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Fantasea Reef Sleep.

The Fantasea Seahorse at dawn.

Liz and I were guests of Fantasea Adventure Cruising on their unique Reef Sleep experience. It is the only permanent reef structure accommodation of its kind in Australia and is an opportunity for young and old to appreciate one of the eight wonders of the world in a very private and personal way.
Fantasea is leading the field amongst eco tourism and they have been officially recognised as a "Green Travel Leader" of Australia. This honour is only given to organisations that have been ECO Certified for 10 years or more. Fantasea is one of ONLY 50 companies in Australia and is only one of three companies in the Whitsundays who qualify, proving they are great Ambassadors to tourism not only in Queensland but in the whole of Australia! Details regarding booking and departures can be found on the

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Fantasea Adventure Cruises - Reef Platform.

The Fantasea Reef Platform.

Fantasea Adventure Cruises platform at Hardy Reef is approximately 70 klms from the mainland, and day trippers can get an idea of how remote this marine playground is as they approach this speck on the horizon in the Coral Sea. Time passes so quickly for the daytrippers as they dive, snorkel, ride in the yellow semi submersible or take a helicopter flight over the reef. All this and a buffet lunch leaves little time to relax and just enjoy the view. A Reef Sleep must be the best value for money option available for the visitor, as they encounter 2 consecutive day trips with a 20 hour period in between, when they can snorkel or dive at their leisure with their Reef Sleep Host standing by to cater for their every need.

Although an expensive overnight stay on the reef platform, it will be an experience that will remain with you forever. An evening dinner under the stars is pure honeymoon material.

The Fantasea Ferry Departs.

The Day Trippers Depart - A Celebratory Drink.

The Fantasea Ferry departs on its journey back to the mainland and it is time to raise our glasses to our hosts, Fantasea Adventure Cruises, who generously provided our accommodation in the King Room for our duration.
As we sat sipping our champagne there was a silent serenity that seemed to envelop us, but for the gentle lapping of the ocean against the reef platform. Below and surrounding us a mass of living coral playing host to many varieties of reef fish that swam silently with the occasional Trevally breaking the surface to announce its presence. Looking out we could see sea birds settling on the vacated Heli Pads after their day of food forays into the crystal clear waters.

Cheers to Fantasea.

Reef Sleep Accommodation.

Our accommodation for the night was in the King Room. Very comfortable and fully airconditioned as is the standard accommodation on the opposite side of the reef platform. Both rooms have large ensuites and during the afternoon are an ideal escape for a few minutes to shower and cool down for a few minutes away from the hot tropical sun, or to take a quiet nap if you so desire. Dave was our Reef Sleep Host for the day and he enlightened us on all the niceties available to a Reef Sleeper including the guided snorkel tour, diving facilities and of course the night viewing chamber where you can see an enormous array of fish parading across the windows.

The King Room.

Fellow Guests.

We met up with Craig and Stacy Maidment from Dubbo, a very amiable young couple on their honeymoon, who had decided to do The Fantasea Reef Sleep because it had everything they wanted to experience on a visit to The Great Barrier Reef in one trip. They were staying on Hamilton Island and their accommodation of choice was The Palm Bungalows. Both were looking forward eagerly to their Reef Sleep experience. The ladies dressed up for dinner in the evening and were suitably photographed in their finery with snorkel and goggle accessories. Unfortunately those particular photographs are not presented here as they are not considered of a travel or educational nature.

Empty Decks.

The Sound of Silence.

It was nice to sit and relax knowing that we had the rest of the afternoon and evening in such a tranquil setting and plenty more to follow the next day. Liz and I took a walk around the Reef Platform in the afternoon after the day trippers had departed, and as regular visitors to Fantasea Reef World it was unusual to see the gangways void of multi coloured body suits parading to and fro and the accompanying sounds of excited laughter emanating from the crowd. An amazing experience that was descriptive of that old cliche, 'The silence was deafening'.

Empty Decks.

George the Giant Grouper.

The ondeck viewing station is one of the attractions that draw the crowds as soon as they alight from the Fantasea Ferry. George and his entourage of yellow Pilot Fish who feed off of parasites and leftovers from their host can be seen cruising lazily in the water below. He is a big crowd favourite at 2.7 metres in length.
A group of females together usually sees the largest of the group changing into a male, as do the Wrasse and the Parrot Fish. Fish of the Grouper variety are attracted to reef platforms as their usual habitat is the similarly constructed but natural Plate Coral where they shelter in wait for crustaceans and other sources of food.

George the Giant Grouper.

Eye on the Reef Program

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 'Eye on the Reef' program is a partnership between the GBRMPA, marine tourism operators and reef researchers.
Fantasea marine biologists have been involved with this monitoring program since its inception in the Whitsundays in June 2007. As a result, Fantasea staff are able to contribute to reef knowledge and understanding at the highest level ever achieved. Daily forms are completed by Fantasea's marine biologists to record water temperature and visibility, the presence of floating animals such as jellyfish, and sightings of all marine creatures and other important data.

