A Moreton Island adventure to remember

I started my Full Day Moreton Island 4WD Eco Adventure bright and early at 7am as we made our way from Brisbane to the wharf. We arrived at the absolutely stunning Moreton Island and were greeted by a pod of manta rays just near the shore – what a treat!

The only mode of transport around the island is by 4WD. We travelled down the Western side of the island and were lucky enough to get up close to the local bird species.

Our adventure turned into one of pure adrenalin as we entered the sand dunes and were given a rectangle of fun and shown by our guide how to get the best results when it comes to mastering sliding down the dunes on one’s backside! The group made our way to the top of the sand dunes and got ready for a much quicker descent.

I tried my luck with a surfers pose and naturally came crashing down in the surprisingly soft sand with absolutely no pain. I eagerly ran to the top and slid down again but this time I managed to stay standing. We had plenty of time to slide down the sand dunes as many times as we wanted before heading to the Five Hills lookout where I saw some of the most spectacular beach views I have ever witnessed.

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Our next stop is the Blue Lagoon where we relaxed and enjoyed a cooling swim as our lunch prepared. It was so peaceful laying there and swimming around with no waves in the crystal clear water.

After enjoying a delicious picnic style lunch, we explored more of the Island taking in the picturesque landscape. We arrived back at the wharf with extra time so as an added treat were able to go for another swim but this time in front of the magnificent shipwrecks of Moreton Island. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an abundance of fish and star fish – very much a highlight of the day!

We made our way back to the wharf and enjoyed a relaxing ferry ride back to civilization away from the relaxing and spectacular Moreton Island. What a fantastic day enjoying the beauty of nature and a great way to see the beauty of this pristine part of the world.

By GoDo team member, Michelle

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Swimming with the Sea Lions – Port Lincoln, South Australia

I was both excited and scared about swimming with sea lions in the wild; excited because they are fondly named the puppy dogs of the sea due to their playful nature and scared of the cold waters around Port Lincoln, South Australia.

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We took a relaxing cruise from Port Lincoln out to our sea lion spot and on the way, learnt all about how to attract sea lions when in the water – duck diving, spinning and acting like a playful child works a treat! When we arrived, we geared up with wet suits along with flippers and a mask with snorkel. As if on cue, as Matt, the skipper of Adventure Bay Charters, whistled and clapped to at a group of sea lions lazing around on the rocks near the reef, they playfully jumped into the water and started heading in our direction.

Although it was like jumping into a pool of ice cubes, I quickly forgot about the freezing water when a sea lion swam up close to us and then with one flick of its tail was off again. Chasing after it, I was very quickly surrounded by a few sea lions all trying to figure out exactly what I was doing in their water.

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I spun around in the water and following my lead, they all did the same thing. “Where did he go”, I said to my colleague, Kate who pointed excitedly behind me. I turned and the sea lion was practically sitting its head on my shoulder – I had become one of the pack! The hours passed by so quickly as we swam around with these playful creatures that really are as their nickname suggests, just like big puppy dogs – extremely quick puppy dogs at that.

Before I knew it, it was  time to go but I didn’t want to. I was having so much fun being so close to these wild, yet strangely friendly creatures.  Back on the boat, we were happy to get into warm clothing, sip on a warm drink and have something to eat.

If you love the idea of getting close to animals in the wild, this is the experience for you. It’s without fail the best close encounter with wildlife I have ever experienced. A big 10 out of 10 experience and should definitely be on your bucket list!

By GoDo team member, Michelle

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A Palm Cove Adventure

It’s a stunning five days we’ve been dealt when we arrive for a mini-break for my birthday to Palm Cove in April. A major drawcard for the tropical destination we’ve chosen for our holiday is its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, and our friends at Calypso Pure Snorkelling offer to take us our on their Full Day Outer Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling Tour to experience what the world’s largest coral reef is all about.

