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Great Barrier Reef in January/February??

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Help please.....I welcome all opinions & advice from those of you familiar with this area..... My wife and I will be traveling to Australia for the first time. We always imagined visiting & snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef as part of such a trip, but now I'm concerned with the time of the year......
We'll be in Melbourne for the Tennis Australian Open around January 25-28, so I don't have a lot of flexibility on the timing, and I'm reading that it's not the best weather, plus it's the time when the waters get infested with marine stingers. The question: Since it's quite a significant detour to get there, do we still go to GBR? or do we skip it in favor of a different area? We do have the choice (if it makes a difference) of going before or after the Open (third week in January vs. first week in February??
Thanks in advance for your opinions,

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