Firstly it’s important to know some facts about the Great Barrier Reef before packing your flippers:
- Largest reef in the world
- 2900 separate reefs
- 900 islands
- 2 million tourists annually
- stretches from Bundaberg to Cape York along 2600 km (344,400 km2)
- Biggest living organism in the world
- Visible from Space
- Formed around 18,000 years ago during the last ice age
- World heritage listed by UNESCO since 1981
To enjoy your trip to the maximum, we advise you to go between May and September. July and August are the best months because of the mild temperatures and the whale migration season. October to May is stinger season so avoid this time.
Underwater the marine life offers a huge variety of possible encounters: six of the world’s seven turtle species live here. It’s also the habitat of Nemo (the Clown Fish), blue sea-stars, the Napoleon fish is found here, as well as fish of many different colours, a variety of corals, and during whale migration season most probably you’ll see whales. The must-have item is an underwater camera like a GoPro which you can buy for around $299 or hire for your time on the reef.
To get to the reef there are several possibilities: boat, plane or helicopter ̶ it’s up to you! Cairns is one of the best launching platforms. The offers here are numerous and lots of companies depart from Cairns. Port Douglas is also a good spot to reach Agincourt Ribbon Reef offering huge diversity. This place is a mecca for scuba divers and considered one of the most beautiful places to view coral reefs in the world. Catch a sailing boat at Airlie Beach to the Whitsundays, from Townsville for Magnetic Island or Town of 1770 to get to Lady Musgrave Island which is a deserted island, protected, and allows a maximum of 40 campers at any one time. As you can read there are lots of ways to explore the reefs of Far North Queensland.
Brisbane – Cairns: 1700 km
Sydney – Cairns: 2700 km (via Brisbane)
Cairns – Port Douglas: 65 km
Cairns – Airlie Beach: 625 km
BIG4 Cairns Coconut Resort, 23 – 51 Anderson Road – Woree, 4870, 0740546644
South-east Queensland is also a good place where you’re sure to have some great marine encounters. For example, 80 km (75 minutes) from Brisbane you’ve got beautiful Moreton Island: here you have a good chance of encountering kangaroos, koalas and many bird species. Moreton Bay itself is overflowing with rich marine life: turtles, dolphins, dugongs and small sharks. Old boats have been deliberately sunk to create habitat for fish and a good spot for diving and snorkelling. Numerous activities are available on the island: kayaking, quad biking, catamaran sailing, sand surfing or feeding dolphins; there is a resort there too if you plan to stay overnight.
So now you know now what you’ve got to do: get in your campervan, head up to Brisbane and Far North Queensland, go on board one of the boats and be amazed by this natural wonder that runs along the eastern coastline of Australia.