Cairns, Queensland (Australia)
Cairns is located on the northeast coast of Australia on the shores of Trinity Bay. The city is considered the capital of the Great Barrier Reef, it connects all the islands of the Reef with sea and air transport. The international airport is located not far from the city center. In addition, it is a popular resort in the “northern tropics” of Australia. Sandy beaches stretch along the entire coast of the city and in its environs. You can swim here all year round, because the water temperature does not drop below 22 degrees Celsius. All beaches are surrounded by palm groves, and not far from the coast you can see small islands covered with tropical vegetation, where you can also relax on the beaches and enjoy nature. Mountain peaks seen
from Cairns Bartle Frere, 1622 m high, and Bellenden Ker (1592 m), between which there is a picturesque valley with many hiking trails. Hiking is also developed in the nearby tropical forests. North of Cairns is the Daintree Rainforest, which is about 135 million years old. This is a National Park with an area of 900,000 hectares.
The Cairns area is the only place on earth where two World Heritage Sites (the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest) are located side by side. Here, in the mountainous regions, up to 4000 mm of precipitation can fall annually. Tropical rainforests – one of the few places in Australia, where cassowary birds (a symbol of this territory) live. Within the National Park, it is worth looking at the 305 m high Wallaman Falls (Australia ‘s highest waterfall, which falls in a single powerful stream) and visiting a small village where the descendants of the first settlers of the continent live. In the souvenir shops of the village you can buy handicrafts of local craftsmen.
But still the main attraction of the region is the Great Barrier Reef.. This is the largest coral reef on Earth, its length is about 2000 km. In total, there are about 500 islands and more than 3,000 individual small coral reefs. Currently, this natural wonder is under the control of environmentalists, because, according to many scientists, if global climate warming continues at the same pace, then by 2050 the Reef may completely disappear. Its underwater world is exceptionally rich – about 90% of all coral species known to science are found in the vicinity, among which 10 thousand species of sponges alone, 1.5 thousand species of fish and 4 thousand species of mollusks live. Every year a huge number of divers from all over the world go to Cairns to explore the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef during multi-day dive safari. In its northern part, the Reef is solid and is located 50 km from the coast, in the southern part it breaks up into separate reefs and is 300 km away from the coast. The depth of submersion near coral reefs reaches 30 m, and the reef walls go hundreds of meters deep. Visibility here varies from 30 to 40 m, in areas close to the coast, visibility is worse – about 15 m. These places are more suitable for trained divers.
The most famous dive sites of the Great Barrier Reef are Cod Hole, where there are potato groupers, moray eels, Napoleon wrasses, coral salmon and red snappers, the outer wall of the Ribbon reef with sections of Pixie and Harrier, walls along Osperei reef and Dons Dinner. In the coral garden Clam Bads you can take a night dive.
Particularly risky divers are offered a local attraction – diving in a shark cage. The most famous meeting place with sharks is Ningaloo reef, 260 km long. Here, from May to July, collisions with whale sharks are most likely.
Within the Great Barrier Reef there are places for wreck diving. For example, the English steamer Yongala which sank in 1911. It lies on the seabed at a depth of 30 m. Divers are not allowed to climb into the ship itself, as it may collapse. The ship is covered with soft and hard corals, and barracudas, sharks and manta rays swim in the vicinity. Also of interest is the steamship Lady Bowen, which sank in 1894, it is located near Mission Beach south of Cairns.
According to Computerminus, Townsville is considered to be the tourist gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Therefore, all those who are going to go diving on the coral islands visit this small town, located 1359 kilometers north of Brisbane. However, there is something to do here besides diving – there are many restaurants, entertainment centers and casinos at the disposal of tourists.