Greetings from far north tropical Queensland, Australia, where I’m writing this post from as part of the ProBlogger Queensland Blogger Trip.
You may remember a couple of months back we ran a competition here on ProBlogger to identify ten bloggers from around the world to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland to experience all that the region has to offer — and then to blog about it. The winners were announced here and the trip began earlier this week.
Follow along: You can follow Twitter and Instagram updates by those on the trip—just follow the hashtag #QldBlog—loads of photos and status updates are being made (and a few blog posts have already gone up).
We all arrived earlier in the week before meeting in the lobby of our Cairns hotel on Tuesday evening. Our first experience was to travel to a local indigenous art gallery (Canopy Artspace), where we had a Welcome to Country by one of the local indigenous leaders, and enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of the local indigenous artists.
Their work was fascinating and I found myself particularly moved by some of the pieces.
We then had a great dinner together where we got to know each other as a group and began to talk about the days ahead.
Yesterday was our first full day—and it was a very, very full one! Most of the day was spent out in the Coral Sea off the coast of Cairns at a little resort island by the name of Green Island.
There we had opportunity to sit with each other for three hours for our first blogger training session. We spent the time doing a “hot seat” exercise, where each blogger introduced his or her blog, and then the rest of the group brainstormed, critiqued, and workshopped that blog.
The conversation was great. We had a range of levels of bloggers in the room—from those who are blogging as a serious hobby through to those who are full-time bloggers employing staff to run their blogs.
The rest of the day was spent taking in the sights of the area.
Most of the bloggers had the opportunity to go sea walking (walking underwater with a pressurised helmet).
Rebecca Cooper from Simple As That
We were then put on three helicopters and taken out to Vasslof Cay—a little coral sand island in the middle of the reef—where we spent time with Marine Biologist Richard Fitzpatrick, one of the guys who recently shot the amazing Great Barrier Reef documentary.
The flight to the Cay and time with Richard was surreal. For many of our bloggers it was their first helicopter flight, and the views were stunning. The Cay itself was beautiful, and Richard was fascinating.
As we spoke with Richard, one of the team members noticed some splashing in the shallows just off the Cay. At first they thought it was a Turtle but Richard quickly realised it was a small shark—two, in fact, mating.
Richard was off like a shot, running into the water and shouting that this was one of the rarest things you’ll ever see. He scooped into the water and picked up the male shark and for the next ten minutes we had a lesson that we’ll never forget about the lives of sharks.
I even got to pet it!
We were then shuttled back to Cairns where we had 45 minutes to freshen up before being taken to one of the most beautiful restaurants in the region—NuNu in Palm Cove. There, we were serenaded by a ukulele band and watch a big golden moon rise above the water on the beach before us.
It was as if nature and the team at Tourism Queensland had conspired to give us the ultimate night out.
Today we switch gears a little and are heading away from the reef into the Daintree rainforest. This part of Queensland is a unique region in that it has two World Heritage listed areas (the reef and rainforest) in such close proximity.
We’ll spend another three hours this morning doing some more blogger training at Silky Oaks Lodge next to the Mossman River. Then, in the afternoon, we’ll have the opportunity to do a rainforest walk and get a Spa Treatment … pedicure or massage anyone?
We’re also checking in tonight to an amazing resort: Thala Beach Lodge, which I am told is a unique and amazing place to stay.
Please check out the #QldBlog stream for more regular updates on what our bloggers are doing!
Also check out the blogs of our participating bloggers—posts will start to go up on these in the coming days:
- Rebecca Cooper (Canada) of Simple as That (see her announcement post here).
- Tsh Oxenreider (USA) of Simple Mom
- Chantelle Ellem (Australia) of Fat Mum Slim (read her announcement post here).
- U Mei Teh (Malaysia) of CC Food Travel (read her announcement post here).
- Katja Hentschel (Germany) of Travelettes.
- Stuart Flatt (UK) of Average Joe’s Blog.
- Kara Williams (USA) of The Vacation Gals (see her announcement post here).
- Jodi Friedman (USA) of MCP Actions (see here announcement post here).
- Jackie Hutchings (UK) of Scubadviser (read her announcement post here).
- Jess Van Den (AUS) of Epheriell Designs.