Friday, February 01, 2008

Greatest Places on Earth! *Great Barrier Reef*

I LOVE the ocean but it is one of those beautiful natural wonders that amaze you and also demand respect, so when I think about one of the greatest places on earth, no doubt it has to be The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

So come on, let's get going.


The Great Barrier Reef is undisputed as one of the world’s most important natural assets. It is the largest natural feature on earth stretching more than 2,300km along the northeast coast of Australia from the northern tip of Queensland to just north of Bundaberg.

The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps.

The Great Barrier Reef supports a diversity of life, including many vulnerable or endangered species.

Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded in the Great Barrier Reef, including the dwarf minke whale, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and the humpback whale. Large populations of dugongs live there.

Six species of sea turtles come to the reef to breed – the green sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, flatback turtle, and the olive ridley.

215 species of birds (including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds) are attracted to the reef or nest or roost on the islands, including the white-bellied sea eagle and roseate tern. Most nesting sites are on islands in the northern and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, with 1.4-1.7 million birds using the sites to breed.

The most significant threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change. Mass coral bleaching events due to rising ocean temperatures occurred in of the summers of 1998, 2002 and 2006, and coral bleaching will likely become an annual occurrence. Climate change has implications for other forms of life on the Great Barrier Reef as well - some fish's preferred temperature range lead them to seek new areas to live, thus causing chick mortality in seabirds that prey on the fish. Climate change will also affect the population and available habitat of sea turtles.

Another key threat faced by the Great Barrier Reef is pollution and declining water quality. The rivers of north eastern Australia provide significant pollution of the Reef during tropical flood events with over 90% of this pollution being sourced from farms.

Due to its vast biodiversity, warm clear waters and its accessibility from the floating guest facilities called 'live aboards', the reef is a very popular destination for tourists, especially scuba divers. Many cities along the Queensland coast offer daily boat trips to the reef. Several continental and coral cay islands have been turned into resorts, including the pristine resort island of Lady Elliot Island.

A variety of boat tours and cruises are offered, from single day trips, to longer voyages. Boat sizes range from dinghies to superyachts. Glass-bottomed boats and underwater observatories are also popular, as are helicopter flights. By far, the most popular tourist activities on the Great Barrier Reef are snorkelling and diving, for which pontoons are often used, and the area is often enclosed by nets. The outer part of the Great Barrier Reef is favoured for such activities, due to water quality.



The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef in photos

Scuba Diving in the Reef

Shark Feed in the Great Barrier Reef


Garlic Scallops:

  • 500 g scallop flesh

  • 1 medium sized onion, diced finely

  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped or crushed

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 100 ml pouring cream

  • 4 spring onions sliced Chinese style (on an angle)

  • a splash of white wine (50 ml)

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives or parsley

  1. Fry garlic and onion with oil in a medium hot pan for 2 minutes, but don't allow to colour. Add scallops, lightly cook on one side for 20 seconds. Continue to rum and cook for another 20 seconds and then remove from pan.
  2. On medium to high heat, add the splash of white wine to pan and reduce for 1 minute, Add cream and reduce until the sauce thickens to a nice coating consistency.
  3. Add scallops, spring onions and gently toss in sauce for about 1 minute, Place scallops on big mound of rice pilaf and pour over sauce, then garnish with chives or parsley.
  4. Note: This lovely dish can be enlarged by the addition of Prawns and most fillets of fish.

Baked Chicken with Potatoes

  • 1 X 1.5 kg chicken

  • 5 potatoes, cut into wedges

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup olive oil)

  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

  • 2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  • 5 cloves garlic

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 250 ml (1 cup) water

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree centigrade.
  2. Cut the chicken into pieces of equal size and place in a baking dish. Distribute the potato wedges here and there snugly, wherever they fit.
  3. Pour the oil all over.
  4. Sprinkle cheese and breadcrumbs all over, followed by tomato, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Finally pour in the water and wine gently, in one place so that it seeps under the chicken pieces.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes. Remove the foil to brown all over until cooked.


  • 4 egg whites

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1 level teaspoonful corn flour

  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

  • Pinch of salt

  • Vanilla essence

  • 300 ml of whipped cream

  • 1 peppermint crisp or equivalent

  • 1 chocolate flake or equivalent

  1. Beat egg whites and salt until stiff. Add a couple of drops of vanilla essence. Gradually add the sugar while beating.
  2. Add the vinegar and beat well. Sift in the corn flour and fold in lightly.
  3. Run a large oven proof dinner plate under cold water. Place the mixture onto the plate. Be careful that it is not too close to the edge as it will expand during cooking.
  4. Place in hot oven and bake in
    Electric oven at 140 degrees centigrade for 90 -120 minutes, then on low for 20 minutes or
    Gas oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 10 minutes, then on low for 1 hour.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  6. When cold top with 300 ml of whipped cream.
  7. Chop 1 peppermint crisp and 1 chocolate flake. Mix well together and sprinkle on the top of the pavlova.
  8. Enjoy.


  1. I love these tours that you're doing- so much great information.
    The dessert recipe looks awesome too!

  2. What beautiful pictures Sandra.I love when you do your greatest place on earth posts.:) have a great day .

  3. I've just had to print off the Great Barrier Reef picture for Chatterbox, lol she was very excited when she saw it.

    It is so beautiful, the ocean is sooo blue!

    Hugs Sarah xx

  4. The Great Barrier Reef is beautiful, I made my kids come in and look at all the great pics. Thanks for sharing.
    The recipes look good too.

  5. Hi Sandra,

    The Great Barrier Reef is an absolutely amazing place, I visited it many times as a kid but haven't been there in years. I remember going out on a glass bottom boat and seeing all the coral and fish, it was amazing. I'm looking forward to taking my kids there one day :)

    Thanks for bringing your blog to my part of the world, looking forward to your next journey :)

    Rachel xxx
    A Juggling Mum

  6. Wow, thanks for the mini vacation. Australia & Africa vie for top position on my list of places to see...Australia is #1 for the moment though :-)


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