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May 31, 2006

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                     Great Barrier Reef

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The next morning, blurry-eyed and shaking from lack of sleep, I joined the others in my group. Theyíd had a much more pleasant experience than mine, and they laughed at my story as we boarded a 50-foot boat operated by Voyages Odyssey H20. I have been to the Great Barrier Reef a few times, but no trip has been as easy or short as from Cape Trib. The ride out to the Mackay and Undine Reefs took only 45 minutes. It was super calm -- like a lake. The shore did not look too far away. The crew was young, fun and professional. They briefed everyone who was going diving and snorkeling. Safety was the main concern. Although the water was clear and warm, we were encouraged to wear stinger suits for protection from the sun and irukandji (a deadly jellyfish). After every dive, they did a roll call. We were out on the reef for five hours, basking in the hot sun and enjoying good food. The boat holds only 30 passengers, so make reservations in advance. Everyone went diving or snorkeling twice.

The Great Barrier -- the largest reef in the world -- is one of the few natural wonders that can be seen from space. Itís 1,250 miles long, about the same distance as New York to Miami. It includes almost 3,000 separate reefs, comprised of over 400 different kinds of coral. There are more than 1,500 species of fish and 200 species of birdlife in and around the Great Barrier Reef. When I heard someone yell "Thereís a shark!" as if that was very cool, everyone -- including me -- swam toward it. What was I thinking? I mustíve been sleep deprived. The shark was actually quite peaceful, but Iím glad it was a 20 feet away. I actually saw two different kinds of sharks: a white tip-reef and a shovelnose. Voyages Odyssey H20: $134 AUD ($100 USD) per person; children 5-11 $89 ($67); underwater camera $27 ($20); tel.: 1300-134-044 or 61-1-8296- 8010.

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Pictures From

The Trip




So Beautiful


Fish We Saw


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