Quickies

Issue# 133, 2013

Welcome to our Spring issue of Quickies,

keeping you posted with some of our latest news and happenings.

From a marriage proposal 4 metres underwater, Pro Dive Cairns celebrating 30 years of taking the plunge, to taking a guided tour with a Quicksilver marine biologist, we hope you enjoy catching up on our latest news showcasing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

With the temperatures rising and the summer months ahead, that means one thing on the Reef – the impending annual coral spawning phenomenon and once again we will be conducting night dives for the avid adventurer to witness this special natural event.

In this issue, we’re also delighted to welcome Ocean Spirit and her wonderful crew into the Quicksilver Group family, with sails now proudly hoisted and setting sail for our newest reef destination of Michaelmas Cay.

Enjoy a break with our latest Quickies! With warm tropical wishes from the Quicksilver Group Crew.

WHAT'S NEW

Ocean Spirit Joins the Quicksilver Family

Welcome aboard Ocean Spirit - sailing daily to Michaelmas Cay! We’re pleased to announce that on 8 August 2013, the Quicksilver Group completed the purchase of Ocean Spirit’s iconic Michaelmas Cay cruises.

“The purchase of Ocean Spirit is a wonderful addition to our Cairns fleet by offering a sailing experience to Michaelmas Cay. Ocean Spirit is an iconic and well respected brand, and whilst it has had recent challenges, we look forward to reinvigorating the brand and we welcome the crew into the Quicksilver family,” said Tony Baker Managing Director of the Quicksilver Group.

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The 32 metre Ocean Spirit sailing catamaran joins our fleet of 12 major vessels operating out of Cairns and Port Douglas showcasing the diversity and wonders of the Great Barrier Reef across our range of reef products.”

Setting sail daily from Cairns, Ocean Spirit offers a great range of activities to fully experience Michaelmas Cay’s unique reef environment. Surrounded by spectacular fringing reefs, guests can snorkel, cruise in the semi-submersible for a diver’s view of the reef, discover the bird sanctuary, or if you prefer just relax and enjoy a leisurely day on the Great Barrier Reef. For the more adventurous, introductory diving is also available.

For information on Ocean Spirit’s Michaelmas Cay Cruise, check out Ocean Spirit’s new website at www.oceanspirit.com.au

Pro Dive celebrates 30 years of taking the plunge.

It was time to celebrate 30 years of taking the plunge for Pro Dive Cairns with a party onboard one of our premium Scubapro liveaboard vessels this month. As Cairns leading dive operator, Pro Dive Cairns has been showcasing the Great Barrier Reef to adventurous travellers from Australia and around the world since 1983.

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Originally commencing as a two-man operation, from these humble beginnings, Pro Dive Cairns has built an enviable international reputation as one of the world’s premier dive schools and liveaboard dive trip operators, and in a remarkable Australian first, certified their 130,000th diver this year.

With a team of 55 staff, Pro Dive Cairns operates a multi award-winning 5 star PADI Diver Training Centre (which also recently underwent a $1.5 million expansion) as well as 3 premier 24m liveaboard vessels that conduct 3 day / 2 night trips to the Outer Reefs off Cairns 6 times each week, all year round.

Commenting on the 30th birthday milestone, Quicksilver Group Managing Director Tony Baker said, “We are extremely proud of our achievements and the reputation Pro Dive Cairns has built over the last 3 decades, just this year achieving an Australian first with certifying their 130,000th diver. Pro Dive Cairns has and will continue to set benchmark in the dive arena and reflects our philosophy and commitment to providing the best possible dive education and liveaboard dive trips.”

Paul Lim, General Manager Pro Dive “Our longevity in business over the past 30 years, is an outstanding testament to the dedication and professionalism of all our staff both past and present, as well the quality and reputation of our product.

Coral Spawning Night Dives with Silverswift.

It’s been described as “sex on the reef” and Silverswift will once again be conducting Coral Spawning Night Dives for certified divers to experience this unique natural annual phenomenon, predicted to occur by our Marine Biologist experts around 22 - 24 November.

From Great Adventures' Norman Reef platform, groups of divers and snorkellers will be able to participate in guided tours and in addition to experiencing the coral spawning, will also see a whole new cast of nocturnal reef life.

