AuMy first shark!

27 Mar

So the day after we arrived in Brisbane we headed off on a tour of Moreton island. We’d booked ourselves for a full day of action and adventure – namely exploring the island in 4W4’s, snorkeling the reef around a couple of sunken boats, sand surfing and swimming. A full on, high adrenalin, non stop, action packed day – bring it on!

I’m not a massive fan of boats (as you’ve heard many times now) but it really was very pleasant sitting on the top deck, soaking up the sun, enjoying a coffee and talking (porn) with Louise. Yes porn. Apparently the Germans are pretty famous for their porn, I’m beginning to think Lou could actually be a porn star :0)

On the boat to Moreton Island

As we approached the island the sunken reef came in to view, this is the spot where we’d be snorkeling very soon. Needless to say my nerves started to kick in. What the hell was I doing?!! Ok, lets just take a moment here to reflect……I have a (massive) fear of deep water and of fish (big swallow you in one bite kind of fish) and yet I was about to go, willingly, in to very deep water for a bit of snorkeling. Where I would, no doubt, come face to face with big fish….Right then. Good decision….is it too late to stop the boat?!

Off the boat we meet our guide for the day, a suitably tanned, upbeat and very buff Auzzie by the name of Ned. Great name! Before you could say 007 we were in our wetsuits headed for the water. Little note here to say that despite Daniel Craig’s efforts no one looks good in a wetsuit. No one. Mine was about 2 sizes too big and would have been perfect for someone with freakishly long legs. Sadly I do not have freakishly long legs, the exact opposite in fact, so in a rather embarrassing move I was forced to roll mine up at the ankles, several times in fact. Not a good look but very, very funny.

Actually the whole thing was pretty hilarious, both me and Lou looked ridiculous and couldn’t stop giggling as we flapped about in the shallows, much like rubber clad beached Whales, testing out our goggles and snorkels.

Me flapping about

Then before you could say “I’ve changed my mind, I’ll say here and take some pictures thanks, maybe get started on the sarnies for lunch…yes?” We were in the water. We were told not to put our snorkels into the water while we swam out to the reef. No reason was given at the time but later Ned told us it was because most people have a tendency to totally freak out when they realise how deep, dark and bloody terrifying it is. Good point. After a long swim we made it to the reef. Then came the call –  “ok you can put your heads in the water now…” it was exactly 10 seconds after that instruction that I totally and utterly freaked out. All consuming panic. ….”oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” / ” fuck, fuck, fuck” / “I can’t do this!!!”

The view that I saw when I put my head under sent a tidal wave of solid fear right through me. All I could see was the side of the sunken boat disappearing into a whole load of nothingness, deep, deep, nothingness…..just my little legs flapping about….nothing below but darkness and the odd fish head appearing out of the gloom. OH.MY.GOD.OH.MY.GOD.OH.MY.GOD……Ned noticed me having a slight moment and came over, he was absolutely brilliant. He asked if I wanted to go back…my whole body wanted to say YES, but there was no way I was bailing on this. I am Zomersetgirl on an adventure, trying new things and being brave god damn it…. There’s no way I’m quitting. Come on girl get some balls! So Ned, me and Lou stuck together for a bit, swimming along the reef, until I started to feel more confident. Gradually the fear subsided and I reaslised that although my heart was still pounding and I’d clamped my snorkel mouth piece so hard I couldn’t feel my jaw any more, I was in fact having a good time. Scrap that, I was having a great time. It was absolutely beautiful…memorizing in fact. Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful fish just swimming about, nibbling at the bread we were feeding them, just as interested in us as we were with them. It was also massively funny owning to the fact that we looked like a pair of drowning dogs every time we surfaced, goggles stuck to our bulging eyes, hair mashed to our faces, our German/English chat even more incomprehensible due to the snorkel bits in our mouths…something that sent us into a frenzy of giggles, spluttering, snorkel filled, half drowning giggles every time. So much fun.

Me & Louise – drowning/giggling underwater

I was loving it. But then Ned called out “Come over here everyone, there’s a shark right here…come and have a look“. What the …???? Ned had just said two things that really didn’t make sense – 1. The word ‘Shark’ and 2. Come and have a look???!!! In my head it should have been 1. Fuck it’s a sharrrrrk!! followed swiftly by 2. Swim for your lives!!! Once again full on panic headed my way. Ned assured me it was very, very small, very, very harmless and if I looked he promised it wouldn’t be as bad as what I was imagining. He was right of course. For what I was imagining was the lift floor from the YHA….(look at the Brisbane post for that pic – essentially Jaws looming up to eat me whole) what I got was in fact a very small, beautiful, little brown and white spotted shark  just sitting on the bottom of the boat a few meters down from me.

WOW! I had seen a shark! I had seen an actual real life shark! Totally and utterly amazing. This was a moment I had dreamed about, thought about, imagined for many, many years and here it was. A beautiful little shark, just below me. I was so happy I can’t even begin to describe the feeling. I was still terrified of course but I was also very, very happy and just a little bit proud of myself….very proud of myself in fact.

Loving it!

Snorkeling done we headed off in the 4W4 for the sand surfing…..as we kangaroo hopped along the sandy road it became apparent quite quickly that a bikini definitely did not provide the support required for such a bumpy ride. Something Ned also notice with his “you’ll be wanting a sports bra by the end of this” quip. And he wasn’t wrong. Jeez…. me and the puppies got thrown about all over the place, it’s a wonder they stayed on! I’d consider suing for my two black eyes but I’m pretty sure the disclaimer we signed included boob related injuries, such was its thoroughness. Ned drove/bounced us all around the island, showing off the miles and miles of totally empty sandy shores. It was simply breathtaking. Paradise.

Shortly after we found ourselves in a place called “The desert” aptly named because it is in fact a bit of a desert, rolls and rolls of massive sand dunes and nothing at all to shelter you from the blistering sun. We headed off with our sand surfing boards and started the exhausting, thigh burning climb to the top. Our boards were pretty tiny and the higher we climbed the more apprehensive I got. The technique seemed simple enough. Get to the top of the massive dune, line up your board, hold on tight and slide down. What you don’t realise until its way too late is that you’ll be flying face first down a vertical dune, sliding at about 150mph, whilst swallowing a gut full of sand, you’ll lose both flip-flops, scream like a big girl and generally feel as if the worlds biggest hairdryer has been blown in your face – G-Force!! It was pretty bloody cool. No doubt. Yeah man! The whole gang loved it, it was hilarious watching everyone shoot down, the same bemused, startled, dazed and exhilarated look on their faces when their slide finally came to a stop….lets go again!! I laughed so much my sides hurt.

Very high and very fast

After the sand surfing we found another gorgeous deserted beach and spent some time just swimming about in the clear shallows, trying to wash the sand from every single inch of ourselves. I thought it was the perfect end to a perfect day….and then it got ever better….a school of dolphins appeared about 200 meters from us….

Wow. What a day.

I had laughed so, so much. Faced my fears, seen my very first shark and swam in beautiful clear waters with wild dolphins jumping in the distance. I can’t really do it justice, but It was without a doubt one of the best things I have ever done in my whole life and I will smile every single time I think about it.

A very, very good day!

Next stop Noosa.

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