One of the magical parts of this whole adventure of mine, is discovering that I can do far more than I ever thought possible – especially when I receive the support from people (and businesses) who want to help me achieve these things, no matter what – this support is absolutely invaluable to me, and something I will always be very grateful for. One such, VERY inclusive place which does this in such an amazing, encouraging way, is Tangalooma Island Resort, (on Moreton Island, just off Brisbane on Qld’s east coast). Their staff, and the facilities are just so inclusive – whenever I have approached staff with a want to do one of their many activities available on the Island – they go out of their way to find a way to make it happen – which is awesome!
When the SBH Qld Mind Matters program started and we were able to see the timetable of the Program….and then realised that we were allocated a little ‘free time’ to do as we pleased – my mind went straight to ‘RIGHT – I’m going to tick something off the bucketlist!’. After checking out the Island activities and finding out that a snorkeling trip was during one of our free times, I raced straight over to the Tour desk to book it in – I had NO idea how I was going to achieve it – Ive never been swimming out of my depth before, out in the deep ocean, and I had no idea of how we were going to make this happen…all I knew was, I was going to book it in, no matter how nervous I was! Once I said ‘Yes, I AM going to do it!’ to myself…of course there was no going back, despite my nerves..haha.. After having an excited chat with the friendly, and very encouraging Kristen at the Tour desk – and going through my fears/issues I could see we might cross when Im achieving it – and working out strategies to make this happen – I BOOKED it in!!
After a couple of false starts with the weather…the time came for me to experience snorkelling….Wow! Another SBH’er Gillian decided to come with me too, which was even more awesome, we could be excited, and experience it all, together! After our SBH Qld Program ended for the day, we raced over to the Hut where we were meeting with the group to head out to the Tangalooma Wrecks, got changed into our wetsuits (what a mission that was, those wetsuits sure are skintight! haha) and I met my guide. Staff had come up with an awesome way of making it happen for me…I was to hold onto a round lifebelt for balance/bouyancy and look straight down the middle of it into the water, and my guide was going to pull the lifebelt from the front…so all I had to do was take the whole experience in and not worry about my balance/propelling through the water etc, as my guide was right there with me, guiding me around the Wrecks, and watching me, making sure I was OK. The other awesome part of this experience was, I was out there included with a group of about 10 or so other ablebodied snorkellers – this wasnt a ‘special access trip’ to make this happen for me, I was just in with the group of ablebodied snorkelers, which made me feel ‘just like everyone else in this world’ – for someone with a disability, this is such a great feeling.
We headed out onto the boat (again, staff were absolute legends – to get myself and the beach wheelchair onto the boat was a mission in itself…but they were amazing, all the effort they went to, to get me boarded). I felt like a little kid…this was better than Christmas – I was about to head out into that beautiful ocean that I love so much…I was going to be WAY out there in this enormous mass of ocean which Ive always admired and felt connected to, from land…wow! 🙂 Next thing, we were off! It was about a 10 minute boat ride out to the Wrecks – and the next thing I knew, we were ready to dive off the side of the boat. The nerves kicked in bigtime then…this was more than ‘nervous excitement’ this was actual nerves…fear of the unknown – but that’s what drives me, to get through that fear. With assistance from staff all around me, I jumped off the deck of the boat….and instantly I was calm – I was OUT in that beautiful ocean, something I had always dreamed of doing – but the best was yet to come!
I donned my mask and snorkel, looked face down into the water…and was COMPLETELY blown away – it really is a whole other magical world under there – at first we didn’t see too many fish, but the closer we got to the Wrecks (we were so close we could have touched it!), we not only got to see this absolutely incredible structure of the wrecks which has so much history built into it – but all of a sudden all these black-and-white fish started swimming straight past us, almost as if they were coming to say ‘hello’…it was beyond breath-taking! From that moment, more fish started appearing as if by magic, as if they were curiously checking us all out. It was so surreal being there, seeing the wrecks right up close, all the beautiful coloured fish, the pretty coral, the amazing structure of the wrecks themselves..and I came SO close to seeing the resident wobbygong – but only managed to see the tail end of him, and the scattering of the sand when he scurried away…I will have to go back again, so I can find him again! haha. We live our day-to-day lives up on land…and at the very same time, this magical world is happening out in the depths of the ocean – that’s even more amazing to think about, now that Ive seen it with my very own eyes.
Before we knew it, our time out at the Wrecks was over, and it was time to head back onto the boat. A feeling of complete fulfillment and peace swam over me…not only had I experienced something I had no idea how I was going to achieve it – but I had been out there, in that beautiful, mysterious ocean I love to look out at – and be completely mesmerized by, from land. I could have stayed out there all day, it was such an amazing experience!
I am so glad that even though I was very nervous at first, I went through with booking it in, and the actual experience itself. Tangalooma staff did, as they always do, whatever they could, and went well over the extra mile, to help me make it happen. Thank you so much to Kristen at the Tour desk, and to my guide for being right there beside me, literally every step (or should I say, swim!) of the way….and thank you also to other staff who helped me on and off the boat. You were all AMAZING!
(One of the aspects of having hydrocephalus is that I am unable to go deep under water because of my shunt that drains my cerebral spinal fluid away from my brain – this takes ‘deep sea diving/scuba diving’ away from me…BUT, with the way my mind works now – when this opportunity came up to experience snorkeling, out in the ocean – that to me, was ‘my way of deep sea diving’ – because we were actually out in the deep ocean, even if not right under, I was looking deep down into it!)
Anything really is Possible…When you have people who want you to make it happen, as much as you do! 🙂