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Predicting when this will occur is not an exact science but does rely on several environmental cues. The ocean temperature needs to be 26 degrees celcius or above for the month before for the gametes to mature. Secondly, they will generally reproduce 4 to 6 nights after the full moon in November or December when there is little tidal movement. Thirdly, it will generally be about 2-3 hours after the sun sets, because it’s nice and romantic (!), but more importantly most of the plankton feeders will be asleep, giving the eggs more time to settle to the relative safety of the reef.

Stay tuned for our Silverswift night dive dates to be announced.

 

Snorkel and discover with Quicksilver’s Marine Biologists

One of the great optional activities available with Quicksilver’s Outer Reef Cruise is a marine biologist guided snorkel tour. Our team of university qualified marine biologists conduct educational and interpretive snorkel tours daily at the Outer Barrier Reef where guests can learn so much more about the wonders of this fragile ecosystem.

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Russell Hore, head of Quicksilver’s Reef Biosearch and team of marine biologists said snorkelling is the international leveller. “We have taken out politicians and labourers, movie stars and accountants, rock musicians and mechanics. The youngest snorkeller was 18 months old (a very special trip), and the oldest was a one-legged 94 gentleman from LA! We even took out a 60 year blind man, who had a hand held tour, and animals brought up so he could use his other senses of touch and smell.”

Quicksilver’s Outer Reef Cruise provides two different snorkel tours - Advanced and Introductory, so all groups of passengers, regardless of their snorkel skill level, can enjoy this amazing experience on the reef.

Back on board, our team of marine biologists are more than happy to meet with passengers and answer any questions they may have. You will find them at the front of the vessel on the main deck.

For guests traveling to Low Isles aboard our sailing cat Wavedancer, marine biologist guided activities are a great inclusion in the day’s activities. Snorkellers have the opportunity to join the guided snorkel tour to view the creatures of the reef under the guidance of a marine biologist, as well as a guided beach walk to learn about the island’s interesting history, flora and fauna.

Reef Spirit commences operation to Green Island

Reef Spirit Great Adventures’ latest addition to our fleet, has been busy whisking guests across the Coral Sea from Cairns to beautiful Green Island in comfort and style.

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Reef Spirit is pictured here thanks to Skipper Ed Burrows who snapped this photo from the Reef King.

Built by Sabre Cat, the stylish 24 metre fast catamaran features comfortable air-conditioned cabins over two decks and has a capacity for 200 passengers including crew.

“With three vessels now in the Great Adventures fleet, this will offer more flexibility across our entire Cairns operation and will enable us to also have a vessel available for charter. We are confident that the investment in our Great Barrier Reef vessel fleet will enable us to continue to lead in showcasing the diversity and wonders of the Great Barrier Reef across a range of reef products,” said Tony Baker Managing Director of the Quicksilver Group.

Saluting our local Cabbies

Over 100 of Cairns local cabbies recently enjoyed a special treat with a cooked breakfast hosted by the Quicksilver crew.

With 137 taxis covering the Cairns region, cabbies in many respects are the face of the community. Often taxi drivers are the first people our visitors meet when they arrive on holidays and the last as they leave making our cab drivers a key link in making sure our guests receive a warm tropical welcome.

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Quicksilver Group Director Sales and Marketing Michael Healy said, “We have been hosting these breakfast for a number of years and it is our way of thanking the cabbies for being great ambassadors for the city. We also offer them a reef trip so they can experience the destination first hand. This will then ensure the drivers feel comfortable and knowledgeable of the destination and also the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.”

Rob Hayles, Fleet Services Manager Cairns Taxis said, “The drivers really appreciated the breakfast and the generosity of the Quicksilver Group which makes them feel appreciated and an integral part of the tourism industry.”

High Level Chinese Tourism Delegation visits Cairns & Port Douglas

The delights of Cairns and Port Douglas were on show for a high profile Chinese tourism delegation during a recent visit to our region. The nine guests, invited by Cairns Tourism Operators under the banner of China Sales Group, and supported by China Southern Airlines, were able to enjoy highlights such as Reef trips, fishing, Mossman Gorge, fruit farms and also our annual Amateurs Horse Racing Carnival in the Carlton 1500 Club Marquee.

