Archive for the ‘snorkelling’ Tag

Great Barrier Reef Part 3 – Mackay Reef   4 comments

Seeing as the GBR is one of the wonders of the world then it makes sense to make the most of it having travelled halfway around the world. So having been out and stayed on the reef at Lady Elliot Island and taken a full day trip from Port Douglas, it seemed only prudent to go and see it a third time.  The reef is much closer to shore at Cape Tribulation than most other places. Ocean Safari (sister company to Ocean Rafting we saw the Whitsundays with) take visitors out on a half day trip in one of their bouncy boats giving another couple of hours snorkelling.

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

Alas they don’t take photos with a nice underwater DSLR so all the photos this time are mine and therefore not as good.

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

Just as good as the previous visit and we all had a cracking time enjoying both the boat ride and the snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

In fact I enjoyed it so much I’d forgotten the sign (pool noodle on the roof!) that tells everyone its time to go home. I was the last person back to the boat by some margin.

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

Another bouncy ride home to sunny Cape Tribulation beach and our last lingering look at the underwater paradise that is the Great Barrier Reef.

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

cape tribulation, cape tribulation beach, ocean safari, great barrier reef, mackay reef, snorkelling

Off for a burger – I have to say that the Australians really know how make a great burger. We had loads while we were there and they were all excellent. I’d never have thought that beetroot in a burger would work but it does rather splendidly

In and below the water on Lady Elliot Island   6 comments

“But Lady Elliot Island is on the Great Barrier Reef! Where were the photos of the reef and and all it’s treasures” I hear you cry! Patience patience!

 

The previous post highlighted just what an amazing place Lady Elliot Island is to chill out, take strolls on the beach, watch the sunrise and sunset and admire the birdlife. Of course the main reason people visit the island is that it sits on the southern fringe of the Great Barrier Reef with all its treasures. There are so many facts and figures about it that its never quite clear which are right or wrong. Longest, biggest living organism on the planet is it’s claim although the second part it depends whether you see a coral ecosystem as one creature or millions. Doesn’t matter. What is clear from our three trips to see it up close (this is just the first) is that it is magnificent.

The common misconception is that the GBR (I can’t be bothered to keep typing it out and when you’ve been there you are allowed to shorten it like a nickname for an old friend!) sits but a short boat ride from the coast. It doesn’t. In most cases it’s around 30-50 miles out requiring a 1-2 hour boat trip across the coral sea to get to it. There are a few islands that sit right on it where you have the chance to see it without such a day trip and LEI (again I’m allowed to call it that) is one. Here you can walk a few meters from your beach hut, slip on a mask, snorkel and fins and away you go.

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

The photos while pretty good really don’t do it justice especially the fish which are impossible to capture in any detail. It also doesn’t really convey just how much life there is. There are a myriad of tiny colourful fish, crabs, molluscs, shrimps and the like which you just can’t capture with a compact camera. Hopefully they will convey a small part of the beauty but it is one of those things where you just need to see it for yourself. I count myself very, very fortunate to have been able to see it

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

The first thing that strikes you is the clarity of the water, it’s crystal clear. And then you notice the second thing, it is of course teeming with fish and coral. When I snorkelled in the Maldives the coral had been severely damaged by the effects of Coral Bleaching and the reef was a lifeless grey colour although the fish were still abundant and colourful. The GBR was not affected and it’s coral is still thriving so this was my first time up close.

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

The lagoon on the southern side of the island has it’s own reef flat and the water is only about 6-8 feet deep. This means you can just float right over the top of the coral and see it up close. The number and variety of fish is amazing but it was the coral I was pleased to see. Seeing the polyps waving about in the current was truly amazing.

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

Each time all you had to do was swim out against the current and then turn and drift easily back across the reef before getting out and doing it again. It’s absolutely perfect  for nervous beginners as the water is shallow with plenty of sandy spots to stand and take a rest and you are never very far from the shore with a current that pushes you that way.

