Some would argue that the best place to explore the Great Barrier Reef is at its southern most tip. Including yours truly. #southerngreatbarrierreef
Stretching from just north of Rockhampton down to Bundaberg, the Southern Great Barrier Reef is home to two of my favourite places on Earth: Heron Island and Lady Elliot Island.
Heron Island is famous for its turtle population, and I was lucky enough this year to witness one of the most successful turtle seasons in history, with up to 60 turtles coming ashore each night to lay eggs between November and January.
The diving here is remarkably pretty with vast coral gardens simply teeming with life. The corals change as you work your way around the enormous reef that surrounds the island, from forests of light blue staghorn coral to large plates, brain corals and cabbage formations.
Coral trout, bright red with blue dots, yellow and black striped angel fish and orange and black striped clown fish dart about through the coral while large schools of snapper and fusiliers swim in formation around you.
Lady Elliot Island is of course the place to go to see manta rays. Some rather special conditions here created by the island’s proximity to the edge of the Continental Shelf and the East Australian Current that passes through; attract plenty of mega fauna, including manta rays, sharks and in the winter months, whales.
Over 700 individual manta rays have been identified here by Project Manta, a study by the University of Queensland into the special conditions that attract them to this part of the world (more about that in a later blog post).
On our recent visit we saw manta rays while snorkeling and diving every day, along with countless turtles and reef sharks, accompanied by whale song from nearby larger marine life.
So anyway, if I’ve succeeded in selling you on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, here’s a way to win yourself a trip there!
Tourism and Events Queensland is offering a lucky Australian the chance to win a $2,000 holiday to the Southern Great Barrier Reef by simply uploading your underwater photo taken in the region onto Instagram and tagging #southerngreatbarrierreef.
This competition is open to the Australian public and runs for the month of July. There will be prizes of underwater smartphone covers up for grabs and best of all there is no limit to the number of entries.
So upload now and share your love of the #southerngreatbarrierreef.
Oh – and yours truly will be assisting an esteemed panel of judges to pick the winner! So make sure you tag @diveplanit as well!
Full details: http://www.queensland.com/southerngreatbarrierreef