July 3, 2016

The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season

The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season - Anna Johnston. https://www.shenannagans.com

It’s cold, it’s really frackin cold here in Canberra. Seriously, my snuggie just ordered a snuggie for warmth! I do try to find the positives about winter…. pretty paddocks and parks all frozen white with frosts, and there really is nothing like mountain walks with Little Chef the dog in the snow, not to mention the time saved not having to brush my hair because of the beanie plastered to my head.

The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season - Anna Johnston. https://www.shenannagans.com

I guess the convenience of keeping my hands cold when working with pastry is a bonus, truffles, truffles, truffles and I LOVE me a warm cosy day inside stuffing my pie hole with fancy popcorn and watching movies too. But mostly, my winter days are spent longing for sun shine and warmth.

Now I can’t head north on a summer holiday, but I can reminisce on one of the many summer adventures where I’ve escaped the cold to beautiful, balmy and oh so sunny North Queensland.

The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season - Anna Johnston. https://www.shenannagans.com

Australia is massive with many extremes in weather, temperatures and landscapes, we are also home to the largest living ‘thing’ on this beautiful earth, the Great Barrier Reef which just happened to be the backdrop to my holiday.

The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season - Anna Johnston. https://www.shenannagans.com

This underwater giant can be seen from outer space and is made up of hundreds of different species of exquisitely coloured coral and home to a countless number of fish, giant turtles, sharks and dolphins.  

The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season - Anna Johnston. https://www.shenannagans.com

No wonderland would be complete without a dash of mortal danger though, and The Reef does not disappoint. Somehow, we Aussies are used to the many deadly insects, spiders and snakes that live amongst us, so it’s not surprising we also have deadly ocean dwelling creatures so transparent and pale in colour they can cause excruciating pain and sometimes death to unsuspecting swimmers. We affectionately call them ‘Stingers’, and during the wet season (November to April) their venom is particularly dangerous.

North Queensland is one of my favourite places to escape during our freezing sweater-on-sweater-minus-degree-windy-winters; and also the best time to go diving if you can slot in a cheeky getaway, however I doubted diving in The Great Barrier Reef in stinger season would be an option, but Queen Suebah and I decide, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season - Anna Johnston. https://www.shenannagans.com

Perhaps it is the Aussie way, or we secretly enjoy duelling with Mother Nature, I’m not sure! But we hopped a boat out to the reef where we were kitted out in our super sexy #NOT lightweight and comfortable, head to the tips of our toes nylon and spandex suits that strangely enough, offered some protection from the lethal stings.

The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season - Anna Johnston. https://www.shenannagans.com

Once over the initial creepiness of hearing your breath in your ears and you relax into the peacefulness of being under the sea, it is mesmerising. The water is deliciously warm, clear, still, and without a doubt completely beautiful, and it wasn’t long before we forgot all about swimming in a crazy jumpsuit amongst deadly creatures and found ourselves lost in the beauty only The Reef can deliver.

Tell me dear reader, are you a summer or winter person? What season do you try escape from? And would you dive in The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season? 

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shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

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Sreekar - September 17, 2017 Reply

Hahaha. Well said, whats life without a dash of the dangerous and quirk! Snakes on land and Stingers in the reef! A combo only in down under!

    Anna - September 18, 2017 Reply

    Hahaha… we do live life on the edge down under Sreekar! LOL. 🙂

Annika - August 17, 2016 Reply

Love the photo of fishes! I hope you didn’t get cold while your visit on the Great Barrier reef.

Tim UrbanDuniya - July 13, 2016 Reply

I’m absolutely a summer person, and I try my hardest not to be in Melbourne for winter – it’s really not my cup of tea. I don’t know if I’d be game enough to go into the water in stinger season though!

    Anna - July 14, 2016 Reply

    Hahaha… I am with you Tim, maybe when you pack up and leave Melbourne during the winter, you can stuff me into your luggage too?!
    And it was fine, I mean… whats a stinger bite between friends. Death aside. 🙂

mjskitchen - July 13, 2016 Reply

What gorgeous pictures! I’ve always wanted to snorkel in the great barrier reef, but I’ll have to be satisfied with a small live reef I swam around in in Hawaii. I’m definitely a summer person. I used to be a winter person then I got old. 🙂 Now I don’t like the cold at all, so we head to warmer places in the winter went we can. Would I dive in the barrier reef during stinger season? You betcha!!!!

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Oh you must, must, must come for a visit to Australia for the reef, it truly is a magical experience. Although, I wouldn’t say no to a cheeky snorkel in Hawaii either. Wow. Glad you have that adventurous spirit, life’s too short hey!

Mansoureh - July 11, 2016 Reply

I enjoy summer as much as I like winter. But I totally understand why most people prefer summers and its activities. I am glad you had fun in a diving tour.

