Great Barrier Reef Decesion

Old Sep 11th, 2011, 03:49 AM
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Great Barrier Reef Decesion

Hello, I have just now found this very informative forum .
I wish I had found it earlier as it seems many real experiences and much informations are discussed here.
It seems many boats are going to the Great Barrier Reef from Queensland.
My family and myself will be in Cairns for 3 days during November and one of our dreams is to swim with the fishes and see the corals of the reef. We are 9 people, three of us are children 8 , 11 and 14 years old. My mother and father do not swim that well. The children are themselves like little fishes , they swim often.
Can I get from you some advices about what we should be doing to see the reef.
Many thanks.
Roberto.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 07:14 AM
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Because your parents do not swim that well, they may prefer to go out on a boat that offers ways to see the fish and coral other than through snorkeling. In that case, I would recommend that you look at Quicksilver which leaves out of Port Douglas. (They offer coach transfers from Cairns for an additional fee.) Quicksilver goes out to a fixed platform at Agincourt Reef and you can choose to see the sealife through the underwater viewing platform or through the semi-submersible, both of which keep you dry. Those that want to get in the water can choose to snorkel or dive to see the coral and other sealife.
See: http://www.quicksilver-cruises.com/
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 02:30 PM
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You'll need a boat with a semisubmersible, these boats travel to their own pontoons, permanently moored on outer reef.

From Cairns I'd use Reef Magic, locally owned and operated, they cater for kids, have semisub, glassed in underwater viewing on pontoon, take less people than Quicksilver, its an excellent reef site for snorkellers and divers use outer edge of the reef. Also costs far less than Quicksilver out of PD, if you're in Cairns city you can easily walk to wharf, and save transfer fees, which would be significant for 9 people, plus save at least 2 hours in travelling time.

Reef Magic is visited by a huge Maori Wrasse daily, along with some of his friends, Wally is quite tame, very friendly and will swim with you as you snorkel, and will delight the kids.

Another option out of Cairns city would be Great Adventures, (owned by Quicksilver but marketed under "Great Adventures"). It spends some time on Green Island before heading out to one of its pontoons on outer reef.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 02:37 PM
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Sorry, forgot to give website, its www.reefmagiccruises.com
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Old Sep 12th, 2011, 04:35 AM
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Thank you for your recommendations of these boats to the Great Barrier Reef. I have looked at them on the web sites . They look very nice.
Can you tell me of a company we could look at for a tour for a day to the world heritage rainforest? We would like to see as many australian animals as we could even if we must pay a little more.
Also we have not yet any accommodation booked. If anyone has recommendations for a nice place for a family for 4 or 5 nights we would be happy to look at thisas well.
Thank you very much.
Roberto.
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Old Sep 12th, 2011, 05:28 AM
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There are several places to see animals in the vicinity of Cairns. I was in that area a couple of weeks ago and went to the Cairns Tropical Zoo (near Palm Cove). Port Douglas also has a wildlife park. And if you end up taking the railway or tram to Kuranda, there are opportunities there to see wildlife. And Hartley's Crocodile Farm is a great place with many other types of Australian wildlife than just crocodiles.

In the rainforest itself, you will probably not see much in terms of wildlife except for birds, insects, and perhaps some lizards. It's rare to see wildlife when you are doing a forest visit since you are generally there during the day. I was talking to another group who were in Queensland at the same time as me, and they actually saw a wild koala near the rainforest when they went on a night-time excursion. But their guide said that he had never seen one there before.

I actually stayed at Daintree Eco-Lodge and Silky Oaks, both wonderful places at the edge of Daintree, but they are also about $500 per night, so may be out of reach for such a large group. But both hotels offer excursions.

