The Great Barrier Reef is located in the Coral Sea and stretches for 2300 kilometres up the east coast of Australia starting just north of Bundaberg in the south to the tip of Cape York in the north.
The Great Barrier Reef covers an area of approximately 344,000 square kilometres. That’s approximately the size of Japan or 70 million football fields. Bigger than NZ or UK! The Great Barrier Reef isn’t just one big reef but is a system of over 2000 separate reefs, 600 continental islands and 350 coral cays.
Reefs have grown on the continental shelf of Queensland for about two million years in the south and up to eighteen million years in the north! The Great Barrier Reef sea level had changed many times over the years. With the last ice age, it dropped dramatically to 100 metres below its current level. In those days it would have been possible for the aboriginal people to walk to the outer Great Barrier Reef! About 20,000 years ago the last ice age ended and the sea, replenished by the melting ice caps, rose rapidly.
Then around 10,000 years ago, the sea began to flood the old limestone hills for the first time in more than 100,000 years. Corals grew on old eroded reef platforms to form the reefs of today’s Great Barrier Reef.