The Great Barrier Reef...Green Island history and tour...


The Great Barrier Reef covers 344,400 square kilometers (132,972 square miles) in area.
The Great Barrier Reef is considered one of the world's greatest treasures and is a vital aspect to the world's eco system.  Yesterday, having an opportunity to see a portion of this vast natural icon that can be seen from outer space, was rewarding and memorable.
We waiting on a curb for the boat to arrive at the pier for our 45 minute ride to Green Island.
For reasons we posted two days ago, we choose not to snorkel.  However, I can't say that had we been able to snorkel, our experience would have been a lot different.
We weren't able to get a spot in the bow for photo taking during the ride to Green Island.  We remained inside in air conditioned comfort although I was anxious to take photos outdoor photos.  Our boat, Big Cat's Reef Rocket, was modern with free wifi, restrooms, beverages and snacks.
What lies beneath the sea is undoubtedly awe inspiring.  It appeared that scuba diving would be most rewarding, as opposed to snorkeling, being able to maneuver more freely over the endless coral reefs.  Actually, we saw few people snorkeling and less scuba diving.

Snorkelers were able to purchase their snorkel gear and wetsuits from this bar inside the boat.
In all, there are 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays and approximately 150 inshore mangrove islands.  We visited Green Island, only one of those many islands that has been built into a tourist ready environment, enabling visitors from around the world to see this natural phenomenon.


With ocean spray on the windows I shot this photo of the massive pier at Green Island which accommodates several companies providing a variety of activities including wind surfing, scuba diving and tours on semi-submersible and glass bottom boats. 
Australia, from what we've seen thus far, is a continent highly in tune with its rich natural resources.  When a venue is created its done so with respect for those resources with the intent of ensuring as natural an experience as possible when sharing those resources with the public. 
Another of the charter boats heading to the Great Barrier Reef.  Not all boats go to Green Island with numerous other charters available for different prices and arrival times.
Green Island is no exception.  Every consideration was made over the years to develop a significant space where the visitor would feel in one with the environment.  In doing so, a little of the magic is taken away but what is left is a fair representation of what explorers may have discovered centuries ago.

The colorful views around us was only a small section of the Great Barrier Reef.
Nothing was spared in providing safety and convenience and in allowing visitors the optimum experience savoring the beauty of the island while respectfully representing the significance of the surrounding treasures only a short distance below the water's surface. 

Green Island, as we approached (through the glass).
Over and again, visitors are reminded to treat the coral reef with reverence and respect to avoid upsetting the ecosystem and habitats for thousands of creatures.


This parasailing equipment included a chair for two at a cost of  AUD $280, USD $200 per couple.  Although some of these types of activities may appeal to us, we have to pick and choose what is most important to us for the long term
Green Island has a rich history dating back to the 1770's as shown in this chart below:

"Significant Historical Dates for Green Island

Green Island has an amazing history! Even though Green Island is a very small island, it has played an important role in the history of Tropical North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef region.