I'd recommend an apartment to help keep your costs down; these are available and fairly well priced (often cheaper than equivalent hotel rooms for nine people).
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Old Sep 12th, 2011, 08:30 PM
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Roberto , Before I visited North Queensland some years back I experienced the same dilemmas your having now not knowing where to go and what to book. There are so many different experiences and tours to choose from it can be a little confusing. We loved Queensland, especially the Northern Section.
Have a read of one of my most memorable experiences by clicking the link below. Swimming off the beach in shallow water no deeper than your ankles then slowly working your way to water no deeper than 3 or 4 feet where you can see fish and coral would be perfect for your mother and father .
The swimmers can venture out further and see fantastic coral and marine life if they wish.
A truly fantastic experience with lots of different critters, fish , rays , and so on. The company takes just small groups, I guess your family would be the only people on the tour if they are still doing the same thing as we did.

http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...o-remember.cfm

You will find the company at www.daintreeair.com.au

Barb
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Old Sep 12th, 2011, 10:09 PM
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Sometimes you don't have to go too far to see the local wildlife. This koala appeared at a local restaurant near us. Whilst we do get koalas in our area I am unsure what this little fella was doing here - the nearest gum tree was a bit of a walk away. Luckily we have the koala ambulance to call and they will happily relocate them.

http://www.google.com.au/imgres?q=ko...:0&tx=14&ty=66
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Old Sep 12th, 2011, 11:26 PM
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Doug,
Not sure what happened to my posting asking for more info on the Koala sighting. They are not common this far north and its info would be best passed on to EPA. If you are prepared to do this but not post info here then respond with an email for contact and I'll send you an email address of an appropriate officer.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 11:56 AM
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I have looked at Lizard Island and daintreeair.com.au , looks very nice. We are looking for private day this one looks good. Is it possible to know where it is we can see the wild Koala Bears mentioned above.
Roberto
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 03:00 PM
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All the wildlife parks have koalas ... lots of them ... with plenty of opportunities to view them and even have you picture taken ... same with kangaroos. But they are rare in the wild up here so you do want to go to one of the wildlife parks to see them and the other wildlife.

I didn't actually see the koala myself, so I don't want to make any reports since I don't have any first-hand information, and I don't even have the email addresses of any of the people who did see it first-hand.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 03:25 PM
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Thanks Doug, I understand your position.

You hit upon two reasons why you and the others did not see a lot of wildlife. Most of our mammals are nocturnal or crepuscular and they did not have a local wildlife guide.

Lately we have been seeing between 3 and 6 species of kangaroo and 3 and 7 species of possums in a half day and evening depending on where we went and what we were looking for. Not a single Koala though. Saw at least 3 different Platypus on my walk along Petersen Creek in Yungaburra yesterday.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 11:34 AM
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Does any one have recommendations for family accommodation in a tropical place for us , needs to be clean and friendly.

Thank you Roberto.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 12:29 PM
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Roberto,
Give us some idea of numbers, interests and budget.
Alan
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 05:14 PM
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I've copied excerpts from my trip report below. Hopefully it will help you. Loved the koala in the restaurant;-)

I saw quite a few koalas in the wild -- but it was in the area of the Great Ocean Road -- in the south of Australia. After staying in the Grampians (also in the South) I saw so many kangaroos that it became no big deal!

I can't recommend the Rainforest Habitat in Port Douglas strongly enough if you want to interact with kangaroos and wallabies in a park setting.

FYI, we stayed at the Thala Beach Lodge just outside Port Douglas. It was truly INCREDIBLE. We were able to get an amazing deal, last minute--and weekdays during the off-season--when the American dollar was much stronger than it is now. But I'll probably never be able to afford to stay there again. It's VERY expensive -- but worth it.


This area is GORGEOUS and you'll have a great time! Enjoy.

report excerpt:
Day One activities began with a stop at Mossman Gorge. Quite beautiful, but unfortunately, most of the hiking paths were closed so we were quite limited in how much we could see. But the swimming hole and surrounding area were well worth the visit. We continued on to Daintree Village where we stopped for a crocodile burger (!!!) and exceptionally delicious chips at Elenor’s. The croc tasted like a cross between chicken and pork. Tasty!

We decided to take a small electric boat, the White Ibis, to tour the river. It was a peaceful, relaxing way to spend an hour ($20/person). We spotted one croc head sticking up from the water; a snake; and some nice birds and butterflies. I had to keep reminding myself that I was not on the Disneyland Jungle Cruise.

We’d planned to continue on to Cape Tribulation, but it was getting late and we were tired, so we headed back, stopping to watch the sunset, while leaning against a palm tree on the beach in Port Douglas. Dinner was a tasty kebab in Port D followed by browsing in the shops.

Next day: the Great Barrier Reef.