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Michael Healy, Quicksilver Group Director Sales and Marketing said “It is a huge win to the region in the fact that China Southern does not currently fly to Cairns but stopped in on its way to Brisbane to allow this delegation to disembark. This showcases the importance of our destination in China and the potential for growth. Following the opening of 13 Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef branded retail outlets over the past few years, this is the next step in showcasing the unique and different aspects of our region.”

Involved in this important famil are QT Resort Port Douglas, Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas, Green Island Resort and The Shangri la, in addition to other established touring products. Cairns tourism operators partnering with Great Adventures Reef Cruises are Rydges Hotel Group, Hot Air Ballooning, GBR Helicopters, CAPTA Group, Seawalker Green Island and Scuba Doo.

 

 

 

 

Seawalker Green Island celebrates 150,000 guests

Congratulations to our friends at popular Great Barrier Reef attraction Seawalker Green Island on recently welcoming their 150,000th guest. Seawalker Green Island celebrated this milestone just days before celebrating 10 years of operation with a party aboard their refurbished vessel at the Marlin Marina in Cairns.

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Pictured here, two friends from Kanagawa, Japan, Ms Saito Shiho and Ms Yoneyama Ai shared the honour of being the 150,000th guest to walk on the sea floor with Seawalker Green Island.

Travelling to Green Island with Great Adventures, Seawalker Green Island offers the chance to see the reef up close and personal, and guests don’t even need to be able to swim, making it an ideal optional adventure for non-swimmers and those who might not be completely confident in the water.

Seawalker Green Island General Manager, Karl Kuhle said, “To celebrate such a milestone in our 10th year of operation is fantastic. Giving people an up close and personal experience with the reef and its amazing creatures is the driving force to keep improving this award winning adventure.”

Over recent months Seawalker Green Island has also become known for the antics of one Blue-barred parrotfish, Gavin. Gavin has become famous all over the world for photo-bombing nearly every souvenir photo taken over the last 18 months. Travellers visiting Green Island for the day or on a stop-over on the way to the outer Great Barrier Reef, can have the chance to walk on the island’s seafloor and have their photo taken with the famous Gavin!

For more information visit www.seawalker.com.au

Whale tales - with Silversonic!

Once again we have been treated to some very special whale sightings this season providing a wonderful bonus to passengers travelling to all of our reef destinations. As late as September, we are still encountering these gentle giants! Passengers and crew aboard our Silversonic dive and snorkel vessel had the privilege of spotting the very first humpbacks of the season in the waters of Agincourt Reef off Port Douglas back in June as two 14 metre whales played.

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Silversonic skipper Shane Down said, “We were travelling between our Turtle Bay and Castle Rock reef sites at about 1.00pm and they were playing, jumping a few times and then they lay on the surface and looked like they went to sleep. It is always exciting to see the humpbacks arrive and a positive for all our passengers and crew. Our guests are just in awe, everyone was on the decks and delighted to see such an amazing sight.”

Silversonic also has one of the few permits that allows our passengers to actually get in and swim with the inquisitive, smaller Minke Whales, creating a very special encounter.

The reason the humpbacks travel to North Queensland is to get to warmer waters to breed and calve. Warm tropical waters in the Great Barrier Reef have little food for the whales to feast upon, so the whales rely on their fat reserves they have accrued by feeding on krill in Antarctic waters. As they travel up the coast, the whales begin to form small groups or mating pairs. “To actually see this underway is simply the most unbelievable experience you’ll ever have, says Russell Hore”, Manager of Quicksilver’s Group Reef Biosearch division.

The whales are regularly sighted at the Reef during July to September.

Scuba Doo – I do!

Four metres underwater amongst coral gardens, seated on a yellow scooter in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef is certainly a proposal to remember! The team at Scuba Doo, the unique and fun underwater scooter available with Great Adventures Outer Reef cruise, hosted this most memorable marriage proposal recently. Congratulations to the happy couple!

Star Gazing on the Great Barrier Reef

Green Island Resort’s house guests can experience the beautiful Southern night sky with a kaleidoscope of stars glittering over the Coral Sea with a nightly star gazing session. Join the Resort's resident Activities Officer to star gaze through the telescope amid the sounds of the rainforest and ocean lapping onto the beach. This is a complimentary activity for house guests and is weather dependent.

Winning a class trip to Green Island!

