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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Sunday, 12 May 2002
--> Hamilton Island, Australia (Great Barrier Reef tour)

I can't remember waking up this early before, but at 7.15 I hopped in the buggy as Chris picked me up from their staff apartment and took me to their resort appartment where he stayed with his wife and her French parents for the weekend.

Today I was going on a tour on a catamaran to visit the Great Barrier Reef!!!

Marilyn prepared me a healthy eggs-on-toast breakfast and another hour later Chris dropped me at the town's marina.

I was going on a tour on a catamaran to visit the Great Barrier Reef! It was a boat of the FantaSeas company that would take me along for a day of swimming and snorkelling at a pontoon called ReefWorld!

I hopped on board and was immediately introduced with the phenomenal anti-sea-sickness pill, which I took voluntary. Better prepared than throwing my good morning breakfast overboard.

And the pill was really necessary. ReefWorld is located on the edge of Hardy Reef, some 39 nautical miles away from the Whitsunday Island. And the water surface was quiet and smooth as the islands sheltered us, but as soon as the two-floored ship sailed onto the open Pacific Ocean, the waves became monstrous!

The boat made two-metre jumps up and down those waves and the people who were sitting on top in the open air surely got pretty wet by the water of the breaking waves. It was once again rough and wild.

But as soon as the ship approached the 2400km-long Great Barrier Reef, the wind couldn't create those big waves any more (because of all the shallow coral reefs) and life was suddenly peaceful again. The catamaran docked onto the floating pontoon and everybody explored this place and I just couldn’t wait to get the snorkelling equipment which the organisation provides.

Half an hour later I was snorkelling among coral plateaus, around coral heads ("bommies"), and coral channels. I almost missed out the lunch buffet that was served to everybody on the catamaran around 11am.

But after that I went into those waters again. The variety of underwater life overwhelmed me: large, colourful coral formations, gorgonian fans, and a never-ending array of fish everywhere (!), including tangs, sea trout, wrasse, bass, butterfly fish, angel fish, Moorish idols, and parrot-fish munching audibly on the coral.

I had a look around in the Underwater Observatory on the pontoon, caught a ride on the semi-subarine boat and I even swam along with a huge turtle for a while!

It was a pity that everybody had to leave this place again around 3pm, as the waterlevel decreased and the Hardy Reef became visible. Snorkelling around this time of the day is the most dangerous time. All the beautiful fish that normally swim on the reef are – due to the low tide – forced to swim around the reef, being the easy bait for bigger fishes like sharks! Okay, I was back on the catamaran, back to Hamilton Island. I just don't like those big fishies too close...

I arrived back with Chris and Marilyn and her French parents in their apartment around 7pm as Marilyn and her mother prepared a delicious Mother’s Day meal for dinner.

Today’s swimming around at the reef, really was a life experience. I was sunburned on my face and on my back, but I was pleased with that. I enjoy Hamilton Island and its people and everything that happens here.

I sincerely thank Marilyn and Chris and the Hamilton Island Resort for this great event.

Now just a few more beers around this island, because tomorrow I had to leave this place again. Cheers!

Good night Hammy!

Ramon.



Experience a 360 degree view of Fantasea's Reefworld here