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Traveller

Putting The Great In 'The Barrier Reef'

  • Written by Jodi Clark



Forget Beiber, Attenborough fever is about to hit our shores as the veteran broadcaster's eagerly-anticipated Great Barrier Reef documentary series makes its small screen debut in the UK on the BBC this December 30. 

What began sixty years ago, with rather rudimentary SCUBA and camera equipment, came full circle last year when Sir David one again dived the reef… this time in a state-of-the-art submersible, with the latest scientific thinking and super high-tech cameras, macro lenses and satellite scanners.  The rest, as they say, will go down in the annals of modern documentary history and Australians will be in the box seat, with the show set to screen locally early in the New Year.

In an interview with UK press, Sir David described the reef as: “the most magical thing you ever saw in your life.” He went on to describe the first time he dived beneath the surface and saw the diverse range of multi-coloured species that call the reef home.  In his words, it had “astounding and unforgettable beauty.”

The Great Barrier Reef is dynamic, diverse and ever-changing and it is one of Australia's strongest tourism drawcards, attracting almost two million visitors a year.  As anticipation for Attenborough's series starts to build, we've unveiled six super sexy must-dos that help put the 'Great' in The Great Barrier Reef.

Reef Sleep: Cruise Whitsundays' Two Day, One Night Reefsleep adventure accesses our underwater world and provides the best place to rest your sleepy, salt-water head – in overnight swags under the stars on a reef pontoon. Gourmet meals give you the energy to keep jumping, diving, and lazing until day's end. http://www.cruisewhitsundays.com/gbra-reefsleep.aspx

When Time Is A Factor: Reef Sprinter snorkelling adventures have guests on the reef just 15 minutes after leaving Port Douglas. Reef Sprinter take smaller group tours – up to 14 guests – out to experience the vast coral gardens and abundant fish life of the Low Isles. They even include a glass-bottom boat trip.  Getting there is half the fun aboard the 600 horsepower sprinter reaching speeds of more than 40 knots. Reef Sprinter tours operate daily from the Port Douglas Slipway. www.reefsprinter.com.au

See Creatures Without Getting Wet: Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville is the world's largest living coral reef aquarium and comes complete with a marine turtle hospital and all manner of exhibits and hands-on displays that showcase the rare and rather wonderful creatures found on the reef.  www.reefhq.com.au

Close Encounters: Stunning Lady Elliot Island, on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, is known as the home of the Manta Rays, who are present all year around, but more abundant in the cooler months. Also in the stunning southern reef section, Heron Island is a haven for turtle hatchlings and a great place to freestyle with these flippered favourites while Lady Musgrave Island's natural lagoon is like swimming in a giant aquarium.  http://www.southerngreatbarrierreef.com.au/         

Licensed To Dive: Yongala wreck off Townsville is hailed as one of the top dive sites in the world… so trust us, when we say it's good!  The SS Yongala was wrecked during a cyclone in the early 1900s, but like the proverbial phoenix, has risen in popularity as divers around the globe converge for world-class diving.  On a clear day, you can dive with manta and eagle rays, bull sharks, turtles, barracudas and a number of large pelagics. Whale sharks have even been reported to pass by at certain times of the year.  http://www.yongaladive.com.au/

Take A Sea Plane Trip Over The Reef: Experience the sparkling expanse of the Great Barrier Reef from above. Air Whitsundays was the original sea plane operator to fly over the famous Heart Reef and continues its tradition of dropping guests off for a beach picnic at Whitehaven Beach. Tours depart from Airlie Beach.  www.airwhitsundays.com.au

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