Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

When I Went: Nov. 1-25, 2012

Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? For a solar eclipse, it was the only time to visit. For the Gold Coast/Cairns area, this was late spring/early summer and a great time to visit. Remember, winter here in Dallas is summer in Australia. The area around the Gold Coast is known as Surfer’s Paradise. The weather was wonderful, cool in the mornings, warm in the day and cool again at night.

Why I Went There: To see the Total Solar Eclipse from the Great Barrier Reef

Who Went With Me? Daniel Brookshier, my fiance, and a friend, Debbie Bray. Both Daniel and Debbie were new to solar eclipses and amazed.

We Stayed Here: We went on the Coral Princess II, which provided a great viewing spot on the Cadbury Cay, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef.  The is a “diving/snorkeling” cruise ship with a back deck designed for ease of entering and exiting the water when diving and snorkeling the reef.   Even those passengers unable for health reasons had the option to see the reef via the glass-bottom boat. I took my first dive ever with their dive team and found it exciting, yet safe. Other travelers were able to take guided snorkel trips and see the reef. The reef is one of the great sights to see. The variety of reef life–fish, squirts, sharks, eels, giant clams and color–are amazing and worth traveling to see. The cruise was seven days/six nights.   We also stayed in other condo communities in the Gold Coast and the Palm Cove community north of Cairns: in Gold Coast, Freshwater Point Resort Broadbeach, and in Palm Cove, Coral Sea BeachFront Apartments.

You Won’t Want to Miss: If you are going to Australia, definitely see the Great Barrier Reef.  This was actually my third trip to Australia, and my first to the Great Barrier Reef.  Any trip now to Australia will include a side trip to the Reef, even if only for a three-day dive cruise.

Eat Here: In Broadbeach Waters, we found this wonderful little French place, called Verve. The food was wonderfully prepared and very well known to the locals. We had to take a reservation three days later.

Play Here: Do take a ‘dive/snorkel’ cruise.  There are several day trip cruises from Cairns. Also, the Gold Coast is a wonderful beach area full of nightlife and tourist activities, Sea World, Reef flights and other treks.

If I Went Again: When I go again, I’ll make time to take a few kayaking tours along the reef.  When visiting the Cape Bryon Bay Lighthouse, there were a couple of kayak whale watching tours we saw. I’d like to take one next time.

How Did You Get There From Dallas? I flew via American Airlines using airline miles to Los Angeles then on to Brisbane, sadly only coach was available on miles.

Other Tips For Fellow Travelers: We did take a train trip from Cairns back to Brisbane, if you go by train, go first class.

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