What is the Great Barrier Reef?

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the listed Wonders of the Natural World and draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to the coasts of tropical North Queensland each year. As the largest single living organism on Earth, the Great Barrier Reef is a complex system of hard and soft corals that spans an overall length of over 2,600 kilometres off the eastern coast of Australia in the aptly-named Coral Sea. Easily visible from space, the sheer size of the reef a testament to its scale; over 344,000 square km worth of reef in total can be found between its tips in the north and south.

Where is the Great Barrier Reef?

While the Great Barrier Reef is technically classed as a single entity, in truth it is comprised of 900 islands and numerous reefs which lie at varying distances off the east coast of Queensland, Australia. The reef unofficially “starts” in the general vicinity of Fraser Island (the world’s largest sand island which sits around 200 kilometres north of Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane) and continues up the coast to the waterway known as the Torres Strait to the northern tip of the state. Certain stretches of the Great Barrier Reef come as close to 15km to the shore of Queensland’s coast with the widest areas of the reach approaching 65 kilometres across.

Islands marked on this map are clickable. Please move your mouse over the map to get more links.