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We board the bus for the hour drive up to Port Douglas from our beautiful accommodation at Peppers Palm Cove Resort, a drive which meanders along the coast road and affords stunning views of the Coral Sea.

We arrive at Meridien Marina and are greeted by the Calypso crew. As we board, crew member James ticks my name off the manifest and says, “Happy Birthday Leah!” and straight away I like him (thanks to the office staff who slipped him that tidbit, but his delivery suggests it’s all part of the service).  It’s milliseconds before I spot another kind face belonging to one of the crew and start rattling off the questions.

Now, I’m a strong swimmer and I love the ocean, but I’m scared of my own shadow. Sharks are one thing, but this time it’s the transparent and venomous box jellyfish that I’ve read about that is stressing me out today. “It’s fine,” I’m assured, “You’ll be wearing one of these,” he says, and points at the stinger suits, an all-in-one Lycra suit. Although April is at the tail end of the stinger season, the crew advocate wearing one of these sexy stretchy suits for a number of reasons apart from the stingers – protection from the sun, for one, and also warmth.  I’ve often sunburned my back to a crisp while snorkelling, so they’re onto something there. As far as warmth is concerned, a lot of the time you’re just in awe of the beautiful sea life, so you’re not moving around too much, and the extra layer does wonders, even when the water is a balmy 26 degrees. The stingers, to add, are usually found in the shallow warmer waters along the shores, and in the estuaries, so the chances of seeing one on the reef today are very, very slim. In fact, in 17 years, only two guests have been stung by a box jellyfish – and one guest because she refused to wear a suit because it would interrupt her tan. Not concerned about catching any extra rays, my nerves are settled and I don the suit.

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The tour takes us out to two reefs, Tongue Reef and Opal Reef. The reefs are teeming with all sorts of colourful aquatic life, and our snorkelling guides dispel rumours of the coral bleaching in these parts; people mistake coral bleaching for what is the loss of light as you dive further down into the reef. Our photographer confirms this with a collection of photos of the stunningly beautiful corals and reef life we’ve seen that day.

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Across the three reefs, we see parrot fish, starfish, bulbous corals, soft corals, sea cucumbers, clown fish (Nemo!), anemones, and a reef shark! The reef sharks are no bigger than me, although I’m glad when it swims in the opposite direction. My travel partner, who sees the shark first, follows it for a while, but his fins aren’t as fast and it swims away into the blue. Back on board, the crew tell is that the killing of 100 million sharks a year is of great concern; the sharks keep the smaller fish populations under control, who eat the algae that live in the coral, which gives the corals their beautiful colours. Without the sharks, the corals are under real threat further down the food chain. Keeping in mind the corals only grow from a couple of centimetres (the bulbous corals) to 30 centimetres a year (the soft corals). The other great fact that our guides point out that with the depletion of the forests, we now get a large percentage of our oxygen from the world’s reefs. You wouldn’t think it, but the living reef provides more than just a stunning place to dive, swim and discover a different ecosystem; we also depend on it for clean air.

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With our fill of informative commentary, buffet lunch (the buffet offered up a delicious range of salads and cold meats, as well as a mouth-watering vegetarian selection – well done team!) and snorkel experiences, we said goodbye to the last reef of the day and turned back to Port Douglas, with our heads, hearts and tummies full on a great day out to the stunning Great Barrier Reef.  Thanks to the team at Calypso Pure Snorkelling for a birthday to remember!

Want to get yourself on this tour? Check it out here.Or, for more from this supplier, click here.

By GoDo team member, Leah

Posted in Full day tours, Snorkelling & Scuba Diving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blue Mountains Abseiling & Canyoning Tour

So our Blue Mountains Abseiling and Canyoning Tour begins with an early start and coffee then red bull! I think I’m ready for what today may bring!

Upon arrival to River Deep Mountain High in Katoomba, we are fitted for wetsuits and given dry bags which help keep you afloat and a funky looking canyoning back pack. Once kitted up, we’re off to tackle Rocky Creek and Sheep Dip Canyons!