Congratulations to 10 year old Alana Weeks from Woree State Primary School on winning our “Squid Squad Word Puzzle Competition”. With nearly 700 entries from 18 local schools, lucky Alana was the first correct drawn entry to answer the fun and educational word puzzle about Green Island and the Great Barrier Reef. No doubt she will be very popular with her class mates on winning the fantastic prize of a class excursion to beautiful Green Island.

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Michael Healy, Group Director Sales and Marketing Quicksilver Group said, “Participating with Post Ed and NiE enables us to involve local schools in reef education to learn more about the wonderful environment we live in. We look forward to welcoming Alana and her Woree classmates to Green Island.”

SEEN ON THE REEF

While all of our guests are VIPs, we've had the privilege to host a few more famous and recognisable personalities aboard our cruises recently.

  • We were delighted to welcome Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson and his family onboard to experience Quicksilver’s Outer reef Cruise.


  • Pink’s touring entourage, just wrapping up Pink’s Australia tour, also experienced a fantastic day on the reef with Quicksilver, enjoying a whole new view of the underwater world with marine biologist Amy on a guided snorkel tour.

 

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EVENTS

Ukulele Island Gig

The sweet and diverse sounds of the ukulele were heard on Green Island as we hosted the Great Adventures Island Ukulele Gig, part of the Cairns Ukulele Festival. As seen in this picture, even the crocodiles at the island’s Marineland Melanesia got in on the act – naturally to the tune of “Crocodile Rock”!

As part of the Festival, Green Island guests were able to enjoy wonderful performances by Hawaiian ukulele player Bryan Tolentino and guitarist and falsetto singer Hale Seabury, along with special guest Ryan Imamura from Guam.




Green Island Family Fun Day

Our annual community event, the Great Adventures Green Island Family Fun Day, was a roaring success with hundreds of Cairns residents enjoying the day’s activities. Through the entertaining beach volleyball challenge with local businesses competing, we’re proud to have raised over $1600 for animal welfare groups, the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and YAPS.



BIO BITS - Michaelmas Cay

A low lying vegetated sand cay encircled by a spectacular fringing reef, Michaelmas Cay is a National Park and an important protected sanctuary for migratory seabirds.

How the Cay was formed... Michaelmas Cay was formed by the accumulation of broken coral, shells and remains of calcareous algae, continually washed over the reef by currents. Seeds deposited by visiting birds over time, and the resulting vegetation, helped to stabilise the cay. The formation of beach rock (sand and other reef remnants cemented into a rock by the action of algae) further stabilised the cay. The seeds carried in by the birds and the waves help vegetation flourish which in turn provides an ideal habitat for the seabirds to roost and nest.

Michaelmas Cay is a major natural seabird habitat and one of the most important in the Southern Hemisphere. It is home to at least 23 species of seabirds. At the height of nesting and breeding season (during Summer months) up to 20,000 birds have been observed.


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THE ZOO

We'd like to introduce you to...


We’re pleased to introduce you to Bruce Gerber, our new sales executive for Port Douglas. Bruce can be contacted at [email protected]

 

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POSTCARDS - To Quicksilver

110 out of 100!

We are in our 50/60s, basically non swimmers, and researched the different day trips on offer for our trip to the reef for the first time. We chose Quicksilver as this provided us with alternatives if we decided not to try snorkelling or the introductory dive. In the end we chose the helmet dive and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We have to say that Quicksilver delivered 110 out of 100. A work colleague before my holiday told me to not go out with the bigger operators as you get more attention with a company that takes just a few people. Well this could not be further from the truth. We found Quicksilver to be a highly professional and slick operator. We had one-on-one attention and cannot recommend Quicksilver highly enough.

Thanks kindly
Mary, Victoria

QUICKBITS


  • Diving into Work: Elisa Detrez, an online marketer from France who beat more than 10,000 applicants for Queensland's ‘Best Job in the World’ Park Ranger position, has dived into her work – literally. Elisa has just completed her learn to dive course with Pro Dive Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • FREE Wi-Fi: Our dive and snorkel adventure vessels Silversonic and Silverswift, and Pro Dive Cairns’ liveaboard fleet all provide free unlimited Wi-Fi – even when 50 km offshore! Green Island Resort guests are also able to access free Wi-Fi from the Coral Cay guest lounge.
  • Ocean Spirit Cruises are now available to be booked via Quicksilver’s online booking system.
  • Check out Ocean Spirit’s new website at www.oceanspirit.com.au
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