Great Barrier Reef, Australia Barbara Kingstone January 17, 2011 Australasia, Australia Many years ago, my husband, son and I moved to Sydney Australia. It was what we refer to as “our brilliant year.” We were lucky enough to find a flat with a front garden that went right onto Sydney Harbour. From the water’s edge we could see the celebrated opera house and the noted bridge. We just had to visit the Great Barrier Reef in the north-eastern part o the country. It’s the world’s largest coral reef system, which stretches an unimaginable 2,600 kilometres for perhaps some of the best snorkelling in the world. Not only can this UNESCO site be seen from outer space, but it is also the biggest single structure made up of and built by tiny living organisms. I still can’t forget my first impression of this immense and extremely popular destination. It is such a huge tourist success that it brings in several millions of dollars each year, but also supports a diversity of life that includes endangered and often vulnerable species. I was stunned by the glorious coral, the schools of fish whose colours would be the envy of any artist, and of course the heer variety of the sealife; the reef is the abode of 400 types of coral, over 5,000 species of fish and molluscs, 215 species of bird, and six species of sea turtles, to name just some of the amazing creatures that exist here. Over 40,000 years ago the Aboriginal Australians lived in this area and the reef i still part of their culture and their spirituality. That said, splendid resorts have blossomed and perhaps the most noted is Lady Elliot Island. All those many decades ago, I could not possibly have foreseen any problems facing the Great Barrier Reef other than too many visitors, but now climate change, pollution and declining water quality, all threaten this unique and incredible group of 2,900 individual reefs. As I started to write this article I thought about my first impressions, especially from when I toured on my first ever glass-bottom boat. Hmm. I think it would be a great idea for me to return and make comparisons from my first trip to the Great Barrier Reef.