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Great Barrier Reef scenic flight - North QLD

sunny

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Some months ago I was the other side of Australia, in WA, for my birthday. My brother & family offered me a scenic flight as a present, but I struggled to find a company that would take just one passenger.

However then I had the idea, that what better, than to wait, and fly over the Great Barrier Reef!!
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So, 5 months later, I was in Airlie Beach, with the opportunity to fly out over the Whitsunday Island, to the reef.
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The company GSL Aviation were very friendly and made it an enjoyable day out.
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The aircraft was a GA8 Airvan with a cruise speed of 200km/hr, a range of 1070km an engine of 300bhp and weighed 1414kg.
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As we took off down the runway, it wasn't hard to see why plane enthusiasts would like to buy these houses, and garga their own aircraft!
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It was an amazing 60 minutes!
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The Whitsunday Islands are a collection of continental islands of various sizes off the central coast of Queensland, Australia, situated between just south of Bowen and to the north of Mackay, some 900 kilometres (560 mi) north of Brisbane. The island group is centred on Whitsunday Island, while the group's commercial centre is Hamilton Island. The traditional owners of the area are the Ngaro People and the Gia People (Birri Gubba Language Group), the Juru Clan of which has the only recognised Native Title in the Region.
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The term is a mis-nomer, based as it is on Captain Cook’s naming of what is now known as the Whitsunday Passage (in Cook’s Journal, Whitsunday’s Passage) in the belief that the passage was discovered on Whitsunday, The Sunday of the feast of Whitsun or Pentecost in the Christian liturgical year, observed 7 weeks after Easter. As the International Date Line had not been established it was actually Whit-Monday.
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Contention has existed as to exactly what islands are within the informally named Whitsunday Islands, in particular as to the southern extremity and the inclusions to the west. What is certain is that they lie within the chain named Cumberland Isles by Captain Cook (now officially approved as the Cumberland Islands) and a reasonably defined section of that chain and surrounding waters have become known world-wide as The Whitsundays based on a contraction of the Whitsunday Islands designation.

Hamilton Island
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is the largest inhabited island of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia. It is positioned approximately 887 kilometres (551 mi) north of Brisbane and 512 kilometres (318 mi) south of Cairns. It is also the only island in the Great Barrier Reef with its own commercial airport, with short direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. Hamilton Island, like most in the Whitsunday group, was formed as sea levels rose creating numerous drowned mountains that are situated close to the east coast of Queensland.

At the 2011 Australian Census the island recorded a population of 1,208 people. The island is a popular tourist destination and was featured in the successful "Best Job In The World" promotion. In late August the island plays host to its annual Hamilton Island Race Week yachting festival, in which more than 150 yachts from across Australia and New Zealand gather for a week of races around the islands. However this is only one of many events hosted on the island.

Hayman Island
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is the most northerly of the Whitsunday Islands, part of the Cumberland Islands, which are located off the coast of Central Queensland, Australia at
20°03′S 148°53′E.
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Hayman is a private island open to the public, most famous for its luxury resort which was built in the 1950s by millionaire Reg Ansett, who also founded Ansett Australia. The island is a significant drawing point for tourism in Queensland. The island is small at just 400 hectares in area.

Whitsunday Island
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is the largest island in the Whitsunday group of islands.
Whitehaven Beach
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was rated as the top Eco Friendly Beach in the world by CNN.com in July 2010.
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Hills Inlet
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Tongue Bay
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Apostle Bay
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Daydream Island
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is one of seven islands of the Molle Group, a sub-group of the Whitsunday Islands.The island is small, measuring 1 km in length and 400 m at its widest point. The highest point on the island is 51 metres above sea level. There are two tourist resorts on the island: the original resort at the southern end and a newer resort at the north-eastern end. The original resort caters to day visitors and the newer resort, which opened in 1990, caters to overnight guests. Tourists from the mainland port of Abel Point Marina regularly visit the island.