When on Green Island, take some time to visit the colourful Interpretive Boardwalk. Designed in 6 languages, it showcases the island's European and Aboriginal histories as well as its outstanding natural values.
Pre 1770 Local Aboriginal tribes (Gungandji and Mandingalbay) used Green Island and its reef for fishing, hunting, and manhood initiation ceremonies.
1770Captain Cook first marked Green Island on the navigational charts and named it after the astronomer onboard, Charles Green.
1857A bech-de-mer (sea cucumber) smoking station was established on Green Island. It was operated by a fisherman called JSV Mein, and operated for several decades before closing down.
1863A ship called the ‘Antagonist’ shipwrecked on Green Island reef while carrying horses to India (14 May 1863).
1889
  • Coconuts were planted to provide shelter, food and drink for shipwrecked sailors.
  • Grass hut accommodation was constructed for fishing and hunting parties.
1890The first organised pleasure cruises to Green Island commenced on a local coaster called ‘Zeus’.
1906
  • Green Island was declared a Recreational Reserve under the Cairns Council.
  • The first public jetty was constructed.
1924Hayles commenced fortnightly passenger service from Cairns to Green Island.
1930Kitty & Noel Monkman, pioneers in underwater photography and videography, moved to Green Island. During WW II they acted as volunteer air observers.
1931The replacement jetty was constructed by Cairns Town Council.
1932Cairns Town Council was granted a license to remove coral from the Green Island reef flat to make lime for mainland cane fields (operated until 1945).
1934Green Island declared a Fauna Sanctuary
1936Management control of Green Island changed from Cairns Town Council to the Queensland State.
1937
  • Green Island was declared a National Park.
  • World’s first glassbottom boat launched.
  • Research facility built (now Dept. of Primary Industry Research Laboratory).
  • Hayles was granted the first 20-year lease to develop a hotel with tourism activities
1939First groyne was built to protect the foreshore.
1942 The first hotel, Coral Cay Hotel, was constructed by Hayles.
1946Jetty was reconstructed after being destroyed by cyclone.
1954World’s first underwater observatory opened.
1958Island camping permits no longer issued.
1960Present jetty constructed.
1961Great Barrier Reef Theatre constructed.
1963Redeveloped hotel, the Green Island Reef Resort, opens.
1964Crocodile Farm opens – the first ever on an island. Renamed Marineland Melanesia in 1972
1970
  • Queen Elizabeth II visits Green Island on her 44th birthday – as part of her tour that followed in Captain Cook’s footsteps.
  • Sandbag retaining wall built near jetty to protect resort land from erosion.
1974Green Island Reef declared a Marine National Park by the Queensland Government.
1978Seaplane access to Green Island permitted.
1981Green Island Reef zoned a Marine National Park ‘B’ with a Buffer Zone under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act (extending 500m out from edge of reef).
1982Daily fast catamaran service from Cairns commenced by Hayles Pty Ltd.
1988Dreamworld Corporation purchased Green Island Reef Resort and ferry services from Hayles Pty Ltd and renamed the company Great Adventures.
1989Green Island Reef Resort closed due to disrepair.
1991Daikyo Pty Ltd purchased the resort and ferry service on Green Island from Dreamworld Corporation
1992Redevelopment of Green Island Resort and day facilities commenced.
1993Redeveloped day facilities opened to the public.
1994The Green Island Resort luxury accommodation opened.
2001Green Island Resort desalination plant operational – producing over 55,000 litres of freshwater daily.
2005Quicksilver Connections acquires Great Adventures and Green Island Resort from Daikyo Pty Ltd
As shown in the above chart, Green Island has grown as a popular tourist attraction over the years.  From this perspective, we accept the commercialism required to make Green Island a viable location to which visitors will flock after writing good reviews all over the web. 

After disembarking the Reef Rocket, we walked along the pier heading to the boat at the end of the pier, the Big Cat, where tourists are to wait to gain access to the semi-submersible submarine and the glass bottom boat.  The pier was high above the water but we did our best to take a few photos of the colorful fish.

Blue fish!  Wow!
Did we have a great time at the Great Barrier Reef?  We had a good time, very grateful for the experience.  Who visits Queensland and doesn't see the Great Barrier Reef? 

Its never easy to take photos from above water.  We did our best, hoping to capture these colorful blue fish.  There are hundreds of identify this specific species.
Back home by 5:30 pm, with everything for dinner chopped, diced and relatively ready to cook, by 6:45 we sat down to dine, smiles on our faces for having taken the time and expense to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

The walk down the long pier to the Big Cat, a huge air conditioned boat that stays anchored for most of the day used as a lounge and rest area and loading area for glass bottomed boats and semi-submersibles.
Tomorrow and over the next several days, we'll share our photos both underwater and above water, describing the tours on both the glass bottom boat and the semi-submersible submarine and, how we spent our remaining time on Green Island.


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Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2014:
 
It was one year ago today that our dear new friend Liz from Bristol, England took the train to South Kensington to visit us for the day.  It couldn't have been a more wonderful day the two of us sharing girl talk at lunch and later the three of us at dinner.  At the end of the evening, we walked Liz to the train station, said our goodbyes and have stayed in touch since.  We miss and love you, Liz!  For details from that date, please click here.
 

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