The Great Barrier Reef…Green Island history and tour…

The Great Barrier Reef covers 344,400 square kilometers (132,972 square miles) in area.
The Great Barrier Reef is considered one of the world’s greatest treasures and is a vital aspect to the world’s eco system. Yesterday, having an opportunity to see a portion of this vast natural icon that can be seen from outer space, was rewarding and memorable.
We waitied on a curb for the boat to arrive at the pier for our 45-minute ride to Green Island.

For reasons we posted two days ago, we choose not to snorkel. However, I can’t say that had we been able to snorkel, our experience would have been a lot different.

We weren’t able to get a spot in the bow for photo-taking during the ride to Green Island.  We remained inside in air-conditioned comfort, although I was anxious to take photos of outdoor photos. Our boat, Big Cat’s Reef Rocket, was modern with free wifi, restrooms, beverages, and snacks.

What lies beneath the sea is undoubtedly awe-inspiring. It appeared that scuba diving would be more rewarding, as opposed to snorkeling, being able to maneuver more freely over the endless coral reefs. Actually, we saw few people snorkeling and less scuba diving.

Snorkelers were able to purchase their snorkel gear and wetsuits from this bar inside the boat.

In all, there are 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays, and approximately 150 inshore mangrove islands. We visited Green Island, only one of those many islands that have been built into a tourist ready environment, enabling visitors from around the world to see this natural phenomenon.

With ocean spray on the windows, I shot this photo of the massive pier at Green Island which accommodates several companies providing a variety of activities including windsurfing, scuba diving, and tours on semi-submersible and glass-bottom boats. 

Australia, from what we’ve seen thus far, is a continent highly in tune with its rich natural resources. When a venue is created, it’s done so with respect for those resources with the intent of ensuring as natural an experience as possible when sharing those resources with the public.

Another of the charter boats heading to the Great Barrier Reef. Not all boats go to Green Island with numerous other charters available for different prices and arrival times.

Green Island is no exception. Every consideration was made over the years to develop a significant space where the visitor would feel in-one with the environment. In doing so, a little of the magic is taken away, but what is left is a fair representation of what explorers may have discovered centuries ago.

The colorful views around us were only a small section of the Great Barrier Reef.

Nothing was spared in providing safety and convenience and in allowing visitors the optimum experience, savoring the beauty of the island while respectfully representing the significance of the surrounding treasures only a short distance below the water’s surface. 

Green Island, as we approached (through the glass).

Over and again, visitors are reminded to treat the coral reef with reverence and respect to avoid upsetting the ecosystem and habitats for thousands of creatures.

This parasailing equipment included a chair for two at a cost of  AUD $280, USD $200 per couple. Although some of these types of activities may appeal to us, we have to pick and choose what is most important to us for the long term

Green Island has a rich history dating back to the 1770s as shown in this chart below:

Significant Historical Dates for Green Island

Green Island has an amazing history! Even though Green Island is a very small island, it has played an important role in the history of Tropical North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef region.

When on Green Island, take some time to visit the colorful Interpretive Boardwalk. Designed in 6 languages, it showcases the island’s European and Aboriginal histories as well as its outstanding natural values.

