Southern (Gladstone – Hervey Bay)
Lady Elliot Island
The Great Barrier Reef starts at its southernmost island Lady Elliot (off Bundaberg). This vegetated and remote coral cay is renowned for the quality of its many dive sites (plus shipwrecks), snorkelling and scuba diving conditions. It is home to coral gardens, seabirds, a colony of nesting turtles, blowholes, giant manta rays, barracuda and leopard sharks. It features an eco-friendly resort with a conservation ethos.
Lady Musgrave Island
Lady Musgrave is a coral cay island set on 1,200 ha of the thriving reef. Its sheltered lagoon attracts day-trippers and campers for snorkelling and diving its blue waters, glass-bottom boat coral viewing and leisurely walks among flora and fauna. The waters are teeming with coloured reef fish, manta rays and turtles. Unspoilt and authentic, it is a castaway’s dream.
The underwater paradise of Heron Island, part of the Capricornia Cays group, is scuba-diving heaven, celebrated as among the best in the world. Above ground are a resort and research station, thickly treed national park, magnificent beaches offering superb snorkelling conditions, and seasonal turtle activity. Laidback and casual, making it ideal for families, it is blessed with more than 20 sq km of the reef and, 80km northeast of Gladstone is accessible by ferry and seaplane.
Great Keppel Island
The island is 30-minutes off the coast from the small town of Yeppoon and is the largest in the Keppel Group. It has a relaxed style and its white sandy beaches and sparkling waters attract day-trippers and longer-stay guests. It features various types of accommodation, the largest being a locally-owned resort, and plenty of water sport activities. Located a little north of the Tropic of Capricorn, it has been a magnet for urban travellers seeking sun, sand and sea at its 17 paradise-quality beaches.
A hidden 6-hectare gem of an island in the Keppel Group, it is 14 kilometres off the coast from Yeppoon. Despite minimal infrastructure, there is plenty to see, including dolphins, whales and turtles, and do, such as glass-bottom kayaking, snorkelling, fishing and stand-up paddle-boarding. Eco-friendly accommodation caters to a maximum of 34 guests in 7 self-contained units with private decks. It’s the ultimate ‘escape to blissful nature’ island getaway.
The world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island is the only identified location where the rainforest grows in sand. It is south of the Lady Elliott Island beginning of the Great Barrier Reef. A stunning island featuring freshwater lakes, wetlands, crystal clear creeks, lush forests and massive dunes, this sandy paradise is home to lots of birdlife and wildlife, including dingos. It is a hotbed of tourism activity and has a wide range of accommodation, including the luxury Kingfisher Bay Resort, and marine activity suppliers.