August 9th, 2016

First day of school

The Great Barrier Reef looks better on tv...

Excerpts from Mom:

From a sign posted today by the beach on Green Island, a gateway to the Reef:

[icon] swimming not advised
[icon] strong current
[icon] marine stingers
[icon] slippery rocks

And it was raining. Hard. And we had taken a forty-five minute ferry ride to the Island and then a half-hour glass bottomed boat. Apparently I can get seasick.

Fortunately, the day did get much better and was far from as grim as it sounds. First off, the driver who picked us up this morning was friendly and amusing and the ride to the Fleet Terminal turned into a lovely tour. Second, the ferry to Green Island is beautifully appointed, with tea and cookies included. That said, Green Island, refurbished in the late 90s, looks like the love child of Disneyland and every Caribbean cruise port, adorned with serpentine-tiled streets dotted with droopy palms and plastic cafe tables, and alluring souvenir shops.

And the coral reef looks a lot better on the Discovery Channel than it does up close and personal; suspect they colorize it like old 30s movies. The fish were fabulous, however, brightly colored and darting in and out of the white coral. When the pilot of the glass bottomed boat threw a handful of fish food at them, they burst through the water in a glorious leap, all blue and gold, shining with life.

We decided to ditch, and so took the 12:00 boat back rather than waiting until 4:30, sure we'd made the right decision when a highly ranked boat attendant reassured us that the weather would clear up by Friday "for sure, mate."

We had lunch at Dundees (yes, fake crocodile placemats) right on the water. Fabulous food, and I ate -- and really liked -- kangaroo satee. It tasted like steak.

The Esplanade
We then walked along the Esplanade, a 4,000 square foot man-made saltwater swimming lagoon, crystal clear, relatively shallow, adorned with gorgeous fish sculpture fountains. It is ringed with sugar soft sand, picnic areas, various athletic courts, playgrounds, and grass. The weather had improved and people of all ages swam, strolled, played, dug in the sand, and rested. Oh, how Alex would love it, a giant sandbox, pool, and playground with many people his age. We walked along much of the length of the Esplanade, enjoying the happiness.

Tomorrow, loyal and patient readers, we go to Sydney.