Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year celebration. I spent the last couple of days on a boat and I'm happy to be on dry land again. UPDATED...
It was a little too expensive to get back to Sydney in time for New Year's Eve celebrations. My Oz Experience tour had me around Airlie Beach for the holiday but Airlie is reputed to be the party capital of the East Coast. When I'd asked tour guides what their impressions of the place were they'd all said it was a place for drunkenness, sex, and drunkenness. Not really what I had in mind. Fortunately/unfortunately there wasn't a single room available for NYE in town. Instead, I ended up on a sail boat for three days.
I think there were 18 passengers and three crew members on the ship which was tinier than I imagined for such a big group. There was no private quarters and for two of the days, only one tiny bathroom compartment. The rocking of the boat meant staying downstairs was a quick way to get seasick. Just about everyone hung out on deck.
The funny thing about the first day is everyone's eagerness to sunbathe. The antipodean sunshine is said to have no ozone protection. Its evil rays cook you to a nice red pretty quickly. I did my best to slap the 75spf on my face and spray a 30 on my body but our days were filled with napping on deck, strolling along white beaches, snorkeling, and hiking through rainforests. Sun burn was inevitable and by day two, the sting of red skin had everyone hurdled under sanctuary of shade as much as we could manage.
After the recent storms, the diving visibility was horrible, wiping out any reason to pay extra for scuba. We did get in some nice snorkeling. Because of the jellyfish present in the water, we had to wear 'stinger suits' including a hood. As silly as it may have looked, I appreciated the protection from the sun and the fantasy of being suited up for some sort of special forces work. I think I'm more afraid of being stung by a jellyfish than running into a shark. I had a nice moment running into a sea turtle who was devouring a jellyfish in front of me. If I could have shook his fin, I would have. The turtles are the only natural predators of these jelly menaces.
For New Year's Eve, we were dropped off on Half Moll Island to join other sailing boys and girls for the festivities. The fireworks weren't nearly as grandiose as Sydney's show, I'm sure, but a couple of people did have sparklers. Shortly after the stroke of midnight, we shuffled back to the jetty and back to our boat before a night storm brought down the first rain of the New Year.