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July, 2000

    We flew into Sydney from NZ in the morning, and had a beautiful view of the Sydney Opera House in early light. We spent a while in Sydney, but soon started up the east coast. I don't remember many details of this point, although this was the most recent trip we took. The highlights of the trip wasn't much along the coast, it was more in the little dip we took into the outback, and around Airlie Beach and the Great Barrier Reef.

    The outback was cool, at least the little bit of it that I saw. The kangaroos were pesky, especially on the roads, but they didn't bother us that much. We woke up every morning to the loud squawking of sulfur-headed cockatoos (is that what they're called?) and laughing of kookaburras. 

    When we got to Airlie Beach, we met up with some friends of ours who run a charter operation, and they said "hey, we've got a spare 48-foot monohull that isn't needed until this weekend. You want to take it?" Well, twist our arms. So we went out to the Whitsunday Islands for a couple days, exploring the islands and snorkeling the reefs. While we were there, Chris had his 14th birthday, so during the weekend after that, we went parasailing. That was really fun.

    We went out to the outer reef twice, once on a day charter boat, and another time on a seaplane. The seaplane was really cool, because we could look out the windows and see all the colors of the reef from the air. When the seaplanes (there was another couple there, too) landed on the water, we got into a glass-bottom boat, and could either go snorkeling or just look at the reef and fish from the boat, without getting salty. They had fish charts, so we could identify a fair amount of fish that we saw.  


    I really liked one place we went, on the day charter boat, to a pillar of rock and reef coming up out of the bottom (about 50 ft. down), so we swam around it, dove down and looked on the wall and inside cracks, and there was one place where you could go over it into a pool. That place was probably my favorite out of everywhere we went.

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