Henning Island
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Border Island
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Deloraine Island
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10 mins after leaving the Whitsundays Islands, we had our firest view of the reef
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and my smile could not have been any bigger!!
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it was beautiful, the colours were just out of this world
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I'd taken some good advice and arranged to go at low tide, so that as much of the reef as possible was visible
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The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system, composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi).
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The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms.
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This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps.
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It supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981.
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CNN labeled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
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A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish. According to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.
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The main reef we flew over was Hardys Reef
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Part of this is Heart Reef is a stunning composition of coral that has naturally formed into the shape of a heart.
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Heart Reef was discovered in 1975 by one of Air Whitsunday's pilots and is now an internationally-recognised attraction of the Whitsundays and features on many postcards and brochures promoting the Whitsunday region and the Great Barrier Reef.
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Many an amateur photographer has been amazed by the fact that their own photos look just like the brochures!
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Permanently moored at Hardy Reef , Cruise Whitsundays Reef World pontoon is the newest and most innovative design.
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The pontoon features undercover seating and tables, sun decks for topping up the tan, freshwater showers, change rooms and you’ll have full access to the air-conditioned comfort of ‘Seaflight’ alongside the pontoon.
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It features Queensland’s largest and most spectacular underwater viewing chamber.
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The map below shows our route out, from Shute Harbour at Airlie Beach, over the Whitsundays, with two passes over Whitehaven Beach, out to the Barrier Reef, with two passes over Heart Reef, and back again.
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The video below is most of the flight, sped up a little to save you some time!

Heading back to the mainland, there was a great view over Airlie Beach
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and the marina
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Even the walk 'home' was special
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as the sun set on another day in paradise
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Posted by charlystyles 13:49 Archived in Australia Tagged whitsundays scenic_flight gsl_aviation heart_reef Comments (0)

Whitsundays diving - QLD

overcast

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Nestled in the heart of the Great Barrier reef, dotted with 74 tropical islands set amongst the azure waters of the Coral Sea is one of Australia's premier holiday destinations.
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the Whitsundays is world-renowned for its spectacular coastline with a myriad of off-shore island and the surround tropical marine environment of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
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The majority of the Whitsunday Islands is designated National Park, leaving them uninhabited and in their purest natural state.
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Whales visit the Whitsundays every year on their annual migration. From July to October Whales are a common sight frolicking amongst the islands.
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I took a boat tour out to some of the local highlights, and included two dives around the islands.
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We passed several other boats
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as we headed away from the shore
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It was the most overcast day of the week, but still a beautiful place!
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Setting off from Hervey Bay, we passed some of the Whitsunday Islands
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and were lucky enough to see a whale and calf
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though maybe a little too close to this boat
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and soon arrived at Tongue Bay where we moored the boat and walked up to the view point
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over Whitehaven Beach
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The crystal clear waters and pristine white silica sand of Whitehaven Beach stretch over 7km along Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays.
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Whitehaven Beach has been voted the top beach in Australia and in the top 5 in the world.
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At the northern end of the beach is Hill Inlet, a stunning cove where the tide shifts the sand and the water to create a beautiful, swirling fusion of colours. A short beautiful walk through the woodland and dry rainforest of Whitsunday Island leads to the famous Hill Inlet Lookout.
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The Whitsunday island and coast all have fringing reefs - coral gardens very close to the shoreline with abundant marine life to explore.
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Then we walked down onto Lookout Bay
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where the water was warm and the sand so soft
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you just had to be careful not to stand on a lurking stingray
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The moody clouds gave contrast to the pristine white sand
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and I couldn't' resist leaving a little note
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Heading back through the national park, the beach on the other side of the inlet was thick with coral and shells
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Back on the boat we set off for Hook Island, for some exploration under the surface
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with my dive buddy Dean
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The weather was poor and the current the strongest I've dived in,
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but it's still a beautiful world down there, with colourful fish
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Five Barred
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Angelfish
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a very large Grouper
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and plenty of different types of coral
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but I think this one was my favourite
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and the fish obviously like them too
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and one very large clam
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There were some tight squeezes, through the over hanging coral
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and one that got hold of my respirator, and made me panic a little, but I didn't let it go
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and then, on the second dive, John decided to go under here
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which I considered, but thought I might just go over the top instead!

this video shows us just floating along in the current

Maybe not the best weather for it, but I had a lot of fun!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:15 Archived in Australia Tagged diving whitsundays hook_island Comments (0)

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