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Eleven of Australia’s most passionate advocates for the Great Barrier Reef, with a whopping 129 years of combined work experience and 41,701 scuba dives on the World-Heritage-listed icon, will gather for a one-day trip to Hardy Reef off the coast of Airlie Beach on August 4. The trip is part of the 2022 Cruise Whitsundays Great Barrier Reef Festival which takes place from August 4 – 7, 2022.

With members of the public invited to jump on board, this is thought to be the first time that marine lovers and eco-conscious travellers will have heart-to-heart access to such a range of world-leading reef guides on any single bookable day tour.

Known as Master Reef Guides, these 11 highly trained guides will use their expertise to deliver an immersive, story-telling experience, that is crafted around the skillset of each particular guide and tailored to the interests of the day’s guests.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Assistant Director Reef Stewardship and Master Reef Guide program co-founder, Fiona Merida, said by personalising the experience, each guest would gain a greater appreciation of the beauty of the reef and a deeper understanding of the difference each of us can make to its survival for generations to come.

“Through taking part in interactive educational activities led by these Master Reef Guides, guests will be able to explore our World Heritage Natural Wonder and discover the foundation of life on the reef and its incredible symbiotic relationships,” she said.

“They will be able to come on a journey, piecing together the puzzle of the Reef with world-leading interpreters.

“Ultimately, we want these guests to leave as ambassadors for Australia’s greatest natural treasure, spreading these messages from their hearts to yours.”

Averaging 40 minutes for each of their combined 41,701 dives, the Master Reef Guides leading the day have spent 27,800 hours or 3.17 years engaged in underwater observation and activity and relayed the story of the Great Barrier Reef to around 2,334,000 visitors.

Great Barrier Reef Festival chairwoman, Margie Murphy, said for these reasons alone the trip to Hardy Reef would be unmissable.

“This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to visit the Great Barrier Reef enjoying unprecedented access to its most ardent ambassadors and reaping the benefits of the shared knowledge and passion that this entails,” she said.

The Cruise Whitsundays Outer Great Barrier Reef trip is the launch activity for the annual Great Barrier Reef Festival to be held in Airlie Beach from August 4–7.

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Rick Hamilton, said the aim of this year’s festival was to build connection between humanity and the Reef.

“And what better way to do that than by having a true ‘heart-to-heart’ with a Master Reef Guide, and in the Great Barrier Reef’s physical and spiritual heart,” he said.

With numbers onboard to be capped at just 200 guests, members of the public interested in the trip are advised to book imminently.

Tickets cost $220 per adult and include lunch, morning and afternoon tea, and all activities excluding scuba diving.

Guests will be invited to sign up to Master Reef Guide-led activities including Eye on the Reef monitoring experiences, snorkel safaris, semi-submersible adventures, and practical, in-water photography and videography sessions.

The trip will depart Port of Airlie at 9am and return at 5pm, providing a full four hours at the mature platform reef dominated by hard corals, large pelagic species and an abundance of marine life.

For more information or to book tickets, visit www.greatbarrierreeffestival.com.au.