Clarification about the Great Barrier Reef

Old Aug 18th, 2004, 02:15 AM
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Clarification about the Great Barrier Reef

I thought this posting might help overseas visitors & some locals to understand, the extend & boundaries of the GBR.
Firstly the GBR is "not" one continuous reef system, but a series of reefs & islands that stretch from Cape York right down to the most southern GBR islands of LAdy Elliot Island (the most southerly GBR island)
The various groups of reefs have different names, eg. Swain Reefs, Samaurez Reef, Frederick Reefs, and Capricorn/Bunker Reefs & Islands.
The reefs of the GBR can be quite close to the coast (near the Cairns region) and further out as you proceed south. Some of the reefs, are so far out, that you need to take an extended boat trip to reach them, like Willis Group, or Lithou Reef & Cays, Marion Reef. Most overseas tourists only get to see the GBR reefs closer to the mainland.
Recently, in another posting, I was told by another member, that Lady Musgrave & Lady Elliot, are "not part" of the GBR, nor will they ever be. Well I thought, perhaps this person is misinformed or is completely ignorant of the facts. So I telephoned the Mapping Section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and was informed that L/Musgrave & LAdy Elliot, have always been part of the GBR and alway will. The Mapping Officer said the GBR finishes just below the 24 degree south, which he said takes in Lady Elliot Island, which is the most southerly island on the GBR.
Some people think the GBR is ONLY REEFS and not islands, but they couldn't be further from the truth.
What happens, as the reefs grow, and eventually, the coral protrudes from the sea, then sand accumulates on the coral, which eventually in time, becomes a sand atoll. Birdlife eventually drop seeds which germinate, and trees will take hold.
A good example of this island building process is Green Island (off Cairns) or Lady Musgrave down south.
The Capricorn/Bunker groups of reefs & islands consists of the following:
North West Island, Erskine Island, IRving Reef, Masthead Island, Polmaise Reef, Heron Island, North Reef, Tryon Island, North west ISland, Wilson Island, Wreck island, Sykes Reef, One Tree Island, Lamont Reef, Llewellyn Reef, Boult Reef, Hoskyn Island, Fairfax ISlands, LAdy Musgrave Island, and lastly Lady Elliot Island.
Hope this helps others to understand the range & extend of the GBR.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 04:47 AM
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tropo, I know nothing about those two islands that are "just" in the geographical area of the Reef: Lady Musgrave and Lady Elliot. Tell us, are they scenic and tropical, like the better-known ones, further north? What I mean is, should we be recommending them to tourists who have seen the picture postcards of the GBR, or would they be disappointed when they arrived?
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 05:14 AM
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tropo: Great job. There has been a lot of disinformation on this board regarding the GBR and your post certainly helps straighten things out.

