Tourism and Events Queensland

Secret reef experiences in Townsville North Queensland

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When someone says Townsville, do you think Great Barrier Reef? No? Don't worry, you're not alone. Townsville North Queensland has been keeping a few cards close to its chest, known only by the savvy locals who have been savouring the lack of crowds, 320 days of sunshine, and pristine conditions found in the central Great Barrier Reef. It starts with a whole bunch of islands you've never heard of, then moves on to day and overnight trips to reach these untouched destinations. Then they smack you unawares with some hard hitting research nous – Townsville being the headquarters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and home to James Cook University (aka marine biology's heartland) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science. From Townsville's shores, you can reach some of the Great Barrier Reef's most spectacular diving and snorkelling sites within two hours, including arguably Australia's most famous – and one of the world's top 10 dive sites – the SS Yongala. Over 10,000 divers take the plunge here every year to oggle weird and wonderful marine animals (check them out on page 22) that call this wonderfully intact, 110-metre long historic shipwreck home. Epic dives and pristine snorkelling spots aside, there's no better destination to get schooled on the World Heritage-listed wonderland that is the Great Barrier Reef, still feel like an explorer while you enjoy a patch of the 2300-kilometre coral conglomerate all to yourself, and just kick back and relax on a deserted beach. Are you in? From the team at Tourism and Events Queensland PS. We'd love to know what you think of this ebook! Head to blog.queensland.com for more Townsville North Queensland and Great Barrier Reef stories and add your comments, or drop us a line at qldblog@queensland.com. Cover image credit: Snorkelling at Lodestone Reef by Khy Orchard (@khyorchard) for @gypsea_lust Photography @gypsea_lust and Krista Eppelstun 2 SECRET GREAT BARRIER REEF

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