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    I wish I could get into winter, but nope…. 🙂 Being able to head north to the warmer weather totally makes it more bearable tho.

João Leitão - July 11, 2016 Reply

This looks like such a great adventure. Australia is amazing in terms of variety of travel destinations. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most spectacular places on Earth. They say on the news that this incredible ecosystem is about to die in the next 15-25 years. Is this true? I mean shouldn’t authorities deny permits to those crazy factories and industrial development in the region? Thanks

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Yep, we Aussies really are lucky with all the incredible travel destinations, I sure am lucky having access to it too. Yes, apparently it is true Joao, the reef is in a lot of trouble, I wish that authorities would step in and stop it too, but who knows if that will happen.

Janna - July 11, 2016 Reply

I never knew that Australia has extreme temperatures. I thought it was sunny all year long. haha so naive of me. My bucket list is to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef! So jealous girl!

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Teehee, you could be forgiven for thinking that Janna. 🙂 Fingers crossed you get to tick of that snorkel in the reef soon.

Mar Pages - July 11, 2016 Reply

As gorgeous as The Great Barrier Reef is, the risk of being hurt by stingers does make me a little nervous sometimes. Thank goodness nothing got you and you had fun! 🙂

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Ha, it was all I could think about when I was in the water, I hoped if they got me, it’d be quick. Morbid me! :/
    It was super fun tho, can’t wait to get back to reef for some more snorkelling good times.

John M. - July 11, 2016 Reply

I have only gone diving in freshwater springs, but I’d love to do an ocean dive someday. Preferably not with any deadly creatures around. Or at least not in their season!!

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Freshwater diving would be equally as amazing, where did ya go? Ha… the trick is not thinking about all the scary ocean creatures that can do you serious damage and just enjoy it. You can of course avoid the danger zone making the experience a whole lot more fun!

Meg Jerrard - July 11, 2016 Reply

We’re really looking forward to getting up to the GBR – would you believe I haven’t yet been!! Hoping for a trip to Cairns maybe next September 🙂

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    WHAAAT? No way… I cannot believe you have travelled as extensively as you have and not been to the reef. Far out! Well I am sure you will love it next September when you visit.

Fiona - July 11, 2016 Reply

I’m not allowed to dive (asthma), but I think if I COULD I’d definitely be taking on the stingers the way you describe! Lovely photos – it’s one of the things I am really sad not to be able to try

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Oh what a total bummer, but, I have friends who dive and they say snorkelling at the GBR is equally as amazing, so thats something. Good to see you have a crazy streak and would risk life for a dive too. 🙂

Cathy - July 11, 2016 Reply

My biggest fear is going under water, I can swim and snorkel but I do want to learn to scuba. The world under the water is too beautiful to miss!

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    It is one of the most weird experiences Cathy, I don’t much enjoy the diving at first, something about hearing your breath in your ears is yuk! Good luck when you get to learning to scuba lady.

sabrina barbante - July 10, 2016 Reply

Oh, how I miss Australia, its landscapes, extreme weather conditions and… breath taking views! You make me miss it even more, even more so because I didn’t visit the Great Barrier Reef yet! Hoe I’ll do the next time.

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Well Sabrina, you are just gonna have to book another ticket down under and get on a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, and soon too by the sounds. 🙂 Say GDay when you do!

Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers - July 10, 2016 Reply

I’n definitely a warm weather person although I’ll happily travel to the cold for the experience now and again. I find it hard to imagine living in it though after being adjusted to Brisbane where we pull out the scarf and snow jackets while the temperature is still well up in the double digits. Love the Barrier reef too but haven’t done it in stinger season, I think I’d give it a try though as long as everyone promised not to point the camera at me while wearing head to toe lycra.

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Scarf and snow jacket in double digits, oh I wish! 🙂 And yes, those lycra suits sure are something else.

Sumti Bhadani - July 10, 2016 Reply

Nice Post and seems you had lot of fun 🙂

    Anna - July 10, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Sumti, glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

Sarah - July 8, 2016 Reply

That diving trip looks so beautiful! I hope you survive the cold this winter to make it through for another summer of great adventures 🙂

    Anna - July 10, 2016 Reply

    It was amazing, actually, I should say is amazing, every time I visit I find it to be such an incredible experience. And yes, fingers crossed I make it through too. 🙂

Sue Slaght - July 8, 2016 Reply

Definitely a summer person here! Yes you Aussies and all of your 522 most dangerous animals on earth. All right I made that up but really it is quite a list. One of the reasons we didn’t go to the GBR in March was because of the stinger issue. We shall have to return though another time as we would love to see the beauty of it.

