It is precisely here, on the Queensland`s Coral Coast, where one of the Mother Nature`s most magnificent wonders starts – The Great Barrier Reef. This underwater paradise is spanning across 2,300 km of the Pacific Ocean, and it runs through various climate zones. Its unrivalled beauty is a magnet for scuba divers, snorkelers and beach lovers. There is much more, however, than ‘the undersea’; the Bundaberg hinterland enjoys lovely tranquillity amidst wild bush and it is home to succulent pineapples and mangoes, as well as the best rum in Australia, while the Tropic of Capricorn presents ample island adventures and idyllic beach escapes. The Coral-Capricorn Coast is where the real Queensland Fairytale begins…
The Great Barrier Reef is of vital importance to the world`s
eco-systems, for supporting a third of the planet`s soft coral species and
mammals like humpback whales, dolphins,
sharks, dugongs, as well as sponges, molluscs, tropical reef fish and hundreds of species of birds. Myriads of coral
islands, continental islands, sandbars and mangrove systems linked by huge
turquoise lagoons are home to great bio-diversity but also internationally famous
Today, visitors are lucky enough to be able to admire the marvels of the reef in many ways since it has become readily accessible. There is a wide range of tours that can be booked to visit Great Barrier Reef, including snorkelling, free-diving, boat tours, cruises and sailing and fishing trips in different price ranges. The Coral-Capricorn Coast offers some of the best and most accessible locations to encounter the world`s most famous coral gardens.
THE SOUTHERN GREAT BARRIER REEF
The southernmost end of the Great Barrier Reef seems like a humble fellow. It starts with small islands and tiny islets scattered in the waters of the Pacific, right between the Fraser Island and Rockhampton.
The reef becomes more obvious offshore from Gladstone – home to the Capricornia Cays National Park. The marine reserve comprises of 241 coral cays that are encircled by mere reefs
and coral gardens. The national park features endangered birdlife, diverse
marine eco-system and only some of the cays are open to tourism.
Snorkelling, scuba diving, whale watching, sea turtle hatching and relaxing in the coral lagoons and their powdery-white sands are things to do on, especially on the Lady Elliot, Lady Musgrave and Heron Islands.
TOP 3 DIVING LOCATIONS IN
THE SOUTHERN GREAT BARRIER REEF
Lady Elliot Island – a splendid island and the southernmost coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef (composed of sand and corals), eco-resort, fantastic snorkelling and diving, turtles, whales, sharks, rare seabirds. TO GET THERE: exclusively by seaplane from Bundaberg/Brisbane/Gold Coast/Hervey Bay
Lady Musgrave Island – the only navigable lagoon, radiant coral gardens, turtles, reefs, manta rays, rainbow fish, extraordinarily clear waters perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving, camping permitted. TO GET THERE: the only access is via boat from Seventeen Seventy
Heron Island – a coral cay (composed of sand and corals), encircled by 24 square km of the reef, excellent snorkelling, diving, nesting sea turtles, exotic birdlife, walking tracks, various tours (reef walking or coral submarine), gorgeous beaches and holiday resorts, the well-known ‘Protector’ shipwreck. TO GET THERE: by boat from Gladstone marina or via seaplane from Gladstone airport
DID YOU KNOW?
Coral Cays are low islands formed by the build-up of reef sediments. As the reef grows, hardy plants start to flourish in the sand, birds begin to settle down, and the vegetated coral is then established and becomes a mini eco-system. Fully encircled by a coral reef and shallow waters, these little isles make perfect snorkelling spots.
THE CORAL COAST (BUNDABERG)
Back to the mainland of the marvellous Coral Coast, the Bundaberg Region presents 140
kilometres of dream sandy beaches, national parks and seaside holiday resorts. The
town of Bundaberg is not only known for its rum but
also it is the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and its coral cays.
Liquor tasting, Bourbon Street, Botanic Gardens, Zoo, Hall of Avion, art galleries and museums but also plenty of nature parks and reserves and marine life watching tours – all these are available to the visitors. Although the township sits on the banks of the Burnett River, its coastal suburbs offer stunning beaches and nature walks.
‘Bundy’ is a region of sand and rum!
ON THE CORAL COAST
Bundaberg – Rum Distillery, Bourbon Street,
Botanic Gardens, Zoo, Alexandra Park, Hinkler Hall of Avion, Regional Art Gallery
reserves with excellent walking tracks – Sharon
Gorge Nature Park, Burrum Coast National
Park, Baldwin Swamp
Lady Elliot Island – book a scenic flight to the
southernmost coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef (composed of sand and corals),
arrange an eco-tour or diving expedition and meet the local turtles, whales,
sharks and other marine species
THE CAPRICORN COAST
Stretching over 150 km of the Central Queensland coastline, Capricorn Coast is a place where the Tropics start. Predominantly, five-star holiday resorts, fabulous marinas, historical towns, bush and rainforest retreats, wildlife sanctuaries and crocodile farms mark the region.
The towns of Gladstone,
Rockhampton and Yeppoon are the most popular with tourists.
