"Sharrie's Cairns Reef" Cairns by Sharrie

Cairns Travel Guide: 901 reviews and 2,401 photos

CAIRNS is the international gateway to the northeastern part of Australia & the Great Barrier Reef is the main attraction here. Note this: The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living thing. Its 2900 reefs stretch some 2000 km (1250 miles) along the coast of Queensland. There are about 300 species of coral, 2000 species of fish, 4000 types of shellfish & 900 islands of reef. This has earned it a World Heritage listing on Oct. 26, 1981. An amazing undersea wonderland by any standard. Total area is 348,698 sq km (134,633 sq m); an area greater than Great Britain & half the size of Texas!

The Reef is home to:

- 400 different types of hard & soft corals.
- 4000 molluscs & thousands of different sponges, worms, crustaceans (crabs, shrimps) & echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers).
- 2000 species of fish.
- Humpback whales from Antartic which give birth to their young here.
- Sea Turtle (6 of 7 species breed here). Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) & Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta).
- Dugong dugon (feeds here).

OK, so what actually is the Great Barrier Reef? And, how has it grown to be the world's largest living thing?
Reefs have grown on the continental shelf of Queensland for about 2 million years in the south & 18 million years in the north. Over the years & in the last ice age, the sea level has dropped dramatically to 100 metres below its current level thereby draining the continental shelf & exposing reefs as coastal limestone hills. However, about 20 000 years ago, the sea replenished by melting ice caps, rose again. Then, about 10 000 years ago, the sea began to flood the old limestone hills. Corals began to grow on old eroded reef platforms to form the reefs of today's Great Barrier Reef! The sea then reached its present level about 6000 years ago! Amazing!!!

  • Last visit to Cairns: Nov 1996
  • Intro Updated Mar 22, 2004
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Reviews (49)

Comments (5)

  • australia2's Profile Photo
    Feb 18, 2005 at 12:54 PM

    You must be one of the most travelled VTers ! And terrific info. Did you do the ballooning from the Mareeba area ? I was there recently and talking to a ballooner ? Well done.

  • Goner's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2004 at 9:48 PM

    That hot air balloon ride looks great. I'm looking forward to one while I'm there.

  • Fish_Boy's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2004 at 3:39 AM

    If you want a nice boat ride but are not interested in seeing live coral then this is for you. If you like being herded around like cattle with 300 people, you'll love this. If you want to see the reef and have personalised service, this is the worst !

  • BerniShand's Profile Photo
    Feb 22, 2004 at 4:07 AM

    great tips, looking forward to my trip here this year

  • pepples46's Profile Photo
    Oct 7, 2003 at 7:32 PM

    big adventure trip Sharrie....love the Hot Air Ballons.....thanx for sharing

Sharrie

“Feed that hunger, hike that mountain!”

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