Lady Elliot Island

Having our plans to travel back to Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia this year thwarted by COVID, we decided to head north and explore Queensland. Our first stop was Burnett Heads, just outside Bundaberg. The highlight was a visit to Lady Elliot Island.

Lady Elliot Island is at the southern most tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Flights to Lady Elliot leave from a variety of places, and take about 25 minutes from Bundaberg. The runway is grass and extends through the centre of the island from one side to the other.

Lady Elliot is a coral cay, formed from sediments from the reef, rather than an island formed by a piece of land separating from the mainland. The beaches are made of broken coral.

We visited for the day, but next time would come back for a few days. Prices for day guests include flights to and from the island, hot showers available in the amenities, generous sized lockers, buffet lunch, a glass bottom boat trip with snorkling from the boat for about 45 minutes, use of wet suites, snorkling gear, reef shoes and towels. We took our own gear but used their towels. A 4kg weight restriction on the plane limited equipment we could take.

The lagoon is on the eastern side of the island and directly out from the dining area. It’s a great place for novices and children to snorkel as there are no currents and it’s a large area, but only at high tide as it is very shallow. We were there just before low tide which limited where we could go, but Tim managed to get this fabulous video of what we think is a green turtle.

Fish feeding in the lagoon. Apparently, back in the 1930s a lighthouse keeper wanted a place for his children to swim safely, so he dynamited this section of the lagoon; as the coral grew back they cleared it with crow bars. The light house was built in 1873.

The glass bottom boat trip was on the western side of the island near the Lighthouse. This area has a variety of snorkelling sites and we were able to snorkel from the boat for about 45 minutes. All snorkelling sites are accessible from the beach.

While having lunch, a pod of 5 humpback whales, frolicked in-front of us for about 20 minutes. Full body breaches, tail slapping, fin slaps, it was amazing and so unexpected. I didn’t take my camera due to weight restrictions on the plane, so the photos are blurry but I hope you get a sense of the magic.

For those interested in scuba diving, their blurb says … ‘Visibility is over 20 metres for much of the year and encounters with giant Manta Rays, Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead Turtles and an abundance of incredible marine life are a daily occurrence. PADI has voted Lady Elliot Island as one of the ‘Top 5’ locations in the world to go diving with Manta Rays. We regularly have close encounters with whales under water while diving and snorkelling in the months of May right through to October. At Lady Elliot Island, our experienced Dive staff personally escort all dives, we schedule a minimum of two dives per day and optional night dives available subject to numbers and weather conditions. Our PADI Dive Shop offers courses to cater for all levels of experience. Lady Elliot Island boasts 20 incredible dive sites around the island which are easily accessible by boat dives, please see Dive map. These dive sites are within close proximity to the shore and have an almost limitless variety of marine and coral life.’

Stay safe, cheers til next time, Helen & Tim