I love travelling the world, but nothing beats what we have right here our own backyard. Australia is one of the greatest islands on the planet, so we were stoked to spend last week exploring the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
The Southern Great Barrier Reef stretches from Bundaberg and Lady Elliot Island at the southern tip, and up past the retro seaside towns of Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water (Queensland’s most northerly surf beach), right up to the far reaches of the Capricorn Coast and Keppel Islands. We’d been island hopping around the Whitsundays in far north Queensland a few times, but we’d never been to the lower end of the reef.
As it turned out, our destination wasn’t the only unknown part of the trip. The guys at Tourism and Events Queensland had created a ‘Hidden Treasure Challenge’ for us where we uncovered our custom itinerary as we went. We knew our end destinations were Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water, but we had no idea what we were going to be doing for the three days we were there.
We flew into Gladstone Airport picked up our hire car, a box of clues, and set off to explore the Southern Great Barrier Reef. One of my favourite things ever is a road trip, so I couldn’t have been happier with how this trip started off. It’s just under two hours from Gladstone Airport to Agnes Water. That’s almost two hours of picturesque Queensland countryside, passing through towns with awesome names like Baffle Creek and Turkey Beach.
We checked-in at Agnes Water Beach Club and opened our first clue – it was a sunset kayak to a secluded beach. We’d been told there were deserted beaches and that the area was virtually untouched by tourism, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it. Having spent most of my life in Sydney, I’m used to packed beaches. There’s something so peaceful about having space to truly connect with your environment.
Over the next few days we opened more clues that had us seeing amazing sunrises and sunsets, eating delicious meals, indulging in massages and trekking in the national park. Our entire three days at the Southern Great Barrier Reef were incredible, but the highlights were seeing an echidna waddle past us as was we walked along the headlands at Seventeen Seventy, and our visit to Lady Musgrave Island with Lady Musgrave Cruises where we got to swim with five turtles.
We were blown away by Lady Musgrave Island. The island is a coral cay – meaning it was formed by waves pushing coral, sand and broken shells together. Walk through the middle of it and you’ll discover a tropical forest unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Pisonia trees create a canopy over the entire island where birds nest in large numbers, covering the island in droppings that act as a vital fertiliser for the islands vegetation.
Lady Musgrave Island is set on 3,000 acres of living reef with a deepwater coral lagoon that’s unique to the entire Great Barrier Reef. One of the coolest things about this lagoon is the turtle cleaning station – a large bommie that’s been worn down by turtles parking there to be cleaned by other sea life. We went freediving out there where for the first time ever, I got to swim with turtles.
We only touched the surface on what the Southern Great Barrier Reef has to offer. If you’d like to know more about exploring this incredible part of Australia, visit Tourism and Events Queensland.
Photography by Michaela Skovranova.