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

Whilst the coral and the fish are amazing, LEI has something else.  Turtles

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

I was lucky enough to see one a couple of times in the Maldives but at LEI they are abundant. You were pretty much guaranteed to see several each time you got in the water and they are the most wonderful graceful and gentle creatures. Most of them are completely oblivious to your presence and you can swim right next to them while they glide through the water. You never tire of seeing them and every sighting and encounter was as amazing as the last. Like the whales its rare to get up so very close and personal to these animals and they are moments to treasure.

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

The only downside with the beach snorkelling at LEI is the tide. When it recedes the reef is exposed to the air so you can’t snorkel over it. You can only snorkel for about 4 hours spanning high tide and we were a little unlucky in our timing as this meant we could only snorkel first thing in the morning and at the end of the afternoon when it’s not quite as warm when you get out the water especially as it was so windy. It’s fine when you’re in the water as its pretty warm.

The flip-side benefit to this is that you can go out and walk amongst the reef. This gives you a chance to get right up close to all that same magnificent life you saw while in the water, and in fact more, without the need to swim or snorkel. Just slip on some reef shoes and pick up a stick to help keep your balance and you’re free to poke about as long as you don’t pick stuff up. This is after all a World Heritage Site and a very delicate and fragile environment. We took a little guided walk the first time and it was well worth it. The guide showed us where to look and we saw some great stuff.

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

The is a sea cucumber.

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

One variety, a leopard sea cucumber has the unfortunate distinction of having a fish that lives up its butt. The fish gets protection and some free food and the Sea Cucumber gets a rectal clean up. Isn’t nature wonderful 🙂

A Sea Hare (named for its two horns that look like ears). This fella squirts purple ink at you when he gets annoyed, very gross

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

A New Caledonian Starfish

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

An Abalone

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

A Clam. These are numerous and come in a huge variety of colours, all stunning

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

On our second trip out we saw more stuff. A Sea Urchin

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

A Conger Eel

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

More coral and clams

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

And a mutant New Caledonian Starfish with 7 legs!

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

We had another look at the fish feeding so I stuck my camera in the water for a closer look

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

We also had a visit from a large conger eel that stuck it’s head out of the water looking for food – they have quite a chilling scary face but alas I didn’t get a photo. TBF also spotted water squirting from a crevice in the coral that turned out to be an octopus but he was well hidden although you just make out a curled tentacle and some suckers

We also took a couple of short boat trips in the resorts glass bottom boat. The daytime trip was in very rough water which the kids found a little trying but we did get chance to try out deeper water which they didn’t seem to mind. Photos from this little excursion were marred from my waterproof cameras propensity to fog up so no photos from under the water

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

We also took a nightime glass bottom boat trip which was also amazing, seeing the the different creatures that come out. They also turn on the UV lighting causing some of the algae within the coral to glow with an unearthly blue light which is surreal and exciting in equal measure. Alas nightime photos from a moving boat over moving water of moving objects is much harder than it sounds 😦

We managed to squeeze in one last snorkel on our final morning

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

You might be asking where is all the colourful coral you hear so much about as it looks very green and brown here. Well, these greens and browns are an indication of very healthy and happy coral. Coral live in a symbiotic relationship with algae that live in it’s tissue. Coral is an animal that lives on passing detritus in the ocean but it needs energy from the sun to survive. The algae, being a plant, can photosynthesise and passes that to coral. This algae is normally green or brown hence the colour of the coral which would be primarily translucent without it.

Global warming means the algae produces too much oxygen and causing the red/orange colours of oxidisation you often see in photographs and the coral doesn’t like it much. Rather than seeing this as a display of healthy colour, these reds and oranges are a sign of very stressed coral. When the oxygen enrichment becomes too much the coral rejects the algae and it loses all of its colour and eventually will die without it. This is coral bleaching. The primary greens and blues at LEI show that the reef here is happy and stable

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

australia, fraser coast, flight, great barrier reef, lady elliot island, queensland, snorkelling, green turtle,

So there you have it, the wonderful underwater world of the GBR at LEI. Much more GBR to come later in the trip but to be able to see it whenever you want and to get up so close and personal is LEI trump card

Above the water on Lady Elliot Island   10 comments

Back on  the mainland but for a few short hours. We were heading into Hervey Bay for breakfast but not after a comedy episode with our first sight of creatures that bounce across the landscape. So excited was I to see my first kangaroo that I grabbed the camera from the boot. Unfortunately, not only had they bounced away by then I also drove away without closing the boot and some of our luggage fell out the back and onto the road – most embarrassing!

