Skip Navigation

Great Barrier Reef

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Great Barrier Reef

1. Posted by blytonrtw (Respected Member 20 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi folks,

We will be flying into Brisbane from New Zealand. We want to explore the Great Barrier Reef but would like to know whether to make the journey up to Cairns to come back down the east coast. Is Cairns a must for the experience or are there places nearer the Brisbane side? Cheers

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5655 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

There are loads of places from where you can visit the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns and Port Douglas in the north being the closest ones to the reef. But actually, that doesn't mean it's better, it probably is better when it's further away from the coast and less visited.
I really like the Great barrier reef, but it wasn't as spectactular as I expected.
There are places closer to Brisbane probably, but I don't know the exact names of the places. The reef starts at Rockhampton, north of Brisbane.

3. Posted by huishan (Full Member 96 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

hey there. if you want to go up to cairns via east coast, i would say its a wasted time, if you want to explore the east coast after you are done with cairns. there's 2 ways i could think of so that you will not do double trips. :)

brisbane -> go through alice springs -> up to cairns -> from cairns, explore down along east coast.


Brisbane -> cairns and higher part of east coast since you need to go past east coast to get to cairns -> alice springs -> lower part of east coast

i think the first choice would be a better one, because at least you get to see east coast as a whole.

i heard that cairns is a great place, though i havent been to there myself. probably the most tropical in aussie. so yeah. so, why not? get yourself some tan and yeah.

if you wanna go cairns, i say spend a few hundred more bucks to see a different place (alice springs) than to go to cairns via upper east coast and then explore the whole of east coast again (you'll be doing upper again!) you probably get to see a lot more anyway. you definitely wont miss out the Great Barrier Reef.

4. Posted by blytonrtw (Respected Member 20 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the advice. I like the idea of not doing a double trip. Cheers folks:)

5. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I am unsure if Huishan has actually done the routing that is mentioned, but going to Cairns via Alice Springs would be totally rediculous unless you wanted to see the Northern Territory and wastes days on end driving. In terms of Asia where huishan is from that idea would almost be as rediculous as going from Phnom Penh/Cambodia-Kolkata/India-Hanoi/Vietnam when your target was to see Vietnam well. I mean going that far west to then come all the way back east would be totally rediculous an an enormous waste of time unless you planned on seeing those areas anyway. Just look at a world map and you'll be able to compare those distances in Australia to the distances in other countries and you'll see just how far it really is if you judge it on distances you know.

A more realistic option which wouldn't use weeks going off track to then come back across again, would be fly to Cairns on a Jetstar or Virgin Blue flight (reasonably priced if booked in advance) and then make your way down the coast the way you are talking. At least then you wouldn't have seen the stuff because you flew up 40,000 feet above it and then you'd see everything on your way down.

If Cairns is worth going to would depend on the time of year. If you go in the wet season then definitely keep it off your list and stay further south, but if it is the dry season then it is worth a trip. If you didn't have a great deal of time and wanted some relaxation, you could do something like go up to Airlie Beach (or get a flight to Proserpine which would show as the Whitsunday Coast on Jetstar or Virgin Blue). Then from there you could either base yourself in Airlie Beach and take daytrips to the islands by getting launches from Shute Harbour, or alternatively, you could spend up big and stay on some of the Whitsunday Islands, but that later option would hurt your finances a lot.

Having said all of that, if you have over a month probably a month and a half would be better and want to make a proper adventure out of your time in Australia, then that thing with going over to Alice Springs, wouldn't be a bad idea. If you did that it'd probably be a better idea to actually explore more than just seeing Alice Springs, because Uluru is like about 5 or so hours drive from Alice Springs so it aint no day trip and you have other places in the Northern Territory that are also nice to visit and explore, but they are nearly always an extremely long way away from each other like if you went up to Kakadu it'd take you a fair while and that has plenty of stuff worth seeing and exploring (assuming you aren't going in the wet season and in which case forget about going up that high unless you want to be in flooded areas and maybe find yourself walking next to a crocodile that has come in to a flood plain).

Have a great trip.

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 28, 2007, at 9:24 PM by aharrold45 ]