Jewel of queens­land

Style Magazine - - Travel - BY CLARE STANDFAST

As I stepped off the plane at Cairns and no­ticed the back­drop of lush green hills, I was im­me­di­ately re­minded of Phuket, Thai­land. How had I never been here, I won­dered? I had this ab­so­lute gem right in my back­yard. How­ever, I wasn’t stay­ing in Cairns — I was head­ing an hour north, to Port Dou­glas.

Col­lo­qui­ally known as Port, I hit the town on Satur­day night, and was pleas­antly sur­prised by the mix­ture of peo­ple I met.

This small town of just over 3000 peo­ple at­tracts peo­ple from across the world, all of whom have their own — and of­ten very in­ter­est­ing — story.

Peo­ple com­plained how cold the night was at 23 de­grees, and all I could do was laugh and think of Toowoomba.

The next day brought some­thing I was very much look­ing for­ward to — vis­it­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef. Be­lieve me when I tell you, it is truly some­thing you can’t miss. Be­ing one of the seven nat­u­ral won­ders of the world, it is big­ger than the Great Wall of China and is the only liv­ing thing on earth vis­i­ble from space.

As I went out on the reef with the team from Quick­sil­ver Cruises, I had no idea what I was in for.

I’ve snorkelled in some beau­ti­ful parts of the world, but to be com­pletely hon­est — noth­ing com­pares to the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Upon slip­ping into the crys­tal blue wa­ter, my eyes were hit by flashes of ev­ery colour un­der the rain­bow.

In­cred­i­ble coral was abun­dant, with bril­liantly coloured fish slip­ping in and out of it, com­ing pre­sump­tu­ously close.

A few green sea tur­tles came past at their leisure, and I was com­pletely taken aback — I had never seen them in their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, and it was spec­tac­u­lar.

Af­ter do­ing some ocean-walk­ing, I went out to a he­li­pad to take a joy flight over the reef.

Now, af­ter go­ing up in the chop­per I re­alised that there may be plenty of beau­ti­ful pic­tures of the Great Bar­rier Reef, but ab­so­lutely noth­ing — and I mean noth­ing — will ever do it jus­tice be­sides see­ing it with your own eyes. The jade and sap­phire shades of the wa­ter glinted in my eyes. I held my breath, hop­ing to cap­ture the mo­ment for longer. Coral reefs and ‘bom­mies’ were vis­i­ble, and sparkling white sand glowed on the is­lands fur­ther off.

I was very sad to see the reef gone for the day, but my trip was not over — I was headed to Moss­man Gorge.

Sur­rounded by beau­ti­ful, tall trees and farm­ing land, the Moss­man Gorge is truly spec­tac­u­lar.

Fol­low­ing my friend along a dirt path scat­tered with rocks and logs, I hiked up and down, lov­ing the beau­ti­ful green sur­rounds that en­cap­su­lated me. By the time we reached our des­ti­na­tion, I was blown away. I could could see the sand at the bot­tom of the fresh­wa­ter gorge, through the clear wa­ter run­ning through.

The beau­ti­ful big rocks, shaped over cen­turies of wa­ter, sat strong in the gorge.

I clam­bered across them (or at least tried to), tak­ing in the tran­quil­ity and rev­el­ling in the Dain­tree re­gion. My ad­vice? Book your flights to Cairns ladies and gents.

PHO­TOS: TOURISM AND EVENTS QUEENS­LAND

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