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Reef Report for Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Wet Green Wonderland
Why you should visit during Wet Season!

This essay was inspired by a short hike my girlfriend and I took with some friends this past weekend. We are in the midst of North Queenslandís rainy season, which usually extends from February to early April. © Joel Groberg Itís hard to make generalizations about what weather is usually like anywhere in the tropics, but typically that weather the past couple of weeks has been clear blue skies or cloudy skies in the daytime, with further clouds forming throughout the day, and rain every night. The odd sunny days are usually brilliantly blue, warm and humid.

We had taken advantage of a break in the weather to make the 30 minute drive up to the mountain village of Kuranda, which is surrounded by tropical rainforests. We drove outside of town and followed the walkway to Barron Falls (Din Din in the language of the local Aboriginal tribe.) During the rainy season the falls are a spectacular cascade of white water and mists, and have a thunderous roar that makes you appreciate the true power of nature and it's potential to shape our land. There were a number of tourists at the overlook; they had taken the Kuranda train up from Cairns, and were having a wonderful day, capped by the spectacular falls.

The 15-minute walk through the forest was equally interesting; the forest comes to life in the warmth and wetness of the rainy season. Everything was green and growing; trees, vines, orchids and ferns all in their wet season growth spurts. Cicadas were buzzing and frogs were calling all over the place, with the dripping of water from leaf to leaf through the canopy providing the background to their chorus.

After the hike we had lunch in one of Kurandaís many cafťís, and one of my friends wondered aloud why I did not promote wet season as a time to plan to visit this area. Frankly, I had trouble disagreeing with them, and in fact sat down to write this piece shortly afterwards, as for many reasons it really is a good time to visit.

If you donít mind carrying an umbrella or getting wet, the rain is not that much of a bother; itís warm and comfortable, and locals know to always pack a dry set of clothes, keep their mobile phones dry, and to have an umbrella in the car.

The rainforest really is special at this time of the year, both daytime and at night. The Great Barrier Reef is in its summer glory. Its a time when many reef residents are rearing their young, which is triggered by coral spawning in November and December. It usually does not rain that much out on the reef and only the very rainiest and stormiest weather lowers visibility and brings up the sea swells.

There are also a lot less tourists in town, as itís not the season when most Northern Hemisphere tourists travel. The pace of life slows to what long-time locals recall was the normal relaxed rural Queensland pace, which is a great way to spend a holiday, if not all of your life.

If you are looking for blue skies day after day, then by all means, plan your visit for between May and December. If you only have the chance to travel here between January and March do consider it, as this time of year has its own attractions that may suit your interests.

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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