Experience Oz: What was it like growing up on the reef? What were the best parts?
JC: For us it all felt very normal, I didn’t really realise it was something special until I started making friends on the mainland and talking to regular people. It was a childhood of wonder, I had the world at my fingertips and there was always something to explore or create.
It is a very small Island but it felt like a kingdom to us. I swam before I could walk, made friends with the fishes and the seagulls, built stick empires in the rainforest and created anything a kid would ever need out of sand. I was never very good in social situations, my brother and I were the only kids who lived on the island, so learning to interact with other people properly was not something we knew how to do early on. But we knew other things… we felt like we had found the secret frequency of the Earth, that only people who were willing to stay quiet and listen could understand.
Some of the best parts growing up would be when the whole family would get together for a special snorkeling trip off the boat or to some of the secret sand cays at sunset. On school days we would make time to go greet the boats in the morning and play a round of beach cricket before it got too hot. One of my favourite parts was being able to explore on my own, relying on my own instincts and knowledge of the reef.
Our parents gave us a lot of free reign to explore as we pleased, trusting that the information they had passed down to us on how to protect ourselves and the reef would stick. To be able to go swim with turtles, whenever I liked, was a pretty special phenomenon.
Experience Oz: What’s your particular favourite part of the reef? And why?
JC: I love the Outer Barrier Reef, it seems like so much more of an adventure out there. I’ve always been attracted to the giant side of the GBR… big turtles, big SHARKS, whales, mantas, cod… It is very hard to decide, I feel excited to visit any part of the Great Barrier Reef.
Through Instagram and talking about my passions, I have learnt about all these incredible places on the Great Barrier Reef that I long to visit, so it makes me inclined to say my favourite places on the GBR are the ones I haven’t visited yet! I long to go to Osprey Reef along the Ribbons north of Cooktown because most people can’t even begin to describe it to me which makes me more and more determined to see it for myself!
Closer to home, there’s this place we go sometimes, a secret place; south of the Island. Dad takes us in his boat and we all go exploring together. The coral blooms in this place, like nothing you’ve ever seen. The coral blooms and the fish celebrate; and I am at peace once again.