Southern Reef Islands in a glimpse
Lady Elliot Island: A coral cay with a diversity of bird and marine life, and resort facilities.
Wilson Island: A small coral cay,with 6 permanent tents, access via a short boat trip from Heron Island.
The resort covers one third of the island, the rest is natural vegetation and a research station of the University of Queensland, which is off-limits to travellers.
Flora and fauna
Heron Island is a coral cay with deep blue waters and lush vegetation, breeding ground to some 70.000 - 120.000 birds, Heron Island is an attractive destination for travellers interested in exploring nature above and under water.
From November to March, female green and loggerhead sea turtles nest on the beach. Their hatchlings can be seen scurrying down to the water from January to April.
Take the resort catamarran, leaves around 10:30 AM from Gladstone. Cost is extremely high - $200 roundtrip, price may vary for resort guest, visitors, and UQ students and researchers. Alternatively you can go by helicopter (operated by Australian Helicopters); this provides an excellent view of the reefs and islands and is fantastic if you can afford it, but it is even more expensive than the launch - $180 standby one way or $330 confirmed one way.
The only way to get around Heron Island is on foot! But don't worry, the island is only about 800m end to end. The resort offers dive and snorkeling trips to the edge of the reef, as well as a semi-submersible vessel and fishing trips. You can also charter a boat for the day.
To stay at the Island
Voyages Hotels and Resorts, ☎ +61-2-8296-8010 or toll free Australia 1300-134-044 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +61-2-9299-2103), . Twin rooms from $250 per night per person, individual beach houses from $873, $960 for two people.
Stays can be considerably cheaper if travellers watch for package deals offered periodically by Voyages or by Qantas
Lady Elliot Island
Lady Elliot Island (LYT) has a grass airstrip running the length of the island, immediately adjacent to the resort.
Direct flights are available from Hervey Bay, Bundaberg or the Gold Coast. Lady Elliot operates a small fleet of 10-seater Britten Norman Islander aircraft, and has regular services to the mainland for day-trippers and for longer stays. The first and last flights in and out are reserved for people daytripping or staying for a single night.
There are no commercial ferries to the island, and there is no wharf. There are some dive operators which work just off the island, and also some moorings off the island for private craft. Private craft must pay the appropriate fees, and cannot use the resort facilities.
The flights have a scenic aspect to them. The flights from Bundaberg go pretty much directly over the water to the island, but the flights from Hervey Bay give you a view over Fraser Island, and the flights from the Gold Coast, have a scenic trip up the coast. The planes maintain an altitude of around 500-900m or so for the trip.
Return flights to the island from Hervey Bay and Bundaberg are $248, and $589 from the Gold Coast. One way flights are unavailable!
You MUST See at Lady Elliot
You MUST Do at Lady Elliot
The White Capped Noddys flock all over the island
Stonefish have venomous spines and settle on the reef, and rely on being still and camouflaged. Always wear reef shoes or fins when entering the water to avoid danger. Cone shells can cause death. Don't pick anything up that looks like a cone. Seek urgent medical advice if stung.
Fire coral can cause irritation on the hands if you touch it. Sea cucumbers fire sticky threads if you pick them up - and you will need to remove them and wash your hands if you do.
Bull Rays are timid, and generally lie on the bottom of the reef. They have a barb in their tail they can use if threatened.
Reef sharks are timid and harmless. Manta Rays have no barb.
There are four red lights at either end of the runway, and at the crossing point by reception. Don't cross, and leave the runway area if the lights are flashing.