Victor & Joanne's Australia Adventure travel blog

Southern most of the three island that make up the Willis Island...

A meteorlogical station that is pre-warning for cyclones, it also tracks weather...

Here you can see the beautiful turquoise water that surrounds the island

Perfect sandy beaches for turtles laying eggs

Oct 20 – Willis Island Group

This is our third day at sea and we’re both getting a bit antsy. Joanne is still recovering from a cold but feeling much better; being completely lazy seems to be good medicine. Yesterday the weather was warm and we sunbathed, meandered, ready books and chatted with some of our new Aussie friends.

Today we did pretty much the same. However, we are preparing to see land for the first time in three days. The entire ship is abuzz with anticipation. At a morning lecture, we learn that the Willis Island Group is made up of three very small islands. The most southerly is roughly two times longer than our ship and 1 km at its widest (so much for the excitement!). Home to thousands of birds year-round (the infamous boobies) and hundreds of turtles during nesting season, the southern island is primarily a meteorology station. Established in 1921, the station monitors weather four times each day in order to track weather patterns that might indicate cyclones (this part of the world’s hurricane equivalent).

With 3-4 meteorologists who occupy the station (in 6 month stretches), this is the only permanently inhabited island of the Coral Sea cluster. After seeing it, nestled in its own coral reef, one can only imagine that playing in the water occupies the scientist’s time between sending up meteorological balloons. Shortly after we shot the pictures, the island disappeared into an envelope of fog. We were lucky to see it.

For Royal Caribbean, while there is an eco-tourism purpose, it seems the main reason for our visit is to drop anchor and officially “arrive” in an external territory. This official status allows the shops and bars to remain tax and duty free ... gotta love it!

Tomorrow ... the Great Barrier Reef.

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