    Anna - July 10, 2016 Reply

    Hahaha… yep, our 522 most dangerous animals on earth are a little much, but I cannot imagine you would let a little fear of death stop you from adventuring. 🙂 Do make sure you get back down under for a visit to the reef, maybe sooner then later too. 🙂

Hotly Spiced - July 7, 2016 Reply

I’ve seen the temperatures in Canberra and yep, it’s cold! It’s been bad enough in Sydney. I always seem to need to break up our winter with an escape to somewhere very far north. Tropical Far North Queensland is a favourite destination during our winter. Should have gone there this year but somehow I’ve ended up on the GC and it’s just not warm enough – beats Canberra though at this time of year! Love the photo of you and your mum(?) on the boat. You look so happy xx

    Anna - July 10, 2016 Reply

    I would peel a thousand grapes right this minute if it meant I could be hanging out in sunshiny, tropical North Queensland, I’d even be pretty stoked with hanging on the Gold Coast. Enjoy lovely, soak up some warmth for me. 🙂 Oh, and thanks, yes, that is me and Momma Bear!

John/Kitchen Riffs - July 7, 2016 Reply

I actually like all the seasons. If I had to pick one, it’d be fall. But every season has different foods, and I find that interesting and exciting. Good read — thanks.

    Anna - July 10, 2016 Reply

    You are a weather super trooper John! Love that attitude, I bet it makes your lesser favourite season more bearable.

Peta Kaplan - July 7, 2016 Reply

Having grown up in South Africa I am definitely spoilt weather wise. I just do not like extremes of weather. I have been escaping the extreme of Chicago North American winters by living in Nicaragua and then Asia ( mostly Việt Nam ) for last few years.

Nice post!


    Anna - July 10, 2016 Reply

    Wow, your adventures sound absolutely amazing, especially living in Vietnam, I am yet to visit this fine country. And I though South Africa was very similar to Australia weather wise, perhaps it is warmer in the winter huh? Thanks for stopping in, lovely to see you here Peta.

Denise - July 6, 2016 Reply

I had no idea about the extreme temperatures in Australia. I know it could be quite hot at summertime but snow, really? Living and learning! I would miss that gorgeous reef as well. Take care and stay warm! xx

    Anna - July 10, 2016 Reply

    The reef is one of the most spectacular places I have ever visited, it calls to me every single winter. 🙂
    Yep, rugged up and spending lots of time in the kitchen, it’s one way to stay warm and get rewards at the end too.
    Happy hugs across the pond to you my friend. xo

Rosemarie of Travel and Beyond - July 6, 2016 Reply

I know you’re going to think I’m crazy but I love love love winter! I actually wished it snowed everyday! Ok now that, that is off my chest… I love how the water is so clear and so blue at the same time! Great Barrier Reef is on my list… I have never gone scuba diving before but I have gone snorkelling and loved it every time! Not sure how I’d fair if they were deadly creatures around.

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    Hahaha… Yep Rose, I reckon you be cray-cray… But good to know you are having a super time at the moment. 🙂
    The water is rather amazing up north huh? The snorkeling is enough for me these days, but if you are feeling super adventurous, diving sure is an experience.

Liz - July 5, 2016 Reply

Summer ALL the way! Though it’s been raining for days on end, it’s still a heck of a lot better than snow. I love Little Chef and now I’m going to head to bed and dream of visiting the Great Barrier Reef 🙂

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    Meeeee too Liz, I much prefer the summer. And same, same this end with rain, I wish we got snow, it would at least feel like we were rewarded for being cold. I’ll be sure to pass along your love to Little Chef, and happy dreams of The Great Barrier Reef. 🙂

Mandy - July 4, 2016 Reply

So not fair, I also want to go to the Great Barrier Reef. Must be absolutely bladdy marvelous to visit there.
Me, I am a summer baby from start to finish – this winter thing ain’t my idea of fun, although I must admit this year hasn’t been too bad, yet…
Have a beautiful and happy week sweet Anna.
🙂 Mandy xo

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    Come on over Miss Mandy, we can meet at The Reef and go diving in the perfectly, perfect delicious warm water together. 🙂 Totes agree re winter, nothing right about it huh? Hope you are well my beautiful friend, hugs across the pond. Mwah! xo

Mabel Kwong - July 4, 2016 Reply

The Great Barrier Reef looks like such an enticing, toasty winter getaway. Beaches, sunshine and cooling off in the water – hard for not a summer person to like. Though I am not a water person, I wouldn’t mind splashing about a bit to cool off when it’s warm, haha.

