Great Barrier Reef Australia

Great Barrier Reef Australia is the largest coral reef in the world.

It runs 2000km along the east coast of Queensland from Torres Strait in north to Gladstone in south.

In its southern end it is broader (also fragmented in very south) and farther away from the coast, while in north it becomes narrower and closer to the coast.
Aerial of the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Coast, Queensland, Australia
GBR. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Here are some of the best ways to experience the GBR, whether diving, snorkelling or simply watching this amazing ecosystem through the glass bottom of a boat:





Corals of the Great Barrier Reef Australia

Corals are primitive animals called polyps that belong the phylum Coelenterata. Because they don’t have any vertebrate, they grow an exoskeleton by excreting lime. When they die, their skeletons remain and build up the reef over a long time. Most of the Great Barrier Reef is two million years old, but there are sections that are as old as 18 million years.

Diver and Soft Coral, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
Diver. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Ohter Animals of the Great Barrier Reef Australia
Coral reef is one of the richest ecosystems in the world. There are as many as 1500 species of fish in Great Barrier Reef. Other Great Barrier Reef animals include 400 types of coral, 4000 types of molluscs such as snails and clams, and countless other animals like starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, worms, sponges, crabs, sea snakes and also larger animals such as turtles, sharks, dugongs, whales and dolphins. They all belong to the huge and complicated Great Barrier Reef food chain.

Grey Reef Shark, with Remora Fish, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
Reef sharks. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Blue Ringed Octopus and Australian Box Jellyfish

There are also some Great Barrier Reef animals that you don’t want to touch, like Australian Box Jellyfish, Blue-ringed Octopus, stonefish, scorpion fish, cone shells and sea snakes which are all poisonous. Others such as sea urchins and sea anemones may be less venomous but still painful enough to not to be nice to touch or step on. Don’t let the dangerous creatures scare you off, if you read the warning signs on the beaches you’ll be alright.

Ocellated Epaulette Shark Head (Hemiscyllium Ocellatum), Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Reef creature. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Islands of the Great Barrier Reef Australia
There are two different types of islands in the Great Barrier Reef. Continental islands, such as Magnetic Island, Hinchinbrook Island, Dunk Island and Great Keppel Island are just like any other islands in the world, while coral islands, also called coral cays such as Heron Island outside Gladstone and Green Island outside Cairns consist of no soil but only coral material. There are, however, corals around both types of islands so just because an island isn’t a coral island doesn’t always mean that you cannot go snorkelling and diving and watch corals.

Small Uninhabited Island in Great Barrier Reef National Park
Coral island. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Where to Visit the Great Barrier Reef Australia

Some of the most popular places to catch ferries to visit Great Barrier Reef are Townsville, Cairns and Port Douglas in north Queensland. Popular islands to visit from Cairns are Green Island and Fitzroy Island. From Port Douglas you can go on trips to Holmes Reef; and Townsville coral trips take you to the wreck of Yongala – one of the best and most famous dives in Australia. Townsville is also the place to catch the ferry to Magnetic Island (there’s not much reef there), and to Orpheus Island (which is off the coast from Lucinda). Airlie Beach is the place from which to reach the Whitsunday Islands, and Great Keppel Island (again, not many corals around this continental island) is reachable from Rockhampton. One of the best of the islands in Australia and also a real coral cay - Heron Island outside Gladstone is one of the southernmost islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

Anemonefish, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Reef fish. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Tours and Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef Australia
You may want to include a tour to your Great Barrier Reef vacations. The Great Barrier Reef tour operators in Cairns include Great Adventures, Compass, Noah’s Ark Cruises, Cairns Dive Centre, Down Under Dive, Sunlover and Falla. If you are in Port Douglas, try Haba, Aristocat, Calypso, Poseidon, Quicksmart and Wavelength. In Townsville, Pure Pleasure Cruises has day trips to Kelso Reef, and there are many different ferry services that leave for different Whitsunday Islands from Airlie Beach.

Diver Examines Coral Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Coral. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Tours without Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef Australia
In case you don’t want to dive or snorkel but still want to see the impressive marine life on your Great Barrier Reef vacation, you can go on a trip with a glass-bottomed boat, a great way to see coral reef animals. If you don’t get time to go on a trip to the reef, there’s an excellent chance to see the many Great Barrier Reef animals and the life in coral reef in the famous Great Barrier Reef aquarium, the Reef Headquarters in Townsville in north Queensland.

Aerial View of Moore Reef, The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Area, North Coast, Queensland
Reef. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Map of the Great Barrier Reef Australia
Here's a Great Barrier Reef map, where I have tagged the places that I mentioned on this web page. You can click on the tags to see what places they are, and double-click anywhere on the map to zoom it in and see the places closer. Drag the map to move around, and if you want to see the satellite image with Google Earth, click on "Sat" in the top right hand corner.

View Larger Map

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GBR at Whitsundays Not rated yet
We took a GBR trip while in the beautiful Whitsundays.. and it was the best thing to do!!! It was a great day out and a great way to get two destinations …

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