Day 1 - Monday April 18- ROAD TRIP
We picked Scott up from the airport, packed the new luggage carrier and we were off on our road trip. Our destination for the night was Townsville, about 5 hours south, still in Queensland. We drove through Tully and Cardwell where the full force of Cyclone Yasi hit in February. You could still see the devastation in the terrain as we drove past. We stopped at the Frozen Mango for a treat before finding the Holiday Inn in Townsville. After getting our room, we went for a swim in the roof top pool, then for supper at the hotel restaurant. We watched Yogi Bear on TV in our room before going to sleep.
|Back seat co-pilot|
|roof top swim|
|packed for the holidays|
|Trying to correct his sleep walking!|
Day 2 - Tuesday April 19- HAMILTON ISLAND
We walked around Townsville to the Strand (waterfront) and Anzac Memorial park, it was a hot sunny day. We were off again shortly after 11a.m., south on A1/Bruce Hwy, along the coast, but we often couldn't see the Coral Sea from the road. We saw the Big Mango, which actually looked more like an Easter egg, near Bowen. At times the landscape reminded Scott and I of driving in Africa. Though there was lots of sugar cane and many different fruit trees here.
Caught the 4:00 ferry at Shute Harbour just outside Airlie Beach. The 30 minute ferry ride allowed us to see the many islands that belong to the Whitsunday Islands. We got 2 huge rooms at the Reef View Hotel with balconies overlooking the sea. We could see Catseye Beach and went for a walk as the tide was out. We saw many interesting creatures including many crabs and snails. We had supper at the Terrace Pool Restaurant before heading up for the night.
|walking into Anzac Memorial Park|
|Mango or Easter Egg? That is the question!|
|Ferry ride to Hamilton Island|
|Loving the scenery|
|Exploring Catseye Beach|
|What on earth is that?|
Day 3 - Wednesday April 20 - CHAD
The girls enjoyed reading on the balcony in the sunshine this morning with the cockatoos stopping on the railing. After a big buffet breakfast we hired two golf buggies and toured the island for the next two hours. At one of the look outs we could see all sides of the island! It was breathtaking and you could see so many activities going on down below. We happened to run into another teacher, Shaun and his wife, walking along the street and then my principal and her husband as well. They had rented a sail boat and were sailing in the Whitsunday Islands over the holidays.
We went swimming in our pool while Scott secretly took the buggy to the airport to pick up Chad. He flew in from Brisbane to join us for the week. Surprise!!! The kids loved the surprise and enjoyed swimming and playing with Chad. We went for another walk along the beach and into the Coral Sea for a swim.
Before supper we went to a information session on the Great Barrier Reef, Seamore the Seahorse was even there to greet us. We learnt lots of interesting facts and saw many photos of the great things we were going to see at the reef.
|Hailey reading on our deck|
|Nice morning hair!|
|Which way to the beach?|
|Can you find Captain Scott's Rum Boat?|
|I can't find my rum boat!|
|Walking in the Coral Sea. That's our hotel on the right.|
Day 4 - Thursday April 21 - PARA SAILING & JET BOAT
The boys were up early this morning and did a sunrise hike at 5 a.m. to Look Out Point. They had an amazing time trying to find the trail in the dark and navigate their way to the top. Good thing they had a torch. They got there in time to watch the sunrise and capture it on camera. By the time they got back at 7 a.m., they were very hungry.
At 11:00 we were heading out in the boat to para sail. Hailey and I went first on the tandem ride, 35 m high and we had 90 m of cable. They dipped us in the water a couple of times to cool us off! It was so peaceful and we had an excellent ariel view of the islands! Scott and Darby were next, taking the camera up with them. Brody and Chad were crazy, flipping around and getting their heads wet as they were dipped in the water!
As soon as we got back we headed out for a 30 minute jet boat ride. Darby & Brody rode in the front, Hailey beside me, right behind them, and Scott and Chad went to the very last row. We all got soaked and Scott lost his sunglasses and even got a bleeding nose as the force of the water was so hard. We did lots of spins and stops. Never a dull moment with the Gales!
After a very full morning, we grabbed lunch at the bakery and relaxed in the room for awhile.
We swam in the main pool and met up with another staff member from Holy Cross, small world. Hailey & I played a life size game of checkers before heading back for supper at our hotel.
|Hailey was eager to go first.|
|That's a long way up & down!|
|Boys are strapped in & ready to fly!|
|An upside down dip!|
|Jet boat thrills|
Day 5 - Friday April 22 - WATER SKIING
We had our breakfast this morning with the koalas before we headed to the main pool for snorkel and scuba lessons. Brody, Scott and I all tried the scuba gear. Then we played in the pool for awhile. The kids were having fun being thrown around by Chad!
