About the islands of Bundaberg North Burnett

Hailed as the launch pad for the Great Barrier Reef, as their names suggest, the most southern islands of Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave are regarded as reef royalty.

Both easily accessible from Bundaberg, what makes Lady Elliot Island so special is that it is a 25-minute scenic flight away from the mainland and Queensland’s only coral island reef with an airstrip.

Meanwhile, a day cruise away from Bundaberg’s Port Marina, Lady Musgrave Island is the only coral island on the Great Barrier Reef with a navigable lagoon.

Still need convincing? Here are our reasons why you’ll love these two ladies.

Nicknamed the “first lady of the reef”, Lady Elliot Island, the Great Barrier Reef’s most southern island is world-renowned as the home of the manta ray, with more than 700 individual manta rays identified in the area.

Lady Elliot island also hosts nesting and hatching turtles, 57 species of bird, dolphins, and migrating humpback whales.

You’ll find 19 dive sights at this delectable destination including Lighthouse Bommie, Coral Cardens, Moiri and Shark Pool, plus the shipwreck.

Lady Elliot Island was formed over a 3000 year period and offers a guided reef walk and informative displays at the Reef Education Centre. More than 50,000 birds nest here during summer and dolphins and migrating whales adore its surrounding waters.

It’s also the ideal island on which to wet your feet, literally. Beginner snorkellers can enjoy the lagoon, while those more experienced can descend with the divers into the Coral Sea beyond. A fully-equipped dive centre on the island caters for all interests and abilities.

For those who simply can’t leave after just one day, there’s a 41-room eco resort on the beachfront which caters for just 100 guests. Best of all, there are no telephones, televisions or radios to distract you here. Indulge in night-time activities such as

  • reef education talks;
  • nocturnal animal walks;
  • star gazing;
  • a turtle tour;
  • and even an evening glass bottom boat ride.

About two hours by boat from the Bundaberg mainland you’ll encounter Lady Musgrave, an island and lagoon. This pristine coral cay boasts 1192ha of fringing reef with an average depth of six to eight metres and sandy lagoon bottom. It is the only coral island and navigable lagoon of its kind on the Great Barrier Reef. 

It is scattered with isolated coral bommies teaming with exotic fish and marine life and is an ideal place for snorkellers and divers. 

Wildlife watch

The southernmost island of the Bunker Group of islands, it is also part of the Capricorn Bunker Group which contains around 75 per cent of all seabird biomass of the Great Barrier Reef. 

The island provides habitat for thousands of nesting seabirds including white-capped noddy terns, bridled terns, black-naped terns and silver gulls. Between September and March, migratory shorebirds such as the Pacific golden plover also like to flock here.

It is also a nesting place for green and loggerhead turtles, and harmless small whitetip reef sharks and leopard sharks have been spotted hunting around the shallows.

Top things to do:

A number of tour operators take daily trips to this island on high-speed catamarans with pontoons. Enjoy a range of unique reef activities, marine encounters and island discoveries:

  • Snorkel or dive the reef and encounter some of the Great Barrier Reef's most iconic marine creatures, such as manta rays, moray eels, giant rainbow coloured fish or coral trout.
  • Hop on board a semi submarine or glass bottom boat for a unique coral viewing experience - without getting wet.
  • Discover the beauty and learn about the history of Lady Musgrave Island on a guided island walk.
  • Experience up close and personal encounters with hundreds of species of tropical fish and other marine animals during a fish feeding activity.
  • See migrating humpback whales at play during the months of July through to November. 

Adventurous travellers will love the fact they can stay in a National Park wilderness campsite (permit required) on this 14ha island and indulge in a true Robinson Crusoe style experience. 

Great Barrier Reef Blog