It an certainly be hard to get away in winter if you have to work and have other things on 😀 I could really use a warm, tropical holiday right now. I hope Little Chef is keeping you warm. Doesn’t look like he minds the cold one bit 😀 Like you, I think of warm places during these cold days and wishing summer would hurry up and come. Nothing wrong with dreaming, though… Hope you are well Miss Anna. As usual, lots of hugs your way x

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    I think you would LOVE The Reef little sis, the waves are little and the water is warm and welcoming (well not during stinger season), but you get my point. Ha! 🙂 It sure sounds like you need a getaway, would be just the thing to make you feel better I am sure.
    Little Chef loves adventuring, the cold doesnt seem to bother him too much, especially if he gets to run ahead and sniff everything!
    Doing great this end, and as always… Lots of hugs and love headed your way. xox

Amanda (@lambsearshoney) - July 4, 2016 Reply

I love the cold and really enjoy winter. Having said that – I am heading up to Brisbane in the first week of August, where I expect to enjoy much milder weather than here in the Adelaide Hills.

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    You sure make the cold look and sound amazing, so many times I have wanted to book a trip down your way to see all the winter amazingness. 🙂 Hope you have a blast up North, say hi to the sunshine and warmth for me.

hassan - July 4, 2016 Reply

Hi Anna
What a readable text.

    Anna - July 4, 2016 Reply

    Hey Hassan! I am pleased you enjoyed reading the blog post. 🙂

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - July 4, 2016 Reply

I’m definitely a summer person! I can’t stand the cold but this last weekend I went to the Blue Mountains and this weekend I’m going to Canberra. Go figure!

    Anna - July 4, 2016 Reply

    Haha, well be sure to pack your winter warmies lovely one, the Berra has been SOooooo cold! 🙂

Tandy | Lavender and Lime - July 4, 2016 Reply

I’ve been blessed to see The Great Barrier Reef and swim in it. But if was not stinger season. I prefer spring and autumn and this winter has been so cold I’m just longing for anything warm

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    Awesome Tandy! It sure is one of the best places to take a dip huh?
    I hear that, the winter can shove off, I’ve seen rather enough of it too, thanks very much.

Hannah - July 4, 2016 Reply

I am a summer person!
I love the reef and have been during stinger season!
You can’t hold this Aussie girl back from finding Nemo!

According to my FB ‘on this day’ I was in Hamilton Island (known as Hannah Island to Charlie) this time in 2009.
19 year old me was full of embarrassing things to post publicly to the world 🙁
However my most famous sunrise trek happened on Hamilton Island.

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    Did you find Dory too? I haven’t yet. Siiiigh!

    Hahaha, I am going to go back to 19 year old you and see what was so silly, surely it wasn’t so bad. Hannah Island sounds like a magical place to be, and good to know that your sunrise trek was on Hamilton Island. I look forward to that adventure one of these days.

      Hannah - July 11, 2016 Reply

      I did find Dory! Amazing movie! you must see it!
      One of my favorite Charlie Stories happened at the Reef.

      He was super small so couldn’t swim but could explore the Reef via glass bottom butt(boat).
      While on the butt the staff from the tour company acted as guides.
      He was super patient on his first ride and waited till the end to ask where Nemo was, having not seen him yet.
      4 year old Charlie was not satisfied with answer given by the guide and straight up refused to get off until they had found Nemo.

        Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

        I still haven’t seen Finding Dory, what the actual fudge is that all about… Le sigh!
        Glass butt boats are the business, such a fun way to take it all in. And GO Charlie, I will be doing the same thing next time I get the opportunity. The kid has smarts!

Elizabeth - July 4, 2016 Reply

It has finally started to get cold here on the Gold Coast, but I’m sure that won’t last long! Hehe. I also ventured to Port Douglas in summer, but we didn’t have to wear suits fortunately…. I think at that time, they weren’t too conserved with the stingers getting that far out??? not sure what has changed…. But it is so beautiful! I’m glad you had a good time!
Liz xx

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    Lol…. I was speaking to a friend who lives up your way, he said it was a freezing 15 degrees the other day. Whaaaat?! 🙂
    Port Douglas is my happy place, I love it, could live there I think! Yeah, I have been told the same thing about the stingers, maybe at certain times during the season or something. Either way, it is a beautiful part of the world, one I am so pleased I get to enjoy.

My Inner Chick - July 4, 2016 Reply

OOOOOOOOO, those aqua fish. AMAZING.
The Great Barrier Reef.
Different shades of blue.
YOU in diving equipment.
How old are you? 16?!
Thank you so much for allowing me to come on these adventures w/ you! xxx

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    The fish are flippin AMAZING, Kim. So big and bright. It is definitely one of the cooler things I have done and seen. 🙂 Hahaha, I do love your thoughtful and chippa comments, you always leave me smiling! That diving trip was maybe 3-4 years ago, so not 16, closer to 30! And…. thank you for coming on the adventures with me. You ROCK!

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