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Great Barrier Reef (Far Northern Section) - Lockhart River, Queensland ,
Australia Scuba Diving Guide
Great Barrier Reef is divided into four sections by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Act.
These four sections are Far Northern Section, Cairns Section, Central Section and Mackay/Capricorn Section. Our coverage of Great Barrier Reef is also divided into four pages for each of these sections.
A detail description of Great Barrier Reef is covered in the Great Barrier Reef scuba diving guide.
Here our focus is on the dive sites and reefs in Far Northern Section of Great Barrier Reef.
The reefs in Far Northern is not for the faint hearted. This place is famous for
plenty of shark actions. On almost every dive, the sharks there will make an
faithful appearance. The are also many fantastic walls that come alive with
plenty of beautiful corals and tropical fish. Diving trips to these reefs
usually run from the Lockhart River, a sleepy town 500km North of Cairns. From
there boat trips to reefs would usually take just a few hours.
Dive Sites around Great Barrier Reef (Far Northern Section)
This reef is situated in the middle of the Far Northern Section about 110km
Southeast of Lockhart River. The reef has many excellent dive sites. Healthy
coral gardens can be found on the inner side of the reef. The eastern side
provide excellent wall diving opportunity with pelagic and reef fish swimming
around colorful coral and invertebrates. The northern tip of Tijou reef
provides plenty of shark actions. Silvertip sharks, whitetip reef sharks and
grey reef sharks will come close to the divers, only to swim away peacefully
after satisfying their curiousity.
Wishbone Reef is about 130km Northeast of Lockhart River. The outside of the
reef has many incredible reef walls and large pinnacles. There are two dive
sites that stands out from the rest, the Cathedral Wall and the Mobula Wall. At
Mobula Wall, schools of Mobula are often seen swimming in formation. These rays
are similar to Manta rays, only smaller in size. The best time of the day to
visit Cathedral Wall is in the afternoon. The wall has a split which filter
beam of light from the midday sun and project them on the cave wall, lighting
up the site magically for divers to enjoy.
Great Detached Reef
Great Detached Reef is found 50km North of Wishbone Reef. The reef has dive
sites that are typically found in Far North Section. Breathtaking walls and
huge pelagic fish are the star attractions of day. Some of the best sites are
Manta Wall and Shark City. At Manta Wall, Manta rays gather around to pose for
pictures. In Shark City, some dive operators practise sharks feeding to draw
whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks and silvertip reef sharks close to the
divers for photography action.
About 20km North of Great Detached Reef is Raine Island. This is one of the
best place to see sea turtles during the nesting season. When the season
starts, thousands of sea turtles find their way here to nest on the island
during the night. Daytime, the turtle can be seen swimming and resting in the
coral gardens. The sea turtles present in the water also draw the Tiger Sharks
to these areas. Tiger Sharks are majestic creatures that can grow up to 5 m
long. They feed on these turtles. While some attacks on humans can be credited
to Tiger Sharks, most of such attacks are on surfers not divers. These sharks
are well known scavengers that will attack anything that look sicked, injured
and remotely edible floating on the surface of the water. In the water they do
not usually disturb the divers. For the very unlucky few who happened to be
menaced by a Tiger Shark, just keep cool and keep facing the shark, then slowly
exit the area.
Best Time to Dive in Great Barrier Reef (Far Northern Section)
The best time to go to Great Barrier Reef is from March to December. However,
to dive with Minke Whales and for the clearest water condition, July and
September would be the time to visit Great Barrier Reef.
Where to Stay in Cairns and Port Douglas
Divers hoping to visit Great Barrier Reef (Far Northern Section) should based
themselves in Cairns or Port Douglas. Most diving trips to Great Barrier Reef (Far Northern
Section) are liveaboard trips that takes off from Lockhart River. Lockhart
River is a small town and does not offers much accomodation choices. Rather,
most operators will fly divers into Lockhart River from Cairns or take a boat trip from
Port Douglas and start the diving iternary almost immediately.
For accommodation recommendation in Cairns and Port Douglas, refer to our Great Barrier Reef (Cairns) - Where to Stay in Cairns and Port Douglas
See a complete listing of Cairns Hotels and Accommodations
See a complete listing of
Port Douglas Hotels and Accommodations
How to get to Cairns and Port Douglas
The closest international airport is Cairns Airport. From the airport,
transport to hotels in Cairns or Port Douglas can be easily arranged. Cost of transportation is about
A$30 per passenger for mini-vans.
Thereafter, diving trips that start from Lockhart river to Great Barrier Reef (Far Northern Section) can be
arranged with local dive operators. Most packages, if not all, will include transport in and out of Lockhart river.
Major airlines offering daily flights to Cairns include
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