The Yellow Semi - Submersible.

Pre Dinner Semi Submersible Trip.

It really is the most pleasant experience to wander around the Fantasea Cruises Reef Platform in utter seclusion and tranquility. With dining time fast approaching and a few photographs taken, a couple of Japanese guests arrived by helicopter to take a Semi Submersible trip and we were invited to join them. It matters not how many trips you take because these amazing reef dwelling creatures are constantly on the move and every trip throws up a different perspective. The trip over, we bade farewell to the visitors and retired to our accommodation to shower and change for our evening dining engagement.

Liz on Reception.

Dining with Fantasea at The Reef.

Suitably refreshed after the days excursions Liz and I joined Craig and Stacy for dinner out on the deck of the Reef Platform. After pre dinner drinks and some interesting conversation the unanimous starter decided upon was good old pumpkin soup, a firm favourite. We selected 50/50 for salmon and steak for the main course and it was again a split decision on sticky date pudding and chocolate cake, both with ice cream to end the evening dining. A very pleasant warm evening spent with nice company in magical surroundings. The sky was overcast so unfortunately we were unable to record a beautiful sunset but the morning sunrise made up for any shortcomings the weather produced on this enchanting evening with Fantasea Cruises Reef Sleep on The Great Barrier Reef.

Craig and Stacy dining at The Reef.

Night Moves.

After dinner we walked over to the end of the reef platform where a spotlight had been trained onto the water below to attract the marine life. Fish were darting everywhere as we watched in awe. George the Giant Grouper was gliding nonchalently through the shoals followed by his attentive harem. We decended the stairs into the viewing chamber for a closer look at the action. The night viewing seems much more a spectacle than during the day because of the sheer numbers of fish on display. Sitting quietly in the darkness we were keenly aware as Trevally , darting across the windows, snapped and swallowed tiny bait fish. Yellow tail Fusiliers were in abundance and many other varieties were identified by our Reef Host as we sat watching night moves on The Great Barrier Reef.

Pre Dawn View.

Pre Dawn and Sunrise.

The next morning we arose early and stepped out into the darkness to await the dawn. On the top deck of the Reef Platform we could hear the sea birds stirring as the pre dawn light began to appear on the Eastern Horizon. This was going to be a magnificent spectacle as the clouds enhanced the distant seascape. The coloured hues changed rapidly as dawn approached. Inevitably the sun finally broke through as we eagerly snapped the evidence for future reminiscence of our stay out on The Great Barrier Reef with Fantasea Adventure Cruises Reef Sleep. This was the start of another great day and a few more hours of solitude before the arrival of the next ferry full of day trippers.

Sunrise at the Reef.

A Hearty Breakfast.

After rising with a pre - dawn start in anticipation of a glorious sunrise, the fresh sea air does wonders to your constitution and a hearty breakfast on the deck of the Reef Platform is, I will confess, a culinary delight. It is a far cry from a quick drink and a look around that our sea bird companions enjoy on the helipads in the distance. Our fellow Reef Sleepers joined us and a brief thought of passengers soon boarding the next ferry from our home in Shute Harbour to Hardy Reef drifted in and out of my mind's eye. A wonderful setting, a delightful breakfast, and another day on the Fantasea Reef Platform has only just begun.

Liz at Breakfast.

Relax and Plan Ahead.

The previous day we had chatted with the Fantasea Marine Biologist and had arranged for Liz to partake in a guided snorkel tour later in the day, but prior to that we needed to purchase some items from the Reef Shop to take back for our grandson who arrives in April from the UK. Our fellow reef sleepers Craig and Stacy decided to while away some time relaxing in the water close to the Reef Platform. While Liz and I lounged on the upper deck enjoying the warm tropical sun we could here the sounds of laughter coming from down below. Not wanting to miss out on the fun we decided to investigate the cause of this jollification.

Feeding the Fish

Watching the Fish.

Looking over the side of the platform we could see Craig and Stacy below surrounded by hundreds of Yellow Tail Fusiliers and other small species that had swam in to investigate the visitors. These reef creatures seemed quite oblivious to the presence of humans in their midst as they frollicked and jumped in between Craig and Stacy's legs . Shortly after, we were visited by two green turtles who swam around gnawing at the growth on the pylons below but were far too busy to give us a full view pose for the camera.

Fish Frollicks
The Days First Arrivals.

Our Reef Sleep Ends.

Standing on the upper deck in the distance we saw what was to be the first of 2 Fantasea Ferry arrivals for the morning. Our Reef Sleep finally over but a few more hours before we finally leave. It has been one of the most enjoyable and memorable trips that Liz and I have shared over many years together and we recommend it to anyone who is planning to visit The Great Barrier Reef in the future. Once again we thank Rob Addis and the crew at Fantasea Cruises for a wonderful experience we will never forget.

Adios to the Reef Platform Crew.

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