM X-T1 (18mm, f/7.1, 1/60 sec, ISO200)

Our accommodations were located on beautiful Hamilton Island, a small island a couple of hours boat ride away from the reef. Fortunately we booked our stay here at the beginning of our trip as two weeks later those palm trees were destroyed by a cyclone.

Our first day of snorkleing took us to the inner reef which was located close to a small island. The trip out was on a beautiful catamaran. We got in a couple of hours snorkelling and then moved over to another island to explore Whitehaven Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The sand was pure white and was the texture of cornstarch.

FUJIFILM X-T1 (200mm, f/4.8, 1/2500 sec, ISO200)

Looking down at our ride

FUJIFILM X-T1 (60.7mm, f/5, 1/550 sec, ISO200)
Looking down at our ride

Nikon TG-4 (11.78mm, f/5, 1/640 sec, ISO100)
Our Ride

As we were snorkelling on the inner reef the water was less clear than we were hoping for. It was good, but not amazing. There was lots of coral and a bunch of cool little fish, but getting photos with my little underwater camera was difficult. The silt is clearly visible in many images. I would later discover why.

Nikon TG-4 (18mm, f/6.3, 1/400 sec, ISO160)
Giant clam

The next day we took a larger boat out to the reef. There were only 24 people in our group and after a couple of hours we came to rest at a circular coral reef. Here the water was much clearer and the coral was absolutely incredible. The fish? We saw all sorts.  Getting in the water were met by the guy:

Nikon TG-4 (10.29mm, f/5, 1/320 sec, ISO100)
Big Guy

He was about 4 feet long. And this guy:

Nikon TG-4 (5.87mm, f/3.2, 1/500 sec, ISO100)
Angel Fish

He was about 18 inches long. We also saw sea turtles, many big fish a can’t remember the names of and very very cool coral.

Nikon TG-4 (8.99mm, f/4.5, 1/500 sec, ISO100)

Nikon TG-4 (4.5mm, f/2.8, 1/640 sec, ISO100)

Along the reef there are copies amounts of crevices and caves. This large spotted fish, we called leopard fish, was about 10 feet below me in a crevice that was about 20 feet deep. He was about 2 feet long.

Nikon TG-4 (11.01mm, f/5, 1/100 sec, ISO100)

Nikon TG-4 (4.5mm, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO100)
Cool Coral

Nikon TG-4 (6.42mm, f/3.5, 1/250 sec, ISO100)
One Fish, Two Fish

Nikon TG-4 (8.99mm, f/4.5, 1/800 sec, ISO100)
Colourful guy

Nikon TG-4 (13.47mm, f/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO100)

I had to dive down about 20 feet along a coral shelf to get a picture of this guy. It was quite dark as it was on the shade side of the reef.

Nikon TG-4 (16.48mm, f/6.3, 1/200 sec, ISO200)
Moray eel

Nikon TG-4 (7.86mm, f/4, 1/800 sec, ISO100)

This octopus scared the hell out of me. I dove down to look at a huge conch shell and she was hiding in the coral beside it. As I approached she shot out and spread out her tentacles and covered about 6 feet of the coral in front of me. I managed to get this shot as she moved away to find another hiding spot.

Juliana loved diving down to explore. Here she is heading down to explore the edge of the reef shelf giving the feeling that she is a crazy free diver headed into the abyss.

Nikon TG-4 (4.5mm, f/2.8, 1/500 sec, ISO100)
Juliana dives

This shot gives the best example of how big the reef we were on was. My stupid under water camera was constantly turning the flash on, which i didn’t realize. This would highlight any little particle in the water, hence the red spotty feel. The streaks coming down is from the sunlight.

Nikon TG-4 (4.5mm, f/2.8, 1/800 sec, ISO100)
Juliana and the reef

NEXT UP: The Great Ocean Road.