Life on the Reef - Monday

Monday was traditionally Lizard Island day! After a nights cruising, we breakfasted and then took a boat full of passengers ashore for the first excursion of the week!

Monday morning dawned bright and fare, as it almost always did on the Great Barrier Reef.  A night times cruising had seen us pass Port Douglas, the Daintree River, Cape Tribulation and Cooktown.  We would usually have breakfast passing Cape Flattery and Cap’n Doug would launch into a monologue over the PA system about how Captain James Cook had been ‘flattered’ into believing this was the tip of Australia, hence the name.  This often had the wits in the crew muttering about whether he had been ‘tribulated’, ‘mellviled’ and finally ‘yorked’ too, humorous references to the various other Capes we passed!  It might have been dull to hear it every week but hey, I remembered it! 

And so by 10 or 11am, depending on how much speed PK had been able to coax out of the old Ruston’s, we would drop anchor at Lizard Island.  I still remember as clear as day, being struck by the beauty as I stood on deck on my first trip watching the Island come into view. 
Once everybody was packed up, the davits would be extended and the life boat lowered into the water.  It was my job to open the gun-port door (in the side of the ship), a precarious exercise as it featured a heavy 3” tubular steel frame that hooked into the side of the ship to stop the lifeboat severing the limbs of passengers by crushing them against the ship side.  It was awkward to fit to say the least and I often had nightmares about dropping the damn thing!

We then loaded all the passengers and cruised off for a few hours of swimming, snorkelling, sun bathing, exploring and filling their faces with BBQ on the beautiful Lizard Island. 

Lizard Island was named by Captain Cook in 1770, never one for the obscure, he saw ‘naught but Lizards’ and hence the Island was so named.  The Island served a very important purpose in Cook’s expeditions as he stopped there to take stock of the situation having become embroiled in a labyrinth of coral once he entered the inner reef.  The hill at the end of the island offered him the chance to identify a place where he could exit the reef and head back into open water.  This hill is unsurprisingly now known as ‘Cooks lookout’.  Bought to you by a nation who had the almost genius like inspiration to name the ‘snowy mountains’ and the ‘great sandy desert’!!!! 

On some occasions, when time permitted, we would take the more adventurous tourists to the top, not a terribly arduous trek and well worth it for some fantastic views!  The reef has obviously decayed a fair bit from Cook’s days but you can see how he would have been able to extract himself from inside the reef based on what he could see from here. 

Lizard Island also features an extremely exclusive hotel, far above my budget; and a Research Station studying the reef’s marine life and the coral.  We paid a visit to them on one trip to Lizard, a fascinating few hours!  There is great scuba diving there too, with the famous Cod Hole where you can swim with the enormous Potato Cod, so named for their resemblance to huge potatoes, note that Aussie naming inspiration again!  Sadly, never got the chance to dive there though …. 

Once we were all sunned and snorkelled, it was time to load everybody back up and head back to the Queen.  Passengers counted back in, gun port door closed and we were off under way again!



Beach at Lizard Island
View from Cooks Lookout
Queen of the Isles in Watson's Bay
Passengers climbing to Cooks Lookout

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