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Great Barrier Reef Islands

With its 344 400 square kilometres the Great Barrier Reef is the only living object that can be seen from outer space, and it is regarded as the eighth World Wonder and the biggest aquarium of the world.
Die best way of experiencing the fascinating underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef as well as the hustle and bustle on land, is by staying on one of the numerous islands that stretch from Cape York in the far north to Bundaberg in the south. The accommodation selection if manifold and offers something suitable for every taste:
Five star resorts for luxury travellers, lonely islands for romantics and bustling island life for the active ones. Swimming, snorkeling, diving and other water sport activities are available on one's doorstep. Many sailing cruises also start from the islands, especially from the Whitsundays.
Diving & Snorkeling
With a visibiliy of up to 100 m and water that is pleasantly warm throughout the year, you can explore the underwater world by diving or snorkeling. Several diving courses, introductory dives, and boat cruises of one or more days to the reef are on offer. You can explore the colourful underwater world by day and also by night. The Cod Hole within easy reach of Cairns, is one of the best diving spots of the world. Here you will find the reef's most inquisitive giant sea bass or groupers. Excursions by glass-bottomed boat or semi-submersible will take you close to the underwater world without getting your feet wet.
Flora & Fauna
The Great Barrier Reef extends over a distance of 2 300 km along Australia's eastern Pacific coast. Its geographical forms are correspondingly varied, with shallow coastal reefs and lagoons, reefs out in the open ocean, many islands, inlets, bays and endless sandy beaches. In this unique natural habitat numerous fascinating animals abound, some of which cannot be seen anywhere else on earth and are regarded as rare and threatened. The underwater world is inhabited by 1 500 different tropical fish species in every imaginable form and colour. Of these the clown fish, familiar through the Film Nemo, is especially well known. Apart from that there are 2 195 plant species on the 618 continental islands of the reef. In addition there are 300 different hard corals, 4 000 types of mollusc and 400 sponge types. Together with sea anemones, sea squirts and innumerable other animal species they from the reef's colourful eco system.

Whales & Dugongs
Every year (August-November) humpback whales from Antarctica come the the Queensland coast to have their young. Whale watching tours, enabling one to observe the animals at close range, are on offer. In northern Queensland one can even swim with minke whales, experiencing them in their natural envirionment. In the waters of the Great Barrier Reef one can also come across dugongs or so-called seacows.

Turtles
The breeding grounds of six of the world's seven turtle species are in the Great Barrier Reef. Between November and February the animals come on land in certain areas on the islands and along the coast to deposit their eggs in nests they have dug in the sand. 6-8 weeks later the young turtles hatch and make their way into the sea.

Land animals on the islands
Several islands are inhabited by koalas, echidnas, opossums and megabats as well as various frogs and lizards. In addition there are about 215 bird species. Many of these breed here, such as reef herons, fish eagles, pelicans, frigate birds, sea eagles and yellow-billed shearwaters.
Cultural Treasures
On Poruma, Lizard & Hinchinbrook Islands one can learn much about the life of the Australian Aborigines. Under the water there are up to 30 shipwrecks from the past, such as the famous wreck of the SS Yongala off the Townsville coast. One can find a selection of the many annual events on the islands and nearby mainland at: www.queenslandevents.com.au
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