Great Barrier Reef

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Great Barrier Reef



Australia’s Great Barrier Reef , in the Coral Sea, comprises the largest area of coral reef in the world, being approx. 2,000 km long. The Reef provides a natural wall or breakwater for the Queensland coastal area in the north-eastern part of Australia.


The Great Barrier Reef area covers a huge area of the NE Continental Shelf and as well as coral reefs it also has areas of mangrove and sea grass. The Great Barrier Reef is not actually one continuous unbroken reef, but a series of reefs, islands and cays which are home to a huge variety of marine life, including some endangered species of turtles. The humpback whales breed in the tropical waters and many species of birds also breed in the area.

The Reef is separated from the mainland by a shallow stretch of water from approx. 15-160km wide. One of the main starting off points for a visit to the Reef is from Cairns , although there are other locations on the Gold Coast, such as Townsville. The Reef islands are roughly divided into three areas: the Tropical North Islands which are accessible from, among others, the towns of Cooktown and Cairns ; further south the Whitsunday Islands , accessible from Cairns , Townsville and Mackay, then the Southern Reef Islands accessible from Rockhampton and Hervey Bay .


If you set off from Townsville, the Great Barrier Reef Marinepark is easily accessible. The Marinepark comprises more than 128,000 square miles and includes most of the reef areas and lagoons and part of the Continental Shelf. The park also comprises many hundreds of uninhabited islands and secluded beaches which are perfect for exploring, diving and snorkelling. There is some accommodation available on the islands, or camping is another option. From the southern end of the Reef, if you only have a short time to visit, a few hours or one day, then Long Island is close to the coast.


The city of Cairns is modern and cosmopolitan and the main access to the Great Barrier Reef area. It is also a popular base from which to venture out into the rainforest and outback areas and there are a wide variety of tours available to suit every taste.


Exploring the Great Barrier Reef itself is also available to everyone whether or not you can swim. There are thousands of coral reefs and hundreds of smaller islands and cays. You can dive or snorkel with or without guides, or view the reef from boats or underwater viewing stations. There are also helicopter and airplane rides.


For a break from the Reef area, you can drive the coastal road and explore the miles of beaches and rainforest, and go inland to explore the tablelands and wetlands.


The Cairns area also offers a variety of golf courses, and many other outdoor recreational activities.



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