One of the most amazing places in the world to visit is the Great Barrier Reef off the eastern coast of Queenland, Australia. Made up of small coral islands, over 3000 individual reef systems and beautiful tropical islands the Reef is incredible. It is the only living thing that can be seen from space. It is an amalgamation of living coral growing on dead coral which has formed enormous walls over the years, probably as many as 20 million! Coral is not the only organism to live on these walls. It is also home to sponges, starfish, anemones and various other animals and plants.
Because of its size, approx 300,000 square kilometres, visitors are spoilt for choice as to where to base themselves to experience the Reef. Cape York Peninsula in the north is where the reef and the land is relatively unspoilt. Here you will find rain forests, tropical savannahs and wild rivers. Cairns is probably the most popular town to be based due to it being near to the airport.
There are many islands to visit. Lizard Island is a paradise island from where you can go snorkelling, relax on white beaches or swim in the Blue Lagoon. A perfect place to learn to dive and see tropical fish up close. Green Island is a small coral cay which can be walked around in less than half an hour. Its edges are either compact coral or beautiful sandy beach. Fitzroy Island has a National Park so you can walk through rain forests and enjoy spectacular views across the island.
Townsville is in the central region of the Great Barrier Reef and is the largest tropical city in Australia. Here you will find Reef HQ where you can see the only living coral in captivity. Magnetic Island with its bird sanctuary and World War II forts is just off the coast of Townsville and can be reached by ferry. Its name comes from the effect it is said to have had on Captain Cook’s compass as he passed the island in 1770.
The Capricorn Coast strides the Tropic of Capricorn. Rockhampton is slightly inland but has lots of interesting architecture as well a zoo, botanic gardens and a tram museum. It was also voted Australia’s Friendliest Town in 2006 and Queenslands Tidiest Town in 2008. Great Keppel Island is just off the coast near Rockhampton. With 17 pristine white sand beaches, over 100 species of birds, including the kookaburra, and native flora and fauna amongst which to amble at your leisure.