Personal Blog

Save Cairns' Flying Foxes

In our recent visit to North Queensland to experience the Great Barrier Reef, we passed a night in Cairns. The idea was to book a luxury resort hotel so we could make good night of things for my birthday - also splurging on a fancy dinner in a chic restaurant on Cairns’ glorious waterfront. It would be nice relaxing follow-up to our Port Douglas trip, and our fun afternoon whitewater rafting along the Barron Gorge with the nice folks at Raging Thunder. Cairns truly is a fantastic city, blessed by its natural location. Aside from the Reef, it’s located close to the Daintree Rainforest - which is less well known but harbours equally astounding biodiversity. Our so-called “resort hotel” was the Novotel Oasis. It looked nice and fancy in the brochures - and our assumption was that a well-known chain would have high standards. However, aside from being a hugely disappointing place to stay, I discovered the hotel is also playing an unsavoury role destroying the same biodiversity that visitors travel there to see. Read More...

Whitewater Rafting in Cairns

Today I had a wonderful experience whitewater rafting with the nice folks from Raging Thunder along the Barron Gorge here in Cairns. It was my beautiful wife’s plan to do something special on the last day of our holiday. Not being the outdoorsy type she was actually quite petrified thinking that it was going to be dangerous and frightening - however it turned out be the most fun we’d both had in ages. Now she wants to go back and do it again. My highest compliments go to the Raging Thunder team, and our guide Rob, for such a professionally organised trip and for their good humour along the way. Read More...

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Today I’m in Port Douglas, North Queensland, and realised a long-held ambition to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Thanks heaps to my wife, Rose, for organising it as a birthday surprise - as well as the professional crew on the tourist vessel, Silversonic. I’m not much of a swimmer and much less a diver. Becoming a certified diver through PADI is one of those things I thought might be cool to do - but expensive and unlikely to be something I’d keep up in the long term. Nonetheless - I’ve been curious to try it just once ... and there’s no better place to start than Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Guided dives with no experience necessary. Read More...

Queensland Floods

These past few weeks have been among the most interesting since I've been back in Brisbane. Firstly, it was two months of constant rain and occasional wild weather. Brisbane was more like Wellington in NZ (famous for its inclement weather) than a tropical paradise. Then, finally, when the weather cleared we had the floods hit. Read More...

Working in the Atacama Desert

Okay - firstly I admit that I should be updating this more regularly. I mean, what’s the point of having a blog if I’m not going to write anything?! Well, the excuse is that I’ve been a little busy. Although I was still staying in Antofagasta (and the same comfortable hotel), I was working at one of the copper mines out in the heart of the Atacama. This meant a 90 minute drive into work, and another 90 minutes back again. Read More...


It’s been almost a week here in Chile now. Arrival at the airport in Antofagasta is underwhelming since all you see are the bare dirty brown hills typical of the region. Located on the edge of the Atacama desert its dry, and there’s no apparent plant or animal life whatsoever ... there’s just brown-grey powdery dirt in every direction. I couldn’t imagine a place that looks less inviting. Read More...
© 2015 Andrew Mercer