September 30, 2018

Whitsunday Islands : The Great Barrier Reef

For so long I had studied about the Great Barrier reef in my school years, about it being the biggest natural wonder in the world. So that was my must-visit-place when in Australia. I actually had no idea about how big this was, until I did some internet research. This majestic nature wonder flanks majority of the Queensland coast starting from the Faser Island till the northern tip of Australia, beyond Cairns and Port Douglas. There are many convenient places to explore it such as Whitsunday Islands(Airlie Beach), Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Mackay and we had shortlisted Whitsunday's just because of a great airline deal. Well there was one more reason, the Whitehaven beach, which is considered to be THE BEST Beach in Australia. How could one miss that.

Ours was a short 3 day trip. 1 day to explore the Great Barrier Reef and the other to explore the Whitehaven beach and the remainder to just relax. A short and simple trip :).

The trip to the Great Barrier is the most interesting part. Its a full day trip in a medium sized cruise ship leaving early in the morning and returning by nightfall. The Great Barrier reef is close to 3 hours of boat ride and we reach a temporary pontoon in the middle of nowhere. The Great Barrier Reef is something which can be appreciated by going under the water and not that much above it. But as soon as we reached, we could see the spectacular reefs with those crystal clear turquoise waters. There are many activities which are part of the package such as scuba diving, snorkeling, under water gallery, helicopter joy-ride etc which caters to various demographics and tastes. It is no wonder the reefs are famous world over for their marine life. But we can see the effects of global warming, more prominent here than anywhere else. The reefs have started to bleach and slowly the entire reef ecosystem might turn white and marine life would just die over the next few years. That's the sad part. But we still enjoyed a lot snorkeling and observing various marine life at close proximity. Food is also provided in the pontoon. Got a go pro camera just to capture underwater images, which was worth it :).

The next day we took a half day package of the Whithaven beach. This is on an island close to 1 hour from the mainland. We were dropped at the beach to enjoy the pristine beach to our hearts content.

September 6, 2018

Ski Trip To Snowy Mountains

Snowy mountains is one of the nearest places to Sydney to experience snowfall. In fact snowy mountains and its surroundings are the only places in mainland Australia to experience consistent snowfall, consistent enough to engage in winter sports like Skiing, snowboarding etc. Snowy mountains covers the states of NSW and Victoria, and there are various Ski resorts to engage in such activities. On the NSW side there are 3 major Ski resorts. Perisher, Thredbo and Selwyn. The initial 2 cater to more professional demographic, whereas the later caters to a more family oriented , learner/amateur population.

We had been to Snowy mountains on 2 consecutive winters. The first one was to just experience snow, since my better half had never experienced it before. The second year we had timed it to experience snowfall and engage in some winter sports. As mentioned previously Perisher and Thredbo can get very crowded with people who are serious about skiing. So much that Perisher had run out of parking spots and the cops had setup a roadblock at the bottom of the mountain and asking people to take a U turn and go back and take the train. This was last year and we were not very specifically intending to visit Perisher, hence we went to the nearby Thredbo. This year based on that experience we decided to just visit Selwyn resort.

We had booked a cottage in the outskirts of Adaminaby. Though it rarely snows right up to this town, the night we stayed it snowed very heavily even in these regions. It was a scene straight out of a fairy tale, a wooden cottage in middle of nowhere and heavy snowfall outside. By morning everything was whitewashed, and we were still 35 kms away from the Selwyn Mountain Snow resort which is right up on a elevation. Hence we were expecting some good snow for skiing.

Reached the Snow resort driving through the snow filled roads and some scary 2 wheel drive moments. We had rented the ski equipment and also some lessons. The lessons were not at all helpful and the ski equipment weighed a ton, with very restricted movement possible. Not sure how people have them on and move for an entire day. And if you fall, its takes a great effort to get back to your feet, which believe me was more frequent than comfort for a newbie like me. At the end of the day, I didn't quite enjoy the concept of skiing, but I always wanted to try it atleast once. Will I ski again ??? Probably Not !!!!

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