Cradling Nat­u­ral Won­ders Of Beauty: The Aus­tralian Con­ti­nent

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From the Great Bar­rier Reef to Pink Lake, Aus­tralia’s wealth of nat­u­ral of­fer­ings never cease to amaze

TOP WAYS TO EX­PE­RI­ENCE THE

GREAT BAR­RIER REEF

Aus­tralia’s great­est nat­u­ral won­der, the Great Bar­rier Reef con­tains so much to ex­plore so we’ve rounded up the best ex­pe­ri­ences for you here to en­joy:

Cruise Michael­mas Cay

Visit the Great Bar­rier Reef in style on board the Ocean Spirit, a 32m (105 feet) high-per­for­mance cata­ma­ran which sails daily from Cairns to Michael­mas Cay. You can ei­ther dive and snorkel around the reef along­side tur­tles and colour­ful fish, lie on the deck and soak up the sun, or en­joy a glass-bot­tomed boat tour. Michael­mas Cay is also home to more than 23 species of seabirds and is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant bird sanc­tu­ar­ies on the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Sea­plane Over Heart Reef

Cre­ate the per­fect ro­man­tic sur­prise for a loved one by fly­ing over the world-fa­mous nat­u­ral won­der, Heart Reef. This scenic flight is just one of the tours of­fered by Air Whit­sun­day and GSL Avi­a­tion, with the white sil­ica sand of White­haven Beach on Whit­sun­day Is­land also on the menu.

Cruise The Agin­court Reef

Quick­sil­ver Cruises will take you on a jour­ney to the renowned Agin­court Reef, a jewel-like rib­bon reef on the very edge of the Great Bar­rier Reef. From the spa­cious ac­tiv­ity plat­form you can snorkel, dive and hel­met walk in an un­der­wa­ter world filled with a kalei­do­scope of colour and bril­liance.

Sail The Whit­sun­days

It’s hard to beat the ro­mance of sail­ing through the Whit­sun­day Is­lands. Think spec­tac­u­lar sun­sets, clear moon­lit nights, se­cluded beaches and pure air. You can sail, swim, snorkel and dive at shel­tered an­chor­ages such as Blue Pearl, But­ter­fly and Hook Is­land bays. Visit Whit­sun­day Is­land and walk the pure white, sil­ica sands of White­haven Beach (Visit sail­ing­whit­sun­days.com for more in­for­ma­tion).

Wit­ness Tur­tle Hatch­ings

At Heron Is­land

Snorkel right off the beach or scuba dive at 20 sites just min­utes away by boat from Heron Is­land. It takes only 20 min­utes to walk around Heron, and you can en­joy both sun­rises and sun­sets over the wa­ter. Tur­tles lay eggs and hatch here be­tween Novem­ber and March. Both these events can be quite life-chang­ing to be­hold, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing their eco­log­i­cal im­por­tance.

TOP THINGS TO DO AROUND AUS­TRALIA’S PINK LAKES OF WON­DER

Pink Lake

Pink Lake is around 3km (1.9 miles) from in

the town of Esper­ance, Western Aus­tralia. In the right weather con­di­tions, the lake turns a soft shade of pink due to the high con­cen­tra­tion of al­gae in the wa­ter. For ex­cel­lent views and photo op­por­tu­ni­ties, there is a look­out along Eleven Mile Beach Road, just a 10 minute drive away from the Esper­ance Vis­i­tors Cen­tre.

Lake Hil­lier

Lake Hil­lier is another in­cred­i­ble pink lake on Mid­dle Is­land, the largest of the is­lands that make up the Recherche Archipelago, around 130 km (70 miles) from Esper­ance, Western Aus­tralia. One of the best ways to take in the spec­ta­cle is by air on a scenic he­li­copter flight. Esper­ance Is­land Cruises have full-day boat cruises to Mid­dle Is­land, al­low­ing you to view the lake up close. Cruises leave early in the morn­ing and re­turn at dusk.

Snorkel Or Dive The Recherche Archipelago

Con­sist­ing of more than 100 is­lands, the Recherche Archipelago of­fers top class div­ing and snorkelling. Esper­ance Div­ing & Fish­ing can ar­range off­shore div­ing or shore div­ing from the Esper­ance jetty.

Ex­plore Esper­ance

The Abo­rig­i­nal name for the town of Esper­ance is Kepa Kurl, which trans­lates to “the place where the wa­ter lies down like a boomerang”. There’s plenty to see and do around Esper­ance in­clud­ing horse rid­ing, walk­ing, cycling, fish­ing, scuba div­ing, whale-watch­ing (May to Oc­to­ber), wind­surf­ing, ab­seil­ing, kayak­ing and

4WD tours. The Esper­ance Mu­seum is a must-visit with dis­plays on lo­cal his­tory, Abo­rig­i­nal arte­facts as well as pieces of the US Sky Lab, which fell to earth in the Esper­ance re­gion in 1980.

