Rare access to an Australian wonder

A live-aboard boat affords travellers a much closer look at the country’s psychedelically beautiful Great Barrier Reef – without any of the day-tripper crowds.

Standing on the sun deck of the Spirit of Freedom, a live-aboard tour boat on the Great Barrier Reef, I noticed something was missing: land. The shoreline had disappeared overnight and now there was just sky and sea – nothing else – for 220km in every direction.

Also missing were the crowds, a nearly unavoidable part of the more popular day trips that launch from Cairns, the gateway city to Australia’s most popular natural attraction. Every day, tour boats bring hundreds of holidaymakers to the mega-pontoons stationed on the reef, offering a Disney-fied experience of the world’s largest living structure.

I chose instead to board a live-aboard boat and tour the Coral Sea over a number of days and nights. It’s a holiday that evades the day-trip crowds, allows for more than a day’s diving on the reef and affords travellers a much closer look at the pulsating, psychedelic-looking, 2,300km-long ecosystem that scientists predict could be overrun by seaweed by 2050.

After a three-hour flight from Sydney to Cairns, and an hour-long flight to Lizard Island (so named by Captain Cook for its suitably large population of monitor lizards), I motored out to my new home for the next four days, joining 26 other passengers and 10 crew on the decks of the 37m-long Spirit of Freedom.

Lizard Island, home to a large population of monitor lizards (Credit: Ethan Teas)

A large population of monitor lizards earned Lizard Island its name. (Ethan Teas)

Once we settled in, the small cabins didn’t matter. Days were spent on the deck, with passengers draped over every available surface, napping or holding up a book to shade their eyes. The boat’s close confines meant making friends was inevitable.

Three Chinese students, a German veterinarian, an elderly Kenyan free diver – our group came from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures.

Of course, the one thing that most of us had in common was a love for diving and a desire to see the Great Barrier Reef like no day-tripper ever would. We got below the surface nearly five times a day.

Rarely did we dive in the same place twice. More often, each excursion explored a new section of the reef’s coral-covered walls, which dropped off into to unexplored shadows, the sea floor resting 2,000m below.

There was always something new and exciting to see – blue spotted ribbontail rays, clownfish nestled amid the noodle-like tentacles of their anemone, mind-bogglingly big manta rays and bursts of colour and light from schools of iridescent fish suddenly changing direction. Four dwarf minke whales appeared during a dive on our second-to-last day and lingered for two hours, passing improbably close to those of us who were suspended in stillness, staring.

Schooling trevally (Credit: Spirit of Freedom)

Schooling trevally at the Great Barrier Reef. (Spirit of Freedom)

With the right currents, divers could drift along the wall, passively enjoying the changing scenery while surrounded on three sides by the unbroken blue of open ocean. Closer to the surface, sunlit pinnacles of coral pierced the gently sloping beds of sand.

Eventually, when our eyes just couldn’t take anymore beauty – and our tanks ran low on air – we would kick towards the light and climb back aboard the only dry surface for miles. After a shamelessly lazy hour on the sun deck, I was always ready to do everything all over again.

Spirit of Freedom and Mike Ball Dive Expeditions offer four-day live-aboard trips to the outer reaches of the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea year round. They also have the permits needed to bring divers close to dwarf minke whales – the whales migrate to the area between June and July to mate and calve in the warmer reef waters.

Cyclone season lasts from November to May. The wet season is from December to February but can offer up great visibility and calm waters because of low winds and warmer water temperatures.

Peak season is during the dry months of June to October. June to August is the winter season with cooler air and water temperatures (bring a jumper for brisk nights).

3,766 Responses to “ Rare access to an Australian wonder ”

  1. independentescortsindelhis

    Rare access to an Australian wonder » review » biotraverse

  2. delhi escort says:

    delhi escort

    Rare access to an Australian wonder » review » biotraverse

  3. Theodore says:

    However, due to the known health benefits, its infusion is included
    in pills or capsules, making it readily available for everybody.

    My web-site – garcinia cambogia dr oz walmart (Theodore)

  4. Theo says:

    My brother recommended I would possibly like this website.
    He was totally right. This put up actually made my day.
    You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for this
    information! Thank you!

    Here is my webpage Nootrobrain reviews (Theo)

  5. Lashay says:

    Not only is he ‘wicked clever,’ as we say in Boston, but
    James also has a knack for creating factors – even video
    – look straightforward.

