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Mike's Australia


6 Never drive off the highway.
7 If you do breakdown, stay with the vehicle unless you are one hundred percent
certain that help is nearby and you can safely walk to it.
8 Don't attempt to walk anywhere in the heat of a hot summer's day.
9 Bear in mind that accommodation is not as easy to find in the outback as in the
more densely populated parts of the country and in some places you have to provide
your own in the form of tent, carava n etc. Plan your outback travel accordingly. Make
sure you secure your night's accommodation at least a day in advance.
3 Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef stretches for over 1500 km (1000 miles), along the
tropical coast of Queensland, from Rockhampton in the south to the tip of Cape
York Peninsular in the far north . It is not continuous, as the name suggests, but
is made up of hundreds of individual reefs. Some are tens of kilometres across.
Others are much smaller.
The reefs are living. They are built by coral animals that secrete hard shells about
their soft bodies. The small creatures crowd together to form colonies and it is these
that we think of when we talk about "coral". Break a piece of dead coral and you will
see the small tubes where the coral animals once lived.
The corals come in a variety of shapes and colours and are home to a huge variety
of iridescent fish, giant clams, conga eels, starfish, turtles, giant manta rays and other
creatures ... a veritable wonderland.
You can visit the Reef as a scuba diver, snorkeler or someone who is happy to sit in
a glass-bottom boat. The most southerly point is Great Keppel Island near
Rockhampton. As you go northward, you will find boats taking people out from McKay,
Airlie Beach, Townsville, Mission Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas and other places.
Where is the best point to see the Reef?
As a divemaster, I was often asked that question. People expected me to say
Cairns or some other top tourist spot. The answer is not that simple since it depends
on what you want to see.
If you are vaguely interested in the Reef and don't want to spend a lot of time or
money then I would recommend a trip to one of the inshore reefs or inshore islands
such as Great Keppel or Green Island (off Cairns). You won't see the Reef at its most
spectacular and the water will not be as clear as further out to sea . Nevertheless, you
will experience some nice coral. I rank Keppel and Green Island as good value for
money.
Water clarity is important. The sea is muddy inshore and crystal clear further out.
This is glaringly apparent if you fly along the coast and take a look downwards. The
transition from murky to acceptable varies with the weather . In my experience, you are
fairly safe if you go at least 20 nautical miles (40km) offshore.
 
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