Barrier Reef Australia Blog


Top 10 reasons to travel to the Great Barrier Reef during the Dry Season

Christine Retschlag on April 9th, 2021

While southern Australia shivers during the autumn and winter months, the Great Barrier Reef delivers balmy days and dry, clear nights. Here’s just 10 reasons you should travel to Queensland between May and October.

Warm Weather

We challenge you to find a southern Australian who isn’t looking longingly at the Queensland weather map and dreaming of the Great Barrier Reef during the winter months. Boasting an average winter temperature of 17 to 34 degrees Celsius in Tropical North Queensland, and 14 to 23 degrees Celsius in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, there’s plenty of reasons to pack your swimming costumes and head north for warm, clear days and nights. 

Queensland has a mild winter, making it great for swimming, relaxing by the pool with a tropical cocktail, and enjoying the natural wonders of Queensland and the things to do on the Great Barrier Reef.

Whale Season

One of the most compelling reasons to take a Great Barrier Reef holiday during Winter (aka the Dry Season) is that is also coincides with our Whale Watching season. Each year, the humpback whales make their pilgrimage from the cold waters of Antarctica to the warm waters of the Queensland coastline. Hervey Bay, off the Fraser Coast on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, is world-renowned as the best place in which to witness the whales in action. There are a number of terrific tour operators at Hervey Bay, but there are also plenty of other options to sight them further north, whether you are out on a day cruise in the Whitsundays or anywhere in between.  Explore the wide selection of full day, half day and liveaboard whale watching tours available in Queensland for an unforgetable experience.

During June - July the Dwarf Minke Whales visit North Queensland where it's the only place in the world where you can swim with the Minke Whales, or during a a liveaboard trip.  Trips depart from Port Douglas and Cairns and offer visitors the opportunity for an up close and personal experience with these inquisitive creatures.

It’s Sailing Season

During the Dry Season the south-east trade winds blow along the Queensland coastline making it an ideal time for sailors. Not only is sailing one of the best ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef, but you don’t have to be a grotty yachty to join in the action. There are many clubs along the coast that offer nautical novices the opportunity to join a crew on an afternoon sail. For more serious sailors, from Gladstone to the Tropical North, there are plenty of tour operators which can teach you to sail. The Whitsundays, which is renowned for its sailing around its 74 magical islands, also hosts Airlie Beach Race Week and Hamilton Island Race Week.

Explore the range of Whitsunday Sailing options to cruise the Whitsundays and visit the iconic Whitehaven Beach and islands of the Whitsundays.  During the cooler winter months many of the luxury yachts and superyachts cruise to Queensland to enjoy the tropical winter, and charter season.  For the ultimate Queensland experience charter a private yacht complete with captain, crew and onboard personal chef for a luxurious Queensland holiday.

Stay on a Tropical Island

Tropical North Queensland boasts several islands that offers a range of acommodation catering from budget to luxurious, all inclusive resorts. Off the coast from Cairns you have Green Island, Fitzroy Island and Queensland's northern most luxury resort Lizard IslandOrpheus Island Resort offers a secluded island getaway accessible from Cairns or Townsville by scenic helicopter. 

As you travel south there is Great Keppel Island, off the coast from Yepoon then Heron Island, and Lady Musgrave Island approximate 2 hours from Bundaberg. The well known Whitsunday Islands are made up 74 stunning islands - most of which uninhabitated national parks.  In the southern Great Barrier Reef is Lady Elliot Island - home of the manta ray and and eco resort.

You don’t need to be wealthy to stay on a tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef. Queensland is home to some incredible National Parks which offer amazing island resorts and camp sites – check out Whitehaven Beach – and during the Dry Season, this is an ideal activity.

Time for a Break

By May, the school and working year have been in full swing for several months and quite frankly, it’s time to take a holiday. The best part is there are also plenty of Australian public holidays during the Dry Season months so you can easily build on those for a short break or extend your stay. And believe us when we say a Great Barrier Reef break will feel like a world away from your everyday existence. After all, it’s hard to feel stressed when you’re snorkelling with Nemo and Dory.

Hit the Road

Chasing Queensland's famous sunshine - Grey nomads love this time of year to head north, so much so that they are often travelling for between three and six months.  At the other end of the spectrum, backpackers leave the cooler climes of southern Australia to explore northern Australia. If you want to meet some of the most colourful characters on your travels to the Great Barrier Reef, hit the road and exlore some of Queensland's epic coastal roads. Whether you are sharing a resort, a campsite or something in between, you’ll most certainly bond over your Great Barrier Reef adventures.

Queensland offers some great 4WD Safaris and adventures!  With clear skies, it's the perfect time to visit the Tip of Australia to Cape York, and visit Cooktown.  Or travel out to explore Queensland's outback with day trips and overnight 4WD trips from Cairns. 

School Holidays

With the bulk of school holidays happening at the end of the year, the Great Barrier Reef provides the perfect platform for a mid-year school holiday break. Not only does it allow an escape from the cooler climates down south, but in two or three weeks you can experience an amazing time from north to south. Or simply plonk yourself and the kids on one of our idyllic islands, or relax at the beachside of Palm Cove or Port Douglas and use it as a base from which to take day trips out to the reef. There’s also plenty of school holiday activities to keep the kids occupied at reef resorts during this time.  Keep in mind, it's peak time - so ensure to book early!

Great timing for Meetings and Events

With the working year hitting full throttle during this season, so too is the conference, meeting and events sector. For those who can’t escape for an actual holiday, do the next best thing and take a working holiday with your team to one of the most spectacular places on the planet. Cairns can welcome large groups in the Cairns Convention Centre. Team building is pretty easy when you’re sailing our spectacular waters or flying above our rainforest canopies. It’s also an ideal destination for those wishing to escape the Northern Hemisphere during this time.

Just say “I do”

Say I do to the Great Barrier Reef and to your life partner. In fact, it’s even better if you combine them both. Queensland offers some of the most spectacular places in wish to get married whether it’s an engagement proposal over beautiful Whitehaven Beach, to a wedding in a chapel overlooking the ocean at Port Douglas. Tropical North Queensland the and Whitsundays are particular specialists when it comes to arranging memorable marriages and then it’s simply up to you to choose from where along the Great Barrier Reef you’d like to honeymoon.

It’s Dugong Mating Season

The Great Barrier Reef supports one of the planet’s most important dugong populations and this is one of the reasons it was given World Heritage status. These elusive animals, also known as sea cows, are the only marine mammals in Australia that live mainly on plants. While they don’t mate often, it is during this Dry Season months, and male dugongs use their tusks to fight each other.  The best place to sight a dugong is north of Cooktown and in the Southern Great Barrier Reef around Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

Christine Retschlag

Christine Retschlag

Christine Retschlag is an award-winning Australian journalist who has worked in newspapers, magazines and online for the past 25 years in Australia, Hong Kong, London and Singapore. In 2006, she won the Australian Travel Writer of the Year award for Best Trade Story as well as the Jack Butters Memorial Award for Travel Writing Excellence. In 2007 she won Best Australian Story over 1000 words and in 2014 won Best Food Travel Story. She is also the author and architect of the successful travel blog: The Global Goddess.

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