Cycling Kangaroo - Holidays: Cairns


February 22nd-26th, 2006

The first day I took a day tour to the Daintree Rainforest stopping at various places along the way:

A Cassowary - This fella eats fruits like mangos whole - one gulp and it's gone. You can see it slide down the throat. I fed this one - snatch, swallow, gone!

A friendly (?) crocodile.

A kookaburra

A Parrot (umm, not sure which type...)

Spotted Quoll
A Spotted Quoll

Daintree - Where the rainforest meets the sea

Peppermint Stick Insect
A Peppermint Stick Insect - squirts peppermint smelling stuff if you irritate it.

Moss at Mossman Gorge
Some moss at Mossman Gorge

Ferns at Mossman Gorge
Ferns at Mossman Gorge

A ??? Dragon (forgotten!)

Day Two. A trip out to the reef. At the last minute I decided that as well as snorkelling I would do an introductory dive. Some pics taken while snorkelling. I haven't got around to finding out the names of the fish I saw yet. I saw loads more fish, but unfortunately they don't stop and pose for photos :-( Also, when I was diving I saw reef sharks, a sting ray, and a turtle, as well as a lot of quite big fish. I enjoyed the first intro dive so much, I did another after lunch. All of the pictures below were taken when snorkelling as the camera is only 1.5m water proof.

Michaelmas Cay
Michaelmas Cay where we stopped. The Cay is a bird sanctuary and those black specks are birds.

Some coral

More coral

Large Fish
A large fish

School of small fish
A school of small fish

Medium size fish
Medium size fish

Parrot Fish
Big(ish) fish (Parrot Fish)

Giant Clam
Giant Clam - these guys look fluorescent.

Giant Clam
Giant Clam

Coral and yellow fish
Coral and another pic of the yellow fish above.

After a fun day snorkelling and diving, we headed back to Cairns. After I got off the boat, I noticed my arms were a bit sore and figured I must have used them a bit more than usual that day. They were getting sorer by the time I went to bed, so I gave them a bit of a stretch. By about 1am, the pain in my arms woke me and the ache was in my bones and elbows. Sleep was out of the question at this stage, and I did wonder if there was any chance at all that I could get the bends on the innocuous dives I did. The pain got worse so I made the most of Vodafone 123 and got a cab which took me to a 24hr medical centre. I described the pain, and told him that I had been diving that day. He wrote a letter and sent me off to emergency at the Cairns Hospital.

Cairns Base Hospital
At the hospital, I underwent a load of tests and then the put me on oxygen and a saline drip until they could speak to the specialist dive doctor in Townsville. They were talking about flying me down to Townsville. No such luck - can't fly if you might have the bends, so on to a bus for a 5 hour trip south, kissing goodbye to my plane ticket home....

Townsville General Hopsital
On arrivial in Townsville, it was straight to the hospital to the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit. The doctor thought it was unlikely that I could have got the bends on the dives I did, but that it was possible. I told him that I was beginning to get the feeling that it might be spinal, because I do have a dodgy spine, and the pain intensity was moving about. He decided to get some xrays to see if maybe he could find out definitely one way or the other. No joy, my spine looked fine to him, so he got a specialist to check the xrays. Same, nothing that would explain the pain.

At that stage, as he wasn't convinced it was diving related, he suggested I see how it went overnight, and then come back in at 8:30am to have some more tests. He told me that if it was the bends, the pain would probably get worse overnight, so when I slept fine, and had improved overnight, rather than worsened I figured that it must defininitely be my spine. I went back into the hospital and the doctor asked more questions, did a few more tests and decided that my symptoms were still too close to those of the bends that he couldn't rule it out so he decided that I should have a session in the hyperbaric chamber to see if that made any difference.

Townsville Hospital Hyperbaric Chamber
The hyperbaric chamber. It's quite large. This is the main chamber, and through the next two doors is the smaller chamber. They had reclining chairs in the chamber (no I didn't take this pic...or the two hospital ones...). I got hooked up to 100% oxygen and spent an hour at 18m with 3 other people, before moving across to the smaller chamber for another 4 hrs at 9m. As the oxygen mask is so large, it's hard to read so I spent most of the time dozing.

Fortunately/unfortunately there was no dramatic improvement after my 5hrs in the chamber, which indicated that it probably wasn't the bends. I got told to ring the doctor again in the morning and this time got the okay go home.

But first....a visit to the aquarium...

Marlin and Dory
Marlin and Dory

Clown Fish
A clown fish - this is the female. They are a lot larger than the male, and if the female dies, the male gets bigger and becomes a female, so this means that Marlin should really have turned into Marlina?

Big Fish
A big fish...

Yellow Fish
A pretty yellow fish


Spotted Fish
A pretty spotted fish.

After the aquarium, I took a wander along the waterfront. There was a tree that was FULL of yellow and red tailed black cocatoos.

Red Tail Black Cockatoo
This fellow landed on the grass in front of me.

Magnetic Island
And finally - did you know that you can't swim in the ocean (along the coast) in summer in Far North Queensland? Rather sad when it's hot and you can't even have a little paddle....