Nothing damaged other than my poise and calm persona and after a feast of food and a bit more roadside packing we were back at Fraser Coast airport for our flight to Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

 

No airliners here, just a small plane for the 40 minute hop across to the reef.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

The flight was amazing, over the edge of Platypus Bay where we’d seen the whales a few days before, with Fraser Island in the distance. I was lucky enough to sit up front next to the pilot. I faithfully promised not to touch anything, just as well it wasn’t my mate GM who just loves pushing buttons in someone else’s vehicle  the little tinker

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

And then we saw our destination in the distance, a small tree covered island with the airstrip down the middle surrounded by its own reef. It looked stunning from above. The pilot takes the plane on a full circuit of the island to maximise the views

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

Then it’s time line up with runway and bounce down onto the grass. What a way to arrive at your destination.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

After a brief guided tour and lunch we were shown to our little beach cabin. The island is an eco-resort where the emphasis is on nature and simplicity rather than luxury. The rooms are simple and basic but clean and have everything you need (you can read my TripAdvisor review here).

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

But its outside where the real pleasures lie. A few steps from our verandah was the coral beach and the islands lagoon reef and it’s just stunning. Crystal clear water just teeming with fish.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

We watched the daily fish feeding session at the fish pool, a large gap in the coral where the fish gather and you can paddle right amongst them while they brush against your feet and swim between your legs.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

The island is so laid back and easy-going that you just slip into a happy routine of beach strolls, bird watching, reef walking and snorkelling.

The beach is not sand but rough coral and sharp on the feet. This is how a coral island should be I’m told rather than pure sand. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Maldives with its talcum powder sand and I was left wondering how “manufactured” the beaches might be. Doesn’t matter as the feeling of isolation in the middle of a vast ocean is the same and walking around the island is just heaven, watching the waves crash around the reef edge, birds soaring overhead and trees waving in the breeze

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

Day trippers as well as overnight visitors ensure a regular to and fro of planes

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

The island is known for its birdlife and they were everywhere. They seem to be completely oblivious to our presence and you can pretty much reach out and touch them while they are roosting. They make a hell of  a lot of noise and often swoop right in front of your face. There must have been several thousand on the island but this is the bird low season. In summer they number almost 100,000 which is astonishing. Apparently every single branch and twig that can support a bird has one. The resort provides ear plugs to cope with the night-time chatter. What they can’t prevent is the smell which is pretty bad so I’ve heard and Lady Elliot Island “Tattoos” are common 🙂

This is a White Cap Noddy

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

And this is Brown Noddy

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

They get their name from the way they nod their heads to drain the saltwater out of their beaks

I’m not sure what this one was but it was nesting a few inches from the path right next to someones verandah

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

This is a Common Rail, often seen in the dining room scrounging for food and stealing toast from the table while you pop off to get a cup of tea (with the kids watching no less!)

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

There are also a wide variety of Gulls and Oyster Catchers. In short the Island is teeming with life both above and below the water.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

Being on an island you get the benefit of superb sunsets and sunrises. I got up at 6am each morning to see the sunrise and they are majestic.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

Even TBF who loves her bed in the morning was persuaded to join me once although she did a great job of looking very cold, which in truth it was (it was windy for most of the time we were there).

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

For me, life is pretty good when you can draw back the curtains of your cosy little room and see the sun rising through the palm trees over a warm tropical reef and ocean. Wandering aimlessly around the island before most other people are about and just savoring the solitude and beauty is a memory I will treasure forever.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

The sunsets weren’t too shabby either. On our last evening we spent a couple of hours just sat on the beach watching the colours change as the sun descended.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

Just as the sun sets the birds fly out and swarm and swoop over your head. I’m pretty pleased with some of the shots of the sun with the birds silhouetted against.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

As the sun went down the moon came up, lighting up the sky once more and laying its silvery trail across the lagoon. I even managed some pretty good close-up shots of the moon – not bad for a handheld telephoto shot

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

We only spent two full days on the island but the place really gets under your skin. Almost immediately it feels like home and everything feels so familiar and comfortable. The staff of the island are warm, friendly and knowledgeable. It has the feel of a research station that allows guests in. I wonder if they have any jobs?

