The Great Barrier Reef
The world’s most extensive coral reef system is found on the north-eastern continental shelf off the coast of Queensland in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is a site of amazing natural beauty and stretches for 2000km and covers an area about 350,000 square miles. This natural wonder is the largest UNESCO World Heritage site on earth.
Running mainly north to south, the reef passes different climates which accounts for the huge bio-diversity of species found here and it’s a must do holiday destination for keen divers. There are around 3,400 individual reefs including about 800 fringing reefs, coral islands, continental islands covered in forest, sandbars and mangroves, all linked by huge turquoise lagoons. It is of vital importance to the eco-system of the world and is a ‘must see’ location in the world’s Oceans, containing a third of the soft coral on the planet. It is also home to the largest green turtle breeding site, 30 varieties of mammals including breeding humpback whales and many dugongs, plus molluscs, sponges, 1500 species of reef fish and 200 species of birds. There are also Aboriginal archeological sites here.
To reach the reef, or include the Great Barrier Reef in your holiday to Australia, there are many options. Fly or travel overland to Cairns or Brisbane in Queensland and then take any number of boat options or sea planes over to nearby islands. There are also overnight boat trips or sailing tours around the reef and surrounding islands.
Some of the most stunning beaches and fabulous options for sailing, snorkelling or diving can be found on the Whitsunday Islands. These 74 islands all set on or near the Great Barrier Reef offer picture postcard views and some fabulous hotels and lodges. One day trip option is the the ‘Great Barrier Reef Experience’ which lasts about 7.5hours where you cruise to Hardy Reef to the ‘Fantasea Reefworld’ pontoon which offers snorkelling, reef viewing from an underwater observatory or a semi-submersible. If enjoying beautiful beaches is your thing, take a trip to Whitehaven Beach which is on an uninhabited Whitsunday Island with 7km of pure white sand and clear waters. Hamilton Island is the most popular of the Whitsundays, even having its own airport, a resort centre, marina and variety of hotels. Other islands include the exclusive Hayman Island or the good value mainland resort of Airlie Beach. Brampton Island is a stunning hideaway set amongst a National Park. The perfect way to explore teh Whitsundays it to do some traditional sailing from island to island.
Further south on the Queensland coast are the Southern Queensland Islands which are full of wildlife and adventure activities. Heron Island is one of the few where you can swim straight from the beach over a garden of coral and colourful fish. Wilson Island also has great reefs and lovely beaches polus a turtle and rare bird breeding sites. Fraser Island is a world heritage listed unique destination with several eco-tourism projects and hotels, gorgeous sand dunes and calm waters.
The Northern Barrier Reef Islands stretch off the coast between Townsville and Cooktown and are full of lush tropical rainforests, walking trails and colourful reefs. Dunk Island has a thriving rainforest with a pretty beach and caters for families of all ages. Bedarra Island is the perfect example of island indulgence with top class service and luxury accommodation. Lizard Island is the most northerly of Australia’s island resorts and offers an isolated place to escape to, with 24 unspoilt beaches and plenty of marine life, it’s a rustic luxury paradise.
As an independant, tailor made travel agent with a passion for wildlife and long haul, let me put together your perfect holiday to Queensland, Australia and spend some time at the Great Barrier Reef. Whether it’s a family holiday, honeymoon, or a diving destination you are looking for, I can find the right holiday to suit your requirements. If you would like to join a cruise or escorted tour, there are also some which include time on the Great Barrier Reef, ask me for details.