    Check out my weblog :: Lashay

  6. Ludie says:

    Its not my first time to go to see this web site, i am browsing this web site
    dailly and obtain pleasant data from here everyday.

    My page; Andrew Dorko [Ludie]

  7. Verona says:

    At the leading right corner, click the Upload” button to publish your very first YouTube video!

    my web site … Verona

  8. Adrianna says:

    I’d love to have you subscribe.” I tell you what to count on on the channel, that I do new videos just about every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and then under me is
    a link with a huge image that goes to a landing page on my internet site that says, Get your queries answered,” or, Subscribe to my channel.” It depends on the video.

    My web site; Adrianna

  9. We’re right here for you and we’re delighted that you’ve determined to affix one of many world’s premier online poker rooms!

  10. Raymon says:

    Components to take into consideration when submitting a video is going to be your profile authority.

    Review my page Raymon

  11. Karissa says:

    I have been searching for some practical how-to type material to
    get me began working with my client’s existing video library
    additional efficiently.

    Have a look at my web page; Karissa

  12. Horace says:

    Using this drug made of Garcinia Cambogia extract ensured
    to remove excess weight, and what’s more, it will help enhance your total wellness, cleanse the body
    and lift your moods!

    my blog – garcinia cambogia results (Horace)

  13. Andrew says:

    Excellent post buut ӏ աas wondering if you coᥙld write a littte mօгe on thіs topic?
    I’Ԁ be very grateful if yߋu coսld elaborate ɑ lіttle
    bit moгᥱ. Cheers!

    Heгe is my web site: xander344detoxmemoirs.onesmablog.сom (Andrew)

  14. Eloy says:

    Attractive sеction of cοntent. I jսst stumbled սpon your website annd іn accession capital tօ
    claim tһat I geet actᥙally loved account ʏouг weblog posts.

    Any ԝay I’ll be subscribing tߋ your feeds
    and еvеn І fulfillment yοu get entry to ϲonstantly quicкly.

    mү weblog: sectionbookmark.ϲom (Eloy)

  15. Jacki says:

    This piece of writing աill assist tɦe internet visitors fߋr setting up neա web site οr
    even ɑ weblog frtom start tο end.

    Check outt my web site: charlieaqfv158blog.amoblog.сom (Jacki)

  16. At tһis time it seemѕ like BlogEngijne iѕ tɦе
    best blogging platform outt tһere rright now. (fгom what І’ve reаd) Iѕ that what
    yоu’re using on your blog?

    My ⲣage; blqh (http://juliusulap925.pages10.com)

  17. Elias says:

    WitҺ havin sso much ᴡritten contеnt do you eѵer rrun іnto any issues оff plagorism ⲟr copyriǥht infringement?
    Ⅿу blog haѕ ɑ lot of unique content I’ve ᥱither authored mtself
    ⲟr outsourced bսt іt sеems a lot of it iss popping it upp aⅼl over the internet without my authorization. Do үօu
    know ɑny methods tⲟ ɦelp protect againsxt сontent from being stolen? I’d
    Ԁefinitely apρreciate іt.

    My page; 6buk.com (Elias)

  18. Callum says:

    I do accept as true with all the ideas you hwve introduced in уour post.
    TҺey’re ѵery convinmcing and will certɑinly woгk.

    Nonetɦeless, tthe posts arе verʏ bief for beginners.
    Ϲould you ρlease lengthen tҺem a bit ffrom subsequent time?
    Tɦanks fοr thᥱ post.

    Heгe is mү web site – waylonvwsn406blog.blogdigy.сom, Callum,

  19. Wilburn says:

    It’s an remarkable article in favor of all the web visitors; they will get benefit from it I am sure.

  20. water car says:

    Hello to every single one, it’s genuinely a fastidious for me to pay a quick visit this web
    site, it includes valuable Information.

  21. best apple says:

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous
    blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  22. If you’ve never been before this first plan on testosterone therapy and you have
    been steadily eating well and exercising from commencement,
    you will really surprise yourself at the degree of transformation you will have experienced by then.

    Here is my blog post – do anti aging supplements work

  23. It’s going to be ending of mine day, however before
    ending I am reading this great article to improve my know-how.

  24. Hai says:

    Hello there, I found your site by the use of Google while looking for a related matter, your site came up, it seems great.
    I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    Hi there, simply became alert to your weblog via Google, and found that it is really informative.
    I am gonna be careful for brussels. I will be grateful for those
    who proceed this in future. Lots of other folks will likely be benefited from your writing.

  25. This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
    Thanks a lot!