Written by Linda Kaye on 22 Aug, 2001
The Great Barrier Reef is the greatest living structure and indisputably one of the natural wonders of the world. Lady Elliot Island marks the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef, which spans 1,240 miles along the northeastern coast of Australia and consists of…Read More
The Great Barrier Reef is the greatest living structure and indisputably one of the natural wonders of the world. Lady Elliot Island marks the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef, which spans 1,240 miles along the northeastern coast of Australia and consists of 3,000 individual coral reefs. The Reef is built on the calcium skeletons of billions of minute coral polyps laid down over thousands of years. On top of this, new coral grows, fed by the warm, clear waters rich in nutrients which promote the diverse aquatic life in the coral. This new coral dies, and the process is repeated, and continues and continues.
In 1770 Capt. James Cook encountered this reef and it nearly ended his expedition when his ship, the Endeavor, was damaged as he tried to find a way across it through the dense coral shoals.
In the great lagoon between the outer reef and the mainland are coral cays, continental islands, and inner patch reefs. In and around the reef are about 900 islands. Of all these nineteen (19) islands offer accommodations. Some are highly developed; others offer Club Med-style of fun and games, and others, peaceful and secluded get-aways. Of the 19 islands, only three are true coral cays. Lady Elliot is one of these three. A coral cay is made up entirely of coral and the island is still growing. As you view the pictures of the island taken from the air, the "halo" surrounding the island is the shallow coral shelf.
The nicest part of staying "on" the Great Barrier Reef is that the reef is all around you. You don’t have to take a bus or a boat to get to a place to snorkel or dive - you simply walk from your bungalow out into the water.
In the lagoon, just in front of our Island Suite, we saw the most beautiful blue starfish, giant clams and colorful fish by the thousands. For those who don’t want to get wet, the resort has "cones" that look like a cheerleaders megaphone that you can hold. The wider end is sealed with Plexiglas and inserted into the water while looking through the other. However, the water is so clear, you can get a wonderful view with just the naked eye.
During the season we visited, there were two high tides and two low tides each day. It was very strange to look across the lagoon and see it drained of water, leaving only the coral and small pools of water full of small fish. Then, just a few hours later, filled again with beautiful blue water.