Great Barrier Reef
On the other side of the world in a land nicknamed as the land Down Under is where you will find our next amazing destination Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
This is just about every wildlife enthusiasts, scuba divers, snorkelers, swimmers and sun lover’s top destination and is on many tourists bucket lists.
The Great Barrier Reef is in actual fact the largest coral reef system in the entire world which covers a range of around 2,600km (1,600 mi) and 344,000km sq (133,000 mi sq).
The reef is so big that believe or not it can be seen from outer space. Within the reef’s range you will find around 900 islands and over 2,900 reefs throughout.
Queensland is the most north-eastern state of Australia and due to movement of Australia each year it has become the new site of the Great Barrier Reef in the last few million years.
An interesting fact that many do not realise is that it is an ancient reef that once was the Great Barrier Reef can actually be found in the dried up, outback area of the Kimberley… right on the other side of Australia in the state of Western Australia.
The reef itself is virtually made up of billions of coral which help bring in many of the other marine species and of course their predators. The 400 or so species of coral are very much alive and competing for space is always on the minds of such organisms.
During the night hours neighbouring coral may attempt to take over the spot of their rivals and will actually shoot out and outstretch in the attempt to take the space.
One will win and take the most space while the other will retract. This goes on each and every night and changes the landscape (or seascape rather) of the reef.
Within the inner reef a spectacular event occurs after October’s full moon each year when the coral takes part in mass spawning. The outer parts of the reef are generally a month or two behind with this event.
Most tourists to the reef come for the abundant wildlife and there are some species that are visitors to the reef, the shorelines and the islands themselves as well as many that have made the reef their permanent homes.
The biggest attraction of wildlife usually includes some of the thirty species of whales, dolphin and porpoises such as dwarf Minke Whales, Humpback Whales and Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin.
There are also six different species of sea turtle which come to breed on the islands. These species include the Green Sea Turtle, Leatherback, Loggerhead, Leatherback, Flatback Turtle and the Olive Ridley.
Saltwater Crocodiles can also be found in or around the reef mostly far up north in the mangrove and salt marsh areas.
In the shark and sting ray families there are around 125 different species, around 49 species of pipefish and 9 species of the intriguing sea horse family.
Birds also love the reef much like the marine species with around 215 different species coming to nest on the islands or shoreline. Most noticeable birds are the White-Bellied Sea Eagle and the Roseate Tern.
Tourists do need to be wary of something commonly known as stinger season which occurs each year between October and April along the reef and the northern coastlines of Australia.
The infamous box jellyfish is an extremely deadly species as well as the Irukandji and a sting by either could prove fatal or at least cause some serious damage.
Stinger suits will help prevent this mishap happening so do where them during this season and when directed to do so.
Tourism is extremely busy here and the reef brings in around 2 million tourists each year. It’s a popular spot for scuba divers and snorkelers alike particularly in Port Douglas and Cairns which allows the best access to the reefs and cruising tours.
The Whitsundays Islands off the mainlands coast is also very popular boasting many 5 star resorts that usually own the entire island.
Snorkelling or scuba diving is by far the best way to see the many different colours and life forms that live or visit the reef each year. Make sure you bring an underwater camera because no matter which direction you look the view will be teaming with sea life.
For those who don’t enjoy being in the water with such creatures then take a glass bottomed boat tour which are frequent from any of the tourist areas along the reef.
This allows many to stay on the boat without missing the top view looking down at the reef and what wonders it has to offer.
To witness the full scale of the Great Barrier Reef however one idea would be to take a helicopter or scenic flight. Getting up above the reef will show you just how vast and how amazing this natural wonder truly is.
Possibly one of the best tours in my mind is getting the chance to get in the water with the friendly Dwarf Minke Whales. The whales get curious coming right up to the line and often put on a little show.
Not all tours need to be on the reef itself from the mainland either. The Daintree Rainforest offers nature walks, outdoor dining experiences, and bird watching and/or wildlife tours as well which is another nature beauty within its self.
You may also head to Barron River for kayaking or the more extreme white water rafting tours down the rapids. These inland tours are frequent from both Cairns and Port Douglas.
The weather is moderate all year round and has quite a tropical feel to it; you may experience some rain during the summer months but is often a nice relief from the hot and humid temperatures.