Travelling on your own is so much easier than i expected, especially up in Queensland as the whole place is geared around Backpackers...seriously there are more hostels and tour operators than there are shops & restaurants.
So as i said yesterday the first 2 tours i have done are horse riding and snorkelling.
Arrived at the horse riding place yesterday absolutely sweltering as it was about 34 degrees and you have to wear long trousers, closed shoes and long sleeve tops to horse ride in...got given a lovely white horse called 'rasputin' which i was slightly concerned about as i hoped my horse didnt live up to its evil name...but no he should have been called 'bambi' as he was good as gold and just lovely. The thing i find with horse riding is that once i am on the horse i am fine but its the getting on and off that i find a bit tricky....managed to knock the instructors hat off as i was clambering on the first time..highly embarassing!!!
So off we trotted on a nice gentle walk through the bush....for about 10 minutes then the instructor decides we need to take it up to '2nd gear'...so with no warning we are sudddenly going a darn sight faster through the trees. We reach the other end and because we all appear to be alive and none of us are hyperventilating the instructor takes that as a sign that we should step up to 4th gear (where 3rd gear was i have no idea but i missed it i can tell you) so there we are proper cantering through the bush, in the blazing sun, literally zig zagging our way through the trees (managed to catch my knees on a few of them but its ok my bruises are fading now). After about an hour we stop for a rest and drink of water which i really wanted but was scared to get off the horse as i wasnt sure i could get back on again...my dehydration finally won out though and i slid (yep slid whilst clutching the saddle..not a pretty sight) to the ground for a bucket full of water.
The second half of the ride was great, i was used to the horse now and had got more competant with the 'gear changes' also this time we went deeper into the bush and rather than going really fast we were doing more difficult paths like riding through a river, up steep hills and down really slippy ones..it took a lot more concentration but was amazing. We even saw wild kangeroos and snakes (the harmless looking brown snake by my horse's leg..actually turned out to be the 3rd deadliest snake in the world...which we found out once we had sat there staring at it for ages!!!) I really enjoyed it and even though i couldnt move my legs for days afterwards it was worth it!
The next day i got up bright and early and made my way down to the harbour for my day at sea. If anyone ever goes to cairns they have to do one of these boat trips, they are so much fun. The crew were really funny and just so helpful. It didnt even matter if you couldnt swim they had so many different life aids to help you out that everyone could experience the Great Barrier Reef. They also offered free introductory scuba diving lessons for everyone, then you could opt for more dives during the day. I decided to stick to the snorkelling though as last time i attempted the 'introductory' dive thing i had a panic attack and i was only in a swimming pool! We stopped off at 2 different reefs and were let loose in the water for 2 hours each time (hence very burnt back and shoulders..one problem with travelling alone is that you cant rub sun cream in there!) I bought an underwater camera and took a zillion pictures but im not sure how the photos are going to come out as its really hard to swim, hold the camera steady and catch a moving fish all at the same time...so i suspect all the photos will be of fishes tails as they glide out of the picture! will try and put some on though. I had the best time swimming around all this beautiful coral and the size and colours of the fishes were amazing (sorry for my over use of that word, really need a thesauraus dont i?) We also got to go on a semi-submarine and glide around looking at the coral..these photos did come out so i will put them on asap.
By the end of the day i was extremely content and relaxed and really felt like i was on holiday for the first time in ages...i cant wait to go back up there and i am actually going to learn to scuba dive properly this time. The girl i was sharing a room with had had the same problem as me with the swimming pool so she did a 5 day course to get her proper scuba diving qualification and now she loves it..so thats my plan come May time!