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

It was a sad moment when we realised we had to pack up and leave and continue our journey. It was a common feeling we had everywhere we went on the trip, the consolation that there was another great place to come but it never helped that sense that you needed more time. Even though the island is small there is so much to do and even doing nothing is a delight. It must be a wonder to see the island in the summer when the turtles come ashore and lay eggs and thatch their young or when the birds arrive in their thousands to breed.

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

hervey bay, lady elliot island, great barrier reef, white cap noddy, brown noddy, common rail, oyster catcher, snorkelling, fraser island. flight, fraser coast

A little slice of tropical paradise and yet another to add to the “I must go back and stay longer” category. This one was one gorgeous lady!

French Odyssey Part 6 – Beaches & Fish   2 comments

The coast is about 1.5 hours from our holiday home so we decided that as we spend a lot of our time on the beach on our UK holidays that we would make just the one day trip in France. The kids seemed happy with this as they had the pool to play in. The whole of coastline is studded with excellent beaches but our hosts recommended Cabasson the previous year so we returned this year. Most of the beaches are backed by towns but Cabasson is out in the countryside with a huge, pleasant (and rather expensive!) car park and picnic area behind it so it’s more natural and no problems with parking.

Like all beaches in the south of France it’s very crowded, especially as there is no tide so most beaches are pretty narrow. It’s a stunning bay though overlooked by the Fort de Bregancon, the summer residence of the French president no less.

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Cabasson Beach and the Fort de Bregancon

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Beach from the cliffs

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Beach below the foothills

Last year they closed the road to the beach stopping us from getting there so old Sarkozy could drive in and out without us gawping at him and his missus. No such hassle this time and after waiting for someone to move we managed to secure some prime sea-front property on which to pitch our beach tent.

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Jane and L and our beach property

It’s a rather nifty pop-up tent which is completely useless in the UK as it pops-down with a breath of wind which is a fairly common on British beaches. In the south of France it’s perfect, it has a heat reflective inner surface so it gives decent protection from the sun – just as well as it was roasting hot!

And so we spent a happy day playing in the waves, strolling on the beach, swimming and snorkelling.

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Playing in the waves

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Strolling on the beach

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"Where did you bury the children?"

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Underwater action

This was the first time the kids had snorkelled and they both loved it.

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D enjoys the Med

There isn’t actually much to see in the Med as it so saline but there are loads of fish and the kids were enchanted. I used my underwater-capable camera to try to take some photos and videos but it was choppy and its hard to keep the camera still and focused under water while the waves are tossing you about. My best efforts are in the slide show below with few fish and a half decent photo of a jelly-fish.

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Jellyfish

If you have kids the beach is perfect as it’s shallow (no more than 2 feet deep for a good 100 yards) so you can just let them play without worrying about them getting into bother.

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That large object at the back is me

We had a picnic lunch on the beach last year but trying to eat under the shade of the worlds smallest beach umbrella was an idea bordering on insanity. This year we did the sensible thing and ate in the restaurant behind the beach.

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Making an important point

The views along the coast and out to the Isles D’Hyeres are great. I’ve visited the largest, Isle de Porquerolles (Porky-Roll island!) with Jane and it’s superb. I wanted to take the kids for a day out but they wanted my house in part-exchange for the 20 minute ferry crossing so I declined.

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Porky Roll Island

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Late afternoon sun

We finished the day with a stroll along the prom and a meal in the nearby town of Le Lavandou.

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Le Lavandou sea-front

It’s by no stretch of the imagination a quintessential french town (mostly modern apartment blocks) but it is clean and tidy, the prom along by the beach is a nice stroll and there are some nice restaurants in the old part of town.

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Le Lavandou sea-front

As the sun goes down the whole family enjoy the meal and walk in the warm evening air as the lights along the coast start to twinkle. I’m sure there are more authentic french seaside resorts but I like Le Lavandou and these evenings after the day on the beach

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Evening light

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Time to go home

Lovely end to a top day

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