TEXAS LIFESTYLE | Jet Setter Long Haul
A BUC KE T L IST DR E AM COME T RUE
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef By Shelley Seale
t’s the biggest single structure made from living organisms on the planet, so large that it can be seen from outer space. The world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef is made up of more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands, stretching over 1,400 miles off the coast of Australia.
It’s a bucket list destination for many, and a long-time travel dream that I finally got to fulfill. After spending a fun 10 days in the dynamic cities of Sydney and Brisbane, we hopped on a flight north to Cairns, an oceanside city in Queensland that is the gateway to the reef for most visitors. I found tons to do from restaurants and shopping to outdoor activities and cultural attractions. We actually stayed a few minutes north of Cairns, at Machans Beach. DAY REEF ADVENTURES FROM CAIRNS Called “Australia’s great natural wonder,” the Great Barrier Reef was named a World Heritage Site in 1981, and labeled one of seven natural wonders of the world. It supports a huge diversity of life, and the excitement of witnessing that up close through diving and snorkeling is an opportunity that’s hard for nature-lovers to pass up. Even if you don’t dive or swim, there are ways to experience the reef, including submarine-like viewing pods, glass-bottom pontoon boats, kayaks and more.
18 Texas Lifestyle Magazine | Fall/Holiday 2018
There are lots of tour operators out of Cairns with a variety of day trips to the reef, catering to those short on time or money and also those looking for a unique experience. I took off with Raging Thunder for their Fitzroy Island Adventure, a full-day tour that visits Fitzroy, which was once part of the mainland, via a one-hour catamaran ride. Once on the island, you can get snorkel gear to go out on your own or a guided snorkel tour. Other options include a combination sea kayak and snorkel tour, along with snuba—a newish water sport that allows people to experience diving short distances underwater while connected at all times by an air hose to the tank at the surface. I started my day at Fitzroy by walking through the rainforest for about 20 minutes to Nudey Beach (not named that for the reason you’re thinking). This is a beautiful, white coral beach with little bays and places to snorkel, though there isn’t as much to see here as around the other side of the island, where big rocks host a lot more reef life. Tip: Take water shoes if you visit the reef. The beaches are largely made of broken-off bits of coral, which can really hurt your feet to walk on. I was amazed at how beautifully aquamarine the water is, how pristine and white the beaches are, how lush and green the trees and other flora are. After some time at Nudey Beach, I walked back around