Great Barrier Reef location & maps

Are you wondering where the Great Barrier Reef is located? Or maybe you are searching for a some maps of the Great Barrier Reef? Keep reading to discover its location, maps detailing popular destinations & more!

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A small map of the world with the location of the Great Barrier Reef on it.

A satalite image of Australia with the location of the Great Barrier Reef outlined in red.
Image courtesy of NASA

The Great Barrier Reef is located off the coast of the state Queensland, on the eastern side of Australia, as can be seen on the map to the right.

It is located in the Coral Sea, which I think is a very appropriate name considering that it contains the worlds biggest coral reef ecosystem.

It runs from above the very northern tip of Australia, called Cape York, right down to the townships of Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, where you will find the popular destination of Fraser Island.

In fact, the top of the reef includes the Torres Strait islands and the south coast of Papua New Guinea, meaning it crosses international marine borders.

As such, not all of the reef is the sole property of Australia, although the vast majority of the reef is inside Australian controlled marine areas.

The reef stretches a total distance of over 2,300km (1,300 miles), making it the largest reef ecosystem in the world.

To put this in perspective, that is a little bigger than the drive from London to Rome or the drive from Miami to New York!

Popular cities & townships along the Great Barrier Reef

There are many popular destinations, townships and cities along the coast. Many backpackers rent a car or camper-van and tour right up from Brisbane to Cairns/Port Douglas, stopping off at many places along the way.


1. Cairns / Port Douglas
2. Mission Beach
3. Townsville
4. Bowen
5. Mackay / Whitsunday Islands
6. Rockhampton
7. Bundaberg
8. Hervey Bay / Fraser Island (the start / bottom
    of the Great Barrier Reef)
9. The Sunshine Coast
10. Brisbane

As you can see on the map, there are lot's of places to stop. Ideally, if you wanted to tour from Brisbane up the Cairns (or Port Douglas which is another 65 kms north of Cairns), you would want a minimum of 2 weeks.

However, with many other beautiful places to explore along the way, you could easily extend the trip out to 5 or more weeks, even longer if you also explore some areas inland as well.

Popular islands on the Great Barrier Reef

Of course another reason that people love to visit the Great Barrier Reef is to stay on a tropical island, either camping or relaxing in a resort.

Luckily, the reef is home to more than 600 islands in total. Although many are have very limited access (for example, some are reserved for scientific research and wild life reserves) there are still plenty of islands for tourists to visit.

Here is a small selection of some of the most popular islands for tourists, although there are numerous others.


1. Lizard Island
2. Green Island
3. Fitzroy Island
4. Dunk Island
5. Orpheus Island
6. Magnetic Island
7. The Whitsunday Island group
8. Heron Island
9. Lady Elliot Island
10. Fraser Island

So there you have it, that's the location of the Great Barrier Reef and a small selection of popular tourist destinations, towns and cities, and islands that people like to visit. If you are going to the reef I wish you luck and hope you have a great time!

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