The Great Barrier Reef

With the Whitsundays being so close to the Great Barrier Reef, it seemed only right that we visit the worlds largest coral reef system and one of the natural wonders of the world. The Reef is composedĀ of 2,900 individual reefs and stretches for over 2,300km along the North Queensland coast.

After looking into the different tour options we decided on a trip out to Hardy Reef, where we spent half a day on Cruise Whitsunday’s Heart Pontoon, which we had been told provides a unique way to explore the reef. It was an early start, and after a quick breakfast we made the short drive to the Port of Airlie, ready for departure.

The journey out to the reef took just over two hours, and despite the high winds, we decided to brave our chances on the very exposed top deck, taking in some great views of the Whitsundays as we travelled past. Some clearly enjoyed the journey less than others, and we were thankful not to be among the seasick passengers leaning over the back of the boat.

As we arrived at Hardy Reef, we first passed an older Pontoon, now in a state of disrepair having been badly damaged by Tropical Cyclone Debbie in March 2017. The new Pontoon is moored nearby and is located 39 nautical miles off the coast of mainland Australia.

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The Whitsundays

Back in October we went on our first holiday since arriving in Sydney in June, spending five nights in Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.

With Rachael’s parents, Paul and Lorraine, arriving in Australia to visit us, we decided it would be a great place for them to start their four week tour, before travelling back with us to Sydney.

The Whitsundays are a collection of 74 islands, located just off the coast of North Queensland. The islands are one of Queensland’s most popular tourist destinations, renowned not only for white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, but also as a great place from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef.

While a number of the islands offer accommodation, most notably Hamilton Island, we decided to stay on the mainland, finding a great Eco Cabin just a short drive from Airlie Beach. Surrounded by thick bushland and lots of friendly native animals, including wild turkeys and wallabies (but thankfully no crocodiles), it was a great introduction to Aussie life.

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