After a quick but scenic bush walk, we splash our way down waterfalls and wade and swim our way through the water filled canyon and wow its cold!

I am quickly taught the “canyon dance” which basically requires you to fist pump the air while bouncing your knees up and down therefore making you toasty warm again, and I find myself being the one doing the canyon dance the most.

Quick tip if you are prone to the cold, bring a thermal to wear underneath your wetsuit – works like a treat! And if all else fails – CANYON DANCE!

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We arrive at a small waterfall where you need to step into the water with your right leg then use your left leg on the other side of the rock as you left, right, left, right your way to the bottom.

So I’m up and “ah what do I do?” I ask. To which the owner, Craig responds with “right leg just here, you’ve got this”. At this point my best friend, Renee who is on the trip with me looks over as I place my right foot which then completely disappears. Yep that’s right I basically jumped down the front of the waterfall after slipping! Don’t worry, I was fine I landed in the water and gave Renee a good laugh.

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We finish this section by abseiling down the side of a larger water fall to which I am much more careful on. And then it’s time for lunch – a platter of meats, salad, bread rolls, fruit, dips and crackers to which we happily devour.

We continue our canyoning journey jumping off small cliffs, sliding down waterfalls, wading and swimming through the water. 

And we get a special treat Renee and I get taken to a more secluded section further down where we had to squeeze through tight spaces and swim through caves on our backs – clearly these are places few dare to go!

We head back through the canyon and up a few waterfalls we’ve just been down which is much more challenging and my muscles are feeling it. In saying that if you take it easy, this is an experience anyone with basic fitness can do but I tend to run and jump and exert more energy than the average person so naturally get more tired.

We finish our day with chocolate on the way back to the River Deep Mountain High headquarters. All in all, it was an absolutely spectacular scenic and unique experience for anyone wanting to get close to nature and push their limits. This comes with a big tick of approval from me!

By GoDo team member, Michelle

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GoDo attends 2012 Dry July Media Launch

Today Dry July 2012 was launched at the Establishment in George Street, Sydney, hosted by the patron of Dry July Adam Spencer.  Aisling, GoDo’s front end developer and Dry July 2011 poster child for the team, PR manager Gemma and I attended on behalf of the GoDo crew and brushed shoulders with its committed supporters, mocktails in hand.

Dry July works to better the lives of adults suffering with cancer by helping improve amenities within hospitals around the country. In its fifth year, Dry July 2012 aims to raise $3.2 million for 20 beneficiaries, including New Zealand newcomer Auckland City Hospital, and facilities in regional centres including Ballarat, Newcastle, Lismore and Cairns.  If they achieve it, they will have raised $10 million in five years.

Before we turn up, we know it’s a good cause. However we were still blown away as founders Brett MacDonald and Phil Grove take us through the stats they’ve accumulated over the years.  More than 26,000 have gone dry over five Julys since 2007, and collectively have raised $6.8 million. Born from a six-month stretch of embracing the Bondi lifestyle, Brett, Phil and friend Kenny decided to take on a booze-free July, quickly coined Dry July.

From these humble beginnings, the team decided to put the Dry July challenge out to their networks to raise funds for hospitals treating adults with cancer. Both Brett and Phil have had personal experiences with the disease – Brett watched his aunt go from treatment to treatment, not receiving the right treatment at the right time; a dear friend of Phil’s passed away only this week after a three-year battle with brain cancer at the age of 38, survived by his wife and two small children under seven. It’s this personal connection to the disease that continues the founders’ passion for Dry July cause.