I’d been quite ignorant about how one visits the reef. When I began preparations I wasn’t sure if we’d be driving to the reef and staying on it—or flying out to it. (Kidding! I’m not quite that ignorant—but almost.) I eventually figured out that one stays either on the mainland or on an island and takes a boat out to visit a tiny portion of the reef for the day.

Knowing what I now know, it would have been a BIG mistake if we had stayed on one of the islands because beach and underwater activities are not our top priorities – and we wouldn’t have been able to explore the Daintree River and Park; Cape Tribulation; and so much more.

We decided on the Quicksilver, the largest boat sailing from the Port Douglas Marina to the Outer Reef. (It held more than 300 passengers.) We chose it because it takes you to a large pontoon that’s stationed by the reef. From the pontoon we’d be able to take a semi-submersible glass-sided vessel to tour the reef—or view it from an underwater observation deck—without actually getting wet. (We’re not divers or snorkelers.)

It was sunny and the sea was calm; the 90 minute ride to the reef was mostly smooth and pleasant, but most of the time we saw nothing but water. Upon transferring to the pontoon, a very nice buffet lunch was served. The quality and variety of foods were impressive—but I prefer my prawns without their heads attached .

The $199 (AUD) pp fare included coffee, tea and cookies in the morning; the buffet lunch; and coffee, tea, cheese & crackers, and fruit in the afternoon. Also included were snorkeling equipment; and unlimited rides on the semi-sub.

Wet suits to keep you warm in the water; lycra body suits (for protection against stingers—which were not a problem this time of year); and guided snorkeling and diving tours were available for an additional cost -- and were pushed heavily.

From the surface, the reef looked like no big deal and I thought the day was going to be a waste of time—but at least I’d be able to say I’d visited the GBR. Then we went in the semi-submersible boat and everything changed. The thirty minute ride was incredible, phenomenal; amazing; and beyond my wildest expectations. A magnificent underwater world awaited just below the surface. The varieties, colors, and shapes of the coral were mind boggling—and the fish were incredible. There were hundreds – if not thousands of fish – in every imaginable shape, size, and color. I was blown away.

I’ve never felt comfortable being up close & personal with fish so I didn’t think I’d want to snorkel. But getting a glimpse of what was below the water made me want to see it all—so on came the snorkel and mask. It was fantastic! The fish are used to being fed so they surround the snorkelers. It was mostly beautiful—but when I came face to face with an ENORMOUS Maori Wrasse (probably weighing much more than me—and much uglier) I decided to enjoy the wildlife from the observation area. It was an amazing day I’ll never forget. By the way … the Port Douglas Marina is absolutely beautiful and has some nice shops and restaurants.

Next day we decided to get an early start and head to Cape Tribulation, exploring the rainforest en route. It doesn’t seem very far on the map, but with winding, narrow roads; countless stops for photo ops, strolls on beaches; lunch, and more … it was a full day. A highlight was the spectacular views from Alexandra Lookout. The ferry ($19 RT) is the only way across the Daintree – other than swimming with the crocs. It’s about a 5 minute ride and the ferry goes back and forth all day until midnight.

We’d hoped to experience the rainforest by hiking—but there seemed to be no hiking trails and no roads other than the main highway. When we saw signs for the Daintree Discovery center we decided that walking along its boardwalks would probably be our only way to see the rainforest. The $33 admission seemed steep for what was offered, but we did enjoy it—especially climbing the tower to experience the various levels of the forest and canopy.

We’d hoped to spot some wildlife—especially one of the cassowaries that are supposedly all over the area. But alas, the only wildlife we saw was a lizard, a smattering of birds, and a few butterflies. For those interested in an educational rainforest experience this is the place. But the info was a little more than I cared to know The café had a lovely view and we enjoyed a sandwich and coffee—and headed back to the road.

When we arrived at Cape Trib our first stop was at Kulki lookout for photos. I’d heard how stunning Cape Tribulation was and it was very pretty, indeed. But we both thought it wasn’t all that much prettier than the beach at our hotel, or any of several other beaches we’d visited—and probably not worth the all-day drive. The only difference was that the vegetation on the surrounding mountains was more lush. We enjoyed a long walk with toes in the surf and lots of pix.

