|Subject: Australia (and Diving)|
Yes, you've identified the problem with Australia in general: distances are deceiving!
Coolangatta, just south of Brisbane, is close to 900 miles from Cairns! Some other more knowledgeable 'Ziner may have info on diving either off the Gold Coast (s. of Brisbane) or Sunshine Coast (n of Brisbane). The Reef is quite offshore at that point.
>From Cairns, there are both day-trip diveboats for a single day's adventure, or live-aboards, where you are on a boat for 5 or 7 days &dive, eat &sleep on the boat.
Cape Tribulation is further up the coast by road from Cairns &the reef is closer to shore, so that a 45-minute boat trip will have you out on the reef & diving very quickly.
December is likely to be quite rainy further north (The Wet), so water is cloudier &rougher. From that perspective, Brisbane area may offer more benign diving conditions.
Check out http://www.australia.com for lots of info.
Gail in Eugene (Still wishing....)