While the money raised will benefit a number of hospitals, providing more comfortable chairs and big screen televisions to distract from the discomfort of long bouts of chemotherapy, Dry July also supports organisations such as regional beneficiary Lismore Base Hospital’s Our House, a cancer care accommodation for regional patients who travel large distances to get treatment, and Dreams 2 Live 4, who encourage patients of The Prince of Wales Hospital living with metastatic (secondary) cancer to realise their dreams. These dreams in the past have seen people stay in a hotel room overlooking Sydney Harbour, fly over Uluru in a helicopter, marry their childhood sweetheart or even something very simple – one elderly lady and cancer patient at the Prince of Wales Hospital just wanted to get her hair done one last time. Each beneficiary has their own story to tell, but what binds them is their commitment to improving the lives of those living with a disease that doesn’t choose, and affects us all.

Here’s a message from the team at Auckland City Hospital sharing why the Dry July funding is so crucial.

GoDo is supporting Dry July where it can, encouraging those who follow us to sign up and helping Brett, Phil and their team incentivise people to sign up with a handful of great prizes to give away in July.  Check out the conversation on Dry July’s Facebook page, and take on the challenge of Dry July – you’ll clear your head, and make a difference.

By GoDo team member, Leah

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The Great Barrier Reef – exploring the underwater world – part 2

Continued from part 1 …. After our adventure-filled introductory scuba dive, my dad and I got back onto the boat. We took off all of our scuba diving gear, and began to look for my mom. We could not find her anywhere, thinking she must have gone snorkeling. But we asked Russ if he had seen her, and he pointed out to ocean and told us that she was out scuba diving with Craig, one of the other diving instructors. My dad and I looked at each other stunned, because she seemed extremely scared and apprehensive when she tried the ten minute trial session; but we were so proud of her and she was so happy and proud of herself when she got back on the boat.

As the day went on, we kept meeting new staff members and I was amazed at how friendly and helpful they all were, and it was obvious how much they loved their jobs. After scuba diving we were famished, and we were in luck because the buffet lunch was all prepared and ready to be devoured. There was salad, beef, meat and crackers, prawns, bread rolls, vegetables, and more! After my second plate and fourth bread roll, I was stuffed. Good thing I would be able to digest on our short trip to our next reef.

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Our second destination for the day was Paradise Reef. My parents and I got our snorkel gear on, and off we went to snorkel another magnificent but unique reef. Let me tell you, it is not called Paradise Reef for nothing! The coral was beautiful and the fish were every shade and color from the rainbow. We snorkeled and snorkeled, taking hundreds of more pictures. Before we knew it, we were being whistled at from the boat. My dad and I took our faces out of the water and looked around; we were the only two left snorkeling, and Brianna was calling us in to the boat. We began swimming towards the catamaran smiling at each other, proud to hold the title of Most Enthusiastic Snorkelers. 

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We began our relaxing journey home, this time opening the sails and letting the wind guide us back. On our trip home, Milly and Craig held a fish and reef session where I was able to learn all about the coral and fish I had just seen. Once we docked the boat, I was able to take a few photos with the staff to help me remember this remarkable day. I can happily say that scuba diving The Great Barrier Reef is now officially crossed off my bucket list; however, I can also say that this was not my last time visiting The Great Barrier Reef!

Click here to book your Great Barrier Reef experience. 

By GoDo Intern, Sammy

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A swing too big for the playground

I have travelled to Queenstown, New Zealand, and experienced the world’s highest cliff jump and yes, I am still alive!

On Tuesday, December 6, I walked a few blocks from my hostel to the Shotover meeting location. I walked in and was warmly greeted by Rowena, one of the many friendly Shotover staff members that I would meet throughout the evening. I filled out a liability form and was then greeted by Claire, the sales manager. She was so friendly and helpful, talking about her experience in New Zealand and then explaining to me more about the Shotover Canyon Swing. There are over 70 jump styles, so Claire told me some of her favorites to narrow down the options and make it easier for me to decide which jump style I should perform.

