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Old 12-13-2012, 03:27 PM   #181
skier_pete
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Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
Pete - For the life of me, I really thought I wrote a response to the previous post. Love the picture of DD in the pool and it looks like you had a nice time there. If the room was small, at least the pool area looks great!


I love your pictures of the Mossman Creek. How cool for your DD to have found a friend (like ships in the day passing by) so that you could enjoy your drinks on board.

I'm finding it fascinating seeing you tally up the cost of food in Oz. It's like this weird twilight zone reversal of how us Aussies feel about the cost of food in the US. It is just so cheap in your part of the world compared to what we pay downunder. Having said that, $85 for the 3 of you for lunch is pretty expensive.

Looking forward to seeing the Whitsundays from your perspective.
So we spend $2555 US on food for the entire trip. The week we stayed with friends/visited you, we only spent just over $300 on food for those 7 days, so the remaining weeks was $2200 US, so roughly $100 a day. Really not too bad.

For all my complaining, I'm sort of overexaggerating. The food really was not that bad, just nothing special. The prices, while high, were bearable, though we worked pretty hard to choose places that the costs would remain reasonable for us.

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Enjoying hearing your experiences as always. They have made the lagoon area in Cairns nice now. Yes driving in Aus is long expanses of nothing-you should try Whitsundays to Brissie if you thought Cairns south was bad-that's the more interesting part! and I am still reeling over the prices you paid for food. We will have to up my travel budget next time we head north I fear (and that's also why we don't eat out very often and love travelling overseas-'*** we can!)
Aussie Wendy - I think you were the one that convinced me to avoid the drive from Airlie to Brisbane. Certainly the most interesting stretch of the drive was North of Townsville. Townsville to Airlie was a whole bunch of nothing, that's for sure! It was funny how there were signs everywhere about flooding / roads washed out, but it felt SOOO dry and barren. Obviously it changes a lot in the rainy season.
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Old 12-15-2012, 03:53 AM   #182
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I maintain that you travelled at a time of exceptionally poor exchange rate (great for us, not so good for you) -if your $ was buying 1.20$au it would seem more reasonable I guess.
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Old 12-15-2012, 05:02 PM   #183
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I maintain that you travelled at a time of exceptionally poor exchange rate (great for us, not so good for you) -if your $ was buying 1.20$au it would seem more reasonable I guess.
Oh definitely, if we had taken the trip 3-4 years earlier, it would've cost us 2/3 and we would be saying "Wow what a great deal." But we can't help but look at it by our own money, and see "Hey this cost us $X, that's a lot of money." Though again, overall I didn't think the prices were bad at all for hotel rooms and rental cars. The only thing I found expensive were some of the fees for tours, and then especially the food. And in the end, we really didn't spend THAT much on food, but also put in a strong effort to eat cheap. Probably the main reason we were less than impressed with the overall quality.
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Old 12-16-2012, 02:03 AM   #184
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I am pricing food at Disneyland Paris at the moment and thinking it'll be counter serves all the way. The buffets are around E30 p/p excluding a drink (=around Aus$40) and the quality sounds pretty dodgy judging from most posts-at best no-one seems wowed-things like "luke-warm", "limited salads or vegetables" and "supermarket deserts defrosted" isn't making me want to rush to them. The a la carte menus don't seem a great deal better. Inventions at DLH is the "top" place but at ave E50/main course way above our budgets and also not getting the sort of accolades one would expect for that price. Hmm.......
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:24 PM   #185
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Well done, you got to see the Gumboot!!!! I'm glad you did limit your intital road trip plan, but you got to experience one day of it.
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:28 AM   #186
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Originally Posted by Aussie Wendy View Post
I am pricing food at Disneyland Paris at the moment and thinking it'll be counter serves all the way. The buffets are around E30 p/p excluding a drink (=around Aus$40) and the quality sounds pretty dodgy judging from most posts-at best no-one seems wowed-things like "luke-warm", "limited salads or vegetables" and "supermarket deserts defrosted" isn't making me want to rush to them. The a la carte menus don't seem a great deal better. Inventions at DLH is the "top" place but at ave E50/main course way above our budgets and also not getting the sort of accolades one would expect for that price. Hmm.......
Can't imagine being that close to Paris and having to eat lousy food. Ugh! I know there's a lot of criticism of WDW food, but I find if you choose wisely, you can get some fantastic food there, even if it's overpriced. We generally travel on free dining, so overpriced doesn't quite factor for us either.

