If you have not checked my "100 things to do before I die", one of them is diving The Great Barrier Reef. First of all, I lived in Queensland for over 7 years, yet I have never set my foot down in Cairns before! So, it is kind of embarrassing when people in Sydney ask me if I have gone diving at The Great Barrier Reef. The answer have always been, "err.. no…". With the help of a Virgin Blue flight special to Cairns, I just had to get it over and done with! One fine morning, I called up Pro Dive and booked myself a 3-day, 2 night live-aboard diving trip. I can’t remember if I’ve ever stayed on a boat before, but this is certainly going to be ‘roughing’ it a little.
Sadly, I don’t have a lot of good things to say about the Great Barrier Reef itself. Not because it isn’t a great diving destination, but simply because I’ve been spoilt by much much better ones overseas! This is made worse by the January issue of Scuba Magazine, which the Great Barrier Reef was not even in the "Top 10" destinations to go diving! The reefs were less than colourful. There were less variety and number of fishes than expected. It’s just average!
Now, I’m not calling myself a ‘professional’, but if you have done enough diving around the tropical regions like Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, you start to realise Great Barrier Reef really isn’t quite that awe-inspiring at all! The difference in ‘excitement’ was pretty apparent on our boat. All the newbies were raving on about how good it was with the fancy reefs & fishes here. The experienced divers were down-right disappointed by the whole experience. You hear comments like, "It’s definitely not Thailand", "I thought it was a lot more colourful", or "I thought there were a lot more fish".
Don’t get me wrong, for someone new to diving, this is definitely a fantastic start. If you have never tried diving before, this is the perfect place to get started and certified. I wish I started here! The variety is more than enough for a beginner. Plenty of Nemo, turtles, reef sharks (not dangerous by the way), Moorish Idol, giant trevallies, potato cods and a heap of creatures unknown to me.
Perhaps the only thing that raised my eyebrows under the water during the whole trip, was this photo that I took..
Yes, those are 3 fins sticking out of the sand floor. Don’t know about you, I haven’t seen a shark or any fish with 3 fins on its back before. Something is definitely sleeping there. My instructor had a look at it, and reckon it’s a guitar shark. How appropriate, I’m into guitars at the moment, and the reef has rewarded me with a shark that looks like a guitar!? Anyway, I didn’t want to get too close to it in case it jumped at me. Unfortunately, the mystery with what it actually is will never be solved…
Luckily, I do have something positive to say about this trip though. The crew of the boat was the real attraction, in my opinion! Gonzalez, an Argentinean instructor was funny and gets the crowd cracking with his odd humour all the time. Andre, a German instructor, is so passionate about diving, he spent the evenings giving us tips & stories, before we go to bed!! Of course there’s the fun and games we played, all on the side of 18+ adult games. But, it was nevertheless interesting. I met heaps of people from all nationalities, including Czechs, fellow Malaysian/Singaporean, Swedish, Finnish and Spanish. My dive buddy for the whole weekend is, Nicole, a divemaster certified Canadian, who is a archeologist and have done over 130+ dives. Couldn’t feel any safer diving with her!
Having said that, both of us constantly got lost during every single dive!! Fortunately each site wasn’t very big, so we only had to surface to find our way back. I think I need to go back to school to learn navigation again.
Call me spoilt, but I am over reef diving for now. It no longer excites me looking at corals & Nemos. I really need historical wrecks, or even better, a school of sharks. In fact I just discovered I could go shark diving off Adelaide! For now, Great Barrier Reef is over and done with. Let’s see what other corners of the "underworld" has to offer.. 🙂