As I was waiting with the other jumpers, in walked Steve. He was our driver and I would soon find out, also one of the individuals helping me jump off the 109 metre high cliff. He had a great sense of humor so I knew we were going to have a fun-filled evening. He weighed each of us, and got out a permanent marker to write our weight on the back of our hands, or so I thought. Rather, he just drew pictures. Mine was a snail – I am not sure if he was insinuating that I was slow, but that was his humor for you.

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We all loaded up into the Shotover van and prepared for our fifteen minute ride to the canyon swing. On our ride, we got to watch a video of previous jumpers and the many different jump styles we could choose. Each jump style had a corresponding rating, demonstrating how scary it was. The rating was from one underwear which was very scary to five underwear which was very, very, very scary – a clever rating scale if I do say so myself.

The drive alone was scary, with the van getting very close to the edge of the cliff. Once we arrived, we walked to the platform and Steve, Dougie, Crispy, and Morgan helped us get into our harnesses. They loved to tease us by telling us they hope we come back alive. The four of them got my heart racing again so I decided to go last so I got to see each of the jumpers before me. As they jumped the platform was 109 metres high (like jumping from the 32nd floor of a building), the freefall was 60 metres, the swing was over a distance of 200 metres, and they reached a speed of 150 km/hr.

The first jumper did Front Flips. The second jumper did the Indian Rope Trick where he held onto a rope above him until he let go. The third jumper chose the Backwards jump style. The fourth jumper did The Chair, where she was tied to a plastic chair and tipped backwards over the edge. The fifth jumper did Gimp Boy Goes to Hollywood, where he was hung upside down and then released. And finally, I chose to do The Pin Drop, which is rated five out of five underwear on the scariness scale. I clasped my hands behind my back, leaned forwards, and jumped off the platform sideways.

It was not that simple though. When I got to the edge of the platform, Steve and Morgan made me lean out over the edge while they held onto the back of my harness for a photo opportunity. As I was leaning out over the canyon, Steve and Morgan thought it would be funny to pretend to drop me. That was by far one of the scariest moments of my life. I thought that the swing would not be that scary since I had recently gone bungy jumping, but standing up on that platform looking down at the canyon, I was more scared than ever before.

I slowly approached the edge of the platform and stood sideways, asking to review one more time how I should jump, stalling for time as I gathered my confidence. I asked Steve and Morgan if they could count down for me, but they said no, their teasing attitude coming out once again. So I stood there for a split second, asking myself why I was doing this, and then jumped! I screamed so loudly as I freefell 60 metres and swung 200 metres over the magnificent cliffs and river. I finally took a breath and looked around me at my serene surroundings, as the swing began to slow.

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Before I knew it, I was being raised up back to the platform and my feet were on firm ground. Steve and Morgan teased me about screaming so loud and I just smiled and thanked them for their great sense of humor. My heart was racing and I could feel the adrenalin throughout my whole body. We all went inside and looked at our videos and photos; I was still shocked and very proud of what I just did, and now I had a video and pictures to prove to my family and friends that I really did jump off of a 109 metre cliff. All of the jumpers and I, along with Steve, hopped back into the van and headed back towards the Shotover office in Queenstown. On the way back, we got to watch another video. However, this video was absolutely hilarious because it was about jumpers who had won awards, such as the loudest scream or the biggest freak out.

I had such an amazing evening doing the Shotover Canyon Swing. It shattered all of my expectations, which were very high to be honest. Not only was the swing amazing, but the staff members really made it an extraordinary experience. They all were very friendly and welcoming, yet they had a great sense of humor, a fun attitude, and they were not afraid to tease me and make me even more scared than I originally was.

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When I got back to the U.S. everyone asked me to describe the canyon swing to them. I joked that it should be called a swungy, a swing and a bungy combined. The 60 metre freefall is like a bungy and then you swing for another 200 metres. It is so unique in this aspect and it is like no other extreme swing I have been on. I am so excited to say that I participated in and survived the world’s highest cliff jump, and it is an experience I will never forget!

Click here to book your Queenstown Canyon Swing experience today. 

By GoDo intern, Sammy

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