Greyhound Australia coach wrapped in an image of two snorkellers exploring the Great Barrier ReefA new value for money travel pass will put one of the seven wonders within easy grasp of young travellers thanks to the Working Holidayer Pass currently up for grabs. The pass includes one-way travel to Queensland and unlimited travel within the state on Greyhound Australia coaches (including along the coastline following the Great Barrier Reef), plus a $200 Backpacker Deals voucher to put towards a bucket list experience – all for the introductory price of $299[1]. And with more than 11 jump-off points along the 2,300km UNESCO World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, there’s a once in a lifetime underwater experience only a cruise, sail, fast boat ride, flight or dive away.
1. Cape Tribulation
Put Cape Tribulation at the top of the bragging list with a stop at the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage Sites meet – the Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. This special part of the Sunshine State is the perfect place to reconnect with nature, at any speed. Hightail it out to the Great Barrier Reef from Cape Tribulation in just 25 minutes with the crew from Ocean Safari for a day of swimming, snorkelling and splashing around Mackay and Undine Reefs.
2. Port Douglas
A popular seaside town just one hour north of Cairns, Port Douglas is hugged by both the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. One way to explore the reef from ‘Port’, as it is affectionately known by locals, is with Sailaway Port Douglas. Choose from a full-day boat tour out to the coral cays of Mackay and Undine Reefs, approximately 28km from Port Douglas, or stay closer to shore on a half-day Low Isles experience to enjoy unrivalled reef snorkelling and swimming.
3. Cairns
The raft of world-class reef tours departing from Cairns makes it the ultimate jump-off point to don a flipper and get wet. Whether you want to go slow, fly above, dive deep, or drift along the surface, Cairns has you covered. One tour that sets itself apart is Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel. Here, a crew of Indigenous Sea Country guides and a handful of Master Reef Guides share the history and significance of the world’s oldest living culture as well as the world’s largest living organism.
4. Mission Beach
Venture off the beaten tourist track and explore lesser-known islands and reefs off Mission Beach, 140km south of Cairns. Beyond the palm tree-lined beaches, Mission Beach Dive operates a full-day snorkel or introductory dive to some lesser-known gems on the Great Barrier Reef, giving working holidaymakers the opportunity to add scuba diving and snorkelling to the holiday CV. See pink, purple and mauve corals blooming against turquoise waters dotted with effervescent fish.
5. Townsville
When it comes to once-in-a-lifetime Great Barrier Reef experiences, Townsville boasts one of the newest and most extraordinary underwater attractions, the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA). A three-hour boat ride from Townsville’s main marina, MOUA showcases twenty life-sized sculptures sunk below the surface in a magnificent Coral Greenhouse, metres from John Brewer Reef. The only underwater museum in the Southern Hemisphere, the masterpiece is the brainchild of renowned underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. Having opened in 2020 the sculptures are already blooming with hard and soft corals that serve to highlight reef conservation, restoration, and education. The second phase of MOUA will continue the story of conservation by immortalising eight of the world’s greatest reef scientists and marine protectors. The sculptures are currently on display at the Museum of Tropical Queensland awaiting their journey to their new underwater home this winter. Join a day tour to snorkel or dive MOUA from Townsville, Magnetic Island or Orpheus Island.
6. The Whitsundays
The Whitsundays is the official heart of the Great Barrier Reef, home to 74 tropical islands and one of the most iconic and photographed reef formations in the world. Take a scenic flight where the view of ‘Heart Reef’ from above is totally Insta-worthy. Visitors to Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island can also jump onboard Cruise Whitsundays for a ‘pinch me’ overnight reef experience. The first of its kind on the Great Barrier Reef, Reefsleep sees guests snooze under the stars and on top of the reef in one of 12 double Reefbeds on the upper deck of the Reefworld pontoon. Wake up with the sun as it rises above the Reef for the most spectacular start to the day.
7. Mackay
Further south, the town of Mackay provides access to islands such as Keswick, Brampton and Cockermouth, offering some of the best opportunities to discover uncrowded bays and beaches. In December 2021, Red Cat Adventures launched the new Wildcat catamaran experience – a thundering red, a custom-built vessel that leaves Mackay for untouched reef hideaways, hours of snorkelling and visits to secluded beaches. Jam your Instagram feed with postcard pictures of crystal-clear water and arcs of glistening white sand.
8. Yeppoon
Pop into the coastal town of Yeppoon near Rockhampton, and venture across the water to Great Keppel Island. Uncover the intricacies of the largest living organism on the planet with Keppel Dive and Snorkel’s new Reef Ranger Tour, pairing guests with Master Reef Guides and Eye on the Reef staff to get hands-on monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Aside from being instrumental in helping protect the Reef, $2.50 from every tour ticket is donated to the Mon Repos Turtle Centre or Keppel Turtle Fund to aid turtle rehabilitation and protection, making this one totally feel-good holiday.
9. Heron Island
Gladstone takes pride in being Australia’s northernmost surfing beach and a key jump-off point for epic island stays. Take a 30-minute helicopter flight or a two-hour ferry to Heron Island and you’ll find a tiny jewel rising from the water. Think soft white sand, year-round swimming and stretches of coral gardens. World-famous for its shallow-water scuba diving and snorkelling, Heron Island has more than 20 dive sites only a short boat ride from the resort. It’s so good famous oceanographer, Jacques Costeau ranked Heron Island as one of his top ten dive sites in the world.
10. Bundaberg
Home to the famous Bundaberg Rum and the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, visitors to Bundaberg can spend a night 100km out to sea, under the stars on board the new Lady Musgrave HQ. As the Reef’s second and newest underwater pontoon-style accommodation, the pontoon offers two major drawcards: the eight queen size canopy beds come with canvas walls that roll up to reveal sprawling views of the Lady Musgrave Island lagoon while the underwater observatory is bunks cater for dive groups keen to explore remote and untouched sites. Lady Musgrave HQ treads lightly with a zero-carbon footprint thanks to being 100% wind and solar-powered. The Master Reef Guides on board also deliver vital educational and citizen science initiatives. During turtle season (November to March) the calm waters and coral bommies of the Lady Musgrave Island lagoon turn into a turtle highway, providing ample opportunity to snorkel alongside a terrapin or two.
11. Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay might be the first Whale Heritage Site in the world (there’s no better place to experience the annual humpback migration than on a whale watching tour) but it’s also only a quick 40-minute flight to the Great Barrier Reef. Spend a day exploring the reef between July and November on an all-inclusive Day Trip to Lady Elliot Island departing Hervey Bay, and you might also spot some magnificent Humpback Whales from the air. Lady Elliot Island is also regarded as Australia’s home of the manta ray. So much so, it was named by PADI as one of the five best locations worldwide to swim with manta rays.
The Great Barrier Reef continues to be Australia’s greatest natural wonder, and tourism plays a significant role in connecting visitors to the reef. Working holidaymakers are encouraged to experience this bucket-list destination for themselves to ultimately see the reef, fall in love with the reef and be inspired to protect the reef.
The Working Holidayer Pass includes one-way travel to Queensland from Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra on Greyhound Australia coaches and unlimited travel on all Greyhound Australia services throughout Queensland. Greyhound Australia’s extensive network spans 111 locations across Queensland, including multiple access points along the Great Barrier Reef. Embark on a blockbuster reef experience for less, with a $200 Backpacker Deals discount voucher also included in the pass. It is currently priced at just $299 until the end of August 2022, after which the pass can be purchased for $539. Visit queensland.com/workingholidayer to find out more and start planning an out of this world Great Barrier Reef holiday.