Diving in Queensland mostly happens at the Great Barrier Reef which can be accessed from towns like Cairns, Port Douglas, Airlie Beach and Townsville. There are also resorts on islands like Lady Elliot Island, Heron Island, Lizard Island or the Whitsunday Islands. Other than the Great Barrier Reef, good diving can be had off the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast or even off Brisbane.
The best time to book a trip is during June to November where there is a better chance of good diving conditions. However, the water temperature does drop below 77˚F (25˚C). Underwater visibility is also better during these months averaging at 66ft (20m) and there are good chances of seeing large animals like manta rays, whale sharks and minke whales. It can get hot and rainy during the summer months of December to March but it is still possible to dive. You can choose to take day trips out to dive the Great Barrier Reef or join a liveaboard diving vessel which can take you to the further reaches of the reef or even on exploratory dives.
With over 2,900 reefs to choose from and more than 900 islands, the Great Barrier Reef has dives to suit every kind of diver, even technical divers. Dive sites around the Great Barrier Reef consist of healthy stretches of coral gardens, magnificent coral bommies, pinnacles, caverns, channels, caves, sea grass beds and cleaning stations. For good wreck diving, venture off Brisbane to find the HMAS Brisbane and to see great numbers of sharks, travel to the north of the Great Barrier Reef to Osprey Reef. Lady Elliot Island is known for its manta rays while dives with friendly potato cod can be had at Cod Hole. Ribbon Reefs are a must-visit as well with its amazing marine biodiversity.
The Great Barrier Reef, other than being humongous, has extremely rich marine biodiversity with records of more than 1,500 species of fish and 360 species of hard coral. It is one of the few places in the world where you might encounter up to six species of sea turtles and not to mention multiple species of sharks including silky sharks, grey reef sharks, whale sharks and sometimes tiger sharks and hammerhead sharks. If lucky, you might see the shy dugong, which is known to frequent the sea grass beds.
Manta rays are frequently seen especially to the south of the Great Barrier Reef. Another great dive will be at Cod Hole where you can fraternize with the huge friendly potato cod. Around most dive sites, there are stingrays, olive sea snakes, wobbegongs, and schooling fish like barracuda, bluestripe snapper, and trevally. Marine mammals on migration during winter months that can be seen from the surface, while snorkeling or even diving are humpback whales and minke whales. During October or November, you might be lucky to have a dive coincide with coral spawning season.
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The state of Queensland lies in the northeastern corner of Australia. A vibrant place, Queensland is the most popular holiday destination in Australia and is nicknamed “The Sunshine State”. The most famous feature of Queensland is the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest barrier reef system. Including the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland has six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and gorgeous tourist destinations like the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and also elaborate theme parks.
Before Dutch navigators arrived in the 16th century, Queensland was home to Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. In the 18th century, the east coast of Australia, Queensland included, was claimed by the British and eventually became a penal colony in the 19th century with free settlement only allowed in 1842 onwards. The name Queensland was given in honor of Queen Victoria in 1859 when Queensland was established as its own state, separate from New South Wales.
Today, about 4.75 million people live in Queensland and its capital is Brisbane. Queensland is a large state and experiences a range of different climates. Near to the coast, the weather is milder but with more rain while it can get very cold during winter inland. The heaviest rainfall in all of Australia is experienced at the far north of Queensland, close to Cairns. The east coast is prone to tropical cyclones during summer months and bushfires sometimes occur inland.
Non-divers can still experience the Great Barrier Reef as there are many snorkel trips and even reef walking activities. Outdoor lovers should head out to explore nature parks like the Daintree Rainforests or make a trip to the outback. Plenty of family fun can be had at the many theme parks and zoos and there is also food and wine to enjoy in the city of Brisbane.
There are many international flights to Brisbane and just a few that go directly to Cairns. Ground transport in Queensland is good with extensive bus and train networks and you can also rent a vehicle to get around.