Pre 1770 Local Aboriginal tribes (Gungandji and Mandingalbay) used Green Island and its reef for fishing, hunting, and manhood initiation ceremonies.
1770 Captain Cook first marked Green Island on the navigational charts and named it after the astronomer onboard, Charles Green.
1857 A bech-de-mer (sea cucumber) smoking station was established on Green Island. It was operated by a fisherman called JSV Mein, and operated for several decades before closing down.
1863 A ship called the ‘Antagonist’ shipwrecked on Green Island reef while carrying horses to India (14 May 1863).
  • Coconuts were planted to provide shelter, food and drink for shipwrecked sailors.
  • Grass hut accommodation was constructed for fishing and hunting parties.
1890 The first organised pleasure cruises to Green Island commenced on a local coaster called ‘Zeus’.
  • Green Island was declared a Recreational Reserve under the Cairns Council.
  • The first public jetty was constructed.
1924 Hayles commenced fortnightly passenger service from Cairns to Green Island.
1930 Kitty & Noel Monkman, pioneers in underwater photography and videography, moved to Green Island. During WW II they acted as volunteer air observers.
1931 The replacement jetty was constructed by Cairns Town Council.
1932 Cairns Town Council was granted a license to remove coral from the Green Island reef flat to make lime for mainland cane fields (operated until 1945).
1934 Green Island declared a Fauna Sanctuary
1936 Management control of Green Island changed from Cairns Town Council to the Queensland State.
  • Green Island was declared a National Park.
  • World’s first glassbottom boat launched.
  • Research facility built (now Dept. of Primary Industry Research Laboratory).
  • Hayles was granted the first 20-year lease to develop a hotel with tourism activities
1939 First groyne was built to protect the foreshore.
1942 The first hotel, Coral Cay Hotel, was constructed by Hayles.
1946 Jetty was reconstructed after being destroyed by cyclone.
1954 World’s first underwater observatory opened.
1958 Island camping permits no longer issued.
1960 Present jetty constructed.
1961 Great Barrier Reef Theatre constructed.
1963 Redeveloped hotel, the Green Island Reef Resort, opens.
1964 Crocodile Farm opens – the first ever on an island. Renamed Marineland Melanesia in 1972
  • Queen Elizabeth II visits Green Island on her 44th birthday – as part of her tour that followed in Captain Cook’s footsteps.
  • Sandbag retaining wall built near jetty to protect resort land from erosion.
1974 Green Island Reef declared a Marine National Park by the Queensland Government.
1978 Seaplane access to Green Island permitted.
1981 Green Island Reef zoned a Marine National Park ‘B’ with a Buffer Zone under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act (extending 500m out from edge of reef).
1982 Daily fast catamaran service from Cairns commenced by Hayles Pty Ltd.
1988 Dreamworld Corporation purchased Green Island Reef Resort and ferry services from Hayles Pty Ltd and renamed the company Great Adventures.
1989 Green Island Reef Resort closed due to disrepair.
1991 Daikyo Pty Ltd purchased the resort and ferry service on Green Island from Dreamworld Corporation
1992 Redevelopment of Green Island Resort and day facilities commenced.
1993 Redeveloped day facilities opened to the public.
1994 The Green Island Resort luxury accommodation opened.
2001 Green Island Resort desalination plant operational – producing over 55,000 litres of freshwater daily.
2005 Quicksilver Connections acquires Great Adventures and Green Island Resort from Daikyo Pty Ltd
As shown in the above chart, Green Island has grown as a popular tourist attraction over the years. From this perspective, we accept the commercialism required to make Green Island a viable location to which visitors will flock after writing good reviews all over the web. 
After disembarking the Reef Rocket, we walked along the pier heading to the boat at the end of the pier, the Big Cat, where tourists are to wait to gain access to the semi-submersible submarine and the glass-bottom boat. The pier was high above the water but we did our best to take a few photos of the colorful fish.
Blue fish!  Wow!

Did we have a great time at the Great Barrier Reef? We had a good time, very grateful for the experience. Who visits Queensland and doesn’t see the Great Barrier Reef? 

It’s never easy to take photos from above water. We did our best, hoping to capture these colorful blue fish. There are hundreds of identifyable specific species.

Back home by 5:30 pm, with everything for dinner chopped, diced, and relatively ready to cook, by 6:45 we sat down to dine, smiles on our faces for having taken the time and expense to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

The walk down the long pier to the Big Cat, a huge air-conditioned boat that stays anchored for most of the day used as a lounge and rest area and loading area for glass-bottomed boats and semi-submersibles.

Tomorrow and over the next several days, we’ll share our photos both underwater and above water, describing the tours on both the glass bottom boat and the semi-submersible submarine and, how we spent our remaining time on Green Island

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2014:
It was one year ago today that our dear new friend Liz from Bristol, England took the train to South Kensington to visit us for the day. It couldn’t have been a more wonderful day the two of us sharing girl talk at lunch and later the three of us at dinner. At the end of the evening, we walked Liz to the train station, said our goodbyes, and have stayed in touch since. We miss and love you, Liz! For details from that date, please click here.

Upcoming changes in our lives for over 66 days…Hotels and ships…

Yesterday, we noticed this flower growing in our yard, as it breaks free of its pod.

Once again, we begin the process of winding down. The last flight we took from Marrakesh to Madeira after paying for overweight luggage, aloud I promised Tom that I’d ditch the second computer bag and lighten the weight of my luggage.

These colorful steps are located at the elementary school in Campanario.

