Exploring Australia’s Underrated Beaches

Remarkable and Fragile Waters

Symbiosis: noun- interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.

 

Ten days in Australia’s vast and diverse landscapes is simply not enough. Choosing which stops to make is a challenge to say the least. Our travels took us to Sydney and then three hours North by air to Hamilton Island where we encountered some of the most stunning scenery we’ve ever seen.

 

Sydney Welcomes Spring
As the sun rises in late Spring the light is powerful and warms the city quickly. Sydney is vibrant and clean, the people friendly, welcoming and helpful and there are so many must sees, landmarks and quite surprisingly, some seriously impressive beaches! Bondi and Manly Beaches are so different yet both so unique and only a short trip from the city center. Manly is a surfers paradise while Bondi Beach hosts the tremendous Sculptures by the Sea exhibit each year and is known for the famous pool built in to the sea, the Bondi Icebergs Club. During the exhibition stunning artwork sits on high clifftops, the bright colors striking against the bright blue of the sea and creativity flows along the high cliff paths.

Manly Beach is accessible by water taxi from Circular Quay and the view of the Sydney harbour, Harbour bridge and opera house during the ride are simply stunning. The sense is almost dreamlike; we’d started the trip in the bustling city; skyscrapers, cozy cafes and the botanical garden all within a stone’s throw from the boat and suddenly we’re in a colorful, laid-back, beach town! The ferry building is bustling and the walk from the calm waters on one side, to the rough surf on the other is completely surprising and relaxed. Manly feels like a true beach town with boardwalks, ice cream shops, babes in bikinis and adorable boutiques.

 

The Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef
The Whitsunday islands, a chain of 74 islands sheltered by the coral reef are completely divine. Flying in to the tiny airport in Hamilton from Sydney is like embarking on a different planet. The view of the water from the sky is breathtaking, turquoise, clear and sparkling. Magical and majestic, sea meets sky and clouds roll by lazily throughout the day. The islands themselves are rocky, shielding tiny rock wallabies from view, however, they still make their presence known with a quick hop to the next rock. This place is magic. The immense screams of the flying foxes in the trees each evening, the pond of gigantic Barramundi fish, the starfish in the shallows and the cockatoos are all part of the backdrop.

Hayman Island is on the inner reef, where coral is alive in the shallow waters and low tides create long sandbars that allow visitors to see the magical sea life that live harmoniously with the tides, an adaptation that allows for survival within constant change.

A trip to the outer reef is like nothing else. An hour boat ride brings us to the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, where the real magic is. For most Australians this is no big deal. But for a foreigner this is the ultimate in snorkeling and diving experiences. The water is glass, the sun strikes and the fish are visible just below the boat, all around us! Stinger suit (aka jellyfish shield) on we’re ready to jump in. Under the water is magical. So much life. 650 corals, 1625 fish, 133 sharks/rays, 30 species of whales and dolphins species live here in harmony and every time you look down you see another fish, another bright coral, another blue clam opening and closing. Swimming along surrounded by great sea cliffs on one side that drop down to the ocean floor, with shallow, warm waters to your left. There is so much to take in, a whole World under the surface.

Fragility of the reef

The relationships that exist in the natural world, especially our oceans are extremely diverse and complex. Those between fish and coral, clownfish and anemones, pistol shrimp and goby’s, and the cleaner shrimp and several types of fish. Complete symbiosis.

 

Symbiosis in Action
As humans we should be providing our own symbiotic efforts to protect the reef, after all, we benefit massively from the oceans, but instead we are contributing to its destruction. Sea turtles are being killed by boat motors and eating plastic that even we would mistake for a jelly fish. Climate change, fishing practices, industrialization and massive pollution have all caused the coral reef to decline by 50% since 1985. Thirty years to destroy something so large that it can be seen from space. How can that be?

We have an obligation to help fix this damage and keep it from continuing.

The good news is, the Australian government is investing over $3 billion to protect the reef. To balance economic needs with the needs of this World Heritage Site and keep it from becoming annihilated. We’re all responsible, and owe it to future generations to make an effort to keep the reef alive.

 

For more information and to support the reef visit WWF.com or the Environment.gov.au.

 

All photos taken by Wyatt Jenkins.

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Celsea Jenkins

Celsea is a wellness blogger, yogi and travel lover based in the Bay Area.When she’s not exploring the world, or making the perfect healthy snack, you can find her drinking organic coffee, reading a murder mystery, or walking her dogs in the hills. Follow her adventures at FreshMeetsFierce.com.

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