Heading back we made a spur of the moment detour at the Dubuji boardwalk—and finally got the rainforest experience we’d hoped for. We seemed to be the only visitors and it was the real deal—a little spooky, too. We walked about an hour through what felt like Jurassic Park. We just knew there were crocs in those swamps and cassowaries lurking around every corner—but our only wildlife spotting consisted of a couple of brush turkeys. It was fantastic hearing those sounds and being surrounded by truly primordial rainforest. I left feeling I’d had yet another amazing day.

We stopped to eat at a Chinese restaurant I’d remembered passing in Mossman, on the way to the Gorge. The town was soooo quiet, it seemed almost like a ghost town. We got back to our hotel tired from all the driving—but very happy.

No, it can’t be almost time to leave. But after walking on the beach and the nature trail at Thala Beach Lodge we had to bid a fond farewell to one of the most wonderful places we’ve ever stayed. By the way, we had beautiful weather (mostly sunny—and highs of 78 to 80 degrees) and couldn’t understand why everyone said it’s so humid in Queensland … until our last day. Ugghh. The humidity was a bit oppressive, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying our day. (Our flight back to Sydney wouldn’t leave until 7 PM.) We weren’t sure about visiting the Rainforest Habitat—but were lured in by the clever idea of having “Lunch with the Lorikeets.” (I wasn’t about to pass up that amazing breakfast included at Thala Lodge for “Breakfast with the Birds.”)

We LOVED the Rainforest Habitat (Port Douglas). It was like being in the most beautiful park with countless kangaroos, wallabies, and the most spectacular birds I’ve ever imagined—all roaming free. The kangaroos are used to being fed (you can buy bags of food) and are friendly and tame. But even without food I was able to scratch and pet one big fellow for quite a while—and patted quite a few more. There were also koalas and crocodiles (in enclosures!). Being an animal lover, I was in heaven.

We lunched with the lorikeets for an additional $14. We had a couple of egrets on our table. One stole a piece of my leftover steak. Other tables nearby had quite a few parrots—but as the lunch continued, the birds had their fill and mostly flew away. Still, the lunch was surprisingly good and we enjoyed eating with our feathered friends. I ended a perfect afternoon with a 30 second-long cuddle with a koala for the obligatory photo op ($16).
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Old Sep 16th, 2011, 12:43 PM
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Thank you for the long story of your holiday.
You know we are a little bit different.

We like to do some things where there are not so many people.
I think the big ship to the reef would be very nice but for me 300 people is a little too many.

We have been told if we go to the Lizard Island Day tour with daintree air services we will be just by our selves on the plane and not so many people on the reef. I think maybe this is better for us.

I looked at Thala Beach as you said and looks perfect for the honeymoon but my parents you know they like to walk around the shops so I prefer some thing closer to the towns. They are not that interested to sit on the beach for many days.

I have seen koalas bed and breakfast at Cairns , looks like it is in the wilderness and very nice , please have you any informations on this one.
Thanks
Roberto.
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Old Sep 16th, 2011, 01:06 PM
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The Quicksilver ships can accommodate 300, but it's more likely to have 150. That's what I experienced (I also went with Quicksilver), and the pontoon never felt crowded. I was alone in the observatory at one point.

But there are definitely trips to smaller islands on smaller boats; but you don't get the advantages of the facilities a company like Quicksilver can offer.

It's a trade-off, but if you are real divers and avid snorkelers, I can see where a smaller boat would be a better fit. However, the smaller boats don't always go all the way out to the reef. They often stop at coral atolls closer in. So be careful of the trip you book.
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Old Sep 17th, 2011, 04:48 AM
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Good information Doug thank you , What do you think about accommodations for us , Is Lizard Island good for a family to see the reef for a day tour.
Roberto
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Old Sep 18th, 2011, 11:42 AM
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Please if you have any specials on accommodation for up to 1 week for a family in Cairns or Port Douglas in November my email is [email protected] , must be a little close to the town or transport.
Thank you
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Old Oct 2nd, 2011, 12:03 PM
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Thanks everybody for information to me.
Just one question now.
It seems the stinging jelly fish are in the water at this time when I am at Lizard Island with my family
Can some one tell me if there are places where the jelly fish are not so bad as other places.

Roberto.
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