Great Barrier Reef : Glimpse to the world’s largest coral reef
Located in the Coral Sea, just off the northeast coast of the Australian state of Queensland, Great Barrier Reef is renowned all the world over for being the largest coral reef in existence. Covering an area of 348,000 square kilometres, Great Barrier Reef brims with an abundance of marine life and a rich and diverse variety of reef systems. In fact, to state figures, Great Barrier Reef is home to over 3000 individual reef systems with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc.
Inscribed as a World Heritage in 1981, many consider Great Barrier Reef as one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Besides the coral reefs, Great Barrier Reef also comprises numerous picturesque tropical islands with beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches. The very fact that it attracts more than 1.6 million visitors each year and contributes more than $5 billion to the Australian economy is testimony to the popularity of Great Barrier Reef all the world over.
It is not possible to fly directly to the Great Barrier Reef itself. However, it can actually be reached from quite a few different cities and islands along the Queensland coast. Among these, the most popular ones are Cairns, Prosperpine, and Townsville as each of them have an airport. There is also the option of reaching Great Barrier Reef by train. However, the journey takes approximately two and a half days. From Sydney you have to take a 14-hour journey to Brisbane, and then change a train at Cairns, which takes about another full day. If you have the time and patience, you can opt for going to Great Barrier Reef by train. The train can also be caught from Prosperpine and Townsville. A similar option with multiple changing points is also available among the bus routes. Day ferry trips to the reef run from most of the length of the Queensland Coast.
Great Barrier Reef has broadly two distinct seasons namely, winter or dry season and summer or wet season. The summer season extends from November to April and is characterized by balmy temperatures and high rainfall. Tropical downpours and occasional storms are frequent in this season. The winter months which begin in May and ends in October witness bright sunshine, fresh breezes and low humidity. As far as swimming in Great Barrier Reef is concerned, one can swim in Tropical North Queensland all year round, as long as it is within the prescribed area, in a beach guarded by lifeguards.
When in Great Barrier Reef, visitors should make it a point to gorge on the seafood served at the shacks and restaurants on the nearby islands. Even a dish as simple as fish and chip, made with reef fish would seem like a delicacy here.
Swim, snorkel, dive, take a helicopter ride or sail, there are umpteen ways in which you can explore Great Barrier Reef. Some of the beaches which you should definitely make a point to visit are Mission Beach, Airlie Beach etc. Among the islands, Magnetic Island and Whitsunday Islands are the popular ones.
So to enjoy a relaxed and fun filled vacation, plan a trip to Great Barrier Reef, Australia!