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christine_broad Nov 23rd, 2004 06:55 AM

GBR North or South?
Visiting early march next year. Understand that the southern reef is pretty good. Thinking about the day flight trip to Heron Island, is it worth the money? Would stay but could not stand the noise! Believe that the sea trip out is very rough, is that true? Or should we go to Port Douglas? Could be the only time we go so want to get it right and we snorkel, no diving. Thanks.

tropo Nov 23rd, 2004 10:25 AM

The difference between the northern & southern barrier reef, is that on the northern reefs, people stay at hotels/resorts on the mainlaind, and go out each day to a particular reef for diving/snorkelling.
On the southern GBR at Heron Island, you are actually staying on the barrier reef, as Heron Island, forms part of the reef system. On Heron Island, you can simply walk out of your accommodation,into the shallows, and snorkel straight away from the beach. The staff at Heron Island can direct you to the best spots for snorkelling or scuba diving.
Personally, I would opt for Heron Island every time- smaller number of people on the island at a given time, and you get know one another. Personally flying out for one day, is just a token visit, just not worth doing.
I don't understand your statement -"Would stay but could not stand the noise?" - are you referring to Mother Nature & the seabirds that nest on the island? or the waves gently breaking on the shore? Incidentally, various birds nest on the island at different times of the year. I've never had a problem with sleeping on these beautiful coral islands. (PS the birds go to sleep also)Gosh a lot of people visit Heron Island, not only for diving on the pristine coral reefs, but also for the abundant migratory bird life, turtles that lay their eggs on the beach, the manta rays that often inhabit these waters, the clear & high visibility waters, etc. I guess some people like being close to mother nature, and others apart from it, staying in a 5 star hotel on the mainland. Oh well, each to his own, as they say.
Judging by your post - I think you have already made up your mind to visit the northern end of the GBR.
I was going to mention the Wilson Island experience, but I don't think you would be interested in that, its designed around people who want a true barrier reef camping experience, staying on a nearby coral cay island, its run by the staff of Heron Island.

christine_broad Nov 25th, 2004 03:35 AM

Thanks Tropo for the information. Unfortunately we are limited by time this trip as other things are set in stone. We will be in Noosa for several days and will probably do the day trip by air to Lady Elliot Island. Like most of life a compromise. We would rather a quick trip just to see what it is like. We are told the Red Sea, which we have been to, is about the same so want to see for ourselves for future trips.
May go to Heron next time around.

tropo Nov 25th, 2004 11:10 AM

Christine, such a pity not to be able to spend more time in the Capricorn/Bunker Group Barrier Reef Islands. I understand about not having enough time for March trip.
Any trip to the Barrier Reef, whether it be in the north or south, can be rough at times. If you suffer from sea sickness, then see a chemist prior to leaving on GBR trip.
The plane trip from Hervey Bay to Lady Elliot Island, takes around 35 minutes, and is generally a smooth flight. There are flights to L/Elliot Island from other towns. The airstrip takes up the width of the island. Most airfare packages include, diving & lunch.

lizF Nov 25th, 2004 11:53 AM

"We are told the Red Sea, which we have been to, is about the same so want to see for ourselves for future trips."

If you have a day on Heron Island or any of the southern parts of the reef and compare that with the Red Sea then that is not a fair comparison for the GBR because you will only be on a very small and very southern part of it as it goes a further 2,000 klms and becomes far more extensive and diverse. I have been to the Red Sea and I cannot quite understand the comparison actually apart from the fact that there is water in both areas. Before you decide on where exactly you want to go do a cost comparison first as the cost of a day flight to the Southern Reef can be more expensive than a flight to Cairns, but then you would have to get a boat out to one of the dive areas from Cairns.

pat_woolford Nov 27th, 2004 12:09 AM

christine - there's a selection of liveaboards which cater to divers and snorkellers out of Cairns. That means you only have to take the one trip out to the reef and then your liveaboard takes you to various reef sites. Down Under Dive and Reef Encounter out of Cairns take one or more nighters - quite an inexpensive option to see many different sites. Both operators offer introductory diving, if you're interested.

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