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5 Ways to Go Green on the Great Barrier Reef

Help protect Australia’s greatest natural wonder with these eco-experiences

Conservation on the Great Barrier Reef is a collective effort

Clownfish were made famous in the film Finding Nemo 1
Clownfish were made famous in the film Finding Nemo
The Great Barrier Reef is not called ‘great’ for nothing. Stretching for more than 2,300km, it’s the size of 70 million football fields and bigger than two thirds of the countries on the planet. What’s more, it’s the only living structure that you can see from outer space. But there’s no hiding the fact that this Aussie icon has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, including back-to-back bleaching events that took place three years ago as a result of rising ocean temperatures (a scenario that’s affecting reef systems around the world). So, how does the reef look today? And, is it still worth taking the family?

Chief scientist for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority  – and the ultimate caretaker of the reef  – Dr David Wachenfeld believes that while the reef is under immense pressure, it is still incredibly valuable and a great place to visit. “The reef is still an amazing, beautiful vibrant eco system,” he says. “It’s part of Australia’s identity, part of the spirituality of first nation’s people. It’s a global environmental icon and a World Heritage site. Just ask any eight-year-old – it is also the inspiration for Finding Nemo.”

Tip for getting the most out of the Great Barrier Reef

A boy snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef 1
A boy snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef

Dr Wachenfeld says the best way to get the most out of a trip to the reef is to travel with expert guides with eco operations. “Just like tourists anywhere, if you were to turn up with no guide and no guidebook you could have an average time,” he says. “You need local knowledge. You need a local guide to take you to the best places. You would not go to the Serengeti, jump in a hire car, drive aimlessly and expect to see all areas filled with animals. Nor should you do that on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Here are five green ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef that will make family friends green with envy.

1. Experience nature's finest with Quicksilver Cruises from Cairns and Port Douglas

SpongeBob SquarePants with the crew of Quicksilver VIII 1
SpongeBob SquarePants with the crew of Quicksilver VIII

Quicksilver Cruises has been championing the reef protection and sustainability cause since day one, offering outer reef cruises, snorkelling, diving, semi-sub and ocean floor walking tours, plus an underwater observatory (all accredited by Ecotourism Australia). Quicksilver Cruises is so dedicated to keeping the reef beautiful it has its own reef biosearch environmental division, employing the largest team of marine biologists outside of government. Its logbooks of environmental data stretch back 30 years!

Visit the iconic Great Barrier Reef’s outer regions onboard of the Quicksilver Cruise from Port Douglas

2. Visit the Reef Hq Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville

Aside from the kudos that goes with being the largest living coral reef aquarium in the world, this research hub is also home to the Australian Government’s national education centre for all things Great Barrier Reef and the site of a special turtle hospital. It’s also the perfect prepper for underwater reef adventures.

3. Enjoy a day visit to Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Southern Great Barrier Reef

An aerial view of Lady Elliot Island 1
An aerial view of Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort has been on #teamGBR for more than 15 years. The carbon-neutral resort was the first on the Great Barrier Reef to build a large hybrid power station to reduce reliance on diesel generators, and the team was instrumental in pushing for both a ‘Green Zone’ and ‘No Anchor Zone’, which has helped increase marine biodiversity. With a tide-dependant lagoon in front of the resort, which is ideal for novice snorkellers at high tide and reef walks at low tide, it’s one of the greatest spots for families to explore the wonders of the GBR, and to watch seabirds and turtles nest and hatch.

Experience the beauty of Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef with this exciting day tour to Lady Elliot Island

4. Daydream Island in the heart of the Whitsundays is the perfect location for hours of snorkelling and underwater exploration

Too scared to snorkel in the open water? Daydream has brought The Living Reef back to the newly reopened resort with a raft of activities to see, touch and learn about the reef, all under the watchful eye of marine biologists, in an enclosed lagoon. The Living Reef also holds the record for the most ticklish of all experiences: stingray splash – a chance to go ankle-deep in the lagoon and giggle as baby rays dash between your feet hoping for a bite to eat!

Go ahead and book your stay at Daydream Island Resort here!

5. Explore Heron Island Research Station facilities and the stunning biodiversity and ecosystems in Southern Great Barrier Reef

Heron Island Research Station. Image Tourism and Events Queensland
Heron Island Research Station. Image Tourism and Events Queensland

Aside from sitting right on the outer Great Barrier Reef (fun fact: it is not an island but a cay, and there are no herons, the birds are egrets!) and snorkelling with creatures that come straight from the imagination of Dr Zeus, Heron Island is also home to a super fun research station. For $10 per adult and $3 per child, visitors can datamine the brains of real scientists over a 90-minute station tour. For the kids, there’s also a touch tank where you can get up close with Barbara the hermit crab, a variety of corals, and a funky pincushion starfish that shapes itself according to the pressure of your hand.


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