Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Worldly Travels: Australia - Brisbane and Cairns

Brisbane Trip:

So I only spent 4 days up near Brisbane, but considering what I was able to do, it seemed much longer (but went by way to fast). All told, I drove a rented Suzuki GSR-600 400 kms (240 miles) at a top speed of 240kmh (145mph), dove 3 times from 14,000 feet above sea level and 5 times down to 90 feet below sea level. Oh, and I accomplished one of my big goals in life: skydive, drive a motorcycle, and scuba dive within 24 hours. Now to do it all within 10 minutes of each other (i.e. drive a motorcycle out of a plane/off a cliff with modified scuba gear, deploy parachute, land in body of water and dive down).

Brisbane Map

The Brisbane trip started when I landed at the Gold Coast Coolangatta Airport (A). I was technically staying at the Gold Coast for the weekend (B), though I was really only there to sleep. I went up on a Thursday for an operational due diligence meeting with a tech start-up. The private equity company I was working for wanted to know more about them before moving forward with more intensive investment discussions and I made a four day weekend out of it. The founders of the company were pretty cool, gave me a lot of tips on where to visit around Brisbane and Carins, and I actually met up with them later that weekend. After the meeting, I went to get the bike and had it for the rest of the weekend.


My first stop was some skydiving out in Mutdapilly Queensland at the Brisbane branch of Sydney Skydivers. I finished my third, fourth and fifth stage jumps and the instructors there were way more fun than down in Sydney; Greg Bennie and Stephen Cowan are legit. They let me screw around on the second and third jumps of the day, doing some flips and barrel rolls, since I was doing well with all of the technical stuff.


After skydiving, I met up with the start-up guys in Brisbane (D) for some beers on a rooftop with a great view of downtown Brisbane, especially the cricket stadium across the way. After that, we played some ping-pong, grabbed a bite and then I met another friend at a backpacker bar I'd met down in Sydney a month prior. I held off on drinks after 8pm since I knew I'd have to drive back down to the Gold Coast around midnight, but I still ended up pulling off a back-flip at the pub. It was videotaped, and I'd post it below, but it's being held hostage by Nicole Kerr at the moment... (I hope you read this Nicole :p)

The next day, at 7am in the morning, I got up to drive down to Tweed Sea Sports (E) for the first day of my PADI course; thus completing the skydive/motorcycle/scuba trifecta. Five dives and 28 hours later, I'd earned my Advanced Openwater PADI certification. On one of the dives, I cut myself underwater on a rock, nothing major, but it was a deep dive and red is the first color you lose at depth. At first, I thought I'd cut myself on something poisonous since black stuff was coming out of my finger. Then I remembered about the whole loss of color thing and calmed down. It's a whole other world that far underwater. Here's a couple of the guys you'll find down there:

Look, It's Nemo

Cairns Trip:

About a month later, I was back in Queensland, but 15 hours further north (by car) in Cairns. Like usual, this journey started at the airport (A) where I got picked up by a shuttle and taken to the local YHA. I used YHA's all over New Zealand and highly recommend them. Read my New Zealand post to see why. The morning after I got there, I was up bright and early at 5am to get to the dive shop, get all my gear, and was ready to leave by 7am.

Cairns Map

We left from the dock (D) at 7:30am and spent three days at sea, diving The Great Barrier Reef, taking some amazing pictures. You can see the good ones here on Facebook. The two below do a good job of illustrating what I did for three days straight.

Taking a Picture of a Turtle

The Result

I was only in Cairns for 10 hours before diving and 20 hours after (minimum time recommended for plane flight after 11 dives in three days is 12-24 depending on depth), but I had a good night out with the friends I made on the trip. One of the guys, Inam Amanullah, is the coolest person I've ever met. He's an international commercial airline pilot, PADI scuba divemaster, krav maga black belt, motorcyclist, used to be a mechanic and race mustangs, and was basically pure awesome; and he's in his early 30's. I ended up at the same hotel as him (E) and after diving we went out with the crew of the dive-boat who lived in Cairns and showed us a good time (F-H on the Cairns Map). Similar to Brisbane I did a back-flip at P.J. O'Briens. Inam has the video to prove it, but I'm still tracking that down at the moment and will post it when I acquire it.

For those who like to scuba-dive, and I can't imagine why anybody wouldn't, I highly recommend making the trip to Cairns and diving the barrier reef. You will make memories that will last a lifetime and won't regret it.

The biggest take-away I got from these travels was to set goals and strive to achieve them. I've had an on-going travel checklist that has kept me focused on doing the things that I want to achieve. It keeps me from lazing around on the weekends or repeating the same night out habits. It also helps me reflect back on what I've accomplished and gives a sense of satisfaction when I do. I'll make a post on that when I finish my travels in Hong Kong in August. Until then, look out for my India update!

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