After, we took out 2 paddles skis and 2 kayaks for some fun on the ocean. Everyone had great balance, even Scott!
We hired a boat at 3:00 for an hour, the driver was the same one we had on the jet boat, so we were a little nervous! Hailey and I water skied, Brody and Hailey knee boarded, this was the first time doing this on the ocean for all of us. Darby and Chad went to play miniature golf instead.
Good Friday service was held on the beach at 5:00 p.m. We made a cross from deck chairs, rocks, shells, sandals, and anything else we could find. Brody & Darby came with me for this very moving service. We met a family that was moving to Calgary and chatted with them for awhile.
Had a delicious supper at Romano's, Scott and Chad had the swordfish and I had a gluten free seafood pasta! YUM!! On our way home we saw a couple of possums.
|Elvis eyeing up my breakfast|
|Having fun in the pool|
|Here fishy, fishy|
|Great balance Darby!!|
|Not too bad, like daughter, like mother!|
|kayaking and paddle ski|
|Brody knee boarding|
|Mom finally gets a real water ski|
|A real highlight for me, I had to include 2 pictures!|
Day 6 Saturday - April 23 - HARDY REEF (great name)
Wake up call for 7 am and we were off to the marina for our day trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Brody, Chad & I listened to scuba diving instructions as Brody discovered he could scuba dive at age 12, rather than the 15 we believed to be true. Two hours later, we arrived to the floating pontoon called Reef World. We went below to the observation deck first, then in the semi-submerged submarine to see lots of sea creatures! Had a quick lunch before Brody and I were off to SCUBA DIVE!! After our training and introduction, we went down 10m, Brody did great, wasn't sure I could do it, but WOW!! What an experience!! Scott and the girls snorkeled and Chad did his scuba dive earlier as he is certified. Then we all went snorkeling until it was time to leave. It was a beautiful sunny day with many colorful fish and corral.
We went our for supper with the couple that are moving to Calgary and their 2 children. We had a great visit and they had lots of questions for us. We made plans to meet up at the pool the next day as well.
|"What have I got myself into?"|
|Suiting up for the exploring|
|All good at the rest station|
|Snorkeler or speed skater?|
|spectacular marine life|
Day 7 Sunday - April 24 - EASTER SUNDAY
Another wake up call so we could go to the sunrise service on the beach. The girls and I headed down for 6 a.m. and made another cross of the beach. Then we sat and watched the sunrise at 6:20. Darby and I participated in readings for the service. It was amazing waiting and watching the sun come up at Hamilton Island....breathtaking!
We got back to our room as the girls were anxious to read the letter the Easter bunny had left us. He stated that he didn't know exactly where we were going to be this Easter, so he left a few treats here for us, but had left our gifts back at Toona Terrace in Redlynch. After our last big buffet we packed our bags and left our rooms. We spent the day swimming in the pool and enjoying our last day on Hamilton Island. We caught the 2:00 ferry back to Shute Harbour to retrieve our vehicle. An extra person and extra bag didn't seem to bother anyone, that luggage carrier is very handy.
We made our way back north to Townsville for the night at the Holiday Inn. Chad treated us out to supper before we retreated for the night.
|View from our room balcony|
|One of our rooms|
|Having fun with Chad|
|That's Chad on the bottom!|
|Lots of water fun!|
|Gales leaving paradise|
Day 8 Monday - April 25 - HQ REEF AQUARIUM
After breakfast we walked over to the Townsville Aquarium, the world's largest living coral aquarium. We started off with a dive show in the predator exhibit, and then strolled around looking at all the coral reef exhibits. They had an underwater viewing tunnel to see the animals that prowl the watery depths as well as the interactive zone. We attended the turtle talk and got to tour the turtle hospital. There were sick and injured marine turtles that were being cared for and rehabilitated at the hospital. You would think after scuba diving and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef we would have found this boring, but this was just another fascinating experience for all of us.
We made our way back to our vehicle and continued on our road trip back to Cairns. We made another stop at the Frosty Mango for a cool treat. This was the first time for Chad seeing the country side and northern Queensland. We got home around 6:00 and proceeded to hunt for our baskets and beach pails that the Easter Bunny had hid.
|Maori wrasse, (hump head fish) Supper??|
|Hands on experience|
|Touching a sea star & sea cucumber|
|Turtle Hospital patient|
|Road trip movie courtesy of Chad's laptop|
|Carpet Snake in Ayr, another big reptile.|
|Dropping Chad off at home?!?!|