Alan: Lady Elliott has been talked about a lot on this board - it is a fantastic snorkeling and diving destination and offers budget accommodation.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 05:19 AM
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tropo: I only have 6 words to say ... THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 12:30 PM
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Alan, the islands of the Capricorn/Bunker group on the GBR, which are situated off Bundaberg/the town of 1770, are further off the coast than those up north near Cairns. The islands are 2.5 hr catamaran boat trip out from the town of 1770 (another gem of a town). They are not visual from the mainland, due to their low height above sea level. Each island comes with the National Park protection, as the islands are used by turtles to lay their eggs each year, and by migratory sea birds. Often in the centre of island, the sand will have numerous burrows made by the mutton birds, which nest on these islands by the thousands, together with numerous other birds. As soon as you walk off the coral sand beach, you are confronted with coral for snorkelling or scuba diving, however the latter sport is usually conducted on "special" reefs. Its not unusual to come across manta rays whilst diving, turtles, or white tipped reef sharks.
Heron Island has the "upmarket" accommodation, and is owned by P&O Resorts (like Dunk Island & Lizard Island)..access to this island is by either boat or helicopter. Heron also has a package, where you can stay part of your holiday on the nearby island of Wilson Island, in special accommodation, to get that "beachcomber" island feeling. (They do supply a chef for the lucky 8 couples that stay there)
Lady Musgrave Island does not have accommodation, but they allow camping on the island (permit required, along with your own food & water)
There is a boat day trip out to Musgrave, from either Bundaberg or the town of 1770. (north of Bundaberg) - Buffet seafood lunch and snorkelling equipment all supplied, as well as a guided walk on the island.
Lastly, Lady Elliot Island has cabin style accommodation, and an airstrip (flights from Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Coolangatta or Maroochydore). There are one day packages, which includes return flight, lunch and diving.
Lady Elliot was featured recently on the Qld TV show, "Great South East", wherein the commentator, stated that this island was unspoilt, closest thing to island nature that he had encountered, and thoroughly recommended staying here, if you wanted to get away from the tourist razamataz, and get back close to nature again.
check out their website - www.ladyelliot.com.au
P.S. because these islands are further out from the mainland, than the popular islands up north, they tend to be off the beaten track, for most tourists visiting from overseas, which is a pity.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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The website for persons wanting to take the 1 day boat trip out to Lady Musgrave Island, is www.1770reefcruises.com
this website refers to trips from the township of 1770. There is also a day trip from Bundaberg, which takes a bit longer. For anyone driving the Qld coast on a holiday, and wanting to see L/Musgrave, I would recommend staying at the township of 1770, as the trip out to the island is much shorter, thus giving you "more time" on the island, diving, etc.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 02:10 PM
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That all sounds very encouraging, tropo; can our visitors get to Bundaberg/1770 easily by Virginblue or Jetstar? I often see great specials on Virginblue to Cairns, but I wasn't even aware that Bundaberg was one of their destinations. Would the American visitors who are always asking about good Reef destinations spend most of their time/money just getting there from the major airports?

What's the best time of the year to visit these southern reef islands -- same as for the northern ones?
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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Good work Tropo
Perhaps you could expand your dissertation to include

continental islands and fringing reefs.

the sand barrier islands of south east qld.

where the "surf runs out" along the qld coast.
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Old Aug 19th, 2004, 12:32 PM
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Alan, most overseas visitors will stick to the well worn tourist path, of Sydney, Cairns (not that there is anything wrong with Cairns & the region)Melbourne, Alice Springs, etc. without knowing there is heaps to see in between these major cities. I have noticed over the years, that American tourists only seem to have "limited time" to visit Australia, and justifiably want to pack in as much as possible. However, for people who have plenty of time to tour, will visit some of the places that I will mention from time to time, like Lady Elliot Island.
Qantas does fly from Brisbane to Bundaberg, then there is a boat that goes out for day trip to Lady Musgrave Island. The town of 1770 (named after Captain Cooks brief stop there on his discovery of Australia) can only be reached by car.
Therefore, I guess my advice on these GBR islands, really applies to tourists that will be driving, as most overseas tourists, will choose the discounted city-to-city flights, eg. Sydney to Cairns. I think October/November is a great time to visit these islands, the water is warm, underwater visibility is extremely good.
A lot of people visit the Whitsunday region, which has loads of tourist islands, and resorts on the mainland at Airlie Beach, etc. but my "personal" choice is an island a bit further south, just off Mackay, called Brampton Island, a bit off the beaten track, when compared to the Whitsundays. John has kindly asked to explain, continental islands & fringing reefs. Okay John, the continental islands are all situated "close" to the mainland, as they were once hills, etc, until the last ice age, when the ice melted, the sea rose, and flooded the low lying areas around these peaks, thus forming the islands. Then the coral started growing around the islands, and these are called "fringing reefs". Does it explain it for you John.
Lady Elliot Island can be reached from the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, if you staying in these areas.
We have met people, who are now flying to Hervey Bay with Qantas from Brisbane, via Maryborough on Qantas partner airline Sunshine Express, then from H/Bay flying with Lady Elliot Airlines out to the island for 3 days diving, then returning to H/Bay, then renting a 4WD & staying in a nice beachside rental property, for 3-4 days to explore the largest sand island in Australia.
Hope this helps, Leigh.
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Old Aug 20th, 2004, 03:49 PM
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I got the impression that johnj was kidding... but nice info.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 12:39 AM
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C'mon Tropo you are on a roll...

