Today we visited the Great Barrier reef. Now, you will probably expect a story about snorkelling or diving, lots of water and fish. But dearies, none of that! We decided to do things differently and fly over the reef to take a good look at it from the sky!
So there we were at Hervey Bay planning our next moves. Our initial plan was, just like everyone else’s, to go to the Whitsunday Islands for a couple of days and then drive up to Cairns to take a tour out to the Great Barrier reef. I can be very brief about the conclusions we reached after about an hour of intensive research: there is no affordable way to get to the Whitsundays. Sure, you can stay there for only $8 a night, but to actually get there, you have to take a cruise or a tour, or maybe even a multiple day tour. The cheapest option we found was a little over $60 per head for a single trip to one of the islands. And that is of course not bringing your car, or including any bus fares on the actual island itself – mostly because there is no bus.
Being a bit fed up with these enormous prices and not looking forward to doing yet another organised tour, I remembered having read something about flying over the Whitsunday Islands. I thought what the hell, so asked google and the search machine answered with a whole list of operators willing to fly you not only over the Whitsundays, but over the Great Barrier Reef too!
Of course this would mean no close-up of Nemo or any of the other lost fish, but to be honest: I am not that into fish. I mean, those are the buggers that await you when you walk the plank, why go voluntarily?! I also thought about my diving experience in the Dominican Republic and to be honest, the only thing I can remember is how cool it was to bring a banana under water and feed it to the fish! But for the love of God, I cannot remember what the fish looked like or any other underwater sights. So, we booked our flight!
Happy and excited about our plans, we first had some driving to do. Almost 900km to be a bit more precise. And so, January 2nd was spent driving from the Tower Court Motel at Hervey bay to our new hotel at Airlie Beach.
January 3rd, the adventure began! Our one-hour flight was booked for 1300 hours and GSL Aviation sent a driver along to pick us up and bring us to Whitsunday Airport. After a safety debriefing, we went outside and were able to have a good look at the Cessna 208B that would take us over Heart Reef and other stunning views. And stunning they were! Initially it was supposed to be raining today, but we were obviously in luck because it was a stunning day. The sun was shining, the water was blue, the clouds were white and everything looked just amazing!
And what I didn’t realise beforehand, is that this is of course the only way to see Heart Reef properly. According to our pilot thís is actually the most photographed sight of Australia (and not f.e. Uluru). For a second there I was afraid I had missed it all together, because the pilot started telling us about before we actually flew over it. Luckily, he announced the reef just before we would fly over it so everyone could get a good shot. So here is (apparently) Australia’s most famous icon:
Of course flying in a real Cessna made me feel like Indiana Jones, so I just couldn’t resist using the matching iMovie trailer: