Townsville, Cairns & the Reef
Back in the big city (relatively). Townsville is OK for a few days I think. The outskirts are rather industrial, which is handy for getting vehicles serviced. The centre is very strangely laid out, due to geographical and maritime constraints. We celebrate my birthday with a meal out, and I do my first dive for a few months.
T and D1 depart on a side trip to Bris Vegas and Sydney, to catch up with friends and go to a concert. D2 and I stay on. A day trip to Magnetic Island is fun. Then we depart and head up the coast. First to Big Crystal Creek, which has an absolutely stunning waterhole with turtles, eels, and big rock jumps. Then to Mission Beach. These are real tropical beaches, but we now have to be vey wary as saltwater crocs are always a risk. D2 is a fairly experienced snorkeller, but hasn't gone offshore, so we take a day trip to Beever Reef. Best conditions ever! It doesn't get much better than this on the surface.
Up to Cairns, where we collect D1 and T at the airport, and it's time for scuba school for D1, followed by 3 days on a liveaboard boat with me. The diving is fantastic, with no dramas, and a good value operator. Heaps of coral, fish, turtles, cuttlefish, sharks, and even a first night dive for D1 (the dive guide was impressed!). While we are away, D2 has a play date with a friend we met in Mission beach, and makes some new friends in the campsite next door. Everyone happy!