The Great Barrier Reef

It's the law...you can't be in Australia and not visit the 

Great Barrier Reef

credit: WHPalmer

One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the world’s most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches. Because of its natural beauty, the Great Barrier Reef has become one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations. A visitor to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy many experiences including snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, bare boats (self-sail), glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins.

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credit: VargaJones

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and pulling away from it, and viewing it from a greater distance, you can understand why. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space. Because of its natural beauty, both below and above the water’s surface, the reef has become one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

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The Reef credit: JohnCarnemolla

Whilst the reef has been getting all the wrong sort of exposure lately, it still provides a significant proportion of Australias tourism and remains one of the great wonders of the world. The coral bleaching events and the impact of climate change on the delicate eco system can’t be ignored, the reef contributes around 6 billion Australian dollars and employs 65,000 to 70,000 people so it’s critical that the market adapts alongside the reef and looks at the emerging environmental tourism that the reef is starting to attract.

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Bleached coral credit: RainervonBrandis

It’s clear the scale of the issue at the reef is serious, and it’s possible that the reef will never fully adapt and repair itself while the water temperatures continue to rise, but there is still a lot for the reef to offer visitors. The diversity of fish and plant life still make it one of the worlds best dive sites and the surrounding area of the Whitsundays and the mainland coast is a fabulous location to explore. Check out our feature in this issue on the Whitsundays for some inspiration on what the area has to offer and some of the best spots to explore.

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Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays credit: ltos