Northern Queensland & Great Barrier Reef

Old Aug 17, 16, 2:44 pm
  #1  
TA
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Northern Queensland & Great Barrier Reef

Hi all -- apologies as I haven't found a succinct answer to my question below in searching other threads:

I am going to be sent to Brisbane shortly for a work meeting, like the last week of August/beginning of September. I probably have time to fly to Australia 2 days early, and make it up to the spectacular Great Barrier Reef for a Sunday boat dive (arriving Sat night, leaving Monday afternoon back to BNE).

My quick question is whether Cairns is the best bet for basing this trip out of -- availability of diving boat operators, favorable boat journey times, good diving locations chosen by the operators, likely weather and ocean conditions.

I know that there is diving anywhere from Mackay to Cairns, but I'm guessing less diversity and choice in the smaller towns. From BNE or SYD to cities in the north, the flights are all kind of similar in timing and cost (or I can make it to any of the towns up north equally easily, I think). Hotels slightly better in Cairns too.

Is it correct that Cairns is the best bet to go diving from, under these kinds of considerations?

Thanks!
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Old Aug 18, 16, 2:51 pm
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Id say yes, for a quick in and out.

Make sure you understand the diver operators thinking on restrictions with diving and flying. You dont want them freaking out if you are diving Sunday at 3PM and have a flight monday at 1pm, and declare "its less than 24 hours". Just understand that they may have their own ideas when you share your travel plans.
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Old Aug 18, 16, 6:00 pm
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Have you considered diving the HMAS Brisbane off Mooloolaba?

They have dives every weekend and it is an easy drive from BNE and no restrictions on the flying.

Day diving from Cairns is not worth the money (IMO) as the reef is over dived and you will be in a group of about 20.

Another option is to go south to Julian Rocks. There are dive shops in Brisbane that do trips on some weekends
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Old Aug 21, 16, 1:06 pm
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For a quick trip like that, just stay in the area. There's some great dives available in the Brisbane area itself - http://www.godive.com.au/Day_Dives.htm - and you can drive / bus it a hour's north to the sunshine coast for a great wreck dive on HMAS Brisbane at Moolollaba (various operators).

The best barrier reef dives really need a liveaboard, and hence 3-4 days, unless you're willing to pay $$$$ for options involving low-level flights or helicopters. Save that for your next trip, and just enjoy some good dives near where you'll be this time!
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Old Aug 24, 16, 7:19 am
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10 days at Great Barrier Reef, any recommendation?

Hi guys, I will be 10 days in summer there. I was thinking spending 4 days in Hamilton Island and don't know what else ca we do. We have small kids. Thanks!
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Old Aug 24, 16, 4:56 pm
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Hamilton Island is perfect for small kids. You might want to head up to Cairns and stay there. You can do day trips to the Daintree forest, Great Barrier Reef, Kuranda. Plenty of options out of Cairns. Make sure when you're on Hamilton Island you take the trip to Whitehaven Beach which is one of the worlds most stunning beaches and whiter than white.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 4:57 pm
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Heron island is worth considering, great value (cheapest of the island options for what you get).
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Old Aug 24, 16, 5:02 pm
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Depending how far you want to go down the reef I would suggest a sailing trip around the Whitsunday islands. I did this for my 21st and it was great.
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Old Aug 24, 16, 5:02 pm
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We just spent 5 days in Port Douglas as our base for the reef. Really great place in my opinion. We liked it better than Cairns.
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Old Aug 25, 16, 2:49 am
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Originally Posted by EZETravel View Post
Hi guys, I will be 10 days in summer there. I was thinking spending 4 days in Hamilton Island and don't know what else ca we do. We have small kids. Thanks!
When in summer?

What do you like doing?

Where are you coming from (EZE?)? What are your arrival and departure ports in Australia?
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Old Aug 25, 16, 1:13 pm
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Originally Posted by JClasstraveller View Post
When in summer?

What do you like doing?

Where are you coming from (EZE?)? What are your arrival and departure ports in Australia?
We are coming from EZE arriving at SYD for 3 or 4 days after christmas. Then I want to be in the islands for new years eve, then flying to melbourne for more days and then New Zealand.

Its our first time there...

Thanks!
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Old Aug 25, 16, 1:45 pm
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Recommendations for Airlie Beach/Whitsunday excursions and finding the best price

My family and I will be visiting Airlie Beach in November. We are staying at the Coral Sea Resort and have two free days (a Tuesday and a Wednesday) to explore the area, namely the Whitsundays. We also have a rental car, if that makes a difference. I gave fleeting consideration to booking one of the overnight sailing cruises, but it seems like doing two full days of day trips, each originating and terminating in Airlie, would be the best option for our family of four.

With that in mind, any suggestions for which two sailing day trips we should consider? On at least one of them, we'd certainly want to visit Whitehaven Beach. I was thinking that we might try Ocean Rafting for one of the days and a sailing vessel on the other.

Perhaps, more fundamentally, having never been to this part of Australia previously, never mind trying to book excursions there, I could really use advice as to how to capture discounts on these excursions and save money. Particularly as we are a family of four, so the cost quickly adds up. Will we be more likely to save money if we book now, or would we likely fair better booking locally the day before? Should we book directly through the particular excursion operator, or is there an excursion aggregator website or office that will offer better discounts? If the latter, recommendations would be gratefully accepted. So far, I've glanced at the websites for Sailing Whitsundays and Explore Whitsundays, but I don't know if those are the best bets or I should try a different aggregator.

Last edited by SAT Lawyer; Oct 15, 16 at 6:06 am
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Old Aug 25, 16, 10:54 pm
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Don't expect great weather that far North around Christmas. Very hot, humid and wet. Not the best for diving/snorkeling the reef either as the seas tend to be quite choppy. Anything south of latitude -30 at that time of year would be my advice.
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Old Aug 26, 16, 9:09 am
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Originally Posted by Guvner067 View Post
Don't expect great weather that far North around Christmas. Very hot, humid and wet. Not the best for diving/snorkeling the reef either as the seas tend to be quite choppy. Anything south of latitude -30 at that time of year would be my advice.
Anyone share this thought?
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Old Aug 26, 16, 4:21 pm
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May to October is the best weather (dry season), cant really call it winter as temps are still 27C. Rainfall is about 50mm per month; by contrast in December it is 400mm and even more in Jan (temps are also warmer at 31C). A bigger problem if you are not on the reef but coastal is the box jellyfish which is Nov-March in north Queensland. While the weather is not great during the wet it is also not bad; lots of people do get seasick though if you boat out to the reef -- much better to stay on the reef, but also much more expensive. I'd consider Lizard Island, also Heron or Hayman as your budget allows. For lower budget there is Hamilton Island but that is a mass tourism over-developed kind of experience, not really the same but more convenient and cheaper.
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