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Well done, you got to see the Gumboot!!!! I'm glad you did limit your intital road trip plan, but you got to experience one day of it.
Yeah, I was definitely glad we did the one day of travel!

Update coming up soon.
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October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:31 AM   #187
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Day 22 - The Great Barrier Reef

Today was one of the big days of the trip, the ride out to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef! It was a sunny but cool morning when we left our room to go down to the corner where we were going to catch the bus to Shute Harbor for the ferry. Probably the worst thing about this day was the cool weather. It never got warmer than about 21 C (72 F) even out on the water, and it was a very breezy day. Fortunately though the sun was bright, so it made for great pictures.

The shuttle bus was close to 20 minutes late, which would’ve probably freaked me out more if there weren’t also about 20 other people there waiting for it. One of the few other times we ran into Americans was on this part of the trip, a large family of 10 out here waiting with us, with Grandpa treating everyone to the trip. Considering this excursion ran about $200 per adult, Grandpa must’ve been doing OK at Bingo on Tuesday nights.

The bus picked us up, and made 2 or 3 more stops before arriving in Shute Harbor. There were probably about 200 people waiting to get on the boat, maybe more. It seemed like a lot, but the ferry boat was rather huge, probably at least 100 feet long with 3 decks, though the top deck was outside, and not many people went outside for the ride.



The inside therefore was a bit cramped with people. We shared our seating area with 3 German girls on Holiday, and a woman who worked for the cruise company in marketing/administration, and was taking her daughter an her friend (both 9 years old) out to scuba dive. I thought this would’ve been a great time for Adriana to have someone to play with, but she decided to play shy for now.

The first thing that surprised me about the Great Barrier Reef was how far off-shore it was. When I think of reefs, I think of them being within a few miles of land masses. In this case, it was about a two hour ride from the shore to get to the reef. We did have to sail through the Whitsunday Islands, and even had to stop at the main one to pick up some passengers.









But still, the Reef was so far out that you could just barely see the islands in the distance. (see the 2nd picture below) The wind made the ride out rather choppy – probably 3 to 4 foot swells. DW and I had no shame in taking Dramamine.





Finally we got out the reef. The water calmed considerably in the relatively shallow water, but the wind was still pretty strong.





Not all that impressive from above the surface, really – until you realize it extends for 1,500 MILES. Again, you can see the islands off in the distance
.


Here you can see the Pontoon where we would dock for the next 3.5 hours. The boat we were on would be our home base, but the pontoon was where we would change into Scuba/Snorkel gear.



There were a couple of options for viewing the reef, an underwater viewing room, a semi-submersible, and the aforementioned snorkeling/diving. We decided to go for the first ride on the semi-submersible.



It was remarkably like the Nemo /Nautilus subs that Disney uses. It doesn’t actually go under the water, only has an interior section that is below the water with a hatch to get into it. You sit on either side of the sub and it goes up and down the reef. So one side gets to look at the reef in one direction, and the other side in the other direction.



Here’s us before we got into the steel tube.



A few pictures out the windows are below. They had a marine biologist on staff that was talking about the things we were seeing out the windows.







Continued in Next Post
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October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:34 AM   #188
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Day 22 - The Great Barrier Reef Part 2

After the submersible ride, we decided to get in our snorkeling. The one side of the pontoon was in the shade and breeze, and was freezing to be on, so everyone was huddling on the other side. The water was the exact same temperature as the air, so we wore wet suits going into the water. It took a while to get on all the gear.
In case you hadn’t guessed from the previous group picture, we bought the “Photopass CD” of the trip, which had photographers on the dock and also another one in the water.







The photographer asked us to do our best superhero pose. I think I am “I ate a bad shrimp-man”.



The one in the water handed you a container of fish food. You weren’t allowed to feed the fish, but apparently it was OK to tease the fish to get them to come around you for pictures. (The fish-world equivalent of going to a strip club apparently.)

















The reef was amazing. It maybe didn’t look as vibrant as it does in pictures, because below about 6 feet of depth everything kind of washes out to green-blue without super bright lights. But it just was so huge and beautiful and just “Wow!”. We probably spent about 90 minutes in the water. They had a series of ropes, and you had to swim/pull yourself against the current to get up the reef, and then you would drift your way back down.