Yesterday, I unloaded everything in my laptop bag tossing several unneeded items and placing the few essentials in his laptop bag. Luckily, his bag can hold both of our laptops which we’ve done all along. Now we’re free of one heavy carry on bag.

Weeks ago, I unloaded no less than 10 pounds, 4.5 kilograms, of clothing as I’d also promised that day. I’d said it aloud, more to myself than to him. He never asked me to do this nor expected it. His luggage weighs almost as much as mine. 

This house appears to be unfinished.  This has been a common case everywhere we’ve traveled.

Today, we’ll head to the supermarket for what I’d hoped to be our last trip, butTom reminded me that we’ll need more water and another visit to the ATM before leaving Madeira. With 17 days remaining until departure and the tiny fridge and freezer, we probably couldn’t have lasted that long.

Finally, we booked our flight from Boston to Vancouver for September 17th. We were pleasantly surprised when the one-way flight was only US $173 each, EU $127.22. 

A stairway to a cave.

All bookings required to make our way to Hawaii on October 5th are in order. Arriving by cruise ship we’ll stay in Waikiki for 11 nights and then head to Maui for another six weeks staying in a vacation home. We’ve yet to book several island-to-island flights in Hawaii, not necessary at this early date. 

Once we arrive in Honolulu and are settled in our vacation home we’ll book the next few flights. We’ve learned when we need to book early and when it doesn’t require a sense of urgency. Thank goodness for our spreadsheet (which is saved in several locations each time it’s updated), or it could be tricky keeping track of all of our comings and goings.

We didn’t see any reason to enter this cave.

Tomorrow, we have to return the blue rental car to the Funchal airport when Europcar’s lower prices weren’t available on any online site. We had to switch to Hertz for an equally good deal for our remaining 16 days. 

We’ve learned to book cars through discount sites for as much as 50% less than the going rate. But, they don’t allow a booking at those lower prices for more than 30 days. 

Two caves side by side.  Surely, kids in the area have enjoyed these over the years.

We have no choice but to continually rebook online for more time in order to get the discounted pricing. The annoying part of this plan is the necessity of returning to the rental car facility each time to sign new paperwork. Its time consuming but, well worth it when saving over US $1000, EU $735.35 during the 75 days we’ll have spent in Madeira.

Most travelers don’t experience this dilemma when on a vacation/holiday for one or two weeks. For us, the car rental issue is an ongoing challenge. At times, in certain locations, a driver is simply more convenient. We continue to play it by ear as we go.

These are the pods that have been growing in the yard that finally bloomed as shown in today’s first photo.

This morning as I put two more loads of laundry into the small front loading washer, I thought about how we won’t be living in a vacation home with access to a washer from July 31 to October 5, 2014. Here’s where we’ll spend the total 66 days that we’ll be on the move:

  • July 31 to August 16 – Paris hotel
  • August 16 to August 31 – London hotel
  • August 31 to September 14 – Cruise from London to Boston
  • September 14 – September 17 – Boston hotel
  • September 17 – September 23 – Vancouver Hotel
  • September 23 – October 5 – Cruise Vancouver to Honolulu

Usually, we do six to eight loads of laundry each week. Leaving out the usual towels and sheets, we’ll be paying high fees for our laundry during these almost seven weeks. Long ago aware of this reality, we budgeted for this expense.

Also, we won’t be cooking a meal for 66 days.Also, we’ll be dining out during the 11 nights in Honolulu when it won’t be worth purchasing the necessary cooking supplies over this short period. 

Yesterday, Gina explained that the number of cloudy days we’ve experienced lately is unusual. 

Those of our readers that had followed us through 75 days in Morocco know the angst we had over the never-ending spicy food. Within the first week, we couldn’t take another bite. At least going forward, we’ll have plenty of variety during the above venues, consisting of ships and restaurants. 

We’ve begun to adjust our thought process to the changes we’ll experience over the upcoming months, differences we’ve experienced for the short term but, never for this long. We’ve never moved this often in a short period of time.

One of our neighborhood goats taken from the highway. It’s hard to tell if it’s a female or male when both have horns and beards.

We continue on, full of hope for continuing good health and relative ease of safe travel. On the flip side, there’s always Paris!

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2013:

Not our photo posted on our story about insects in Tuscany.  For details of that day’s post, please click here.