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Great Barrier Reef

One of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is an incredible living ecosystem. Vibrant colours, a myriad of fish species and crystal blue waters, refresh, invigorate and inspire.

Ribbon Reefs, Queensland. Courtesy of Tourism Queensland
Ribbon Reefs, Queensland. Courtesy of Tourism Queensland

Stretching 2,300 km along the coast from the tip of Cape York to Bundaberg, the Great Barrier reef is a vast wilderness area. Covering 348,000 sq km it was Queensland's first World Heritage area, and is the largest coral reef system in the world.

With the northern section isolated from cities, large towns and major agricultural areas, the reef is at its most pristine in this region, and home to more than 1,500 brilliantly coloured species of tropical fish, 4,000 species of molluscs, 400 species of sponges and 300 species of corals.

Cooktown is the closest port to the Reef and a short boat trip takes visitors to spectacular snorkelling around some of the most pristine coral reefs, cays and islands. This is fabulous habitat for dugongs who breed and feed along the sea grass beds in the sheltered bays. Turtles re-visit the deserted beaches to lay their eggs each breeding season and majestic whales pass through the inner reefs when migrating to the warm northern waters.

Lizard Island, part of the Great Barrier Reef National Park, is 90 kms north-east of Cooktown, and considered one of the world’s best snorkelling and diving destinations. The island also boasts excellent research facilities particularly focussed on coral reefs and climate research.

Exclusive Lizard Island resort is located on the southern end of the island, while the National Park offers delightful sites for a limited number of campers who must be totally self-sufficient. Campsite availability and bookings can be made online or at the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Office on the waterfront in Cooktown.

For all information contact the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on: 1800 990 177, visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park website:, or talk to local Rangers on (07) 4069 5777.