24 March 2024

Idyllic islands make Queensland reef a crystal-clear favourite

| Rama Gaind
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tropical island

Pumpkin Island is a privately owned island in Keppel Bay on the southern Great Barrier Reef. Photos: Supplied.

It’s an eloquent invitation: Tourism and Events Queensland has a vision to ”inspire the world to experience the best address on Earth”.

You have to admit that from the cities to the country, the beaches and reef to the rainforests … Queensland has it all! Something splendid about Queensland is it has five of Australia’s 11 World Natural Heritage areas. These are the K’gari (formerly Fraser Island, world’s largest sand island), Scenic Rim National Parks, Riversleigh Fossil Fields, the Wet Tropics (including Daintree National Park), and one of the Wonders of the World – the Great Barrier Reef.

Cities are fine, but what about the Queensland islands? Many of them offer a magical holiday destination, packed with culture and adventure, and offering an idyllic escape from the everyday.

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Perfect for an outdoor holiday, a relaxing tropical break, a family vacation or a romantic getaway. Embrace the stunning weather and explore the untouched natural beauty and surrounds of some of these islands. Boasting incredible attractions, sun-soaked scenery and exciting wildlife tours at a pristine beach holiday destination, there is a Queensland island to suit every type of traveller.

One of Queensland’s best-kept secrets, Pumpkin Island, is nestled in the Southern Great Barrier Reef’s Keppel Group of islands, 14 kilometres off the coast of Yeppoon. Pumpkin Island comprises five self-catering cottages and two self-catering bungalows among six hectares of wondrous nature, offering solitude, relaxation and impressive vistas over the sparkling, clear waters of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

”Good things come in small packages” rings true with this private island. The sandy stretch may be small, but it’s the perfect size for a secluded and intimate getaway. An exclusively beautiful gem set among sparkling waters, the island’s quaint place names like Mermaid Cove and Pebble Point only add to the feeling of discovering a hidden treasure.

tropical island

Pelorus Island is 400 hectares of pristine wilderness and superb fringing reefs rising from the northernmost cluster of peaks of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef’s Great Palm archipelago.

Lady Musgrave Island is the second-southernmost island in the Great Barrier Reef chain of islands. The 14-hectare coral cay, with a 1192 ha surrounding reef, is filled with several world-class dive sites. The calm, clear water and buzzing reef that surround the island are perfect for families and snorkelling beginners.

Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay at the southern tip of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. This eco-resort island is home to the manta ray. There are 20 incredible dive sites around the island. Sitting within a highly protected green zone, the coral cay is a sanctuary for more than 1200 species of marine life and is known for its abundance of manta rays, turtles, and unspoiled coral reef.

Indulge yourself to a weekend of peace at an adults-only paradise, Wilson Island on the Great Barrier Reef. It is one of eight vegetated coral cays in the Capricornia Cays National Park. The luxury eco-resort has just nine permanent Reef Safari Tents, with private seclusion at your fingertips. This is where you experience the tranquil life of a castaway – in style!

tropical island

Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay at the southern tip of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

Great Keppel Island is the largest of the 18 islands in the Keppel Group on the Capricorn Coast. Aquatic adventures are at your disposal. Water lovers will relish the 17 white-sand beaches. Long Beach, Wreck Beach, Clam Bay, Butterfish Bay and Monkey Beach are accessible from the network of walking tracks covering the island.

Several of these trails cater to the adventurous – try the 3.5-hour hike up Mount Wyndham (the island’s highest point) or the full-day (15.4 km) Lighthouse Walk, meandering from Fisherman’s Beach to the petite lighthouse on Bald Rock Point. It’s along these pathways that you’ll be able to discover the island’s rich Aboriginal heritage and abundant native wildlife, including more than 90 species of birds.

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At Heron Island, you are a guest of nature – sleeping, playing and exploring a protected sanctuary overlooking the Great Barrier Reef. Heron Island caters to all levels of marine enthusiasts, with 20 dive sites easily accessible by boat within minutes of the jetty.

The most popular activity is snorkelling straight off one of the stunning beaches into crystal-clear waters teeming with colourful fish, turtles, rays and more.

Rising from the northernmost cluster of peaks of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef’s Great Palm archipelago just off the coast of Townsville, Pelorus Island is 400 hectares of pristine wilderness and superb fringing reefs. Here, nature is your playground, all accessible at leisure by helicopter or private yacht.

Note to self: be patient and plan an escape to paradise!

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