The southern Capricorn / Bunker Islands group – which are actually coral cays – provides the second biggest green turtle rookery on the Great Barrier Reef (the ‘Reef’) with around 8,000 nesting green turtles. 14 of the 22 reefs are protected within the Capricornia Cays National Park, some strictly off limits to the public.
Fortunately, one cay – Heron Island has an extensive and modern resort complete with marine centre offering snorkelling and diving on the surrounding reefs as well as nature trails and bush walks. It is accessible daily by boat transfer from Gladstone, or helicopter and seaplane.
Camping is permitted on Mast Head, Lady Musgrave and North West Island, and though they seem inaccessible, you can negotiate a shared ride with transport heading to Heron Island. The alternative is a private charter.
Being relatively remote, the reefs of the Capricornia Group are in pristine condition and are abundant with every type of reef fish from colourful angelfish to white-tipped reef sharks.
The large, established cays attract turtles who return year after year to nest. This is definitely the region to visit if you want to get close to nature on the Reef.
Snorkel and dive sites
Read our blog, Best places to snorkel and dive in the Gladstone Region to find out about the amazing snorkel and dive sites off Heron Island.