By Katrina Lobley
There's much more to the Great Barrier Reef than Cairns. Those who take the time to explore the lesser known Southern Great Barrier Reef will find themselves rewarded with pristine islands, snorkelling and diving and extraordinary marine creatures including manta rays and colourful coral gardens. There's even a surf beach where anyone can learn to ride the waves. Find the "real" Australia in down-to-earth cities and laid-back towns such as the quirkily titled Seventeen Seventy (also known as Town of 1770), so named after the year in which the British explorer, Captain James Cook landed here.
HOW TO GET THERE
The coastal city of Bundaberg, gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, is a 4 1/2 hour drive from the Queensland state capital of Brisbane (you can also reach Bundaberg by bus, train or plane). Other major transport hubs in the region include the cities of Gladstone and Rockhampton.
- Learn to surf at Queensland's most northerly surf beach for just $AUD17
- Swim with giant manta rays at Lady Elliot Island
- See cute baby turtles hatch on a beach