Traveling the Australian East Coast, a few more questions

My wife and I are about to spend a month traveling up from Sydney to Cairns. As we’re putting together the final preparations a couple of very specific concerns arose:

  1. Over the next two months, where will jelly fish (the killer kind) make swimming impossible, and where would swimming/surfing/diving still be considered a good idea?

  2. Also over the next two months, where would diving be best and worst in terms of visibility, current, jelly fish, etc?

I’m desperately trying to avoid a situation where I’ve booked a week at a hotel on the beach only to find out the beach is closed due to a yearly migration of killer-everythings.


As far as killer jellyfish you will be alright from Sydney up to the lower reaches of Queensland. North of Gladstone (in Queensland) is box jellyfish territory from roughly October to June. You will still be able to swim inside stinger nets, this protects from the box jellyfish but irikandji can still get through, so take the advice of the lifesavers on duty about swimming. They drag the water regularly for them, so can tell you if numbers are high. You can still dive in a proper wetsuit in northern Australia and be at low risk of getting stung.

We have been getting heaps of rainfall up here (northern Queensland) from cyclones and tropical monsoon so the visibility on the reef while the rivers are flowing strongly won’t be as good as usual.

Once you are in the north take note of crocodile warnings too, I don’t mean to sound all Steve Irwin but they do move around a lot more when the rivers are flowing in a ‘proper’ wet season which it feels like we are having.

Almost forgot to say, have a great time and it’s really not as scary as it sounds up here:)

Once you get up north you can wear a lycra body suit, these keep the little irikandji jelly fish away! I must admit at 100kgs and 6’2" I looked a treat when I wore one!

You are about to embark on one of the great road trips, I have done it quite a few times and loved it! Remember to try and stay away from the big towns.

Yes we do have some great killers down under, but as we have been living with them for quite a while now we know how to stay safe. If in doubt ask the Lifesavers or even the local cops.

So where do you think diving would be optimal for February-March?

You do realize that in your travels from hotel/car park/path/etc to the beach you will be crossing drop bear territory, don’t you?

Don’t you?


Basically it all works out quite nicely.

The best beaches of the “broad white sandy beach, laze about, swim, surf” variety extend from Sydney north to about Noosa. These beaches do not have statistically significant (if any) deadly jellyfish or crocodile problems because their range is the tropics, much further north. Plan your laze about on a beach holiday for this region. It’s only about 1200km long, you should be able to find somewhere.

North of Noosa there is a transitional area where you start to get more and more behind the Great Barrier Reef and by about Gladstone the mainland beaches tend to be estuarine, the surf gets less and less impressive and the water just off the mainland shore (due to tropical rain induced runoff, I suppose) gets murkier. And above all, you start to enter jellyfish/croc territory. There are still mainland beaches, don’t get me wrong, but if you want magnificent mainland beaches without jelly/croc worries, plan on getting your fill of them from Noosa (which is magnficent) south.

However as, going north, the mainland beaches get less attractive, the islands of the Great Barrier Reef offshore get better and better, and it is offshore that you want to be. And a point that a lot of people don’t understand is that the jelly/croc problem is a mainland shore problem. They are not a problem out on the reef.

So in short jellies and crocs are not a problem on the best mainland beaches (which are in the south). They are a problem on the mainland beaches in the north, but in the north you don’t want to be on the mainland beaches, you want to be out on the islands where jellies and crocs are not a problem.

That is a fairly accurate assessment but not a golden rule. You’re right though at this time of year I’d think Sydney to Noosa for beaches and maybe try more forest and freshwater experiences further north. There are fantastic areas of rainforest with creeks and waterfalls in the north.

I’m not sure what aspect you are saying isn’t a golden rule. Certainly you could be stung by a jellyfish or encounter a croc on the offshore reef islands, but then you could die a in a car accident or be hit by lightning too, and I’m assuming that the OP isn’t worried about a level of risk from venomous creatures that isn’t higher than the general level of background risk incumbent in life.

You’d be nuts to go to North Queensland and not go out onto the reef and just have forest and freshwater experiences due to some utterly minimal risk from marine nasties.

If by diving you mean scuba diving, there are fantastic dive sites at Julian Rocks, out of Byron Bay, and Solitary Islands, off Coffs Harbour, in NSW. South West Rocks and Seal Rocks also have good diving. These places are not part of the Great Barrier Reef, which starts further north. The best parts of the reef for diving are north of Cairns - you need to go on a liveaboard to get to them, but it’s worth it. The wreck of the Yongala out of Townsville is another good dive.



And if you’re not hauling your own dive gear, even snorkelling here is amazing, with manta rays, grey nurse sharks, and turtles galore. Very different from your reef dives planned up north.

Nah, it’s the bunyip you gotta worry about.