The Capricornia Cays National Park is an important marine park that comprises of 241 coral cays which are encircled by pristine reefs and coral gardens. The marine reserve features endangered birdlife, diverse marine eco-system and it is open to tourism only partially. The most visited are Heron Island, Lady Musgrave Island, Masthead Island and North West Island.
Gladstone is a busy deep-water port set on an attractive harbour with resort islands and an active cultural scene. For being the gateway to numerous coral cays and the Great Barrier Reef,it is the major tourist hub on the Capricorn Coast with a great infrastructure.
The town takes pride in high-quality seafood, cultural events and friendly hospitality. There are three offshore islands extending alongside the shores of Gladstone – Facing, Curtis and Quion Islands that also contribute to the regional tourism.
ON THE CAPRICORN COAST
Gladstone – East Shores Water Park, Tondoon
Botanic Gardens, Regional Art Gallery & Museum,
wine tours, Police Creek (feeding turtles)
Lake Awoonga – beautiful recreational zone at the
Boyne River, abundant fauna and flora, camping, swimming, fishing, boating, jet
skiing, sailing, paddle boarding etc.
Mt Larcom – climb up to the 631 m high hill to
view Gladstone from a high angle
Deepwater National Park – coastal reserve formed by coastal
heaths and dunes, rich in wildlife and
marine life, gorgeous beaches with nesting sea turtles, Deepwater Creek is
ideal for fishing
Facing Island, Curtis Island & Quoin
Island – flat sandy
islands perfect for camping and recreation, coastal heaths, rainforest, dunes,
Lady Musgrave Island – the only navigable lagoon, radiant
coral gardens, turtles, reefs, manta rays, rainbow fish, extraordinarily clear
waters perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving, camping permitted
Heron Island – a coral cay (composed of sand and
corals), encircled by 24 square km of the pure
reef, excellent snorkelling, diving, nesting sea turtles, exotic birdlife,
walking tracks, various tours (reef walking or coral submarine), gorgeous
beaches and holiday resorts
The vegetation becomes noticeably lusher as one crosses the Tropic of Capricorn in Rockhampton. Mango, paw-paw, banana and pineapple farms will
greet the visitors upon arrival.
Although the town is located inland, the magnificent Yeppoon Beach is not far away. Known as an upmarket coastal location, Yeppoon attracts holidaymakers and beach lovers from all over the world. Superb hotels, fancy restaurants, private vessels and luxurious cruises to the Coral Sea and its uninhabited islands and virgin atolls are the main attractions here.
IN ROCKHAMPTON & YEPPOON
Rockhampton – Botanic Gardens, Kershaw Gardens, Heritage Village, Rail Museum, Art Gallery
Mount Archer National Park – open eucalypt woodland, hiking, rock climbing, drive or climb up to the Mt Archer and enjoy the views from the Grass Tree Lookout
Capricorn Caves – Cammoo Caves, Olsen`s Caves, Beanstalk, Chandelier is a series of caves and above-ground limestone formations with stalagmites and stalactites
Byfield National Park – outlying rain forests with eco-retreats and farm, 4WD tracks and camping areas, Water Park Creek
Yeppoon – Yeppoon Beach, Yeppoon Lagoon, Keppel Kraken, Cooberrie Wildlife Park, coastal walks at Spring Head Lookout, Fan Rock Lookout and Wreck Point Lookout
Lammermoor – popular for its clean sands and beach rock formations.
Capricorn Coast National Park – rocky outcrops at Bluff Rock, Statue Bay, Kemp Beach, Mulambin Beach, Double Head, Rosslyn Bay/Head
Kinka Beach, Emu Park & Zilzie – lovely beachfront holiday spots
Keppel Bay – sea kayaking, snorkelling, diving and cruises to the Keppel Islands
Great Keppel Island – 17 white beaches, fantastic facilities, camping permitted, water sports, outstanding fauna and flora, marine life and underwater world, shallow fringing reefs, tropical fish, turtles, sea snakes, sharks, dolphins, giant manta rays. TO GET THERE: fly from Rockhampton or take a boat from Rosslyn Bay
WHEN TO TRAVEL
It is very important to plan the trip thoroughly for one reason: Coral-Capricorn Coast is subject to tropical weather that seasonally brings not only sweltering heat and frequent cyclones (Nov-March) but also many dangerous sea creatures, e.g. marine stingers (Nov-April).
The best time to visit the Coral-Capricorn Coast is between May and October.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly from Brisbane
distance from Brisbane to Bundaberg is 4-5 hrs
distance from Brisbane to Gladstone is 7 hrs
distance from Brisbane to Rockhampton is 8 hrs
Otherwise, fly from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane directly to Bundaberg, Gladstone or Rockhampton
To Lady Elliot Island – exclusively by seaplane from
Bundaberg/Brisbane/Gold Coast/Hervey Bay
To Lady Musgrave Island – the only access is via boat from
To Heron Island–
by boat from Gladstone marina or via seaplane from Gladstone airport
To Great Keppel Island – fly from Rockhampton or take a boat from Rosslyn Bay
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