Visit Nearby Na­tional Parks

Esper­ance is also a gate­way to Cape Le Grand Na­tional Park, Stokes Na­tional Park and Cape Arid Na­tional Park. Each park has its own set of unique at­tributes, but all of them boast beau­ti­ful coastal scenery, ex­tra­or­di­nary na­tive plants and an­i­mals, peace­ful bush­walks and well-main­tained camp­grounds.

Hit The Beach

Pack a pic­nic and fol­low the Great Ocean Drive Tourist Loop to a string of beau­ti­ful white-sand beaches. Swim or snorkel in the calm, clear wa­ters of Blue Haven Beach and Twi­light Cove, just a short drive from town. One can even hit the surf at West Beach, Fourth Beach or Ob­ser­va­tory Beach. Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand Na­tional Park is one of Aus­tralia’s whitest beaches, where kan­ga­roos sun­bathe on the sand.

HORSERIDE THE RAIN­BOW BEACH

Rain­bow Beach Horse Rides has the only per­mit in ex­is­tence to ride a horse along Rain­bow Beach, which was rated amongst the top five most in­cred­i­ble beaches in the world, the third most colour­ful beach in the world and was also fea­tured on the front cover of a pub­li­ca­tion ti­tled 101 Best

Beaches of Aus­tralia. Lo­cated 70 km north from the town of Noosa, Queens­land, the coastal vil­lage of Rain­bow Beach fea­tures one of Aus­tralia’s most beau­ti­ful horserid­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, avail­able year round. No ex­pe­ri­ence in the sport is nec­es­sary as all rides in­clude prior rid­ing in­struc­tion to en­sure safety. The beach is also known for its pic­tur­eresque multi-coloured sand cliffs. Vis­i­tors will be glad to learn that pho­tos taken by the trail guides dur­ing each ride are avail­able free of charge for all guests.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD & GREAT BEACH DRIVE

GREAT OCEAN ROAD, VIC­TO­RIA Pos­si­bly one of the world’s most spec­tac­u­lar coastal road trips, this 243 km cliff-hug­ging drive starts off from Melbourne and ranges through nat­u­ral rain­forests, lonely light­houses with jaw-drop­ping views, and iconic land­marks such as the 12 Apos­tles. Mul­ti­ple other land­marks of in­ter­est such as the Aus­tralian Na­tional Surf­ing Mu­seum at Torquay, the Great Ocean Road Me­mo­rial Arch – a good

place to stop for a sou­venir photo – and the Ot­way Fly (an el­e­vated board­walk through the rain­for­est canopy 25m above the ground) await on this rugged ad­ven­ture. Learn all about the many ship­wrecks in the past at Flagstaff Hill in War­rnam­bool, and if you are here be­tween June and Septem­ber, head for Lo­gans Beach where you might be lucky enough to spot one of the many fe­male south­ern right whales that come here each year to give birth.

GREAT BEACH DRIVE, QUEENS­LAND Scenic coastal drives don’t get any closer to the sea than the Great Beach Drive.

It’s a 200 km (124 mile) wave-washed high­way on the Sun­shine Coast be­tween Noosa and Her­vey Bay, where the road is ac­tu­ally the beach. You’ll need a 4WD and will have to time your trip for low tide, but it’ll all be worth it for the feel­ing of sand be­neath your wheels as the sun shines on. High­lights along the way in­clude the fa­mous multi-coloured cliffs known as the Coloured Sands, and Carlo Sand­blow, a mas­sive slow-mov­ing sand dune that tow­ers over Rain­bow Beach, and is one of the largest piles of wind-blown sand on the Queens­land coast. Make the good times last even longer by tak­ing your car on the barge across to Fraser Is­land. Drive along the beach to its north­ern tip or tackle the sandy rain­for­est tracks through the is­land’s cen­tre, and en­joy a stay at the King­fisher Bay Re­sort.

Lucky Bay, Western Aus­tralia

Twelve Apos­tles,

Great Ocean Road, Vic­to­ria

Tur­tle on Heron Is­land

Great Bar­rier Reef,

Queens­land

Great Beach Drive, Rain­bow Beach, Queens­land

South­ern Co­ral Coast, Western Aus­tralia

4WD on Esper­ance Beach

Great Ocean Road, Vic­to­ria

White­haven Beach, Whit­sun­day Is­lands, Queens­land

Maori Wrasse, Agin­court Reef, Great Bar­rier Reef

Fraser Is­land,

Queens­land

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