The beginning diver sessions were about 10 feet below us in the same area, making me glad I didn’t pay the $100+ extra for diving. (Expert divers got to travel farther afield.) I also took a lot of video with my little underwater camera. I will try and get some of that uploaded shortly.

Our DD did NOT want to get out of the water. Her and DW were both wearing Life vests and had noodles/floats as well.





I just used a life vest. While I am not afraid of the water, I also spend most of my swim-time in pools or maybe at a beach, I’ve only been swimming in open water maybe once or twice in my life. I at times found myself having little “panic” attacks where I would forget to breathe through the snorkel and find myself holding my breath, and then I would have to tread water to catch my breath. Between that and fighting against the current, I found it very exhausting.











After a while we were getting hungry, and decided to head back on deck for lunch.

They had a pretty good-size spread set-up for lunch, but the food was in fact pretty lousy, nothing worth mentioning. Lots of salads, some rolls and lunch meat for sandwiches, some shrimp. Overall, I thought pretty poor for what we were spending. Once we were done with lunch, we debated about going back into the water for a bit, but we only had maybe 40 minutes before the boat was leaving, and with the effort that was involved to gear back up with all the snorkel stuff, and with how COLD it was outside (now that our bathing suits were wet). I am sort of sorry I didn’t go back in anyways, as I told myself “this is your one chance” but still we were pretty beat.

We popped some more Dramamine for the boat ride back. That was a good thing, because now the ocean was probably cresting 6-8 foot waves, and even walking on the boat would toss you up in the air as you walk. At this point DD finally started hanging with the two other little girls, and they laid down on the ground and with each roll of the boat would get tossed into the air, which somehow was considered fun. We got back to shore around I think 5 PM again after a 2.5 hour ride. We really only ended up with maybe 3 hours out on the reef, but my god it was well worth it.

We got back to the hotel and we were beat. We decided to eat at the same “food court” we did the night before, but decided to be a little wiser economy wise, and got away with only spending $74 instead of $84. We really went to bed pretty early, as everyone was beat, and the next day we were back on the road again!
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October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:38 AM   #189
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Beautiful pics!
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:39 AM   #190
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And Finally to all my good DIS friends out there.

MERRY CHRISTMAS &
HAPPY NEW YEAR




C'mon People - push me past 25,000 Views for the New Year!
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October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

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Old 12-21-2012, 02:32 PM   #191
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That sounds and looks like a great day, Pete. So glad you enjoyed the reef.

Despite not having that much colour, the coral and the fish looked great.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you too.

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Old 12-21-2012, 07:23 PM   #192
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Those pictures of the Reef are GORGEOUS! What an incredible experience! I'm glad I got to experience it through your pictures because I think that boat ride would have done me in from the very beginning!! At least you both remembered to take some Dramamine. I forgot on our trip to Hawaii and I spent the whole time sick on the boat. Not a fun moment!

Your DD looks like she's having an absolute blast. What an incredible experience for her to take with her. What a thing to take in on the first day of school for "What did you do over the summer?" Oh, you know, just went to Australia and snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef...
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:01 AM   #193
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The reef is always is fantastic-the reef off Cairns is much closer-can't remember maybe an hour's ride and they have a big pontoon there you can spend the day on, eat lunch on there etc. Our first reef visit was the Whitsundays on our honeymoon though -back then it was a small boat and we had to get up at 5am coincidently on the day that was also my birthday! The whole day stays in my memory as one of my best days ever as it continued to a seafood buffet and show at the resort that night and a midnight boat ride to take the visitors from Airlie Beach who had come out for the dinner package back to the mainland. One drunk fell overboard so that added some excitement. Luckily the boat turned quickly enough and we picked him up! For us then it was a quiet boat ride back to the island under a full moon.

Hope you and your family have a wonderful Xmas and best wishes for 2013.

(We have spent the day organising DD's 21st party tonight-BBQ at our place- something you have a while to go til you get to experience!)
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Old 12-22-2012, 04:20 AM   #194
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Awesome!! So glad you all enjoyed your day!!
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:54 PM   #195
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Hey Pete

That looked fantastic - what a wonderful day. Fantastic pictures too.

Have a lovely Christmas and I look forward to reading the rest in the New Year and counting down to our trip and actually meeting you guys.

Take care
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