how about those sand barrier islands?
where do the waves run out?
where do the low tide/mud flats start?

then refer to a general summary like..
http://www.ozhorizons.com.au/qld/ir/ir.htm

Given that lady Elliot is on the reef is it possible to do a day trip to the reef ex sydney by connecting with the sea air plane to lady elliot at Brissy?
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 12:35 PM
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Moneygirl, of course I knew JohnJ was only stirring. It gives me a chance to stir the possum as well. He and I both know the answers of the questions he keeps putting up.
Common on JohnJ, we both know that, to visit Lady Elliot Island, you will have to fly to either Coolangatta, Maroochydore (both direct flights from Sydney) or Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, then a flight out to Lady Elliot Island. Whats the big deal John?
A friend of mine recently took an early morning flight to Brisbane with Qantas, then connected with their partner airline, Sunshine Express for 1 hours flight to Hervey Bay. He stayed with us overnight, and then flew over to L/Elliot Island, the next day.
Sand Barrier Islands...I thought this posting was all about the GBR?
Anyway folks, seeing John needs further explanation, there are "Sand Barrier Islands" which protect certain parts of Qld. The major sand islands are North Stradbroke and South Stradbroke Islands, Moreton Island (near Brisbane), Bribie Island, and Fraser Island. A lot of Qld, including Hervey bay, is subject to mother nature, and the tide goes out, which is no big deal. In Hervey Bay, the tide probably goes out about 100 to 200 metres. Yesterday, we were swimming, along with other locals & tourists, at Scarness, the water was crystal clear, and probably a pleasant 20 degrees in the water (gets to around 26 in the summer they tell me). The locals & smart tourists know this & swim on high tide or either side of it. In the Low tide, you can go fishing, windsurfing, sailing, cycling or even boating (the new marina allows permanent access to the Great Sandy Straits. I'm not sure where you live John? but up here, we are having warm sunny days. Haven't used a heater at night, still wearing shorts & t-shirt each day, and still able to swim each day, whats wrong with that?
I'm not sure on this one, but I believe, the sand islands of Qld, were formed from sand moving north from NSW, has anyone heard of that?
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 12:38 PM
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I forgot to mention that for anyone staying on the continental islands of Qld, eg. Brampton, Hayman, Sth.Molle, Magnetic, etc, etc, will notice the tide "goes out".
I believe the largest tidal movement in Qld, is near Mackay/Sarina region.
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 12:55 PM
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Hi, tropo,
what fantastic information you have provided for ALL of us. As a reasonably regular visitor to Queensland for some years and having now discovered the delights of Tropical North Queensland, I appreciate the effort you have gone to for the general populace! I have just printed the info so we can absorb the detail before coming over in 4 weeks. It is often difficult to find good and reliable information that is not written for the technically-minded people. Thank you so much. Dot
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Old Aug 21st, 2004, 02:19 PM
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Tropo
doesn't that small plane flight that brings the japanese tourists up from the gold coast to Lady Elliot also stop at Brissy?

PS i think you might have missed a zero on your estimate of how far the tide goes out at Wide bay.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2004, 01:10 PM
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John, have you got "Tides on the brain", who cares if it goes 500 kms, I'm still swimming each day & enjoying.
Also does it really matter if Japanese visitors, have to stop at Brisbane enroute from the Gold Coast? The main thing is that they are going to enjoy Lady Elliot Island.
I'm sorry to say this John, but you seem to have some sort of hangup, loosen up man, enjoy life, don't look for negatives, always look for the positives in life.
Dot, glad you liked my "generalised" info on the GBR, I'm no expert, but I have visited numerous places along the reef, and I feel its a wonderful place, to be enjoyed & explored, and don't worry if the tides go out on the reef, its natural, just part of this wonderful world we live in.
Cheers Leigh.
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