Sunday, 16 December 2018

Travel Guide: Uncle Brian's Rainforest Tour

When I was planning my trip to Australia, booking onto Uncle Brian's Rainforest Tour was something I had considered but for some reason didn't commit to. It wasn't until I was already in Cairns and a friend I made at the hostel I was staying in asked me if I wanted to take the last two spaces on our only free day that week did I buy a ticket, and I am seriously glad I did. 
We went for the one day option, and were greeted at 8am outside our hostel by our guide for the day Sid. Not just a guide, Sid became the official photographer for our trip, stand up comedian and all round great guy. We also met some some equally hilarious people on the bus, and we all got along so much we went out that evening for drinks and I have bumped into some of the guys several times since along the East Coast and stopped for a chat each time. 

Stopping first of all at Babinda Boulders, Sid walked us through the rainforest and shared with us some facts about the plants that grow there and some of the wildlife in the forest. We stopped at our first pool for the day which was absolutely beautiful and went for a swim. I stupidly left my very battered but much loved Converse here, however luckily my over packing ways meant I had a pair of sandals in my backpack to see me through the rest of the day.

Our next stop was Josephine Falls, where you could slide down the rock face into the water below which was great fun. We also explored up the back of the water pool and took plenty of pictures. After this we stopped for lunch (with a vegetarian option that looked better than the meat version) and had a beer before drying off for the second half of the day. 

Our third stop was Milla Milla Falls which I will have to be honest we were all a little disappointed with. Due to the lack of rain at this point the waterfall didn't look nearly as impressive as it does on the photos we had seen prior to the tour. However we did all learn how to do a 'Herbal Essences hair flip' which was hilarious to try and pull off when you have shoulder length hair. 
Moving onto our last stop of the day, Lake Eacham, we spotted turtles on the bank of the lake and tried to spot Dave, the friendly local salt water crocodile. The rumour is he used to be somebodies pet before he got too big and was released into the lake. Like most we didn't spot him and I'm still sceptical on whether or not a crocodile would be allowed to live in a lake humans regularly visit but who knows. After we'd all had enough of diving into the water and swimming around we had hot chocolates and biscuits on the shore before driving back to Cairns. 
If like me you are on the fence about booking Uncle Brian's Rainforest Tour my advice would definitely be to do it. Not only do you get to learn about the wildlife and nature around you, the guides make it super fun and everyone else I have spoken to about it  since has raved about how much fun they had. 
For a closer glimpse you can watch some footage in my travel vlog below:
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Travel Guide: Great Barrier Reef


 A bucket list item for many people, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef has to be one of the most amazing things I have ever done. There are lots of ways to do it, however going on a specific day trip from Cairns is one of the best ways to make sure you go to the clearest spots and get plenty of time to swim around.
While in Cairns I went on a one day snorkelling trip with Down Under Dive. Leaving at 7.30am in the morning you receive some general safety instructions onboard the boat that were very useful for first time snorkelers like myself, before heading upstairs on the boat to get fitted for your flippers. After a very beautiful hour and a half boat ride out to the ocean you arrive at your first reef location. During our trip we had five hours of snorkelling time over two locations which at first seemed like quite a long time. However as soon as I got into the water and started swimming around I found this the perfect amount of time.
Being underwater and able to swim the Great Barrier Reef at my own leisure and pace was really wonderful, while on the tour we visited both Norman Reef and Saxon Reef. Each were equally beautiful and absolutely packed with fish and reef, I was lucky enough to see a sting ray sitting on the seabed while others saw turtles and even a reef shark. 
For first time snorkelers like myself it can be quite daunting to dip your head into the water as this is instinctively an unnatural thing to do if you want to be able to keep breathing. On first entering the water and trying it out I found myself not able to catch my breath and struggling. I asked the boat crew for a noodle (a piece of foam that helps keep you afloat) and timed myself to breathe in and out for four seconds each which really helped. Once I'd mastered this I did not want to come out of the water and absolutely loved my time swimming around. 
Part of the Dive Under Dive tour is the option to have an introductory scuba diving lesson, however being asthmatic this isn't allowed without a medical professional onboard and specific medical clearance beforehand. While this is a shame I can see why it is done given the issues I had with breathing when first attempting to snorkel. There was also the option of a helicopter ride over the reef, however with this lasting only 10 minutes and costing $179 I didn't feel it was worth it. During stinger season you will be given a complimentary stinger suit, being bright blue may not be the most attractive, however sure beats the alternative of risking being stung which several girls on our boat seemed to think was a worthwhile risk. 
One of the other options while aboard the boat is to rent a camera which will allow you to take photos and film underwater. The camera was an Olympus and cost $55 for the day if you had your own memory card. If like me you really want to document your trip I would highly recommend this as the quality of the footage was amazing as you can see from these photos, you can check out my video from the trip in my week one travel vlog below:
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Monday, 3 December 2018

Let's Talk About: Hair


Before I got my waist length hair cut to above my shoulders I naturally sort the approval and opinions of my peers. Months were spent saving images to a folder on my phone, picturing it in mirrors and wondering what I would look like without a blanket of hair swooping ahead of me everywhere I went.

One of the responses I got on multiple occasions was “oh but your thick mermaid hair” with a tone of wistfulness. I’m lucky, I know, to have a head of hair that grows as fast and thick as weeds. The thing most people miss that comes with this, and the combined joy of it being naturally almost black against very pale skin, is that it’s not just the hair on my head that comes thick and fast. Yes ladies, we’re talking body hair. Anywhere our more fair headed friends have barely noticeable blonde flecks, my apparently much sought after dark and thick locks make an appearance, and I know I’m not the only one.




Around that age the most popular girl in school first flaunted her shiny smooth pins I picked up a razor and shaved my legs. Sometime later arm hair followed, and then hands, and then fingers. Yup. Much to my mothers horror that got shaved one evening in the bath too. It was dark, and there was lots of it, and all the other girls at school didn’t have it! I must be some sort of fuzzy freak. 

Eventually it grew back, and I spent years hating my arms, hands and fingers and covering them under pulled over long sleeves at any opportunity. One day I eventually became more comfortable with the hair on my arms, and then the little bits around my wrists on the back of my hands, but still to this day if I spot a missed hair on my fingers I will spend all day feeling self conscious about it despite knowing nobody will really see it.




I’ve got a unibrow that unless tamed would put Frida Kahlo to shame, a snail trail that would make a yeti proud, chin hairs that wouldn’t look out of place on Patty and Selma Simpson, and absolutely no shame in admitting it anymore. I have dark, thick hair, and pale skin that shows it up wherever it might be on my body and that’s ok. Those are the words I wished somebody told me when I was at school and horrified when I realised I’d missed a patch on the back of my knees. Again.


I’m not about to swear off ever buying a razor and shaving again. As I get older I have noticed that the situation has become worse and requires more attention, however I’m trying to go easy on myself each and every time I realise I might have left it a little too long since last doing the full body check. And if like me you suffer from this very natural affliction then let me just tell you it’s ok, you are not the only one, and it doesn’t make you weird. Boys will fancy you, people don’t really notice, and the only person who will ever care about it to any extend is you, so go easy on yourself.

Here’s to all my thick haired sisters and all of our unwanted hairs, may we feel a little less alone in our battle against the fuzz.

R x
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